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Comic Book Legends Revealed #281

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COMIC LEGEND: The Doom Patrol character Mister Nobody was based on an old Betty Boop cartoon.

STATUS: I’m Going with True

This one is tricky, in that I’ve never heard Grant Morrison actually speak on this particular point, but I dunno, it just seems so blatant that I just have to go with a true here.

Reader Chris T. asked me about it last week, and here it is!

In November 1932, Fleischer Studios had a really cool Betty Boop cartoon where Betty runs for President. Her opponent? Mister Nobody!

Basically, his whole bit is a nice healthy piece of cynicism as he sings:

Who will make your taxes light?… Mr. Nobody!
Who’ll protect the voters’ right?… Mr. Nobody!
Should you come home some early dawn,
See a new milkman is on:
Who cares if your wife is gone?… Mr. Nobody

Well, decades later, Grant Morrison introduced a reworked character (who had appeared in one single issue of the old Doom Patrol) into Mr. Nobody, leader of the Brotherhood of Dada.

Come on, that’s the same guy, right? Same visual look and the same name!

To make it even MORE evident, in Doom Patrol #52, we see Mr. Nobody run for President!

So while yeah, I haven’t specifically seen Morrison SAY that that is where the character came from, I think it is evident enough that I can safely say “true,” followed by “neat idea!”

Thanks to Chris T. for the suggestion!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

As you likely know by now, in April of last year my book came out!

Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

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48 Comments

Interesting connection between Betty Boop and Doom Patrol. I’m a fan of both, but I never saw that Mr. Nobody cartoon!

I have read that Don Kirchner had decided to do The Archies as a musical group after being fired by The Monkees, he would have fewer problems with an animated band that a real one. The comics may have created the concept but Kirchner refined it and made it successful.

I remember those GI Joe comic book commercials. Still, I was into the toys before the comics, but I did enjoy the comics as well.

Actually, The Archies were created in an attempt to add some realism to the comic’s storylines.
They turned the lovable loser Archie into a rock star!
Why else would a ginger kid constantly have the two hottest girls in town fighting over him?

I want to see a band cover the “A is for Archies” song. It just seems like it would be so melodic and flow easily off the tongue.

DOOM PATROL SPOILER: Mr. Nobody is the villain of the current series, going under the name “Mr. Somebody”.

Anyone else notice the Archies singing look exactly like the Brady Kids singing?

While I do acknowledge the similarity of design in the two NOBODYs, I am willing to believe it was coincidental, particular given that the Doom Patrol character is supposed to have a body built from two-dimensional segments branching off in enough directions to suggest three dimensions; plus, a stylized question mark for a head.

(This, I understand, is not proof that the general design was not influenced by the Betty Boop cartoon. Still, I can’t help but wonder if Morrison wouldn’t have inserted even more overt clues than the name/body, if he was riffing.)

Right you are DoubleWide!
Also “Sugar, Sugar” was originally suppose to be a Monkeys song.
But they refused to record the song (among others) and wanted to record their own songs.

The story Kirshner gave (on Later with Bob Costas– I remember seeing it when it was first on) is that after the problems he had with the Monkees, he noticed his son reading an Archie, and he realised that Archie would make a perfect fictitious singer for his records. He says he then contacted Archie comics and pitched the idea, and they published an issue in which Kirshner actually appeared (in which he was known as the ‘Man With The Golden Ear’) and that issue coincided with the release of ‘Sugar Sugar’ (sung by Ron Dante, who sang on many records released under different names).
I don’t know if that issue was the Life With Archie #60 shown above or a later one. Maybe his son was reading #60 and that was why Kirshner thought of the idea. Does anyone know?
I’ve also heard that the Archies appeared in some animated performances on the Ed Sullivan Show before the animated series began, but I don’t know if that’s true or not.

Man, I really wish Warner Bros. (they own the Fleischer cartoons now, right? I know they put out Superman and Popeye sets . . .) would go ahead a put out a complete Betty Boop collection. Or at least the complete black & white cartoons.

According to Archie Comics:

http://www.archiecomics.com/blog/gems/2001/02/how-exactly-was-the-band-the-archies-tied-into-archie-comics.html

The Archies band/cartoon were directly inspired by the comics, so the above Legend would indeed be a “false”.

