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Comic Book Legends Revealed #313

Welcome to the three hundredth and thirteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, discover the impact Superman has had upon the world of sign language! Plus, how did a set of animal cards sold on television impact the Amazing Spider-Man? Finally, what’s the only thing freakier than having the 313th Comic Book Legends Revealed be on Friday the 13th? Why, it is having yet another legend involving Charles Addams’ “The Skier”!!!!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and twelve.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Making the “S” symbol on your chest is the sign for “super” in International Sign Language.


Reader Mark wrote in to ask:

I was just informed that International Sign Language users communicate the word “Super” by quickly drawing an “S” on their chest. [I]f true, what an unexpectedly cool way Siegel and Shuster’s creation has further influenced culture.

The “S” symbol is certainly a famous symbol all over the world…

so I figured that there would be a decent chance that this was, indeed, true. So I asked International Sign Language (ISL) expert Juan Souza (who runs this awesome ISL website) about it, and simply put, the answer is no.

Juan did note, however, that at least that described sign does mean something in American Sign Language!

What does it mean?

Why, “Superman,” of course!

Thanks for the question, Mark, and thanks for the answer, Juan!

Check out the latest Football Legends Revealed to learn whether the Washington Redskins actually trace their history back to the legendary Duluth Eskimos. Learn the harrowing tale of NFL legend Jim Marshall as he survived a blizzard through burning his money!! Plus, laugh about the Florida Gators yearbook that featured…a crocodile!!

COMIC LEGEND: Safari Animal Cards led to at least three new characters in Amazing Spider-Man during the 1980s.


While you might not remember them offhand, once I show them to you I think you’ll recall Safari Cards, at least if you were around in the 1970s and 1980s.

They would air these ads for these collectible cards featuring pictures of animals along with various pieces of information about each animal.

I recall buying some during the early 1980s (well, not me, my parents, but FOR me). They were neat little pieces of information in a time when we didn’t have such easy access to information about, well, everything.

Here is a vintage commercial for the Safari Cards.

So, how did Safari Cards impact Amazing Spider-Man?

That was revealed in the pages of Write Now magazine (issue #11, to be precise), when Danny Fingeroth interviewed Ron Frenz and Tom DeFalco. DeFalco tried to credit Frenz for creating Puma, when Frenz politely declined the credit.

Frenz: See, now, that’s just a flat-out lie.

DeFalco: What do you mean, that’s a lie?

Frenz: Because the Puma came from the animal cards that you bought.

DeFalco: [half whisper]We can’t talk about the animal cards.


Fingeroth: The animal cards? I’ve never heard about the animal cards.

Frenz: He bought, like, in some offer on late night TV, he bought some “Animals of Nature” cards, anf they only cost a little bit of money. I guess they were a bargain price.

DeFalco: Fifteen bucks or something.

Frenz: And out of that purchase came the Puma, Silver Sable and Black Fox.

Fingeroth: Wow. That was money well spent.

Yep, within ten issues of each other, the Black Fox…

Silver Sable…

and Puma…

all debuted in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.

Money well spent, indeed!

Thanks to DeFalco, Frenz and Fingeroth for the information!

Check out the latest Basketball Legends Revealed to learn… did future Hall of Famer Red Holzman make it into the NBA specifically because he was Jewish?!?! Was Walt Chamberlain drafted while still in high school?! Find out the answers to those questions as well as learn which NBA player was confused – on national television – with an accused sex criminal!

COMIC LEGEND: At an early disabled athletic competition, Charles Addams’ “The Skier” was re-created by competitors.


Yes, it’s true, a FIFTH comic legend involving Charles Addams’ cartoons! You can check out columns #301, 303, 305 and 307 for the previous Addams-related legends. You would think that this would be it for Addams legends, but I thought that before and obviously I was wrong, so who knows?

Story continues below

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.”

Reader Jeff sent in this one. He wrote:

I read somewhere that at one of the first Paralympics, they made a point of re-creating Addams’ Skier cartoon. Is that true?

