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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #294

Welcome to the two-hundred and ninety-fourth 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 ninety-three.

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 TV Legends Revealed for the story behind why Cagney and Lacey kept crediting an actor in the opening credits years after he died, plus what actress was nominated for an Emmy for a role that lasted all of 14 seconds of screen time?

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). As I’ve promised, at 2,000 Twitter followers I’ll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week we hit 2,000. We are getting quite close, so go follow us (here‘s the link to our Twitter page again)! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Mickey Mouse fought the Nazis in a series of comic strips during the 1940s

STATUS: True

You know, it’s funny, the earlier edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that featured the old Mickey Mouse strips from 1930 where Mickey Mouse comically tried to kill himself for a few days (which you can find here) has been linked to so many times that I actually know the number of the installment off the top of my head (#114).

Anyhow, a reader recently wrote in to ask about a series of Mickey Mouse strips that, while perhaps not quite as bizarre as the sight of Mickey trying to blow his own brains out, were still pretty strange, namely, did Mickey Mouse ever fight the Nazis?

Specifically, reader Devin wrote in to ask, “I know you did a column on Mickey Mouse trying to kill himself, but is it also true that an old Mickey strip had him fighting the Nazis during World War II?”

The answer is, of course, a resounding yes!

In fact, more than a few of the Mickey Mouse comics of 1943 and 1944 involved Mickey against the Nazis.

Floyd Gotfredson was the plotter and the penciler for these stories, with Dick Moores on inks and Bill Walsh handling the scripting duties.

Mickey’s Nazi problems began in late June of 1943, while he was asked by the Chief of Police to pose as a gasoline truck driver to investigate rumors of a Nazi spy ring in the States. Minnie came along for the ride and, well, things got dangerous…

After Mickey knocked the Nazi out, he had to steer the sub with his teeth while avoiding U.S. ships trying to sink the Nazi sub!

Eventually, things worked out okay…

Almost immediately (if not actually immediately) following this series of strips, the same creative team got together for an EPIC storyline with Mickey volunteering for a secret mission in Berlin…

It involved an experimental plane. However, through various problems, Mickey ends up losing the plane and getting captured to boot!

Through various (and amusing) hijinx (the whole thing lasted from the middle of July to the end of October, so it was a loooong story), Mickey ends up getting free and getting the plane back. He then goes on a strafing run of Germany…

After dipping his plane in tar, Mickey takes a novel approach to capturing some high-ranking Nazi officials…

At the end, we learn who the REAL hero of World War II was!

Even Pluto got into the act! In a short series of strips in February of 1944 (by the same Gotfredson/Walsh/Moores creative team), Pluto captures an escaped Nazi!

So there ya go, Devin! Mickey Mouse’s World War II adventures!

COMIC LEGEND: Revell never actually gave away the full-sized replica of the Gemini spacecraft.

STATUS: False

As you probably noticed by now, all month-long I have been featuring (and will continue to feature) interesting and amusing comic book ads in the feature “I Saw It Advertised One Day.” Here is an archive of the ads that have been featured so far. I’ve asked people to send in suggestions for ads that they would like me to feature, and recently, a reader Steve M. wrote in to ask an interesting question:

Someone in the comments mentioned Clark bar ad offers that they thought that the company never actually went through. That reminded me of an old comic book ad where a model company said that they would donate a replica of the Gemini space model. A friend of mine years ago said that the whole thing was a scam and I have never seen or heard otherwise. So what’s the deal?

Steve is referring to this striking ad from 1967…

Revell, as you may or may not know, is a very prominent company in the world of model kits. They continue to be so to this day (here is their website), but especially during the 1950s and 1960s, you could barely pick up a comic book without finding an ad for a Revell model kit!

But what’s the deal with the Gemini replica? Did they ever actually give this thing away?

Luckily for us, Mark Engblom, of the awesome website, Comics Coverage, got to the bottom of the story, getting a response from Ms. Joyce Collier of the Revell Sales Department, who noted that the campaign was the brainstorm of Howard Reider, the PR and Marketing Manager of Revell during the 1960s. She had a bunch of interesting info about the campaign, including:

To confirm for all, this was not a model. This was an actual replica that was produced by McDonald Douglas. The capsule had to be shipped via railroad direct to the museum. The prize was awarded via a sweepstakes type entry, in order to win; the winner had to agree that they would donate to a local museum for two reasons, (1) So that others may enjoy and (2) Because it had to be shipped via railroad direct to the donation site.

