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Comic Book Legends Revealed #318

Welcome to the three hundredth and eighteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, in honor of When We First Met, our month-long look at comic book firsts, we will examine a couple of notable firsts plus one notable “last”! To wit, learn the strange tale of Yvonne Craig’s last appearance as Batgirl, plus the story behind the first original Star Wars story after the film and the first time the “thwip” sound effect was used!

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Four years after the Batman TV series finished, Yvonne Craig played Batgirl one more time in a public service announcement about equal rights for women!

STATUS: True

In 1968, after a three season run, the Batman TV show came to an end. You would think that that would be it for Yvonne Craig, who played Batgirl on the series in the final season. However, she returned to the role one last time a full four years after the last episode of the show aired.

You see, the cast was reunited to shoot a public service announcement for the United State Departmenr of Labor. In 1963, the Federal Equal Pay Act passed. The ACt made it illegal to pay men and women different salaries if they performend jobs that required equal skill, effort and responsibility. Nearly ten years later, though, many employers still ignored the law.

So the Departmenr of Labor enlisted the Bat-crew. Burt Ward, producer (and narrator) William Dozier and Craig all agreed to reprise their roles for the ad. Only Adam West (who was trying to get away from his role on the series) refused to do it, so Dick Gautier (Hymie the robot from Get Smart) filled in.

The ad shows Batman and Robin tied up in a warehouse with a bomb…

Batgirl shows up…

Batman tells her to save them…

She says not so fast. Why is it that she has been working for Batman for a long time now and she gets paid less than Robin?

Robin actually shouts “Holy Discontent!”

Batman says to talk about this later…

Batgirl says, in effect, nope, let’s talk about it now or I’ll just let this bomb blow you up…

Then the ad ends in a cliffhanger, stating “Will Batgirl save Batman and Robin? Will she get equal pay?” and then they tell you to write in to the Department of Labor to learn more about the issue…

Isn’t that awesomely wacky?

The awesome website TV Series Finale has a great article with insights on the shoot from Craig and Gautier here. One especially notable bit was the fact that Craig insisted on the shoot using one of her actual costumes from the series. How they got it done was quite amusing. Craig related…

They were unable to find one that was intact (because I did my own stunts we only had three – one that had completely lost its shape, the one I was currently wearing [when the show ended] and one that was in the process of being made and was missing a front panel and sleeve when we shut down). Suddenly we heard that Burt had a ‘friend’ who might just have one. It was definitely the one I wore, complete with wig!

Thanks to TV Series Finale for the great information!

You can watch the PSA here. Tell me what you think about Gautier’s performance!
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Check out the latest Movie Legends Revealed to discover how the FBI felt that It’s a Wonderful Life was communist propaganda while we also discover how at the same time DeBeers was paying to put ACTUAL (pro-diamond) propaganda into films. Also, learn just what film cars George Barris actually designed!
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COMIC LEGEND: The first original Star Wars story after the film appeared in the pages of Pizazz!

STATUS: True

Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, released in 1978, is often thought to be the first “Expanded universe” Star Wars story. However, it was actually beaten to the punch by a story that appeared in the same year Star Wars came out, 1977, in the pages of, of all places, Pizzazz!

Pizzazz was this weird mish-mosh of a magazine. Here’s Stan Lee describing it…

It had comic-related content…

but it also had entertainment and sports articles…

And it also had the very first expanded universe Star Wars story!!

Pretty crazy, huh? The story continued through to Pizzazz #9, at which point a second story went from #10-18.

COMIC LEGEND: The “thwip” sound effect was not used in Spider-Man comics until John Romita took over the art duties.

STATUS: False

In a recent article about sound effects in comics, Alan Kistler (who is a nifty comic book historian) noted about Spider-Man’s famous “thwip”…

Spiderman’s web-slinging effect also underwent a sonic evolution. What started as a WHIZZZZZT in 1962′s Amazing Fantasy #15, became a TWNNNNG! in 1963′s Amazing Spider-Man #1. A year later, Steve Ditko (or possibly Stan Lee) gave Spidey’s web a THWUP! sound effect which again went through several subsequent iterations—including THWAP, WHAP, WHIPP and ZAP. It wasn’t until John Romita Sr. took over that the thwip we all know and love became a permanent fixture.

