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Comic Book Legends Revealed #304

Welcome to the three hundredth and 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 three hundred and 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 Music Legends Revealed for a legend that ties into the first legend of today’s column (basically how one band reacted to having a song “forced” upon them by their producer).

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Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Before becoming a hit for The Archies, Don Kirshner offered “Sugar, Sugar” to the Monkees who turned it down because it was “too bubblegum pop.”

STATUS: False

In the opening scene of the first episode of the TV series Stella, two of the three main characters argue over what music to listen to. One character wants to listen to funk music while another character adamantly wants to listen to funk rock music. After a series of escalating arguments, a compromise is reached – instead of funk ROCK music, they’ll listen to FUNK rock music. All is well.

That’s what pops into my mind when I think about the great Don Kirshner/Monkees arguments over what kind of pop music the Monkees should play. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that there was a lot more going on to their disagreements (as it was about who gets to control the direction of the band), but I just find it amusing to think of a band effectively saying, “We’re not going to play that stupid bubblegum stuff, we want to play stuff like ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ and ‘Daydream Believer’!!”

In any event, the song that many use as the example of what finally led to a split between Kirshner and the Monkees (or more specifically, what led to Kirshner getting ousted) was an argument over the song “Sugar Sugar.” A popular version of the story is that Mike Nesmith was so outraged at the idea of the band singing the song that he put his fist through a wall.

The story becomes more interesting, of course, because it would later become a smash hit for the “fake” band, the Archies (with Ron Dante singing lead).

“Sugar, Sugar” is still one of the best bubblegum pop songs ever…

But is that what really happened? Davy Jones has agreed with Kirshner’s recollections on the subject over the years (Kirshner is the one who would tell the story of Nesmith putting his hand through the wall), but it does not appear as though the story is actually true.

The Kirshner/Monkees relationship actually began AFTER the Monkees had been given a full-season pickup by NBC. The producers of the show freaked out over the idea of having to come up with so many new songs for the band to sing during the series, so they ended up cutting a deal with Kirshner giving him a great deal of power over the group.

Here’s Kirshner…

Two of the notable aspects of his deal was that he would not allow the members of the group to play instruments on the records (just for the sake of ease, not because he thought they were bad musicians, as Mike Nesmith, in particular, was a very good musician) and he would also significantly reduce the amount of songs that the band could write themselves, instead relying heavily on the Brill Building stable of artists. The band ultimately got to choose which songs they would sing, but the pressure from Kirshner was great (and Kirshner would decide which songs were made into singles, A-side and B-side).

When the first two singles were huge hits (“Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer”), Kirshner’s position got even more solid. However, after he released an album in early 1967 without the band even knowing about it (let alone listening to it), that was the last straw for Mike Nesmith. He called a press conference to discuss the situation and later threatened to quit the group entirely in a meeting with Kirshner and Bert Schneider (head of the TV show) (it was here that the wall punch likely happened).

Ultimately, a compromise was reached where the group was allowed to at least pick the B-side on their singles. Kirshner, though, decided to ignore this and put out a single with an A-side and a B-side of his choosing, figuring that if it hit big then how could they get mad at him? With Neil Diamond having written the Monkees’ biggest hit so far (“I’m a Believer”), Kirshner went to him again for “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.” Only Davy Jones performed on the single. Naturally, the band freaked out and this time, Kirshner had gone too far and he was removed from his role as band manager/producer/whatever you want to call what he did.

Now as for “Sugar Sugar,” we know the following. One, Kirshner never recorded “Sugar Sugar” for the Monkees, which is how he typically pitched songs to them – having the instrumentals recorded and then shown to the group. What we DO know is that Kirshner had a bubblegum pop song called “Sugar Man” recorded in early 1967. It was right after this session that Nesmith had his big blowout with Kirshner. When you combine that with the writer of “Sugar Sugar,” Andy Kim, stating that he did not write “Sugar Sugar” until The Archies was created (which wasn’t until 1968) than I think we can pretty safely say what happened – that “Sugar Man” and “Sugar Sugar” were confused in the minds of Kirshner (and Davy Jones) leading to the mixed-up story.

Add to this the fact that Kirshner tended to tell a lot of stories where he was the smart producer and the Monkees were just dumb kids, then you could see how he would certainly prefer to recall it as being a hit song being turned down violently by Nesmith.

Thanks to commenter Tom for bringing this to my attention (Tom mentioned that Ron Dante also said that the song was written specifically for the Archies). For an extensive history of the Kirshner/Monkees squabbles, check out this great article written by Mercurie.