A little more trivia for you, the cost of building this kit was $5,000. In 1967 $5,000 was unheard for any type of prize. Plus the additional model kits that the kid won. At least the kid got to keep all the model kits as he watched his beloved capsule given away. There were numerous glitches along the way in production. At the last minute McDonald Douglas said they would not provide the capsule. However, after seeing all the press etc, they some how found a way to complete the project and deliver to the museum.

Here’s a few shots of the exhibit in use at its current home, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry…

Be sure to read more from Ms. Collier’s letter at Mark’s website here.

So who actually WON the contest?

The answer is found in a contemporary issue of Boy’s Life magazine, which details that Boy Scout Robbie Alen Hanshaw, 13 years old, of Portland, Oregon, won the contest and donated the replica to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Not only did Robbie win the right to donate the replica, but he received over 200 Revell model kits plus five years’ worth of free Baskin Robbins ice cream! Wow, that is quite a prize for a 13 year old! The museum also gave him a lifetime membership.

Thanks to Joyce Collier for the interesting information and thanks to Mark Engblom for getting that info! And thanks to Boy’s Life for the info about who won the contest!

COMIC LEGEND: A quote from an odd little comic about heroin abuse in 1966 ended up in in the Principia Discordia!

STATUS: True

Principia Discordia is a well-known, and quite bizarre, text from the 1960s and 1970s (it was updated over the years) that deals with “Discordian” beliefs (which is that all there is in the universe is chaos, and both order and disorder are illusions of chaos).

You can decide for yourself whether Discordian believers actually believe what they are writing, or if they are just trying to satirize/mock the idea of religion.

Similarly, Principia Discordia can be read that way, as well – as a bizarre piece of humor or as, well, an actual book about Discordian beliefs.

Ethan Persoff runs an amazing site where he posts various comic book oddities, like, well, a comic book about heroin abuse from 1966 that was given out for a few months at methadone clinics in New York. You can read the whole thing here.

Here’s a quick sample panel…

Well, what’s interesting is that soon after Ethan put up Hooked on his site, a reader of his made an amazingly strange connection.

Check out this panel from Hooked…

Now check out this page from the 1968 edition of Principia Discordia…

Trippy, huh? That must be right up there with one of the most obscure references that you will ever see anywhere!!

Thanks to Ethan for Hooked (and his reader for the Principia Discordia pick-up)! Check out his site for more odd comic book goodies!!!

Okay, that’s it for this week! I hope you all had a Very Happy New Year!!

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!

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 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, 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!

44 Comments

That Gottfredson fellow is a hell of an artist. Is he held in as high regard as Carl Barks? If not, he should be.

Also, are the Nazis dogs? If so, why are they so much more humanlike than Pluto? Now that I think about it, I guess the same goes for Goofy vs. Pluto. Has that ever been explained?

WTF!

That B/W photo looks like President Barack Obama sitting on the space capsule.

Is he held in as high regard as Carl Barks?

Perhaps not QUITE as high as Barks, but yes, Gottfredson is held in very high regard.

WTF!

That B/W photo looks like President Barack Obama sitting on the space capsule.

Hehe…Boy’s Life in the 1960s did not exactly have the clearest photos (I suppose their theory was “you’re lucky you’re getting photos at all!”).

@T.: In the Disneyverse, there are Dawgs, and there are dogs. Dawgs (dog-faces, Goofs) are people, humanoid, they hold jobs and wear clothes. Dogs are pets.

The confusion in the Disneyverse isn’t anthro-animals (Mickey, Goofy, Donald) vs. non-anthro-animals (Pluto, Figaro), but the animals that are in-between (Chip n’ Dale, notably).

I always wondered about some of those ads from the old comic books when I was digging through my grandparents attics, and finding the comics my dad and his brothers had when they were growing up. I remember one for what amounted to a 2 person “Polaris submarine” that I always wondered about. Like if it was something that was set up on blocks in the back yard like a jungle gym or a swing set. Be curious if anything came of those.