I suppose there’s something to be said for the fact that Romita, I guess, used the “thwip” frequently, but not only did thwip appear in Ditko issues, it showed up in two of the last three issues preceding ROmita’s run on the book.

“Thwip” first appeared in #36…

then in #37…

then Spidey does not use his web-shooters at all in Ditko’s finale issue and then Romita took over with #39 and “thwip” showed up right away…

It sure looks more like Romita was just following Ditko’s lead than making any sort of change, right? Or that whoever did the sound effects decided to use “thwip” as of #36 and just kept going.

Not a big deal, of course, it just struck me as interesting, especially as we’re in the midst of When We First Met month! No slight intended to Alan – he’s great. You should check his site out here.

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 you’ll get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000 likes! So go like us on Facebook 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!

74 Comments

I remember seeing that Batgirl ad as a kid and thought it was so cool. Never saw it again though, until the days of Youtube. I always thought I must have imagined it, as nobody else remembered it (much like the Star Wars Holiday Special and live-action Challenge of the Superheroes).
Love the column and the book.
Fr. Dan Graves

Didn’t know that bit about Star Wars. Once upon a time, i had (or so i thought) every Star Wars related comic (even Droids and Ewoks pubished under Marvel’s Star line). I’m sure this news will send completists hunting down Pizzazz on Ebay.

This is my all time fave column to read!!! Keep ‘em coming!!!

I remember the Batgirl ad, it was a loooong time ago, though. Remember Pizzazz, too. I bought one issue because it had an article about KISS in it. Nice art on the Star Wars feature by Howard Chaykin, but why do I expect them to suddenly break out a case of Hostess® Fruit Pies? (If you get that reference, you’re old, too.)

That page illo of Doctor Doom smiling is more sinister than anything done with the character in regular Marvel comics.

Ah, Pizzazz. Marvel’s answer to the twin juggernaut of Dynamite and Bananas.

And that panel with Spidey in the cab with the hat is one of my favourite of all times. How is that in any sane way a disguise?

It’s funny, I read Splinter in the Mind’s Eye when it came out, but I’d assumed that Marvel’s Star Wars #7 was the first expanded universe story. Glad to see it was still Marvel, anyway.

That Batgirl commercial is great. And I’m relieved to hear the problem of women being paid less than men was totally resolved way back in the ’60s!

I bet those Rebels had sore wrist’s after beating off the Imperial forces.

That Batgirl ad ran for a long time, didn’t it? I remember watching it in the late 1970s…

Great stuff about the origin of the “thwip” sound; I always love learning about subtle bits of background material.

If you like that stuff, then be sure to check the When We First Met archive here for a whole pile of similar posts!

The Pizzazz strips were re-printed in Dark Horse’s Star Wars #0 in 1997.

Here’s the Batgirl commercial/PSA on YouTube… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e1wo8f8mT4

Love this column!

I was thinking the same thing about the Batgirl ad. i remember it as a kid too and I was born in 1974.

By the way, I always thought the letterer and/or writer were responsible for sound effects? Is it actually the penciller?

Whenever I’ve seen original art I’ve never seen sound effects on it, so I always assumed they came from either the writer, letterer or both.

I dunno, that’s why I say “whoever did the sound effects”

Oh, I missed that sentence.

I understand Roy Thomas did a six-part miniseries using that “Boop-a-Doop” sound effect to explain how Luke Skywalker was distantly related to Betty Boop.

Spidey needs some silencers for his webshooters, those are some loud THWIPS.

About the Star Wars story, are we completely sure its the first one? Marvel’s Star Wars #7 has a cover date of January 1978, but knowing that comics back then were off by a few months, it’s possible that it came out in the same month as the first Pizzazz issue. I seem to remember the issues were at some point dated three, maybe four months ahead of actual publication, which could place the Marvel story at October or maybe even September.