COMIC LEGEND: Before he hit it big as a comic book artist, Frank Miller drew Hostess fruit cake advertisements.

STATUS: Basically True

Last week, in the month-long My Back Pages feature (where I spotlight the first U.S. professional work by a notable comic book creator), I featured Frank Miller’s first comic book work from 1978.

Regular commenter Omar Karindu wrote in to note that interestingly enough, one of Frank Miller’s earliest works was actually doing a Hostess fruit pies ad!

The ad Omar referred to is the following, from 1979…

The above ad is notable in that it actually appeared in Gold Key comics, not Marvel comics. Miller, if you look at the link I gave about his first work, did work for Gold Key at the start of his career, so that would make sense.

While I agree that that is Frank Miller on art, I don’t have any specific proof of that besides, well, the art looking just like Frank Miller’s art at the time.

However, Miller did a SECOND Hostess ad that we know he did, this time featuring the Human Torch.

The “basically” I mentioned before was the fact that Miller had already begun work on Daredevil when he did these ads.

So it wasn’t like this was exactly a stepping stone in his career, which is how I’ve seen it framed in a few different places (not saying that that is what Omar was saying, just noting that’s how I’ve seen it in a few different places). In fact, doing a Hostess ad at Marvel at this time was almost a bit of an honor, as since it was done by an outside ad agency, it paid about 50% more than a normal page rate. So all the main Marvel artists of the time did them – Romita, Andru, Kane, etc.

Roger Stern has a fascinating tidbit about the Human Torch ad that he posted on the IMWAN message boards:

Frank’s Torch ad originally had him fighting a villain the agency named Iceman. Yeah, they had no idea that Marvel already had an Iceman character. Frank caught that and designed the villain we wound up called “Icemaster” (which sounds as though it should be a Ronco product).

Thanks to Omar Karindu for the reminder, thanks to Roger Stern for that extra info and thanks to the Hostess Comic Ads page for the comic scans!

COMIC LEGEND: Howard Chaykin and Rich Buckler effectively just took the characters they were doing for Atlas Comics to Marvel when they each left Atlas.

STATUS: True

With Atlas Comics now making a comeback under completely new management (I thought Tony Isabella did a fine job on the first issue of the Grim Ghost this week), I thought it worth mentioning an odd little sequence of events with Howard Chaykin and Rich Buckler when they worked at Atlas.

Atlas/Seaboard was the comic company that Martin Goodman started in 1974 in an attempt to compete with Marvel Comics. It lasted just about two years before going out of business.

One of its very last new titles was Rich Buckler’s Demon Hunter…

The company folded soon after.

Well, in 1977, while working on the Deathlok series (which he had begun in Astonishing Tales), Buckler had Demon Hunter just come to Marvel Comics as Devil-Slayer…

The character has remained at Marvel ever since, becoming a recurring character in the Defenders…

and even getting his own MAX series recently…

Amusingly enough, Buckler then just re-used the character again for his own creator-owned one-off magazine, Galaxia (the character was now called Bloodwing)…

That’s odd, but Howard Chaykin’s The Scorpion might be an even odder story.

The first issue was really good…

The second issue was not as good (and didn’t even have a Chaykin cover)…

The third (and final) issue was done by the great Jim Craig and it just turned the character into a superhero…

Soon after its cancellation (I mean, RIGHT after its cancellation), Chaykin pretty much just brought the Scorpion to Marvel as Dominic Fortune (first in Marvel Preview #2)…

Chaykin discussed the situation with Jon B. Cooke in Comic Book Artist…

I created Dominic Fortune because the people at Atlas were f*ckheads, and after doing two issues of The Scorpion for them, the ditor of the company f*cked be behind my back. I walked over to Marvel and asked them if they’d like to do The Scorpion under a different name.

Thanks to Jon B. Cooke and Howard Chaykin for the information! And thanks to commenter Rubicon, who suggested I do this story about a year ago!

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!

91 Comments

Chaykin tells it like it is!

By the way, was the Devil Slayer MAX series any good?

As always, interesting stuff Brian.

Are we going to see the results of the final round of You Decide ’11 soon?

By the way, was the Devil Slayer MAX series any good?

The art was amazing. The story was good.

Are we going to see the results of the final round of You Decide ’11 soon?

Yes.

A Stella reference… awesome!