And never mind. Went back through your ad stories list and didn’t realize there it was at number 9. :)

I can’t believe it! I sat in that Gemini capsule many times at OMSI over the years! I loved that thing since I was a kid! Now I know where and how they got the thing. A huge thanks to Robbie Alen Hanshaw, whoever or wherever he is, for winning that contest and giving it to OMSI!

Just a small correction in Ms. Collier’s recollections– it’s McDonnell Douglas, not Macdonald Douglas.

The confusion in the Disneyverse isn’t anthro-animals (Mickey, Goofy, Donald) vs. non-anthro-animals (Pluto, Figaro), but the animals that are in-between (Chip n’ Dale, notably).

Crap, never even thought of that. My head almost exploded.

“That B/W photo looks like President Barack Obama sitting on the space capsule.”

I don’t know when or how, but you can be sure that photo will be used by birthers as proof that Obama is an alien.

I’ve sat in that space capsule! I’m pretty sure it’s still there at OMSI, although I haven’t been there since my laser-light-show period just out of high school. But I have plenty of fond memories of playing on it at various school field trips and such as a child. Who would have thought it would have such an interesting history.

in regards to the micky strips… So does this mean that Goofy has a dark Nazi past? Or maybe he’s of Germanic decent? I guess that would explain those cartoons of his bumbling attempts at skiing (presumably in the alps?) , and his leiderhosen outfits.

Man, I totally forgot that I was a Discordian Pope. I used to have a card that identified me as such, but that was in a wallet that was stolen in Paris back in 1993.

Regarding the “Polaris submarine”: it was basically a glorified cardboard box. CSI: New York had an episode a few seasons back in which the motive for a murder was revenge for the accidental drowning of the killer’s childhood friend in one of those cardboard subs! (I presume the real fake Polaris included a prominent disclaimer that the sub wasn’t safe to take in the water but who knows?)

That Revell story is great…plus I always get a kick out of Woolworth’s references.

@buttler: Aren’t we all technically Discordian Popes?

From Page 00036: “Every man, woman and child on this Earth is a genuine and authorized Pope.”

(Page 00036 also has a comic book reference – Hal Jordan’s floating (upside down) head saying “What Courage! What Fortitude!” – not nearly as obscure as the one Brian wrote about, but a reference nonetheless)

BTW, the entire Principia Discordia is online:

http://www.principiadiscordia.com/

Yeah, that 10-19 strip (the strafing run) is pretty much capital-A awesome.

It’s kind of difficult to avoid being a little appalled, now, at the image of Mickey Mouse (to all appearances) turning civilian population centers into smoking ruins, in an officially-produced comic strip.

But, of course, it was the middle of WWII. And it was the Nazis. And they were askin’ for it, brother!

Anyone else remember the show Get a Life? There was an episode in which the real, working submarine Chris ordered when he was 12 shows up when he’s 30. Of course, he and his dad get stuck in it when he builds it in the bathtub. That show was way ahead of its time.

“The confusion in the Disneyverse isn’t anthro-animals (Mickey, Goofy, Donald) vs. non-anthro-animals (Pluto, Figaro), but the animals that are in-between (Chip n’ Dale, notably).”

There’s basically a whole range of critters from pure anthro (Mickey, Donald) to slightly anthro (Big Bad Wolf and that crowd) to halfway (Chip n’ Dale, mice from Cinderella, Aristocats) to almost animal (Lady and the Tramp group) to pure animal (Pluto, Figaro, Grandma Duck’s farm animals).
Trying to mix groups works sometimes and sometimes the attempts come off just weird. Slightly anthro and pure anthro mix poorly (Mickey and Donald are basically funny-looking humans, while Big Bad Wolf tries to eat his son’s best friends…) but on the other hand Chip n’ Dale and Cinderella mice mix easily with everyone.
It should also be noted that early Mickey and supporting characters were more “slightly anthro” but over time the animal-like characteristics were dropped, and the new typical supporting character look was that vaguely doglike type (in Finnish they are called buttonnoses, opposed to actual anthro dogs like Goofy) who populate the later Gottfredson and Barks comics.
But unlike Maus, Disney animal characteristics don’t correlate with races or nations. There is some correlation with social standing (e.g. the mayor of Duckburg as well as many politicians and businessmen are pigs, while judges are owls).
Yeah, the anthropomorphism or Duckburg and surroundings is complicated :)

Gottfredson is indeed well appreciated, pretty much second after Barks, and that might be largely due to many readers preferring Donald over Mickey as character, as well as Gottfredson being constrained by the strip format.