Thanks, Peter!

Tom Fitzpatrick

October 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Mr. Nobody was such a cool character. Has he been used since the days gone by when Morrison wrapped up his Doom Patrol run?

As Squashua noted, Mr. Nobody has returned in the current Keith Giffen run, but now he’s known as Mr. Somebody.

The site Yojoe.com has many of these commercials online, starting with the 1982 ads. The designs all seem to be prototypes for the animated series.

http://www.yojoe.com/television/commercials/82/

Hasbro did these for a few years (the best parts about them were the songs – the same fellow who sang the “Fighting for freedom wherever there’s trouble, G.I. Joe is there” line just sang new lyrics written to the same tune. It’s hilarious.

I remembered everything about these commercials EXCEPT that tidbit. But now that you mention it, YES those songs were incredibly hilarious!!

Here’s are 2 youtube compilations of them you may want to include in the original article:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAa6LaXi4Zc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMIrc6_P-Vs

From what I understand, the Micronauts was not a planned comic tie-in.

It all started when Bill Mantlo’s kids got a bunch of Micronauts toys for Christmas from their grandmother. Anyway, Mantlo thought they were ultra-cool and wanted to come up with a backstory for most of them. So he brought a box of Micronauts toys to the Marvel offices, showed the EIC, and asked about pursuing it further.

Apparently, Mego followed up by sending Marvel a whole boatload more toys and saying “sure.”

Hence, the Micronauts comic.

no discussion of The Archies’s Sugar Sugar would be complete without including jughead’s version from the Archie Reunion movie
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBojt6fDVvw
aww yeaaaaa

Don’t forget that Hasbro pretty much followed the same formula for Transformers, though I don’t think they made many (if any) commercials for the comic.

So given all the added info from the comments which you’ve incorporated, why are you still “going with” false on the Archies legend instead of out-and-out saying “false?”

I always wondered why DC or marvel never di more advertising of comics on saturday and afternoon cartoon shows. For a long time in the 1990’s,the Wb re-ran Batman and Superman on weekday afternoons.They would have been great to run comic commercials with a little live action on.They are missing the boat. Say… Kudos to DC for lowering comics to $2.99.

Fascinating piece about Mr Nobody, I’ve just picked up the Showcase Presents Doom Patrol trades, which character is he based on in the original run?

Mr. Nobody started was originally supposed to be Mr. Morden of the Brotherhood of Evil from the original run. He apparently appeared in only one issue in that original identity.

Yeah, Mr. Morden had only one shot (though the giant robot he used got another go round)–a fact he emphasized when he became Mr. Nobody.
By the way, if you’ve never seen Archie’s spy adventures from the sixties, they’re quite an experience.

Well, with Mr Nobody, I’m wondering when/where Morrison would have seen the Betty Boop cartoon. Would they have shown them on British TV? Do you have a picture of the character that became the DP Mr Nobody? But if Morrison did see the cartoon, I can see him appropriating the design for the book (we know he does designs for his comics). Anyway to ask the DP artist about it? (Would that have been Richard Case?)

And I think no discussion of “Sugar Sugar” would be complete without mentioning the Germs version, but that’s just me…

Actually, I haven’t read it in ages, but there’s a book with the title “Bubblgum Music is” (and I can’t remember the rest of the title — the Reason, maybe?). It’s got a chapter about the Archies, I’m sure. There is also, I believe, a chapter by Peter Bagge about the Spice Girls. So there is another comics connection.

Fraser– Yeah, the Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. was fantastic. Were you aware there is a new book out right now? I haven’t read it, but I’ve seen it in the store.

Great article this week! Oddly enough, I already knew about two of these. There’s occasionally one I already knew, but having two in one entry is a first.
I remember the first time I saw that Betty Boop cartoon, and it absolutely floored me when Mr. Nobody appeared. It was so surreal.

Hope you’ve got some Halloween-friendly legends coming up in the next few weeks!

I too would love to see a Betty Boop cartoon boxed set similar to the excellent Popeye releases of the last few years, BUT, reproduction rights of the various Fleischer series are all owned by different companies. I think that Turner/Warner Bros. owns all the Popeye cartoons, including his 1st appearance which was actually in a Boop cartoon. The Superman series is public domain but there are restored re-releases by Warner home video, and the Betty Boop and Out of the Inkwell shorts are owned by Lionsgate.