It’s amazing how much you can tell that Spider-Man hostess ad is completely Frank Miller: The shape of the damaged wall in panel 2, the trajectory of the hat in panel 4, the silhouette in panel 7… it’s so clearly Frank. On the other hand, I don’t really see Miller in the Human Torch ad. Not disputing that it’s him, just noting that it doesn’t obviously look like him.

In fairness to the Monkees, the stuff they played was typically one step up from what we’d consider “bubblegum pop” such as “Sugar, Sugar”. S,S has three chords and no significant lyrical content worth mentioning. “Last Train To Clarksville” has a pretty cool guitar lick, lyrics that actually mean something, that intriguing doo-doo-doo-doo bit, and so on. You can go through any Monkees hits compilation and find a number of songs that, while still clearly classifiable as pop, do rise above the crowd to a degree in terms of the attention paid to their composition. Especially their later work… Randy Scouse Git, What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round, and many others.

hey, the crusader is batman… before finger and Robinson

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 11, 2011 at 11:18 am

Good for Chaykin! Not taking any crap from anybody!

“And what’s more, I’m going to turn every character I ever write (or draw) into Dominic Fortune from now on!”

Icemaster would (much) later be seen battling the Thunderbolts.

http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/icmstr.htm

I agree with Ron Moses. ‘Sugar Sugar’ would have been a pretty inappropriate song for the Monkees. Even the two examples Brian cites of their pop-iness, ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ and ‘Daydream Believer’, both have an undercurrent of melancholy that runs underneath almost all of their songs, in both the lyrics and the arrangements. Very underrated band.

Since the Spider-Man ad seems so purely Miller, I suspect he inked it himself. The Torch page does look quite a bit different, so I suspect that it was inked (by Rubenstein?) with a heavy hand, which isn’t uncommon or inappropriate for artist try-outs.

In fairness to the Monkees, the stuff they played was typically one step up from what we’d consider “bubblegum pop” such as “Sugar, Sugar”. S,S has three chords and no significant lyrical content worth mentioning. “Last Train To Clarksville” has a pretty cool guitar lick, lyrics that actually mean something, that intriguing doo-doo-doo-doo bit, and so on.

Right, Ron, but that was my point – “Last Train to Clarksville” is a “deeper” song than, say, “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” so when they rebel against the Kirshner singles (“Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer”) and then follow it up with “Valley” and “Daydream Believer,” then it is like complaining about funk rock as opposed to funk.

Now “Sugar Sugar” would be a different story, but note that this legend is about showing that “Sugar Sugar” was never an issue, so saying “Sugar Sugar” would have been out of place for the group doesn’t apply, since it was not at issue in the dispute between the Monkees and Kirshner.

So that would be the same Dominic Fortune that was a supporting character in Hawkeye & Mockingbird recently?

That’s the one.

Icemaster would (much) later be seen battling the Thunderbolts.

That’s amazing.

My favorite Dominic Fortune story had nothing to do with Chaykin–it was a Marvel Team-Up story that DeMatteis wrote in the early ’80s. But that was because it featured Turner D. Century, and I love everything about Turner D. Century. (Well, except that he’s dead. I don’t love that.)

(Well, except that he’s dead. I don’t love that.)

They brought him back, actually. And I believe he’s one of the few villains who came back from the dead during Rick Remender’s recent Punisher run (he brought back all of the villains that the Scourge killed at “The Bar With No Name”) that has remained alive (the Punisher slowly re-killed most of them).

That’s excellent. I hope to see him courting one May Parker in the near future.

I love those old Hostess ads.

That’s excellent. I hope to see him courting one May Parker in the near future.

Sadly, May Parker is now married (to J. Jonah Jameson’s dad).

Thanks for the kind words, Brian. For what it’s worth, I’m very pleased with my Grim Ghost work and enjoying myself immensely. Just as importantly, I’m being treated very well by the new Atlas.

I never noticed before, but Frank Miller when he first started out drew feet really, really, tiny. Look at the feet on all those characters, they are downright dainty and womanlike. Funny because now he draws them all with huge, honking feet.

Just as importantly, I’m being treated very well by the new Atlas.

Good to hear, Tony!

I just realized that in my piece I probably didn’t stress enough that the new Atlas has nothing to do with the old Atlas, personnel-wise, so I edited in a note to that effect.

“That’s excellent. I hope to see him courting one May Parker in the near future.

Sadly, May Parker is now married (to J. Jonah Jameson’s dad).”

That wouldn’t stop a Howard Chaykin character.

That wouldn’t stop a Howard Chaykin character.

Yeah, but then May would have to become a backstabbing, lipstick–smeared femme fatale, and nobody wants that. (Turner was a DeMatteis creation anyway.)

