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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #314

Welcome to the three hundredth and fourteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn of the amazing connection between Jack Kirby and… Frank Zappa?!?! Plus, who is the mystery man who keeps appearing in issues of Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon? Finally, what is the deal with the film The Wild World of Batwoman?

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Jack Kirby pitched a comic strip based on the Frank Zappa song “Valley Girl.”

STATUS: True

The late, great Frank Zappa was a big comic book fan.

He even had advertisements in Marvel Comics during the late 1960s!

Here’s one of them…

However, did you know that Zappa and Jack Kirby were actually friends (or at least friendly enough that Kirby had dinner at Zappa’s house)?

In fact, after the great success of Zappa’s hit song, “Valley Girl,” Zappa tried to convince Kirby that Kirby should adapt the song for a comic strip!

Kirby actually went along with the idea!

Here’s the first (and I believe, the only) strip…

Not so surprising, the idea did not go anywhere, but still, how amazing is it that Jack Kirby did a comic strip based on a Frank Zappa song?

We have Len Callo to thank for this awesome piece of information (as well as the strip), as Callo did a piece on the Kirby/Zappa friendship for Jack Kirby Collector. Thanks to reader Mitch for suggesting I feature this strange connection! Mitch had another good suggestion that I’ll feature soon!
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Check out the latest TV Legends Revealed to learn whether Sesame Street and, of all shows, 227, have a strange connection! Plus, discover the hilariously commercialistic original theme song of the Beverly Hillbillies! Finally, marvel at the sight of Fred Flintsone and Barney Rubble plugging cigarettes!
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COMIC LEGEND: Erik Larsen works the image of a friend of his into pretty much every comic that he draws.

STATUS: True

Awhile back, in an installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, I talked about how Todd McFarlane would work Felix the Cat into his comics as a bit of a in-joke to an acquaintance of his.

Commenter Freyes2000 said:

Something similar to McFarlane’s Felix the Cat happens with Erik Larsen: he always draws a bald guy with glasses and a moustache in his comics. I think I read he is best friend?

I asked Erik about it, and he was kind enough to give me the lowdown…

Jon Day is the guy’s name and he has been in a good many of the comics I’ve drawn for pretty much my entire career. Jon was a guy I knew up in Bellingham, Washington who frequented a comic store that I went to. When I was trying to break in I took every job I could get and an early one was for a guy called Moses Figueroa (who went by the name Mr. Moses). Moses published a book called Champions or Wonder World Express

and he hired me to write and draw a creation of his called Spyder. I drew three stories for him, all of which featured a lot of in jokes that only me and my pals would understand–really
self-indulgent stuff. I thought it would be a riot to have Jon Day be a villain in a story since he was just about the least formidable person I knew and so I wrote and drew him into a Spyder yarn as a gun-toting, Zoot-Suit wearing gangster. As far as I know, only one of my stories ever saw print and that wasn’t it. In any case, following its completion, somehow Jon got the impression I was going to stick him in every comic I ever drew from that point on and not wanted to let down a pal I decided–oh, what the hell–it seems harmless enough–why not? And so I did–and he’s been in nearly every book I’ve drawn since. You can find him in most everything (although I admit–I’ve missed a few). In an issue of Adventures of Superman I drew Karl Kesel replaced Jon with his own background guy–and then the letter pasted up a balloon over him! Sometimes inkers change him–Vinnie Colletta removed his glasses in an issue of Thor (and he was colored as though he was black) but he’s in most everything I’ve done.

Here is Jon’s first appearance (he’s the balding fellow with the mustache and glasses on the top righthand panel)…

And his appearances in the first three issues of the Savage Dragon ongoing series…

Erik noted that there is even a wiki page for Jon, listing his appearances. You can check it out here.

Thanks for the question, Freyes2000! And thanks so much to Erik Larsen for giving me more information than I could have hoped for!
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Check out the latest Baseball Legends Revealed to learn how the writers of the famous song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” had not even attended a baseball game at the time they wrote the song! Similarly, we learn which Nobel Prize Laureate had not even heard of the World Series when he was given the opportunity to throw out the first pitch! In addition, we discover the true story about whether Grover Cleveland Alexander defeated the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series..drunk!
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COMIC LEGEND: DC won a copyright infringement case against The Wild World of Batwoman and got them to change the film’s name to She Was a Hippy Vampire

STATUS: False

In the late 1960s, B-Movie producer Jerry Warren tried to cash in on the Batmania from the Batman TV series.

To that end, he released a B-Movie called The Wild World of the Batwoman, starring Katherine Victor. As you can see, it was clearly meant to reel in the Batman fans…

Here is Victor as Batwoman…

DC/National Periodicals, naturally, sued Warren’s production company over the film.

The film was later re-titled She Was a Hippy Vampire, and included a prologue that basically states “oh by the way, they’re vampires” (without changing anything else in the film).

So the presumption has long been that DC won their suit. However, that is not the case. DC did not win the case. It was settled in Warren’s favor. The name change was done by Warren because of the waning popularity of Batmania (it did come and go quite quickly).