@ Fr. Dan Graves:

“I remember seeing that Batgirl ad as a kid and thought it was so cool. Never saw it again though, until the days of Youtube. I always thought I must have imagined it, as nobody else remembered it (much like the Star Wars Holiday Special and live-action Challenge of the Superheroes).”

If it helps, I absolutely remember the Challenge of the Superheroes. I also remember looking forward to them and being really disappointed each time (I think there were two specials).

About the Star Wars story, are we completely sure its the first one?

Pizzazz #1 was released ahead of the month listed on the cover, as well.

Ethan Shuster

June 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

“Pizzazz #1 was released ahead of the month listed on the cover, as well.”

Still, it’s something that the two stories were first released so close to each other.

Still, it’s something that the two stories were first released so close to each other.

Yep, agreed, it is interesting!

Some of the comments posted here are damn funny! :-)

Brian from Canada

June 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm

IF the Batman series ever gets to home video — and a pox on all houses for those blocking it at the moment — that PSA belongs on the last season set, along with the “Meet Batgirl” promo reel as well.

There’s something really magical about the performances in that Batman series that a generation just doesn’t get any more.

I remember getting so upset over the Batgirl ad that I’d turn off the tv (which, before the advent of remote controls, involved actual movement).

“Batman’s gonna die and she keeps talking about money.”

@Mr. M. Thank you, it does help.

Bert Duckwall

June 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Marvel’s episode 4 comics and the ones up to the TESB are the best Star Wars comics ever.

It seems there was less crime before this ‘women’s rights’ stuff.:) Hey, that’s a joke… sort of.

I think I saw Yvonne Craig last night in a movie called ‘Mars needs women’ or something like that. It looked like it was filmed by the same people who did the Zubruder film. Yeah, Oswald was the only one who shot in this one, too. go figure.

I remember the Batgirl ad. I must’ve seen it in ’73 or ’74. I started buying comic-books in ’73, and Batgirl appeared in a Superman issue I had, and that was the first time I’d ever heard of her. Then I saw the ad shortly after that. So I figure it was ’74, although it’s even possible that I didn’t see it until ’75 (though I doubt it).

Very cool Batgirl PSA. Dick Gautier’s Batman isn’t bad, a little stiff like his Hymie from Get Smart, but not bad.

Wow, DeZuniga really sucked the Chaykin out of that artwork.

Well, Chaykin hadn’t really developed his style yet. The guys don’t all look like Ruben Flagg, and Leia isn’t a leering femme fatale in lingerie.

Whoa, I just realized I’m pretty sure I know the guy who wrote that KISS article. If it’s the same Mike McGrath I’m thinking of, we worked at the same newspaper, although not quite at the same time.

If I understand the way these things work, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the Batgirl PSA years (even MANY years) after it was made. Remember, ads are shown for PAYING customers. And if the customer pays a local station for, say, six months, it’ll never be shown AFTER that time unless the customer pays for it.

PSAs are the opposite, with stations required to show them a certain amount of the time, but also, if for some reason there aren’t enough paid ads to fill a show’s time slot, they’ll often just slap a random PSA in there. And quite possibly, the Batgirl PSA was used often in such circumstances, simply because it’s more fun and more entertaining than the typical PSA.

BTW, this installment also shows something sorely lacking in the current comics marketplace: Stories featuring Spider-Man wearing hats.

Stories featuring Spider-Man wearing hats.

Hold up…that dude in the hat is SPIDER-MAN?!?!? Didn’t recognize him with that hat on…

“Only Adam West (who was trying to get away from his role on the series) refused to do it,”—such a funny statement given the stories where he allegedly tried to get cast as Batman in the Burton film.

If only Adam West had played Batman in every Batman movie!