Brian from Canada

March 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Does anyone know if Mickey Dolenz repeats the same “Sugar Sugar” story in his biography of the band? I remember that it was his book that the telefilm was based on, and in that there’s no punching of the wall — along with a scene where they refuse to do someone else’s song.

Is anyone else nostalgic for those Hostess ads? I love reading old comics and seeing how heroes were applied like spokesmen then — nowadays, the ads aren’t worth looking at, much less reading.

Hey Brian, the music theme made me want to ask…did you by chance send a list of acts who should be in the Rock and Roll HOF to 99.5 The Mountain in Denver this week? There was a list submitted by a Brian Cronen.

Nope, not me.

Yeah, but then May would have to become a backstabbing, lipstick–smeared femme fatale, and nobody wants that.

That’s backstabbing, lipstick-smeared, transexual, femme fatale….and clearly you’ve never been to 4chan.

I also used to dismiss “Pleasant Valley Sunday” as very bubblegummy (er, new term?) but then I heard co-writer Carole King talk about it and perform it live herself, and it took on a surprisingly cynical satirical vibe – it’s a total dig on 1960s suburbia (which in many respects still exists) – “status symbol land”. It’s surprisingly subversive for the time, especially when you consider that white suburban kids were probably the Monkees’ primary audience.

Chip Kidd or someone else needs to do an art book of the old hostess ads.

Are any more comic book ads in the offing on I Saw It Advertised?

Right, Ron, but that was my point – “Last Train to Clarksville” is a “deeper” song than, say, “Pleasant Valley Sunday,”

I’m taking a bus, getting on a plane to New York and going to find you and dispute that point Cronin. “Pleasant Valley Sunday” has brilliant, almost Dylan-esque lyrics about 1960s suburbia with one of the awesomest aural soundscapes ever (and a stunning guitar hook). It trumps “Last Train to Clarksville” in depth any day, month or year.

(Yeah, I said ‘Dylan-esque’ just to get Brian’s dander up. It’s the least I could do…)

Chip Kidd or someone else needs to do an art book of the old hostess ads.

I’m still waiting on a deluxe Spidey Super Stories omnibus.

I’d love to see some of the ridiculous villains from Spidey Super Stories brought into continuity, come to think of it, but the ones I’m thinking of (the Thumper, the Spoiler) were probably carried over into the comic from the TV Electric Company segments and would be property of Children’s Television Workshop, alas. The Thanoscopter, though–that really needs to be canon.

Demon Hunter is a bit of a classic; every other page is an homage to the great comic book artists – Ditko, Kirby et al. Also want to see a trade of the Hostess ads or even the Hostess universe returning! And I second the Spidey Super Stories omnibus too cause they’re getting pretty expensive to pick up now!

Credit on suggesting that the Demolition Derby ad was by Miller should go to Bob Almond, inker extraordinaire — you may remember his work with Sal Velluto on titles like Black Panther.

Per the marvunapp.com link I posted suggesting the link, Almond spotted the resemblance in art style and asked about it there.

Those Chaykin pencil pages are amazing.

I still can’t believe how tame Miller’s early work was; compared to the cruder illustrations as they evolved in later comics.

Who needs an art book of the Hostess ads when you can just go right here?!
http://www.tomheroes.com/Comic%20Ads/hostess%20ads/hostess_ads.htm

LOVED these old ads! It always got me how the heroes hardly ever fought any well known, established villains in them! WHAT? Doctor Doom, Magneto, or the Green Goblin never had a sweet tooth in their lives?!?! :)

Free album download at http://www.facebook.com/chancius

Graeme said: “I’m taking a bus, getting on a plane to New York and going to find you and dispute that point Cronin. “Pleasant Valley Sunday” has brilliant, almost Dylan-esque lyrics about 1960s suburbia with one of the awesomest aural soundscapes ever (and a stunning guitar hook). It trumps “Last Train to Clarksville” in depth any day, month or year.”

I agree with Graeme. “PVS” is the American equivalent to the Kinks’ also-amazing “Shangri-La.”

I just pulled that issue of Marvel Previews(which is magazine sized) out to re-read after recently reading the Dominic Fortune Max series. It’s just some amazing work, especially in black and white.

Yeah, I reread that story in the trade collection of the Max series, and I considered holding onto the trade just for the older reprints, which I quite liked, but I hated the Max stuff so much that I had to resell it.

