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Welcome to the three hundredth and fifteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn how Star Comics was almost Care Bears, Droids and…Grant Morrison?!? Plus, did Jim Woodring really design Rubik the Amazing Cube?! And learn what Green Lantern/Green Arrow storyline was once a Captain America tale!
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and fourteen.
COMIC LEGEND: Grant Morrison was going to do Zoids for Star Comics until Marvel scrapped it because his plotline was too adult-oriented.
STATUS: I’m Going With True
One of Grant Morrison’s first really successful comic book jobs was writing the toy tie-in comic, Zoids, for Marvel UK (note that Morrison was not the original writer on the series – I believe Ian Zimmer might have been. Zimmer definitely did some early work on the series, as did Richard Starkings).
The Zoids began as a back-up in the Marvel UK adaptation of Marvel’s Secret Wars…
but soon gained their own title (along with reprints of Spider-Man comics from the US).
It was during this point in time that Morrison began writing the strip (towards the end of the series run). His run on the title was quite popular among fans and editorial.
In fact, they liked it so much that Marvel decided to bring the series to the United States in an ongoing series for Marvel’s then-new Star Comics line (while presumably also being published in their own solo monthly title in the UK, as well).
Yes, the same line of comics that had Care Bears…
The comic was to be written by Morrison and drawn by Steve Yeowell.
However, Marvel ultimately decided that the story Morrison presented was not age appropriate for Star Comics. In addition, interest in the Zoids property was fading a bit, so Marvel canceled the project all together.
Here are a few pages from #1 to let you know what it would have been like…
While good, I suppose I can see the argument that it is “too adult” for a kid-oriented comic book (although, again, it might have been a combination of “too adult” with “sales slipping”). Man, imagine how different things would have been if it had made it? What would Morrison’s career have been like? For one thing, we know Zenith certainly would not have happened (at least not when it originally occurred), as Morrison and Yeowell would have been busy on Zoids.
Check out this great Zoids fan site here to see more pages.
What’s funny is that I’ve been meaning to do this one for awhile now, but just two weeks ago, commenter Pez-La wrote in to say:
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…
Well, here’s your answer!
COMIC LEGEND: Jim Woodring designed Rubik the Amazing Cube.
Jim Woodring is a brilliant, award-winning comic book creator.
However, early in his career, he also worked for Ruby Spears animation, where he was on staff of some…well…not so great cartoons (a lot of comic book legends were working for Ruby Spears at that time, including Jack Kirby and Alex Toth, only two of the greatest comic book artists EVER).
One of them was the animated adaptation of Rubik’s Cube, starring an anthropomorphic Rubik’s Cube called Rubik the Amazing Cube.
It was a dreadful idea for a TV series, but I have to at least give the show credit for having the kids that Rubik helps be Latino (heck, Menudo even did the theme song!). That was definitely well ahead of its time.
Last week, reader Mitch wrote in to suggest a rumor he had heard that Woodring had actually DESIGNED Rubik the Amazing Cube.
That would be pretty mind-blowing, no? One of the top comic book creators of the past few decades designing something so…not good as Rubik the Amazing Cube?
So I checked with Jim, and he gave me one of the best debunkings we’ve ever had here…
After years of experimenting with falsehoods in all sorts of situations I decided to shame the Devil (as the saying goes) and always tell the truth; therefore I have never tried to hide or even obscure the extent of my involvement with the children’s animation industry during the 80’s. I’ve admitted to being the beneficiary of nepotism, to being unqualified for my cushyjob, to having a terrible attitude problem about the work andto being an incessant whiner. I doubt there was a worse employee ever in the history of the system, but there but Ihad limits: I did not spraypaint racist slogans on my boss’s Mercedes, I never slugged a female writer and I did not design Rubic the Amazing Cube. In fact I did not design any of the characters in any of the shows I worked on. Get that straight!
Thanks so much for the great answer, Jim! And thanks to Mitch for the great question (right on the heels of last week’s nifty Zappa/Kirby question!).
COMIC LEGEND: A rejected storyline for Heroes Reborn Captain America became a Green Lantern/Green Arrow crossover.
Awhile back, I wrote about how Chuck Dixon was originally going to write the Heroes Reborn Captain America title.
Dixon had gotten far enough to have plotted out the storyline, which would have involved the Red Skull using racism to manipulate people to his benefit. There was a dispute between Dixon and Liefeld over the direction of the plot, so ultimately Dixon walked away from the project.
Not wanting to let his story go to waste, Dixon re-purposed the storyline and used it for the second of his and Ron Marz’s “new generation” Green Lantern/Green Arrow crossovers, titled “Hate Crimes”….
In an interview with Scott Braden (for one of his excellent Overstreet columns) back in 1996, Dixon discussed his original Cap pitch, specifically about how Roland Carmichael, the leader of a white supremacy group called the Yankee Lords and Wallace Mubarak, the head of the anti-semitic, anti-hispanic African Legion are causing trouble and agree to have a nationally televised debate.
Dixon was then going to conclude his first story arc with the Carmichael/Mubarak debate whipping the nation up into a fury, which would’ve been symbolized with Dixon’s focus on New York’s Times Square becoming a powder keg. But just as things get completely out of control, Cap and the Falcon break in on Master Man–the man who, using advanced holographic technology, is literally behind the two racists. “Carmichael and Mubarak are actually the same person,” Dixon revealed, “Master Man.”
Well, in the conclusion of Hate Crimes, in Green Arrow #126…
Pretty neat, huh?
Thanks to Dan Coyle and Jamescush for letting me know about this information! And thanks to Scott Braden and Chuck Dixon for the information itself.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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See you all next week!
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