To wit, when the film was later released on home video, it was once again going by the original name, clearly showing that Warren had the right to use the name.

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!

47 Comments

In fact the title card for at least the print of Wild World of Batwoman that I saw has in fine print below it “Not affiliated in any way with National Periodical Publications”

Yep. Actually, I just noticed that the Hippy Vampire title card above says that, too!

I recently picked up the video copy of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode that features the Wild World of Batwoman at a Half Priced Books. Man is that movie nonsensical.

The Fourth Man

May 20, 2011 at 9:39 am

Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured The Wild World of Batwoman on one episode. They summed up the movie as “It’s like a Warhol movie, only kinda weird”

I saw “Zappa” and “Kirby” in the same sentence and had really high hopes. Those were dashed when I saw the strip. Yikes. Not nearly up to the level of greatness I’d expect from either. Sorta like how I expected Father’s Day to be hilarious because it had Robin Williams and Billy Crystal in it, and it was slightly less amusing than an ingrown toenail. Only this is actually worse. Because this was not a meeting of great men, but a meeting of gods among men. And it looks like some high school kid doing a bad Kirby style-swipe on a bad strip he made to poke fun at a girl who shot him down when he asked her to the prom.

(And wouldn’t the Joe’s Garage album have made a better Kirby comic, anyway? I’m just picturing some bizarre Fourth World look for the Central Scrutinizer, and now I’m sad because I’ve learned Kirby did a Zappa comic and it sucked.)

There’s a particularly good in-depth review of Wild World of Batwoman on the great Movies About Girls website: http://bit.ly/iHP0YB

I remember seeing a cool photograph of Kirby and Zappa and a story about Zappa’s son meeting “the guy who made all those comics we like.” It is a cool photo.

What would be great is if DC then introduced a character named the Hippy Vampire. Surely Bob Haney would have been all over that.

I know that comic strip is in English, but those words make no sense together.

random surfer

May 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

What was the “see attached” in the Erik Larsen quote?

I own a copy of “Chamipons or Wonder World Express.” I thought I was the only one!

Does that mean Kriby was affiliated with the CIA, too?

At least Kirby didn’t do a Thing-Fish comic! I’m not sure there are any Zappa characters that would make a good Kirby character. Goblin Girl? Big Leg Emma? Charlie’s Enormous Mouth? The Illinois Enema Bandit? Penguin in Bondage? Hmmm…

Thanks, random surfer, I forgot to put the image in. It is now up.

I’m going to say all of the above, Da Fug. See also: Sheik Yerbouti, Lonesome Cowboy Burt, the Brain Police, Son of Monster Magnet, Suzy Creamcheese and the Man from Utopia.

I mean seriously, that’s the entire supporting cast for an OMAC and the Forever People crossover miniseries right there.

Kirby also met up Paul McCartney (I guess because of Magneto Vs. Titanium Man). Here’s the skinny: http://www.dangerousminds.net/comments/when_paul_mccartney_met_jack_kirby/

At the link is a great sketch Kirby did of Paul, Linda, and Magneto (!)

L. Ron Hoover of the First Church of Appliantology, Billy the Mountain, The Evil Prince…

I’m pretty sure Erik Larsen also drew his friend in issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Given Larsen’s relationship with Marvel, though, I’m not surprised he wouldn’t mention that.

Now I’m wondering why no one has taken all these Zappa characters and combined them into one awesome comic book. Yet we can get three completely different comics based on the members of KISS being superheroes (or supernatural beings).

I’m pretty sure Erik Larsen also drew his friend in issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Given Larsen’s relationship with Marvel, though, I’m not surprised he wouldn’t mention that.

He mentioned drawing him in Thor. I don’t believe he was intending to be exhaustive in his comments.

Whoops, he did sorta mention it. Missed that part.

So how many publishers have used the named Champions?

Rob- I also seem to recall seeing him in Amazing Spider-Man, and that’s before his Image Savage Dragon appearances, it’s been a while though. Have to check out those Punisher issues he did as well! Never mind all the DC stuff (Doom Patrol etc).

I could be wrong, but when Marvel released ‘The Order’ (not the Defenders continuation, coincidentally by Larsen!) were they not supposed to be called ‘The Champions’ but due to copyright issues were not?

I don’t think I watched that whole episode of MST3K. It seemed like a strange movie. Can’t even remember what it was about except I think some of it was on a beach and there was a mad scientist I think.

The funny thing is about the time Larsen was in BEllingham, Washington on the west side of the state where Western Washington University is, McFarlane was in Cheney, Washington on the east side at Eastern Washinton University.

I guess it’s not that funny.

There’s something funny about Savage Dragon stading infront of this guy where bodies and blood are everywhere and saying “YOu’re under arrest.” What a violent 3 issues.

I’d have paid every penny I owned just to be a busboy at the Kirby/Zappa dinner party.

Travis Pelkie

May 20, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Yeah, I would have enjoyed a Zappa/Kirby thing. And as people are saying in the comments, there are so many Zappa characters that could appear in a comic book. Greggary Peccary, that’s a self contained GN right there!

Image should do a big Zappa related book like they did with Tori Amos and Belle and Sebastian. I’d be all over that.