I am such a big Howard Chaykin fan.Look at that beautiful B&W art form the Marvel magazine.The AS line was interesting to begin with as are all new comics.But it soon dove into the dumper.They had a book with Ditko/Wood art,some other good art also,but as is usual,the editors screwed around with the original premises of most books and after initial offerings were basically unreadable.

I agree, Chaykin’s stuff is great. I usually only come by his work in the odd issue of New Avengers and maybe a couple other places.

Amazing first issue.
Lackluster second issue.
And in the third issue, a weird reboot comes out of nowhere.

Wasn´t that the story of every single Atlas/Seabord comic?.

It’s almost certainly a nitpick on my part, but I was a bit thrown off by the note singling out Mike Nesmith “in particular” as a very good musician when Peter Tork was by far the most skilled (multi-)instrumentalist in the band.

But that’s really nothing… great installment!

“And I believe he’s one of the few villains who came back from the dead during Rick Remender’s recent Punisher run (he brought back all of the villains that the Scourge killed at “The Bar With No Name”) that has remained alive (the Punisher slowly re-killed most of them).”

hahahaha after all these years it finally came to the point where the Punisher ran out of criminals so they resurrected a bunch of dead villains just so he has new people to kill?

Wow, that Daredevil cover is a thing of beauty. WHAT happened to Frank Miller?

I was going to defend Pleasant Valley Sunday, but it’s been done.
Just want to ad that I love the bitting satire of the song. It holds up with the best Nesmith written Songs.
I would also like to add. It’s great to have new comic work from Mr. Isabella.

Thanks, David. Hopefully, you’ll be seeing more comic-book work from me in the future and on a regular basis.

May Parker is now married? to J Jonah Jameson’s dad???

I am now completely and utterly divorced from the wretchedly animated dancing corpse they call the Marvel Universe, and thank God.

“It’s surprisingly subversive for the time, especially when you consider that white suburban kids were probably the Monkees’ primary audience.” True, but those well-off suburban white kids made up a big portion of the hippie types at the time, rebelling against their parents’ consumerism and conformity.

On a recent TV documentary about the Monkees someone (Kirshner, maybe) suggested that Last Train to Clarksville was sort of supposed to refer to young draftees heading of to Vietnam. If you notice some lines, maybe that makes some sense: “And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home…”

Now excuse some over analysis, but I’m kinda fascinated by the Monkees’ story. From what I saw on this show, my assessment of Kirshner fits well with Brian’s comment that he casts himself as the smart businessman / music producer to the dumb kids the Monkees were. Listening to two sides of it, I’d say it’s a little of both. Kirshner saw it as a band created for TV that should just shut up and allow him to make them rich. I think in reality, the Monkees maybe should have understood that, but acted young and naive thinking that they were a band that made it big and wanted to be musicians. Nesmith was the most bull headed about the situation, but maybe the band and show would have lasted if Kirshner at least sympathized a little with their point of view.

Derivative characters continually amaze me in light of the fact that Captain Marvel, of all characters, is the one most noted for a comic/company ending lawsuit. Captain Marvel is probably the LEAST derivative character nowadays. Are all the other ones just not worth suing over?

Scorpion #2 had a fine story and better art than the first one. Wrightson, Kaluta, Simonson and Ed Davis all chipped in and helped Howard make his deadline—great stuff all around.

..Interesting you should bring up Galaxia, Brian. Back when I first met Sam De La Rosa, I asked him to sign my copy of #1 as he’d worked on it. Not only was he totally shocked that he’d finally run into someone who’d actually bought it, he also expressed quite a bit of…er, “dissatisfaction” that Buckler had never paid him for the work he did. This was about 1986, and I’ve never learned if Buckler ever settled up with Sam or not. Would be interested to learn if he did.

…As for whether any of the Archies songs were originally written for the Monkees, one rule of thumb to keep in mind is that while Kirchner has stuck with his story almost verbatim over the years, Kim has waffled back and forth between having written the song in 1967 for the Monkees to 1968 and not writing it for the Archies to even 1969 and having re-written it for the Archies after an original version for the Monkees was rejected by the band along with “Melody Hill”, “Truck Driver”, “Who’s Your Baby?”, “Seniorita Rita”, “Jingle Jangle” and three other songs that neither Archies nor Monkees historians seem to be able to agree on, although many of them list “Inside Out, Upside Down” and “Boys and Girls” as “probable” as being on the demo tape at least in instrumental form.

