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Comic Book Legends Revealed #303

Welcome to the three hundredth and third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and two.

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 Movie Legends Revealed, which gets to the bottom of whether the sequel to Buckaroo Banzai was really adapted into the film Big Trouble in Little China.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). If we hit 3,000 likes on Facebook or 3,000 followers on Twitter, you’ll have the option to get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000 likes or 3,000 followers! So go like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! 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!

I apologize that I did not think to make this edition an all-Garth Ennis themed installment! It didn’t even occur to me until I saw the number just now. Oh well!

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Before Malibu had a bullet hole cut through an issue of the Protectors, a small comic book company decided to put an ACTUAL bullet hole in an issue of their comic!

STATUS: True

Protectors #5 is a famous (infamous?) comic book, because the issue contains a hole punched right through every copy of the book, to designate a bullet hole shot through the character on the cover.

R.A. Jones wrote the issue and Tom Derenick (with Mike Deodato on inks!) drew the issue.

It was one of the most notable gimmick covers of the 1990s (it was released in late 1992). I mentioned it in a Comic Book Legends Revealed column a long time ago (think 154 columns ago) about the Malibu character Night Mask (who was the fellow killed off in the issue in question).

In the comment section, Ryan Dunlavey (the awesome artist whose latest issue of Comic Book Comics with Fred Van Lente just came out THIS WEEK! Go buy it!) noted about how there was a comic from the same time with an ACTUAL bullet hole through it.

Well, Shannon Wheeler, acclaimed creator of Too Much Coffee Man, happened upon the column recently and wrote in to tell the story about the comic in question:

I’m always mad when I see that Protectors cover. It’s true that my friends and I shot our comic book with a gun – right around the same time the Protectors die-cut a hole in their comic book. 2 months before either of our books came out we met the writer of the Protectors (I think it was R.A. Jones) at the Dallas Fantasy Fair comic show. We gave him a promotional mini-comic that detailed our idea – we even shot the mini comic with a gun. We were shocked and pissed off when we saw that we’d been ripped off. I asked Jones about it when we were on a panel and he said that it was a last minute thing they did and some of their advertisers were mad since the hole went through their adds. It’s important to note that the insides of their book didn’t accommodate the hole at all. He claimed he didn’t know where they’d gotten the idea.

We actually shot every one of our comics with a gun. The standard issue was shot with a .22. We had special editions of a 9mm, a .45 and a shot gun issue. We charged more for the higher caliber books. The shotgun issue came in a bag for $20 and was guaranteed unreadable.

Our bullet hole went through the middle of the book. We asked the artists to incorporate the hole into their stories. In my Too Much Coffee Man story the police were continually shooting into his house and I placed the hole in a breaking window, shot Elvis decanter, shattering coffee mugs, etc.

It took 3 days to shoot the 3,000 comic books.

Having the Protectors rip us off was frustrating. They were a real company with professionals. We were a group of goofy friends self-publishing a silly comic – trying to make a name for ourselves. They did a piss-poor job of doing a bullet-hole. We came up with the idea and executed with style and humor. I’m still proud of the book we did which I doubt is something they can say.

The comic in question, Jab #3, also came out in late 1992…

Shannon shared with me a number of pages from the comic to show you how it was designed (sans bullet holes, of course)…

Pretty cool, huh?

I’d love to see a copy of the story WITH the bullet hole in it. Shannon notes that they sold out of the comics and he has only seen a copy once or twice over the years, so if you have a copy, please scan a page or two of it to let us know what the finished work looked like! There were other stories in the comic, it’d be interesting to see what they looked like, too!

EDIT: Dave Cardenas (and his wife) scanned pages from the comic for me here. Check it out!

Thanks to Shannon Wheeler for giving us such a great look back at indie comic history. Be sure to check out Shannon’s website here – it is filled with new comics by him, including his regular “How to be Happy” feature. Thanks to Ryan Dunlavey for mentioning the comic! Go buy Comic Book Comics!

COMIC LEGEND: Wolverine’s classic costume got its distinct cowl because of a Gil Kane mistake on a comic book cover that Dave Cockrum liked so much that he adopted it – even after Cockrum had drawn the costume differently throughout the actual comic!

STATUS: True

As you may well know, John Romita designed Wolverine’s original costume when Wolverine debuted in the pages of the Incredible Hulk.

Here are Romita’s original designs…

When Wolverine showed up as a member of the All-New, All-Different X-Men a little while later, though, he had a slightly re-designed (and slightly cooler looking) costume…

Now over the years, perhaps since he was such a great costume designer in his own right, Dave Cockrum has been given credit for doing the re-design on Wolverine’s outfit. However, the truth is a lot odder than that.