Close enough, Jeff!

While not at the Paralympics (who held their first international competition just a few years before this incident), in a 1955 gathering of disabled skiers for a competition in Kitzbühel, Austria, that was exactly what they did!

Here, from a 1955 issue of Life magazine, we see a man named Karl Funk be mystified by the sight of a real life “The Skier”…

but later, the mystery is solved…

The skiers in question were Ernst Müller and Andreas Schöpf .

Thanks, Jeff! I always love the chance to do a legend about Charles Addams!!

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!

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!

Also, be sure to check out my website, Legends Revealed, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at legendsrevealed.com.

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!


I definitely had those cards when I was a kid. We didn’t have a whole lot of money growing up, but whenever we asked for anything educational we usually got it. Good stuff, I haven’t thought about those cards probably in 25 years.

I know what you mean, jjc, even after I read DeFalco and Frenz mention “animal cards,” I didn’t even put two and two together. It wasn’t until I did some searching and found some Animal Safari Cards that it all came flooding back.

Don’t forget Killer Shrike. I had those cards too :)

I had that set too. Heck, they may still be in storage at my parents’ house for all I know. Pretty cool little set as I recall.

Man that one Addams cartoon really got around. :)

Nice! I remember the cards and the green box you were supposed to keep them in!

I had a later version where they were pages you stored in a small 3-ring binder. :) Never know when you might need animal reference…

DeFalco and Frenz missed their chance. Monkey Eating Eagle would’ve been the greatest Spidey villain of all time.

I had those cards too.

I think my dentist had a set of those cards. That was always a highlight. (To be fair, it’s not hard to be a highlight in a dentist’s office.)

“I think my dentist had a set of those cards. That was always a highlight. (To be fair, it’s not hard to be a highlight in a dentist’s office.)”

When I was a kid, every medical office I entered had tons of HIGHLIGHTS in the waiting room…

I can’t remember if we had Animal Safari cards, or if I just wanted them really, really, really bad.

maybe the Mongoose, the Thor vilian during DeFalco’s era on the title, was taken from these cards too? :-P

The English Bulldog card on the bottom row answers my question about Danish pastries then…

Ha! I had those cards too. Remember studying them a lot.

The mention of HIGHLIGHTS magazine in these comments brings back memories too. Every time I went to a doctor, dentist, whatever, I remember flipping right to the Goofus and Gallant stuff. Loved it.

I’m starting to think that Charles Addams cartoon is some kind of cosmic nexus point.

I still have those cards—mother-in-law snagged a ridiculous amount of them at a garage sale–unopened.

I had some of those animal cards when I was a kid. I think I got them at a garage sale (I doubt my mother would have bought them new). I’d forgotten all about them until now.

i have an un-opened pack of Animal Safari cards and the green box in nm/m that i put up on E-Bay at http://www.ebay/reallylameXmaspresentfromgrandmahopingi‘dturnoutsmarterthanidid.com

It’s a steal at only $99.99, but who knows how high it’ll climb. Check it out!


I had the cards and the green box, too! Although I remember them being WWF cards (World Wildlife Fund).

Were those competitors to the ones shown?

Speaking of childhood nostalgia, any Bloom County rumor out there? I loved that strip!

Next Issue: Spider-man clubs THE SEAL!! His most dreaded of enemies.

I’m not a wrestling fan, but everytime I see the WWF sign on those letters you get the mail, I still think World Wrestling Federation.

I had a set of those cards in the 90s…They were pretty cool.

Also, you realize you’re going to have to make The Skier a regular feature, now, don’t you?

Brian Cronin’s second book, “Was The Skier Also A Spy?”, available soon.

It’s all to set up the new “Charles Addams Skiier Cartoon Legends Revealed” section of Brian’s site.

Great finale for the Charles Addams articles! And by the way, I had “Story of America Cards” which were wayyyyyy more interesting then the Animal Cards…there are 3 shopping bags of them in my Dad’s basement in case anyone is interested in them…;)

Have not thought of those safari cards in decades.