…Oh, and just to throw another monkee wrench (sic) into this mess. Jeff Barry, Toni Wine and Maeretha Stewart have also gone on record over the past 40+ years as to the Monkees having been offered “Sugar Sugar” first. Thus rendering a final verdict on what was available to whom and/or what pretty much in doubt without Kirchner finally providing that demo tape that caused the whole barrel of monkees to split apart.

A tape that Kirchner claims may no longer exist. Go figger.

“the ditor of the company f*cked be behind my back.”

The two spelling errors in this – typo, OCR error, or was the proofreading of the original source THAT bad, and that’s the actual quote (minus the u/* substitution)???

I always like to mention that the Germs got their hands on “Sugar Sugar” and made it their own.

There’s a book called Bubblegum music is the Naked Truth that has chapters on all sorts of bubblegum music. It’s been so long since I’ve read it, I forget the details on the Archies stuff, but I’m sure there’s a lot in there. To connect in another way to comics, I believe that Peter Bagge wrote a piece on the Spice Girls in there. I also think that Bagge did a Spice Girls comic, when they were the big thing.

Man, if you’d done a legend about Walt Simonson, you’d have the whole Upstart Studio featured this week (right? It was Miller, Chaykin and Simonson, right?)

I’m guessing that Hostess Ad site has credits and all, but I’m afraid that if I go on that site, I’ll never leave it.

I have Little Lulu 251, from 1979, and there is, I believe, a Marvel character in the Hostess ad within. I’ll check and let you know, but I’m pretty sure that’s where I just saw one. But I’m pretty sure it WASN’T either Miller one.

I’m going to post another post about the Chaykin one, because you might want to keep that one in moderation. Maybe.

D’oh, my post just disappeared!

Maybe you’re already moderating it.

Anyway, about Chaykin and the Scorpion and Dominic Fortune. I remember reading about the Atlas stuff, and about how Atlas vs Marvel was some sort of family rivalry. Chip Goodman was (if I’m understanding you correctly) at Marvel, and Martin, his father(?) was at Atlas (according to what you’re saying here, although that doesn’t sound quite right…), so there were attempts at talent poaching, Atlas I think tried to get good writers and artists by offering better pay and/or more creative freedom, etc.

I can’t remember WHERE I read this though. It wasn’t TOO long ago. Was there another CBLR about Atlas that might have said that? Did Hatcher write about it? Was there a link about it on CBR? Maybe something when they announced the new Atlas books? I can’t remember.

I wonder if the editor Chaykin mentions is Jeff Rovin. He later wrote the wonderful Encyclopedia of Super Heroes, and featured the Atlas characters prominently. It wasn’t until the last few years that I discovered he had been an editor there, so was quite familiar with the characters.

And while buttler was being a little snarky (but, y’know, accurate) about Chaykin reusing the same character again and again, there’s another element of the Scorpion that, iirc, isn’t part of Dominic Fortune, but IS part of a later series he did with Marvel.

The Epic/Heavy Hitters mini Midnight Men features a similar element to the Scorpion where the Midnight Men are a bunch of superhero/adventurer types who have been around since the Civil War (at least), and the Scorpion features superhero/adventurer types who have been around since the Civil War (at least), AND, it’s implied/stated that it’s all been the SAME guy. (It’s been a while since I’ve read either, but Chaykin stuff is something I have ready to read soon, since I got something of his fairly recently. Can’t remember what, but my OCD-ness compels me to read ALL of the stuff I have of a writer/artist whenever I get something new by that person. I have A LOT of unread comics…) I’ll take a look at those issues today and see if I’m correct.

…My rather long reply has also disappeared. Don’t tell me Brian’s decided to censor me over here without justification? God/Yahweh/Roddenberry forbid he’s that insane!

Scorpion #2 had a fine story and better art than the first one. Wrightson, Kaluta, Simonson and Ed Davis all chipped in and helped Howard make his deadline—great stuff all around.

Fair enough, Scott. I liked the consistency of the first issue better, but yeah, it was certainly not like the drop from #2 to #3 (no offense intended to Jim Craig, of course, as he was great).

…My rather long reply has also disappeared. Don’t tell me Brian’s decided to censor me over here without justification? God/Yahweh/Roddenberry forbid he’s that insane!

That’s the second time recently I’ve seen the spam filter pick up a comment and the person automatically leap to “I’m being censored!” Geez louise, people, chill out. If I ever reach a situation where I’m not going to let someone comment anymore, I’ll be quite clear about it (and it’ll be pretty clear to everyone else how we reached that point, too).