You see, when the comic was penciled by Cockrum, he drew Wolverine the same way he appeared originally. Gil Kane, though, who was drawing the cover, accidentally messed the outfit up (or perhaps drew it differently willfully, I dunno) and drew Wolverine with the distinctive cowl he has had ever since.

Rather than fix Kane’s mistake, though, Cockrum decided that Kane’s version looked so good that he decided to adopt it himself! Cockrum then went back through the comic that he had penciled and while inking the book, he inked Wolverine so that his cowl would match Kane’s design.

And so a classic look was born!

Thanks to Brian Warmoth and the late, great Dave Cockrum for an article in Wizard awhile back where Cockrum noted how he re-inked the book after seeing Kane’s design. Thanks to commenter T for reminding me about this story the other day. And thanks to Joel DiGiacomo of the awesome Wolverine website, Wolverine Files, for the Romita designs!

COMIC LEGEND: Charles Addams was driven insane by one of his own cartoons.

STATUS: False

In Comic Book Legends Revealed a couple of weeks back, I wrote about how a joke by a friend of Charles Addams in the introduction to a collection of Addams’ cartoons led to people actually believing that Addams’ cartoons were used to diagnose lunacy in patients.

Reader Joe even found the specific cartoon that was supposedly used. Here it is:

The notion would be “if you can understand this cartoon, you are past the initial stages of lunacy and are full-out insane.”

Although a joke, the rumor persisted. Really, it is hard to grasp in 2011 just how “out there” Addams’ work was during the 1930s and 40s and 50s. What we now see as charming, almost quaint comics, were seen in their own time as quite edgy.

Anyhow, in the comments section of the initial column, another reader, Steve Orvis, wrote:

Didn’t ONE of the Addams cartoons drive someone (Addams himself?) insane? Something about a bat carrying a baby away to eat?? I remember hearing something about that…

Steve is almost certainly referring to the story about a ghoul in a maternity waiting room stating to the nurse “don’t bother to wrap it, I’ll eat it right here.”

In her recent biography about Addams, Linda Davis recounts the stories about this cartoon:

They said that Addams would have periodic mental breakdowns and begin drawing the gruesome maternity room cartoon. Or he’d redraw [the comic mentioned earlier by Joe -BC]“The Skier,” his classic 1940 cartoon showing single ski tracks on either side of a tree, as though the skier seen vanishing down the hill has passed right through it. As Addams would begin madly sketching the skier or the maternity ghoul (depending on which version of the story you heard), his New Yorker employer had him carted off in an ambulance to the loony bin.

As you might imagine, the story is not true. However, Davis deliver an even more surprising aspect of the story…

People swore that they had actually seen the maternity room cartoon, but Addams had never drawn it. He had, however, submitted a cartoon rough (an artist’s draft) with a similar idea: “I’m worried about Albert,” says a wife of her husband in a maternity room. “He eats his young.” “It was of course rejected,” Addams told his friend Steven M. L. Aronson, a book editor and writer.

Davis notes, though, that Addams FOSTERED this idea of him as being insane. He would reply to letters using the letterhead “The Gotham Rest Home for Mental Defectives” or do other peculiar things to make himself seem, well, insane. He was amused by the reactions of those around him by his eccentricities.

Davis further explained:

He had long delighted in telling reporters about some of the gifts he had received: a gilded skull, a human thighbone, a frozen beef heart in a box for Valentine’s Day. “I woke up the other night and felt like screaming,” he once told a reporter. “I thought, ‘Why not? No one will ever hear me.’ So I let out a long, thin scream, and felt much better.”

That’s the kind of guy Addams was.

Thanks to Linda Davis for her great book, Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life, and thanks to Steve for the question!

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!

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!

29 Comments

When your talented or rich your eccentric, when your talentless or poor…your just weird.

That being said, Addams sounded like an awesome guy.

When I made that comment about Wolverine’s mask and it magically disappeared, I had an idea this was why! ;)

I was wondering, are there any remaining scans anywhere of Cockrum’s original pencils showing how he originally drew Wolverine before changing the mask? Did he ink his actual pencils or did he ink photocopies of his pencils?

The Protector bullet-hole comic looks like someone just took a hole-punch to the pages.

The Too Much Coffee Man bullet hole comic looks like, to use some Full Metal Jacket vernacular, was in The Shit.

I don’t think I ever had that issue of Jab. Nice cover by Tom King, though,. He went on to be an artist for Futurama during its original airings.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again….can never get too much Addam’s Family stuff.

I’m sure there must be several Addams biographies out there. I think after your last two legends about him I’ll try one.

