SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Welcome to the two-hundred and ninetieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and eighty-nine.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend you check out this installment of Music Legends Revealed, as with Christmas coming up, you might be interested in reading about how an unreleased Sondheim song from the musical “Company” got recorded (hint: it was as a Christmas present).
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COMIC LEGEND: Devo took the lyrics for one of their songs from the pages of a Silver Age DC Comic.
Awhile back, in an installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, I wrote about the comic book influences upon the origin of the band Devo.
Well, reader Mike Gallaher told me an even more unbelievable story about Devo and the influence of comics on their music.
In 1974, the band wrote the song “Space Girl Blues,” which opened with the following lyrics…
Space girls are as cold as ice
They’ll kiss you once and kiss you twice
You’ll shiver and shake and then turn blue
Next you got the space girl blues
They only recorded the song as a demo, but years later, it appeared on Hardcore Devo: 74-77, a collection of Devo demos from that time period.
Well, in Mystery in Space #50, there was an interesting little story…
Written by Otto Binder and drawn by Frank Giacoia…
(after our hero saves his disc jockey friend AND steals the treasure from the bad guys)…
The comic was later reprinted in From Beyond the Unknown #9, which came out in late 1970, precisely the time that the guys from Devo were being influenced by comics.
That’s pretty darn cool, huh?
Thanks so much to Mike Gallaher, who cracked this nut all by himself years ago! And apologies to Mike for momentarily confusing him with Mike Loughlin.
COMIC LEGEND: Editor Mark Waid insisted that Keith Giffen kill off Blok in Giffen’s “Five Years Later” Legion of Super-Heroes run because Waid hated the character.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
My pal Ryan S. wrote to me the other day to ask:
I recently stumbled upon a piece of Legion information I found interesting. The statement is this:
Blok’s death should not be attributed to Giffen or the Bierbaums. Mark Waid was the editor of those early 5YG issues and he just never liked Blok (or really any post Silver-aged Legionnaire). This is why we don’t see Blok, Dawny, Tyroc, Quislet, White Witch in either Waid’s two reboots (except in a comic book).
As provided here.
Is that true of Waid? I’m a fan of both Blok and the Legion, so I’m genuinely curious who decided he should die.
Blok is murdered by the psychopathic Roxxas in Legion of Super-Heroes #3, by plotter/penciler Keith Giffen, scripters (and assistant plotters) Tom and Mary Bierbaum and inker Al Gordon, as Roxxas comes across Blok while he is effectively hibernating…
Brutal and poignant at the same time.
Blok’s senseless murder helps spur the disparate members of the Legion to try to come back together, or to at least do SOMEthing.
In any event, I asked Waid about it and he told me that that version of events was not accurate:
Blok died was because Keith decided he wanted to kill a Legionnaire early in his run and quite literally put all their names in a hat and drew Blok at random (that’s what he told me at the time, anyway–he may have exaggerated, but he is a writer, after all). And since I wasn’t a huge Blok fan anyway, I didn’t try to argue him out of it–so I guess in that sense I’m partly culpable.
It is true my affinities lie more with the Adventure-era Legionnaires, but who was and wasn’t in the Legion during the post-ZH reboot wasn’t my call to make. With the Kitson reboot, I did pick the cast, but I woulda gotten to the post-Adventure members eventually.
Waid’s quite reliable, so I believe his position. Not to mention that it just sounds wrong an editor like Waid forcing someone like Giffen to kill a character. On top of THAT, Blok later DID appear in one of Waid’s Legion reboots…
Anyhow, thanks to Ryan for the question and thanks to Mark Waid for the response!
COMIC LEGEND: Frank Frazetta quit comic books because of a Buster Crabbe film.
A couple of weeks ago in a previous installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, I detailed how Frank Frazetta’s career took a dramatic turn based on an ad parody he drew for Mad Magazine in 1964. Well, reader Marc S. wrote in to suggest that I feature another point in Frazetta’s career where a slight change in history would have dramatically altered Frazetta’s career. So, well, here it is!
After Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster lost their lawsuit against National Comics over the rights to Superman, the creators found themselves out of work. They eventually signed up with Magazine Enterprises, a relatively recent comic book company (their former editor Vin Sullivan was the publisher). They took a bunch of their studio with them and opened up shop with a brand new character, Funnyman.
Following their problems with Superman, you better believe that Siegel and Shuster owned the rights to Funnyman. Of course, that ended up not really meaning much, as Funnyman was decidedly not a hit.
However, it is important to note that in this instance, these creators owned their character.
This was significant because a few years later, artist Frank Frazetta created a new character called Thun’da for Magazine Enterprises (Gardner Fox would script the first Thun’da stories based on Frazetta’s plot).
Here’s a sampling from a reprint of the first issue…
Man, Frazetta was good.
In any event, Frazetta had been working in comic books for a number of years at this point and as far as anyone knew, he would continue working in comic books for the rest of his career.
However, his attitude toward comic books changed dramatically after doing Thun’da. First off, you see the interesting “Tarzan, only in a world of dinosaurs” concept of Thun’da? That was only for the first story in the first issue (there were multiple stories in the first issue – all drawn by Frazetta and scripted by Fox). The editor of the comic, Ray Krank, decided that Frazetta had to strip the comic of all the pre-historic elements, so by the end of the comic, it basically was just a complete Tarzan riff.
That, naturally, irritated Frazetta, but what REALLY got to him was the fact that Magazine Enterprises then sold the rights to Thun’a to Columbia Pictures for a serial starring Buster Crabbe (of Flash Gordon and Tarzan serial fame)…
Frazetta left the book after that issue. Bob Powell replaced him.
The serial was not a hit (by 1952 serials were beginning to peter out anyways) and nor was the Frazetta-less issues, and the book ended with #6 (Magazine Enterprises as a whole did not make it to 1960).
So although Frazetta continued to work in comic books for the next few years, he began intently looking for work outside of comic books, and he eventually found it, spending most of the decade (and into the 1960s) in the world of comic strips, primarily as Al Capp’s assistant on Lil’ Abner.
But imagine if Magazine Enterprises had cut Frazetta in for a percentage of the serial rights? How might that have dramatically changed Frazetta’s career in comic books? It’s an interesting though, and thanks to Marc S. for suggesting it to me!
By the by, amusingly enough, guess what was nearly the EXACT next comic book assignment by Frazetta after he left Thun’da?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are BRAND NEW legends never published on the blog!).
The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…
If you’d like to order it (Christmas is coming soon – good time to buy my book as a present!), you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…
See you all next week!
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