@T
“By the way, I always thought the letterer and/or writer were responsible for sound effects? Is it actually the penciller? ”

You were correct on your above assumption. It is the writer who usually decides both the word and the placement of the sound effect. Marvel comics can be a bit tricky since, especially in the period in question, the artist had lots of free reign in keeping with the “Marvel style.” So I can’t say for sure, since Ditko did have pretty free plotting range on Amazing Spider Man, but tradition suggests it was Stan Lee.

Two people above mention “Challenge of the Superheroes”. It was actually called Legends of the Superheroes. The confusion probably arises from the fact that the first of the two specials was called “The Challenge”, the other being “The Roast” (and of course for a year Super Friends was Challenge of the Super Friends). Adam West did return for Legends, as did Burt Ward and, for The Challenge only, Frank Gorshin. As unlikely as it may seem, it came out on DVD last year, with minor bits of bonus material such as Jeff Altman having to wait for traffic sounds to die down to do a take as Green Lantern.

Oh, and an issue of Back Issue revealed a good Legend about Legends of the Superheroes: A’leisha Brevard who played Giganta stated in her interview that she was born a guy

I had heard that before, and always kinda assumed it was an intentional bit of “camp” casting – i.e., the “mannish” Giganta played by a man or transsexual. But the truth is much more fascinating. Aleisha Brevard had a long and fairly successful career as an actress (playing “young beautiful starlet” type roles, no less, including the female lead in a Don Knotts vehicle)… without anyone *knowing* she was a transsexual!

Ms. Brevard would make a great topic for a future column, come to think of it. She has a web site:
http://aleshiabrevard.com/

Batgirl: “equal pay? for men AND women”
Batman: “no time for jokes, batgirl!”

And the Doctor Doom jokes were awful. Even for the ’70s.

If Batgirl was an astute follower of employment stats, she would know that her counterpart Batwoman not only earned more money than Robin, but Batman too. She just needs to change one aspect of her dietary habits to obtain that goal.

I believe it’s Rick Flagg.

@Max “I believe it’s Rick Flagg.”

If you’re responding to buttler’s comment from above, he’s correct. Ruben Flagg was Chaykin’s character from his 1980′s series “American Flagg”
Rick Flagg is the DC character most known for his appearances in the 1980′s “Suicide Squad” series.

“Wow, DeZuniga really sucked the Chaykin out of that artwork.”

Kinda his thing. DeZuniga made John Buscema and Todd McFarlane look pretty much the same, too.

I would like to say thank you for you taking the time to create this article. Great line up. We will be linking to this on our site. Keep up the excellent writing.

[...] Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources Posted in new additions, Uncategorized | Tags: [...]

What sort of fetish/costume/weirdo was Burt Ward’s “friend”?

Pedantic note: the Suicide Squad guy spells his name with one “G”: Rick Flag.

What sort of fetish/costume/weirdo was Burt Ward’s “friend”?

I left out the part where Craig basically outright says that she believes that it was Ward who took the costume.

Interesting note: the Pizzazz Star Wars stories were focusing on the adventures of Luke and Leia while the comic book was, for the first several issues after the film adaptation, focused on Han and Chewbacca. Given the team of Thomas and Chaykin were working on both, that seems deliberate.

This was actually a fascinating topic, I am very fortunate to be able to find this from google.

I too remember the Batgirl ad, which is odd because in the 70′s we didn’t have cable here. We watched the Spanish-dubbed version of the show on local TV- could the ad ALSO have been dubbed? And yeah, the fact they used these silly characters for the ad makes you wonder if they were even trying to be serious about the Equal Rights thing.

I remember Pizzazz… vaguely… mostly wondering if that was a real English word or something Stan made up. The early Marvel SW stories all blend in my mind however, so I can’t tell where I saw them.

And what would you people say has been the weirdest sound effect Spider-Man’s shooters ever made?

Brian, for the record, the recent book “Star Wars: Year by Year” places the actual release date of Marvel’s Star Wars #7 at September 13, 1977. So, those stories were practically released simultaneously.

On the release database at Mike’s Amazing World of Marvel Comics – He lists Star Wars #7 being released on October 11, 1977.