Interestingly on the subject of animation and comics I picked up a copy of the Superman Back in Action graphic novel and on the cover to issue 842 there is a quote “take the whole bunch of them, heroes, villains, the whole kaboodle, and skedaddle, from Abraham Simpson, 92, of Springfield. Was this the first Simpsons/Superman crossover?

Yeah, i am prety sure Betty Boop was shown on British TV. Like you know you often see it on 100 greatest Tv cartoons ever.

Britain was definitely aware of Betty Boop, look at Betty Boo, pop rap/dance singer from the late 80s/early 90s, and I’ve vague memories of the cartoons been shown in the 80s, possibly as part of Stay Tooned or Rolf’s Cartoon Club.

Will look out for Mr Morden in the Showcases. Wonder if JMS got the name for the Babylon 5 character?

@JumborgAce:

There’s a reason for that; Filmation was responsible for both THE ARCHIES and THE BRADY KIDS, and when it came time to do the later, they essentially re-drew the Bradys over the Archies to save time and money. Case in point is comparing the movements of both Reggie and Peter Brady when they are on screen playing the tambourine; both have the same silly expressions and body positioning.

And the sad part is, THE BRADY KIDS was a step higher for Filmation than it took when it went to doing the 30-minute homilies for SHAZAM and HE-MAN…

Yes, i was going to say Rolf’s Cartoon Club. that was a great show for teaching kids animation. They should get Aussie musician/Artist/comical tv personality/all-round entartaine/cartoonist (he did work for 2000ad creator’s IPC’s WOW) Rolf Harris to bring it back. he introduced Britain to John Lasseter and Pixar, even in the late 1980s. So, Brian, any new on the Vincent Price/jACK kIRBY CONNECTION. tHE PICTURE IS FROM 1970, and the phibes film came out in 1971.

I would just like to say, “Thank you” to CDK because Jughead and son rapping Sugar, Sugar might be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

I’d also like to thank T for providing those GI Joe commercial links.

“Mr. Nobody has returned in the current Keith Giffen run, but now he’s known as Mr. Somebody.”

I guess he promised to “make a somebody out of himself!” and succeeded :D

I remember that Betty Boop cartoon. I didn’t “get” his song when I was a kid -I didn’t speak English at the time, and even if I had those references (like the Milkman’s) would have flown over my head then. The impression I got was that when making the cartoon, they couldn’t decide which character to have running against Betty (who of course was going to win) and somebody must have said “Nobody would run against Betty!” No seriously, that’s what I believed back then. And who knows, stranger things have turned out to be true.

As for the Doom Patrol Nobody being based on him… I doubt it. I mean, the Boop Mr. N was just a STICK FIGURE. Hardly a unique idea. Now, if the Doom Patrol one had wore a bowler hat, or sang, MAYBE he could have been a rip-off. Right now I’m not convinced. Then again, with Morrison, you NEVER know where he comes up with his ideas…

(BTW that speech Mr. N gave -especially the part about being elected by those people who never vote- is hilarious.)

About The Archies, I think they had the lamest name of any band ever. It’s like calling The Beatles “The John Lennons!” Not to mention I don’t see Reggie (or Veronica for that matter) going along with it. I DO like the song Sugar Sugar, though.

Two things;
1) By their second appearance (as seen above), The Archies were wearing Monkees-style shirts!
1a) The Monkees had their own, short-lived, Dell comic book!
2) Ron Dante, who performed “Sugar Sugar” and other Archies songs, also performed the songs on the famous 1972 Spider-Man: From Beyond the Grave Rockomic LP!

“Man, I really wish Warner Bros. (they own the Fleischer cartoons now, right? I know they put out Superman and Popeye sets . . .) would go ahead a put out a complete Betty Boop collection. Or at least the complete black & white cartoons.”

Actually, all those Paramout/Fleisher cartoons are public domain.
Anyone can “put them out” (and have! Look on Google Shopping or Amazon for a large variety of releases on DVD and VHS!)
Warner has taken the time and money to acquire either original negatives or early-generation interpositives, and digitally-clean them up, making their editions the “must-have” versions.
But there are lots of other cheaper (and inferior-quality) versions out there…

“About The Archies, I think they had the lamest name of any band ever. It’s like calling The Beatles ‘The John Lennons!’ ”

Actually, it’s be like calling The Beatles “The Johns”!