Mark J. Hayman

March 12, 2011 at 9:07 am

Andy Kim writing or co-writing “Sugar, Sugar” is probably one of those factoids that one tends to know at some point and then conveniently forget. It seems so incongruous given his later work; the lad could really rock when he put his mind to it, in addition to being a decent balladeer. The sort of songs of which even Mike Nesmith would approve… It’s also easy to forget that Kim had great success in the U.S.; he was a monster for awhile in Canada, and apparently would have been with or without the Can-Con rules of the day.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.
I have to take issue with the statement that “Daydream Believer” was bubblegum music. Sure, the Monkees version was garbage, but the original version by the writer, the late great John Stewart, is a great song. Youtube it. Stewart (not the Comedy Central Stewart) wrote it as a sad tribute to the high school heroes whose life turned to crap after graduation. The singer is angry and frustrated that the former cheerleader is old and fat and they live in a trailer park. All they have left are daydreams. Very cool song from one of my favorite writers of all time. RIP John.

I have to take issue with the statement that “Daydream Believer” was bubblegum music.

I don’t believe it is, either. That wasn’t the point. The point was that the first two post-Kirshner singles were no different than the Kirshner singles (heck, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” was written by one of Kirshner’s Brill Building regulars, Carole King!), not that any of it was, per se “bubblegum pop.” “Sugar, Sugar” is the only thing I’m calling definitively “bubblegum pop,” and I’m noting that that wasn’t offered to the Monkees.

From most accounts I’ve heard & read of the Monkees/Kirshner conflict, it was more about them being the actual musicans on their albums than doing a big switch in the style of material they did. They wanted to play the backing tracks instead of the session musicians that Kirshner used. That was their big triumph on “Headquarters” — not all the songs were written by the four Monkees, but they were the actual people playing the songs (along with producer Chip Douglas).

And, GOD, that B&W Chaykin art is gorgeous.

And while buttler was being a little snarky (but, y’know, accurate) about Chaykin reusing the same character again and again

Considering that my job is as a theater critic, I’m sorely tempted to put “snarky but accurate” on my business cards.

I had to read that ad twice before I realized why it was Demolition Derby.
But my favorite Hostess villain was Kwirkegaard, the “philosophically sinister villain” with an existential depressor ray.

I would be honored to have you use “snarky but accurate” on your business cards, buttler. (Theater critics have business cards? I guess so.)

The Hostess ad in the Little Lulu issue I mentioned was SpiderMan vs “June Jitsu”. Yeah.

Is “Kwirkegaard” seriously a Hostess villain? That is awesome yes or no. Fear and trembling and “creme” filling.

Haven’t found the Chaykin stuff yet, but I’m sure you’re all waiting for it :)

“May would have to become a backstabbing, lipstick–smeared femme fatale, and nobody wants that.”

Maybe at Ultimate Spider-Man; she seems a lot sassier than the 616 May (oh God, I used ‘616’ in a sentence!)…

Traivs, yes, Kwirkegaard used his depressor ray to leave everyone in New York too depressed to do anything, until Iron Man uses Twinkies (or fruit pies?) to prove life has meaning!

actually, the Monkees (all of them) hated Daydream Believer but were forced to do it. they were so frustrated with the song and how many takes it took to get it right that Peter ended up punching Davy.

>>>>On a recent TV documentary about the Monkees someone (Kirshner, maybe) suggested that Last Train to Clarksville was sort of supposed to refer to young draftees heading of to Vietnam. If you notice some lines, maybe that makes some sense: “And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home…”<<<<<<

Clarksville, TN is just across the state line from Fort Campbell, KY which is the home base of the
101st Airborne Division. I was born at Ft. Campbell while my old man was stationed there in the 60's…but we lived in Clarksville, as did many families of the 101.

gorillamydreamz

March 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm

You refer to Jim Craig as the “late great”. I haven’t heard that Jim had died. He was always pretty respectful and supportive to me when we worked together. Do you have any details?

Demilition Derby may be the greatest villian in the history of comics!!!!!!

Nice to see the Atlas legends, especially with their current revival launching.

That Frank Miller legend is great. I knew Icemaster was shown in a Thunderbolts story 20 years after the Hostess ad but I had no idea Miller worked on it.

Icemaster also got an Official Handbook entry due to his aforementioned Thuinderbolts appearance. Actually even for villains originating in regular stories who later appeared in Hostess ads, the Handbooks treat the Hostess stories as canon.

Crap, gorilla, you’re right, I thought I read that he had passed recently, but when I went to go find the article on the subject, I couldn’t, so I could be mistaken. Better safe than sorry – I’ll edit out the “late” part. Thanks!