There was an animated cartoon in which Donald Duck worked for the Nazis (against his will, and it turned out to be a dream anyway). It’s called Der Fuehrer’s Face, and it featured a song that became a hit for Spike Jones.

I always preferred when Gottfredson was doing his own inks.

There’s also a problem with Mickey’s newspaper strips being created ostensibly for an older audience (though still “all-ages” for the times), but considered to be untenable by today’s corporate Disney (the suicide contemplation, racial stereotypes and I’m sure some of the war strips in the sequences listed here), so there is a LOT of Gottfredson material that’s simply unavailable. Perennial villain Peg-Leg Pete is rarely seen – except in later strips where he’s either regrown his foot or has a realistic prosthetic.

Under current Disney policy, these will never be reprinted or collected in any format (akin to Song of the South being perpetually off the rerelease schedule), which is so sad. I’d love to have a Gottfredson Mickey collection of strips akin to the Gladstone Barks Library (specifically the wafer-thin paperbacks) or better yet, a Peanuts-style 2-years/volume series. Ah, I can dream…

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

January 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm

@Keith Bowden

“Under current Disney policy, these will never be reprinted or collected in any format (akin to Song of the South being perpetually off the rerelease schedule), which is so sad. I’d love to have a Gottfredson Mickey collection of strips akin to the Gladstone Barks Library (specifically the wafer-thin paperbacks) or better yet, a Peanuts-style 2-years/volume series. Ah, I can dream…”

Um, you don’t follow much comic book related news, do you?

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2010/07/sdcc-10-fantagraphics-disney-to-release-gottfredsons-mickey-strips/

Perennial villain Peg-Leg Pete is rarely seen – except in later strips where he’s either regrown his foot or has a realistic prosthetic.

Pete’s actually in the long series of strips with Mickey’s mission to Berlin (like I mentioned, it was a looong series of strips, so Gottfredson seemed to meander a bit, and Pete wanders into the strip for a couple of weeks).

It’s kind of difficult to avoid being a little appalled, now, at the image of Mickey Mouse (to all appearances) turning civilian population centers into smoking ruins, in an officially-produced comic strip.

Keep in mind that when WWII broke out, the U.S., still being officially neutral, urged all parties to refrain from bombing civilian population centers. France and Britain agreed. Germany flatly refused and proceeded to target civilians at every opportunity (of course, Japan had been slaughtering civilians in China and Korea long before WWII officially broke out) By the time 1943 rolled around, few people in Allied countries felt that Germany had retained any semblance of moral standing (and this was well before the scale of the Holocaust was known.)

The basic attitude at the time was that Germany was a threat to civilization itself (and given what we know now, this is was hardly an unreasonable assessment), and needed to be hit as hard as possible and often as possible until unconditional surrender.

Anyway, popular comic strips during WWII are an interesting theme. I remember as a kid reading this large one volume collection of Buck Rogers strips how when WWII broke out, the Martians went from being drawn as humanoids with feline features to stereotypically Japanese with random animal features thrown in.

Thanks for the link, Akaky! It’s especially nice to read that it will be “the complete Mickey Mouse comic strips by Floyd Gottfredson”

Now I just have to start saving up!

I know this is above and beyond the call of duty, but you’re usually so thorough, Brian, that I expected you to track down Robbie Alen Hanshaw to see where he is today. By my calculations he should be 57, 58 at the most. My curiosity is piqued!

Now do the story about Mickey being banned in Czechoslovakia.

Oh Man! How on Earth did I miss that Fantagraphics announcement? Best news I’ve heard in I don’t know when.

Of course, we’re still waiting for that Fantagraphics “Complete Walt Kelly Pogo” collection that was announced several years ago, so we probably shouldn’t hold our breath.

@James Baker

“Of course, we’re still waiting for that Fantagraphics “Complete Walt Kelly Pogo” collection that was announced several years ago, so we probably shouldn’t hold our breath.”

