Comic Book Legends Revealed #307
Welcome to the three hundredth and seventh 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 six.
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 to learn if Pat Boone actually changed the lyrics of “Ain’t That a Shame” to “Isn’t That a Shame”! Also, what song is the official rock song of Ohio and what famous singer made her debut with a novelty song about…Ringo Starr?
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COMIC LEGEND: Batman: The Brave and the Bold changed the name of a character so as to not interfere with the release of a new DC comic book series.
In 1956, the first Batwoman debuted.
More recently, the much more critically acclaimed Batwoman made her debut.
The connection between the two led to an interesting edit in a recent episode of the super-neat Batman animated series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which is about Batman teaming up with various superheroes.
In that issue, the original Batwoman shows up…
She’s basically handled like the original…
except in this episode, she is shown as perhaps a bit more amateurish than she originally was, but more importantly, after having her secret identity revealed to the world by the Riddler, she is forced to retire. She later uses the help of a bad guy to switch bodies with Batman to KILL the Riddler, to get her revenge (and also show Batman a thing or two).
However, in the episode, she is never referred to AS Batwoman and her secret identity is changed from Kathy Kane to Katrina Moldoff (a very neat little homage to one of Bob Kane’s most notable ghost artists, Sheldon Moldoff).
Since DC has always been a bit iffy on the idea of using their heroes as villains on cartoon shows (as seen in this past installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed), that would seem to be enough reason to change her name.
However, Batman: The Brave and the Bold director Ben Jones pointed out that there were other issues involved as well. When asked about it on Formspring, he noted:
It was DC’s decision, but I don’t think there were legal complications. They’re usually pretty cool about variations on their characters, UNLESS the version you’re doing turns out to be a villain when theirs is a hero. We might still have been fine, but they’re currently launching a new Batwoman series that’s very different from the version we wanted to use, so they may have been a little more sensitive than usual.
And sure enough, Batwoman #0 did come out less than a month after that episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold debuted.
Interesting stuff! Thanks to Ben Jones for delivering the scoop!
COMIC LEGEND: A script miscommunication eventually led to an Aquaman storyline.
Two weeks back, in a previous installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, Peter David shared a story about an amusing miscommunication between David and an artist in a script. At the time, David shared with me another great story about a script miscommunication. Commenters Jay Tea and RCorman both wrote in about this other story, as well, when that first piece went up. So now I’ll share it with you all!
Probably the most far-reaching miscommunication I ever had with an artist was when I wrote “The Atlantis Chronicles.” In the first issue, I was going with the notion that a massive meteor struck earth and was responsible for the sinking of Atlantis. So over the course of the issue, I have the meteor drawing closer and closer to earth and naturally getting larger and larger.
Now: I was writing AC in full script because artist Esteban Maroto didn’t speak English. His daughter was going to translate the scripts for him and I needed to be precise in my panel descriptions. So around page thirty or so I wrote, “Panel 1: The meteor has drawn ever closer. It is now close enough that we can actually see the face of it, its craggy surface and exterior.” Now by “face” I simply meant front, the part facing them. So we get the (fully inked) pages back and, to my astonishment, there’s an actual death’s head skull face carved right into the meteor.
Editor Bob Greenberger asked me if I wanted art corrections to fixed it. And I stared at it and said, “No, you know what? Keep it. It’s absurd, but I like the message it conveys. I mean, if a meteor is coming your way and it’s just a big ball of rock, you can hope for a miracle. But when it’s got a death’s head skull on it, that’s it. Game over. A death’s head skull says, “Adios, amigo. Don’t start reading any continued stories ’cause you’re getting your ticket punched.”
So we left it in there, and I actually wound up using that image to build an entire “Aquaman” storyline when I wrote the book later on.
[Here's a glimpse of that usage - David had the "meteor" turn out to be an alien ship, and the aliens became major bad guys during David's run. Here is one of their ships. BC]
Two issues later, I had a story involving a young prince facing the prospect of marriage and he was hanging out with his three drinking buddies. It was supposed to be four guys. But I gave two of the characters names ending in the letter “a,” unaware that in Spanish any name ending in “a” is automatically female. So it was the prince, one guy, and two girls.
Again, I left it, because it was an improvement. Since there were battle sequences, it showed the women as strong, capable warriors. And the dialogue had so many new shadings when it was women saying it that I wound up not changing a word. Plus, honestly, the girls were gorgeous; it would have been criminal to have them changed.
So in both instances, miscommunication actually improved the story. But most of the time, if as a writer you’re not very clear as to your intent, you don’t get a happy accident. You get a helicopter [see the previous "helicopter" story from Comic Book Legends Revealed #305" to get that reference. -BC]. Which is why–as the old saying goes–you should be careful what you ask for. You may get it.
Great story, Peter, thanks a lot!
COMIC LEGEND: A Charles Addams cartoon was used to test the sense of humor of different nationalities, with Germans in particular not “getting” the joke.
Yes, it’s true, a FOURTH comic legend involving Charles Addams’ cartoons! You can check out columns #301, 303 and 305 for the previous Addams-related legends. I think this is it, though, unless someone out there can think of another one!
Once again, we’re discussing Charles Addams, the famed New Yorker cartoonists whose macabre cartoons were turned into The Addams Family (and the gazillion adaptations since).
And once again, the specific cartoon of Addams’ that we’re discussing is one of his most famous cartoons (and one of his most copied by other writers, for cartoons, movies, etc.), “The Skier.”
Commenter Otaku-sempai wrote in to state:
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.
Commenter Keith Alan Morgan later wrote in to note,
I read in The Complete Book Of Cartooning by John Adkins Richardson, that apparently German readers saw that Addams’ skiier cartoon as a puzzle & wrote in possible solutions to solve it.
That is what actually happened.
Time Magazine wrote a short piece on it at the time, in the October 7, 1946 issue:
Annemarie Hammer of Heidelberg, Germany was frankly perplexed. To the editors of Heute, a U.S.-sponsored, LIFE-like magazine, she wrote: “I don’t see how this is possible. Won’t you please print the answer to the puzzle?” What baffled her was a reprint of Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoon showing one set of ski tracks passing both sides of a tree (see above). From Heute’s literal-minded German readers came a flood of confident answers. Samples:
*The skier had obviously come downhill on one foot, reclimbed the hill and come down on the other.
*The skier had slipped one foot out of his ski boot as he approached the tree, slipped it back after he passed.
*Two amputees skied down hill clinging to each other, parted as they came to the tree, resumed mutual support thereafter.
A thoughtful Nürnberger suggested that it might be a kind of joke, wrote six pages of tight Gothic script on the philosophy of humor.
Pretty neat, huh?
Thanks to Otaku-sempai, Keith Alan Morgan and Time Magazine for the information!
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 email@example.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…
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See you all next week!