Hippy Vampire/Brother Power the Geek crossover. DC, make it happen! Milligan and McCarthy, or Morrison and…hell, Sienkiewicz, why not?

I loved Brian’s post a while back about the only 2 things DC was concerned about (the JSA/JLA cover and the Superman cover). Jeez, was that December ’09? Oy.

I loved Brian’s post a while back about the only 2 things DC was concerned about (the JSA/JLA cover and the Superman cover). Jeez, was that December ’09? Oy.

I don’t get the reference. Which post?

What Marvel comic was that Zappa ad in? I need to know!

Billy the Mountain meets Danny the Street. Make it happen!

I’ve always been sad that the Valley Girl strip never went anywhere and can’t understand the people who think it’s crap. It’s like Zippy, Archie, and the Fantastic Four all went to Woodstock took the brown acid and gave birth to the Woodstock Baby and nobody is exactly sure who the parents are. I’d never seen that comic ad for We’re Only In It For The Money. That is pretty sweet.

“…somehow Jon got the impression I was going to stick him in every comic I ever drew from that point on and not wanted to let down a pal I decided–oh, what the hell–it seems harmless enough–why not? And so I did–and he’s been in nearly every book I’ve drawn since.”

It’s really heartening to learn that someone’s keeping the Code of the Woosters alive in the 21st century!

If I am not mistaken…I believe Billy the Mountain was inspired by Spragg, The Living Mountain.

Pete Woodhouse

May 21, 2011 at 11:18 am

Re: various questions of What Marvel comic was that Zappa ad in? I’ve got a few various 1967-68 era back issues of FF, Daredevil, Spidey, etc, and they were quite common. I reckon the college readership who were beginning to get into Marvel and the Zappa/Mothers young audience shared a lot of common ground (which was obviously why they were advertised in Marvel, not ‘stuffy DC’, I guess).

And ditto – would love to have been a fly on the wall at the JK/FZ gathering. Two giants of their field undervalued by their respective industries for much of their lifetimes…
I knew Zappa met Kirby but not aware of the Valley Girl strip, so that’s awesome to see it.

Travis Pelkie

May 21, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Wow, this was older than I thought, but this is what I meant:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2009/01/15/two-things/

Good stuff.

Thanks Said for the Kirby/Zappa link. To be a fly on the wall when those two were talking…

@Eyemelt:
“I could be wrong, but when Marvel released ‘The Order’ (not the Defenders continuation, coincidentally by Larsen!) were they not supposed to be called ‘The Champions’ but due to copyright issues were not?”

It’s my understanding that Marvel couldn’t use “The Champions” because the rights to the name were obtained by Hero Games (the publishers of the Champions RPG) when Marvel allowed them to lapse. Much like DC lost the name Captain Marvel to Marvel.

DC never lost the right to use the title Captain Marvel – they never had it. By the time they’d obtained the rights to publish the character (1972), Marvel had already taken over the trademark (with good reason) after Fawcett let it lapse.

OK. I hadn’t really delved into the details of the whole Captain Marvel/Shazam business.
But Hero games definitely owns the rights to “The Champions”. Or maybe Cryptic, since Hero Games sold the Champions Universe IP to them for the Champions Online MMORPG, with free unlimited use of their former IP for the pen-and-paper RPG, and reverting to them should Cryptic and the MMORPG go under.

[...] I love the idea that Frank Zappa and Jack Kirby were talking about collaborating. Seems like it should have resulted in something crazier than a romance comic strip though, just saying. (via Robot 6) [...]

I love it when the FZ/JK topic comes up. Here’s my gallery w/ the aforementioned article about the two as well as the pic of them as well as other FZ art: http://cafurl.com?i=13522

I love to read and regularly bought comics to read when I was younger. I met Mr. Moses, who was always teaching people how to draw, in the comic store that he owned in New York City, on the Lower East side.

Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know that he in fact self-published a number of additional comics after his Champions comic book. One title that he used was TPF (Tactical Patrol force) Wonderworld Express, under Troth-dona Productions, with at least 3 comics published.

So how many publishers have used the named Champions?

Eclipse and Hero (for both comics and the RPG) definitely, also maybe Marvel.

I HAVE A FEW TITLES I CANT FIND 1 IS TPF TACTICAL PATROL FORCE #1, D.M.S. ENTRISES ULTRAHAWK #1 a LED ZEPPELIN 3 OF 5 BY REVOLUTIONARY COMICS ARE THESE ANY GOOD. ARE THEY VALUEABLE AT ALL?

I’m having some trouble with my car that I hope you can help me out with. It’s a 1982 De Lorean DMC-12, and for the most part it still runs great, but I can’t get the flux capacitor to work. I tried disconnecting the capacitor drive, and I still get a good pulse from the lights, but it’s just not kicking in properly to get where or when I need to go. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Anyone know current whereabouts of Mr. Moses (Moses Antony Figueroa)?
Have’nt seen him since the 1990s.
This blog is the first time I found any mention of him via ykimmel’s 8/22/11 post.
I have a few of the Wonderworld books.
Thanks.

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