Holy replacement actors, I never knew that wasn’t Adam West. I remember seeing that Batgirl ad many times back in the day (always looked forward to it, I had a big crush on Batgirl), and my little kid mind never noticed it was a different actor than in the series.

Dick Gautier will probably be better known to nerdkind as the voice of Rodimus Prime in Transformers!

I know this is all contained implicitly in the story above, but to clarify:

For a PSA about equal rights in the workplace for women, Craig had to wear a . . . USED . . . Batgirl costume that the show’s producer had given to one of his . . . “friends” . . . for reasons unexplained.

There’s a lot of ways to interpret that, but no matter which one it was, I sure hope they hosed that thing down first, for Craig’s sake.

On the release database at Mike’s Amazing World of Marvel Comics – He lists Star Wars #7 being released on October 11, 1977.

Thanks, Andrew (and Ethan).

“I bought one issue because it had an article about KISS in it. Nice art on the Star Wars feature by Howard Chaykin, but why do I expect them to suddenly break out a case of Hostess® Fruit Pies? (If you get that reference, you’re old, too.)”

LOL That was my exact thought when I was scrolling down through them. Glad I’m not the only one

“I left out the part where Craig basically outright says that she believes that it was Ward who took the costume.”

When I first read that part [in the original article you linked to], I thought she was saying he was gay.

> Wow, DeZuniga really sucked the Chaykin out of that artwork.
> Well, Chaykin hadn’t really developed his style yet. The guys don’t all look like Ruben Flagg

It wasn’t DeZuniga’s fault. Chaykin had already developed his signature style (check out the early Dominic Fortune stories), but for mainstream books, he used a completely different, very crude style that was pretty terrible. Check out his atrocious six-issue run on Micronauts between Golden and Broderick, if you dare.

> It is the writer who usually decides both the word and the placement of the sound effect.

Brian knows this full well, but longtime readers of this column will know that he has a strict policy of never giving Stan Lee credit for anything.

I saw that Batgirl PSA before I ever saw the original Batman TV show. It aired at least a couple times Saturday mornings in the early 70′s. I also saw it again later on in the late 70s.

Was 317 ever posted? I missed it and I did not see it on the master list.

PB,

Burt Ward had a reputation for being a bit of a ladies man.

Hey girls, guess what? If our oppressive patriarchal society doesn’t give you a fair shake, find an opportunity to blackmail them, even if it could cost them their lives! It’s what’s Batgirl would do!

This is too late to make much difference, but I’ve been told that Stan Lee paid a lot of attention to the sound effects in the stories he scripted – he went so far as to pencil them on the original art. The letterer then tightened up and inked them.

I like Gautier—he was Hymie, Rodimus, and Serpentor—but his Batman doesn’t work for me. Too mellow.

Yes, PSAs tended to run for years and years on both radio and TV, back in the way when there were way more commercial break spots that local stations had ads to fill them with. I remember the Batgirl ads possibly into the 80s. In radio, I had a set of maybe 10 long-play discs with PSAs on them, one from a different agency: American Lung Association, Social Security, etc. I think they only got pulled if they got too obviously outdated, or the personality announcing them had died.

We all know Batgirl was totally volunteer. That’s what bugged me about those ads. And I never once thought that wasn’t Adam West there. Maybe that’s why they had more reaction shots and lines for Robin.

Michael Hammond

January 3, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Just to correct Eric N.: “such as Jeff Altman having to wait for traffic sounds to die down to do a take as Green Lantern.”

Wow. No, the deleted scene on the “Legends” dvd is actually Mickey Morton as Solomon Grundy waiting for a car to stop honking. Also, Jeff Altman plays Weather Wizard in the specials and the very hot Howard Murphy played Green Lantern. How Mr. Murphy did not become a star, I’ll never know.

ON Burt Ward’s “friend”- I’m guessing Ward took it, but he wasn’t the one wearing it…and the one he had wearing it was female. (And it might not have been only “one”)

But looking at Craig in the outfit again…I’m not sure I blame him.

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