I had the animal cards.

I also had all the first (free) volume of every Time/LIfe book series.

And I once shot a man just for snoring,

I’ve always had a soft spot for Puma and Silver Sable, as I was intoduced to both characters when Amazing Spider-Man was republished as Spider-Man & Zoids here in the UK. It also had Star Brand as a back up strip, and some Byrne FF stories, too..!

The comic was cancelled after 50 or so issues, and the reason given was that Marvel were to launch an ongoing US Zoids comic, which I don’t ever recall seeing.

Any one know what happened to this Zoids comic..? Or was it just a lame excuse by Marvel UK…

The only time I have seen a superhero in an ASL dictionary was Wonder Woman: “W” with both hands, placed in front of the chest. Very Gangsta.

There was a Sports card series too, which I had and remember well.

Heh, my first guess that the s-on-the-chest gesture would actually turn out to mean Superman (not the word super) in Amerslan turned out to be correct! :D

Wow, even in the 80s they still had comic book characters doing ridiculous amount of exposition! I particularly love Sable’s well-though out comeback said in the time it took her to stop a knife attack!And how un-PC is having Puma kill a pack of cougars? Especially given he’s a Native American.

NOOOO, the Ghost Skier is back!! Have we raised it from its rest with our constant invocations? :D Actually this particular legend is awesome, if I’d make a joke about two handicapped skiers doing a stunt like that today everyone would be pissed at me. Go disabled athletes!!

Man, you guys just brought back to life some long-dormant brain cells, ’cause I had those cards as well! A friend of my dad from medical school gave ‘em to me along with this red plastic file holder. I loved the coding atop each one where they showed you a map and where in the world you could find each creature. Those were really neat to give a kid back in the day.

On another note, can we consider the Addams cartoon mystery solved now?

I too had tons of Safari Cards. I actually had some sort of subscription. I don’t remember the details, but I remember a new pack of them would arrive in the mail at seemingly random intervals. I’m sure it was just a small child’s perception of time, but it seemed like I would go for months or even years between shipments. I think it made me more tolerant of shipping delays for comics as I grew up. Getting a new pack of them was like getting a new issue of Planetary.

I also had a set of plant cards that I don’t think were affiliated with Safari Cards but were clearly trying to capitalize on the popularity of the animal version – they had the same general format, with the color-coded headers and symbols that gave habitat information. They came in a plastic greenhouse storage case.

Good times.

Travis Pelkie

May 13, 2011 at 11:41 pm

I don’t think I had the Safari cards, but I think I remember the commercials. I did get Ranger Rick magazine, does that count?

It’s not exactly Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, but hey, I guess it worked out alright!

Yeah, I totally had those Safari Cards in the green plastic lunchbox style case. I haven’t thought about those things in decades. I loved those cards. Definitely something that would have virtually zero appeal nowadays thanks to the internet.

Alex: I think of the wrestlers, too… I wonder how much money donated to charity went to fix that case, because it was the definition of a frivolous lawsuit with NO realistic means of the two getting confused. The only ways the World Wildlife Federation could have won that case all amount to some form of judicial malfeasance (either a payoff, or some form of lawfare where the judge was biased in favor of the non-profit).

BTW, You ever see the T-shirt someone had for sale, that had a caption something like

“Wildlife Wrestling Foundation” and had one panda on it (the WWF’s favorite symbol) getting ready to be whacked from behind by another panda, standing upright with a folding chair in its paws?

I never had the cards, but I remember those commercials. I remember being kind of annoyed by the commercials, I thought they made it too easy to spot which animal changed appearance, lol.

Travis Pelkie

May 14, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Basara’s comment about the 2 WWFs reminds me of the Tom Hart comic Satchel of Weltzschmerz (or however it was spelled) that appeared in a couple of issues of Oni Double Feature way back. He’s talking about being a good person because he gave to the WWF. To which someone responds, yeah, the World Wrestling Federation! There may be a panda with a folding chair involved.