Hey, THAT’D sell! ;-)

…Dos Pointas, Bryan:

1) There’s been a *LOT* of debate and story changing over the years regarding whether or not The Monkees ever heard “Sugar Sugar” before Kirchner was fired. Davy claims there was a reel-to-reel tape that Kirchner sat on a desk that had several songs listed, which he recalls included “Sugar Sugar”, “Jingle Jangle” and “Melody Hill”, and “Truck Driver” – the latter of which is the only one that’s been 100% confirmed. According to the story that’s been told by all present, this was the same meeting where Mike lost his cool and punched a hole in the wall, and that there was no time during all the arguing to have played the tape, much less any of the Monkees to actually pick it up and look at the label. Davy claims he was closest to the table and those first three were the song titles he’s actually named over the years. These days he just remembers “Sugar Sugar”, because that’s the Archies song most people remember anyway.

2) That last cover you posted just *screams* of a Mod band beating the shit out of – how did Pete Townsend describe them? – “a bunch of shitheaded, goatfucking, degenerate bunch of greasy fucking Rockers”. :P

“Actually, all those Paramout/Fleisher cartoons are public domain.”

…Not quite *all* of them. The Superman ones are, and most if not all of the Out of the Inkwell and Betty Boop ones, but the rights on the Popeye ones are still owned. We might need to check with Jerry Beck on this one, but I’m pretty certain at least King Features Syndicate still has total control over the Fleischer Popeye shorts.

“…but the rights on the Popeye ones are still owned. We might need to check with Jerry Beck on this one, but I’m pretty certain at least King Features Syndicate still has total control over the Fleischer Popeye shorts.”

I think AAP (which had the rights at the time) let them lapse during the period that the other properties (Berry Boop, Superman, et al) also lapsed.
Jerry supervised restorations of the original b/w toons which were then copyrighted, but the originals’ copyright lapsed.
In fact, the copyright on the WB Popeye DVD set reads:
Popeye and associated characters ©2007 King Features Syndicate Inc. Hearst Holdings Inc. Program & Supplementary Material Compilations & Package Design ©2007 King Features Syndicate Inc. Hearst Holdings Inc.
So the new, restored versions are copyrighted.
If the old ones were copyrighted, they’d have to have the original copyright date as well as the date of renewal before the 28th year.
For example:
the copyright on The Day the Earth Stood Still (the Michael Rennie/Patricia Neal original) DVD reads: ©1951 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Renewed ©1979. All Rights Reserved.
That’s the way it’s done! For pre-1978 copyrights, If it wasn’t renewed by the 28th year, it fell into public domain.

A search of your local video store or Amazon or eBay will show a plethora of PD Popeye releases on VHS and DVD.

King, of course, has the rights to the 1960s Brodax-produced animated series and all the ones after that.

I’ve been a fan of Comic Books Over the years. And I also worked in a company which doing flatting or coloring the base colors for comics. Its been so great experience for me. A comic book geek doing the coloring stuff for her favorite chracter.

Mr. Nobody rocks! Love this post. Thanks for this!

Gallifreyan Buccaneer

October 17, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Agreed, The Man from R. I. V. E. R. D. A. L. E. was quite brilliant. So were the superhero spoofs, which I can’t remember very well. Really, the only time a deviation from the regular Archie format didn’t work was the Little Archies. I hated that little twerp.

Thanks for the interesting piece. It’s amazing how corporate regulation, litigation and ‘skirting the rules’ can affect one’s childhood memories.

Cheers,
Mapleavenue

@Travis Pelkie Betty Boop cartoons were definitely being seen on British TV in the Seventies, in their own slots. What a tart that girl was.

For years, I bought into the rumor that “Sugar Sugar” was originally meant for The Monkees. Well that turned-out to be false. “Sugar Sugar” was always meant for The Archies. I heard it straight from Ron Dante himself. You can email him at rondante@yahoo.com or visit his Facebook page, so I’m 100% sure it was always meant to be for The Archies to record. (Besides, who’s to say The Monkees would have had the same degree of success with it)?

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