Well…

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/01/fantagraphics-sets-fall-debut-for-the-complete-pogo-for-real-this-time/

Akaky Akakievich Bashmachkin

January 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Again, I’m the Anonymous guy. For some reason I seem to forget to type my nick. Stupid, I know.

first the snark: Fantagraphics has to reprint all this old stuff because all their other cartoonists are leaving for First Second and elsewhere. ZING!

(I’m a bad person)

I picked up a copy of the Principia Discordia at a book sale not long ago. It looked “weird”, so I was interested.

Man, that Gemini capsule legend is cool. It would have been AWESOME to hear that some kid had the replica in their backyard, though.

I take a bit issue with the notion that the storyline is long in Mickey, because from what I’ve read of different strips, 3 months is about a typical story run back in the ’30s and ’40s. And as you say, Peg Leg Pete came in and the story meandered, so it’s not necessarily “purely” the one story the whole 3 months. I’m pretty sure that Lil Abner storylines went on about 3 months at a time, as well as Dick Tracy, Annie, etc.

I, of course, could be wrong, so my apologies if that is the case.

first the snark: Fantagraphics has to reprint all this old stuff because all their other cartoonists are leaving for First Second and elsewhere. ZING!

(I’m a bad person)

I don’t get it. Can you explain? I feel like I’m missing out on a good joke.

“Trippy, huh? That must be right up there with one of the most obscure references that you will ever see anywhere!!”

Get her! She took Mike’s computer!

…As noted over on Doug Drexler’s blog, the Gemini command module is still on display at OMSI. However, the real mystery is whether the retro and equipment modules shipped with the CM, and if so what are the current whereabouts of them. As noted in the photo where the kid is straddling the forward RCS rings, you can’t see either of the rear modules, and nobody currrently employed at OMSI has a clue whether the museum received either module, much less where they’re currently being stored if they were in fact received. Mrs. Collier was contacted by a space history colleague of mine a couple of years ago, and while she provided the same info she gave Brian, she was not certain that the mockup didn’t just exist of the command module. If the price of the mockup of that quality and accuracy was $5000 USD circa 1965-1966, then that’s actually a bit low for a complete three-module mockup; A couple of former McDD engineers who worked for the firm at the time remembered that their cost for each of the seven known full-scale mockups was closer to $10,000 USD circa 1964.

…Still, while I sent in about five entry blanks back then, I’m still glad that I didn’t win it. Quite simply, I wouldn”t have wanted to share it with anyone, and at that time we didn’t have a museum locally that had enough interest in space sciences that would have been worthy enough of the donation.

Well, T, I was referring to the notion that it seems to me that a lot of the “classic” Fantagraphics creators (Clowes, Sala, some others) are going and doing new books at First Second books, instead of sticking with FG. I’m guessing that it’s not really as many as I’m making it sound like, but several of the books Brian featured on the Year of Cool Comics came from First Second, like Richard Sala’s Cat Burglar Black.

As I said, I was being snarky, and probably overstating my case.

It feels like I beat the joke past death. I feel icky now. “thanks” T! :)

Best not to think about the varying degrees of human-ness in Disney’s funny animals and just roll with it. Like John K. says, anything goes in a cartoon story:
http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/2010/01/great-writing-can-be-found-in-comic.html

Actually, Sean, it’s “Stop her, she stole Mike’s keyboard”.

I never thought I’d see OMSI feature so prominently in one of these posts. How cool. Brings back memories…

Brian from Canada

January 8, 2011 at 7:56 am

According to my film prof — who specialized in Disney — the popularity of Donald is proportional to Mickey’s becoming tamer and tamer once Donald shows up (to the point where the jokes are by Goofy and Donald). This was the impetus for changing Mickey’s look in Fantasia.

That the comic strips don’t match the shorts and features isn’t surprising, since they seem to have run through two separate divisions. The strips are MUCH better in terms of storytelling with those characters, and Duck Tales was only the hint of how big a world Disney comics had to offer.

Thank goodness for Fantagraphics!

[...] Brian Cronin doesn’t know it, but I’ve been nursing a Hulk sized crush on him for years. Each week he tackles geektastic myths and mysteries in his Comic Book Urban Legends Friday column. I, like many folks, am addicted. [...]

Dude! Just got your book today. Freaking awesome! Keep up the great work. Cheers!

The Principia Discordia reminds me of the Book of the Subgenius.

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