Man, I gotta dig those comics out.


May 14, 2011 at 11:24 pm

>>> The only ways the World Wildlife Federation could have won that case all amount to some form of judicial malfeasance (either a payoff, or some form of lawfare where the judge was biased in favor of the non-profit).

They sort of won on a technicality. Namely, when Vince McMahon changed the name of his “World Wide Wrestling Federation” to “World Wrestling Federation” in the early ’80’s, he actually made a deal with the existing nature WWF that he would limit use of the brand name in Europe. But when he started expanding his operations into the UK in the mid-90’s, he was kind of violating the original agreement. So the wrestling WWF didn’t actually lose the case because of name similarity, but due to breach of contract. If that agreement hadn’t existed, the wrestling WWF almost certainly would have been 100% free and clear, with a clear argument in favor of total lack of brand confusion rendering any conflict moot.

So yeah, the legality of the case is actually pretty legit, even if the logic behind the argument is phenomenally stupid in the first place.

The real irony, of course, is that the nature WWF shouldn’t even BE the WWF any more – the technical name of the organization is now the World Wide Fund for Nature (meaning it should be WWFN or even WWFfN).

I’m beginning to think this column is an experiment to see if The Skier can drive readers to the point of madness.

WheN I started college in the late 80’s I had never been a fan of wrestling. However, I was aware of it enough that I would see these WWF stickers with a Panda on them and wonder why is the World Wrestling Federation using the Panda for a symbol.

Regarding the ASL Superman gesture, it may not be an official symbol, but when people use the “slang” in ASL, the Superman “S” motion does stand for super. They simply modify it if they are referring to a girl. It’s just like spoken English – people do not always use Standard English but modify their language to fit their culture.


May 17, 2011 at 4:33 am

Wasn’t the Black Fox created by Steve Ditko?

[…] here for Comic Book Legends Revealed #313, where you will discover the impact Superman has had upon the […]

I think I may skew a little younger than most of the commenters (not quite 30 yet) because by the time I was around, they had moved on to ZooBooks, which was the same general concept, but each animal (or kind of animal) got its own little 5-10 page magazine with extensive info. If it wasn’t the same company, it was certainly an attempt to emulate the original’s success. I remember having a poster (they usually had a centerfold pullout in each one) of a leaping tree frog on my wall for a few years.

Also, I love that Puma spends three panels thinking his expositionary dialogue to himself, but then feels the need to yell “PUMA!!!” when he pounces. I’m sure those non-English speaking animals were very intimidated, Puma.

“Who’s that stalking us in the bushes? Oh, it’s ‘Puma’. Of course.”

I remember Safari Animal Cards now: as someone who was, and still is, very interested in nature, these were something I was naturally drawn towards, and they also satisfied that collecting instinct that most children have. If I remember correctly, a sable is a weasel-like creature, probably like a large marten, but I’m not aware of a silver variant, unless they breed them for fur like the related mink.
Interesting that, of those three new characters, while all of them faced off against Spider-Man at one point, none of them were actually villains as such: okay, Black Fox was a thief, and Puma a hired assassin, so both were criminals (and Puma’s crime of murder is quite a big one, but do we know for sure if he had ever killed anyone for payment? I don’t have the comics at hand), but Silver Sable and Puma both found themselves allied to Spidey as often as they faced off against him (if not more so), and the Fox was no physical threat.

Man, just had to comment because I too had ordered those cards. What a flashback. And yes, if I was writing Spiderman at the time, I would have used the cards to come up with whole new sets of animal villains for our heroes. Heck, used to do it for my MSHRPG. The Shrew was a badass!

And I get the feeling that Whitney Ellsworth would object to those two skiers performing the trick.

I remember these in a bright red plastic tray with ridges so the cards would create an animal facts index library.

Wish I had the cards… =0(

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