As ever, Brian, you provide maybe the most dependably compelling feature on the Comics Internet. When will the second collection come out?

By the way, Al Plastino drew a year’s worth of Peanuts for the cartoon syndicate as a contingency measure in case Schulz should fall ill in the early ’80’s. True or false? And have any of the Plastino Peanuts ever been published? I don;t know.

I just want to know who wrote the songs for Josie and the Pussycats?

I loved the old Atlas/Seaboard books and have most of them (the magazines are damned hard to find, though). It’s really cool that the books are back, and that Tony Isabella is involved, hell yeah! (Tony rocks.)

An interesting note on Demon Hunter/Devil Slayer: The initial stories in Demon Hunter, Marvel Spotlight and The Defenders featured elements inspired by Blue Öyster Cult lyrics – the band was even drawn into the stories in Kraft’s “Xenogenesis” storyline (Defenders #58-60, I think).

Why didn’t Marvel ever use their own VILLIANS in the Hostess Ads?!? I never understood that…

My favorite Hostess Ad’s were the one where Iron Man fights giant robot rhino’s and the Human Torch fights some woman w/a huge beehive hairdo and dryer gun! LOL

marvel used at least one villain–Nitro showed up to fight Captain Marvel, a friend of mine just pointed out.

As my friend pointed out, we could have avoid the whole Civil War if the New Warriors had been packing twinkies.

Looking at Seanbaby’s page, here are classic Marvel villains who fell victim to Marvel products (and just a reminder, as noted above, there stories are now considered to be in continuity, at least by the Handbook writers). Format is villain, hero who defeated him, usinmg what product:
Trapster/Captain America/Fruit Pies
Red Skull/Captain America/Twinkies
(as noted above) Captain Marvel/Nitro/Twinkies (though Nitro got the last laugh here)
Abomination & Wendigo/Hulk/Fruit Pies
A Toad Man (not actually a villain this time)/Hulk/Cupcakes (used by the Toad Man, not Hulk)
Fly (debatable; different costume)/Spider-Man/Cupcakes

And here’s the DC ones, though it’s debatable which of their regular stories are still canon, let alone the Hostess ads:
Catman/Batman/Cupcakes
Penguin/Batman/Twinkies
Mirror Master/Green Lantern/Twinkies
Joker/police officers/Fruit Pies (used by Joker, not police)
Joker/a circus ringmaster/Fruit Pies
Joker/museum guards/Fruit Pies (used by Joker, not guards)
Penguin/police officers/Fruit Pies
Penguin/police officers/Fruit Pies (again)
Aunt Minerva/Captain Marvel (unnamed in Shazam! feature)/Twinkies
Cheetah/Wonder Woman/Cupcakes

Yup – Last Train to Clarksville and Pleasant Valley Sunday are both great songs!

Wow, that Daredevil cover is a thing of beauty. WHAT happened to Frank Miller?

Personally I’ll take his current work over that any day. (that said I’d probably take the Ronin/Dark Knight Returns era Miller over either).

That’s the second time recently I’ve seen the spam filter pick up a comment and the person automatically leap to “I’m being censored!” Geez louise, people, chill out. If I ever reach a situation where I’m not going to let someone comment anymore, I’ll be quite clear about it (and it’ll be pretty clear to everyone else how we reached that point, too).

That’s good to know. There have been several times that I’ve noticed (and no doubt more that I haven’t) where my posts have been quietly deleted on the CBR boards and the moderator hasn’t said a thing until I questioned them. Most rude!

As ever, Brian, you provide maybe the most dependably compelling feature on the Comics Internet. When will the second collection come out?

Would I be the only one to buy a nice HC compilation of all the Marvel and DC Hostess ads (if there is, in fact, enough of them to fill an entire volume)?
I’ve damn near taken books to be signed by writers and artists of said ads.

I would so buy a collection of the hostess ads. It would be cool of they did it like a coffee table book with anecdotes from the artists writers about how the ads came to be and if Marvel and DC would do it jointly.

“It’s surprisingly subversive for the time, especially when you consider that white suburban kids were probably the Monkees’ primary audience.”

Not really surprising. The point of putting the band together was to appeal to the new hippie culture that was suddenly so popular w/the kids. The Monkees were made to emulate the Beatles, who by then were well out of their bubblegum phase, smoking weed at Buckingham Palace, growing their hair even longer and publicly giving their opinions on politics.

Put me down as another vote for a Hostess cakes advert collection.

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