I remember that issue of Jab being solicited, waaaay back in the day. The bullet-hole idea was just so outrageous. I had no idea it was Shannon Wheeler, though. Neat!
(It also makes that Too Much Coffee Man story make a lot more sense… :)

Never heard of that Wolverine mask legend before…thanks!

And of course Wolverine was originally going to be called the Canadian Goose, but someone nixed that along the way.

The Protectors was a pretty good series. Too bad it got lost in the days of speculation and flooding of the market back in the 90′s.

I do remember the skiing cartoon allegedly being used to demonstrate that Germans tend not to have much of a sense of humor. The idea being that the cartoon was shown to people of various nationalities and that, in general, Germans were incapable of “getting” the image–why it was supposed to be funny.

i remember when that Jab issue came out. i used to have one though sadly it’s long lost in time. i kinda remember something, not sure if it was an ad for it or somebody told me, but supposedly every tenth copy would have gunpowder residue because they shot them in stacks of ten. i even remember when Protectors came out and thinking they totally ripped off Jab’s gimmick.

So the bullet-hole gimmick REALLY was used! That has to be THE worst cover gimmick of the 90′s; even the one with sandpaper cannot beat it!

The details of Wolverine’s costume have never mattered much because, well, it’s so completely meaningless (it doesn’t even resemble a real Wolverine.) That said it had a cool design. I still prefer the brown version, though.

Btw, haven’t we seen the whole skiing-on-both-sides-of-the-tree gag in cartoons like Tom and Jerry’s? Or does this predate those?

I stopped reading super hero comics back in 68 but if there’d of been a Canadian Goose” out there I’m sure I’d of returned.

Michael Sacal

March 4, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Obviously the skiier is a mutant with the power to disperse the molecules of his body so that they can pass through matter, like J’Onn J’Onzz.

I like that the Jab comic stories actually incorporated the bullet hole…the Protectors issue was so obviously written without taking the gimmick into consideration, and it suffered for it.

This was on the mental floss blog last week in regards to the Addams skier cartoon:

“Two months after “The Skier” was published, Addams received a letter from an Illinois psychologist, who told him that she’d been using the image to determine the intelligence of mentally challenged adults. She would ask her patients why the image was funny, and if they didn’t get it, she pegged their intelligence as lower than a 9-year-old.”

Possibly another source of the exaggeration for that legend?

Man, stop calling Addams’ cartoons “quaint.”

Michael S – exactly where my mind went. I had her being Phantom Girl but same idea…

That skiing-around-the-tree gag has indeed been used in several cartoons, I’ve seen some Disney comics covers which have varied that (including how to create tracks like that, which is relatively easy if you are Huey, Dewey and Louie). I guess Addams predated those I have seen, but wouldn’t rule out the possibility that others have done similar thing before him.

I can sort of get the notion that it can be used to test mentally challenged people, though that could probably be done witha variety of other pictures like that…

I think I read it in Brendon Gill’s “Here At The New Yorker”, but apparently German readers saw that Addams’ skiier cartoon as a puzzle & wrote in possible solutions to solve it. Sadly he didn’t list any of the possible solutions that had supposedly been submitted.

if i remember correctly, there was another small press comic (Sin?) that came out after Jab but had a band-aid on the cover to “cover the hole” or something like that. The era of goofy covers really is an almost inexhaustible trough of content for a column like this, isn’t it?

My favorite “gimmick” was one that actually never happened. One of the later issues of Zot! had a scene of the characters walking through the woods in the fall and was supposed to be scented like leaves to enhance the scene. I’m pretty sure cat yronwode wrote about that and how it just never worked right in some of her “Fit to Print” columns back in the day, so it was intended, but never worked out. If Eclipse had been Malibu, they would have just claimed to have done it anyway to goose the sales!!!

Gary Larson had a variation of the baby-eating joke in The PreHistory of the Far Side. The panel has a boa constrictor crawling through the slats of a crib, with its tail end fitting through the far side of the crib, but its front being blocked by a baby-sized lump in its body.

This was published under the “Rejected Cartoons” section but Larson’s note, “No, you really didn’t see this. Turn the page” makes me think he never even submitted it.

Thank you answering my question! Love the column, didn’t know about the evolution of Wolvie’s mask…figures it was Gil Kane. ;)

I remember being disappointed that the issue of the Protectors didn’t take the hole into account.

I don’t know where my issue is, or even if I still have it. But, as I recall, the hole not only disrupted ads, but also went through a word balloon or caption at one point. I could be wrong about that, though.

Theno

“was guaranteed unreadable”

They stole that idea from Rob Liefeld!

Can’t believe I never heard the wolverine costume story before. Love the Monkees story too.

I think I saw that “I’ll eat it here” in a cartoon Mad magazine, i.e. not Addams (though I’ve read a lot of Addams). How weird our memory works…

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