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Comic Book Legends Revealed #337

Welcome to the three hundredth and thirty-seventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, discover the strange story of how close Gerard Christopher (from the Superboy TV series) came to being Superman on Lois and Clark! Plus, was James Robinson ever going to do a Silver Age follow-up to his Golden Age? And marvel at likely the only comic ever to be entered into the Congressional Record!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and thirty-six.

Also, note that if you’re interested in designing a new logo for Urban Legends Revealed, the deadline for entries is the 26th. Click here for more information.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Gerard Christopher was cast as Superman in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman until producers discovered that he had played Superboy on the Superboy TV series of the late 1980s.

STATUS: False (but close to true!)

Gerard Christopher took over from John Haymes Newton as the title character in the syndicated Superboy series in 1989. After Newton did a season in the role, Christopher did Seasons 2-4.

Christopher had an impressive physique and although he looked young, he was actually 30 years old when he took over the role!

Therefore, when the series ended in 1992, he was the “right” age to play Superman, and it just so happens that in 1993 ABC television was casting for Superman for an upcoming Superman television series. Christopher decided to go up for the role, and as a number of tellings of the story go (here’s one from a Superboy/Young Superman TV fan site):

Gerard Christopher was originally cast to play Superman in the Lois and Clark TV show, but one the producers of Lois and Clark realized that he had done Superman before (or in his case, Superboy). The producer immediately recasted him with Dean Cain. Just think, Gerard was going to be Superman; and he was being cast twice for the same role!

It’s a great story, but it is not exactly true. Christopher was never cast as Superman. However, the true parts of the story are still interesting!

In an interview by Brian McKernan that was later reprinted on Christopher’s official website, Christopher tells the full story…

McKernan: Were you involved with the production of Lois and Clark?

Christopher: I actually read for the show. It was interesting. At first the casting director didn’t like my interpretation. Then she asked me to change it. I did and she liked it. Then she brought me in to meet the producers. When I walked into the room, they had no advance knowledge that I had done Superboy.

Now, there are two ways to look at that: They’re either going to love it because I had done the part before, or the opposite would be true – they’d hate it. I read for the producer and his reaction was, “Wow! You’re great, it’s wonderful, you’re the perfect guy for this!” There was a room of six or eight people, it was kind of exciting. Then he grabbed my resume, looked at the work I’d done, flipped it over and said, “You’ve done this already!” He threw my resume down on the table and basically threw me out of the room. It was pretty funny.

You have to keep in mind the situation that the Lois and Clark people were in. It’s similar to when a restaurant goes out of business and is taken over by new owners: The new management wants to change the decor, the menu, the colors, the fabrics on the chairs – everything. He could have looked at the new show as an easy transition for me – from Superboy to Superman. I’m older, I’m experienced, and I have a following. But he was making a big move, a big transition in how the character would be interpreted. He wanted to go a different way. People like to do things their own way and often times they cut ties with anything that came before for their own personal reasons. I’m not making any judgements; if that’s what he wants to do it’s his business.

It’s a fascinating story.

In any event, obviously, Dean Cain ended up winning the role…

Interestingly enough, the actor who DID end up being “the other guy” when it boiled down to it, was a pre-Hercules Kevin Sorbo! I wonder how he would have handled the role. He certainly had the build for Superman!

Thanks to Brian McKernan and Gerard Christopher for the scoop on a fascinating story!

COMIC LEGEND: A Sunday Terry and the Pirates comic strip was read into the Congressional Record the next day.

STATUS: True

Few popular cartoonists were quite as devoted to the United States military as Milton Caniff was. The star of his famed Terry and the Pirates strip, Terry, ended up joining the Air Force in the strip and serving in World War II. Caniff even donated a spin-off strip that he worked on throughout the war just for military newspapers. Granted, sometimes his devotion to the war efforts went to some regrettable places (like this previous Comic Book Legends installment will attest), but it is clear that Canniff was a man who loved his country and the people who served to protect it.

Perhaps never was this more evident than in his October 17, 1943 Sunday strip for Terry and the Pirates, popularly known as “The Pilot’s Creed.” The strip depicted Terry and his flight instructor, Colonel “Flip” Corkin, with Terry getting a lesson from Corkin about his responsibilities as a fighter pilot. The strip drew such a positive reaction that the following day, the strip was read aloud in the United States Congress and actually added to the Congressional Record, the only comic that I know of ever to receive such an honor.

Dean Mullaney, over at IDW’s Library of American Comics, shared Caniff’s hand-watercolored guide for the engravers of the famous strip…

Awesome.

Thanks a lot, Dean!

COMIC LEGEND: James Robinson planned to do a Silver Age follow-up to his Elseworlds mini-series The Golden Age.

STATUS: True

Some time ago (March 2008, to be exact), reader Cory T. wrote in to ask me:

had an urban legend i was hoping you could look into for me. i heard a rumor that at one time james robinson was going to follow up his golden age mini series with a solver age version. do you know anything about this or what he was planning or what the story entailed? cant wait to see what you uncover.

Well, you had to wait a few years, Cory, but here goes!

The Golden Age was a prestige format Elseworlds mini-series that Robinson wrote with excellent artwork from the great Paul Smith.

The series basically launched Robinson’s career in mainstream comics.

Rumors of a possible Silver Age follow-up have followed Robinson for years, but I never saw him confirm or deny it either way (Howard Chaykin was the artist rumored attached to the follow-up). That is until late last year, when Robinson addressed the rumor in an interview over at Ain’t It Cool News.

Professor Challenger: Finally, is working on the JLA tickling your creative bone to do a THE SILVER AGE mini-series sequel to THE GOLDEN AGE? :)

Robinson: I was developing the SILVER AGE with a big name artist and for one reason and another it didn’t happen when it should have. Since then between Mark Waid’s JLA YEAR ONE and especially Darwyn’s Cooke’s NEW FRONTIER, the story I wanted to tell has been told and by better and more talented guys then me.

So there ya go, Cory! Confirmation that he was, in fact, planning on doing it and with the references to JLA: Year One and The New Frontier, a pretty good idea of what kind of story that he had in mind.

Michael Sacal wrote in with an article from Wizard from the early 1990s that gives more details as to what Robinson had planned…

Thanks for the question, Cory! And thanks to Professor Challenger, Robinson and Michael Sacal for the information! Thanks also to Derek W. for confirming an earlier question I had about whether Chaykin was definitely the artist (Michael’s artcle also achieved that purpose).

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!

50 Comments

Too bad, i´d love to read Robinson’s Silver Age!!!! Maybe it could be the new 52 universe silver age!!

The way I’ve read about the Lois & Clark casting, Kevin Sorbo was thought to be better for Superman, and Dean Cain for Clark. I don’t know if that’s true, but since the series gave Lois a lot more emphasis than she usually gets, as well as the Clark-Lois relationship, it does seem to make sense.

The first item is a bit nit-picky. Gerard hadn’t technically been cast as Superman in Lois and Clark, but it sounds like he was certainly in the running until they saw he’d been Superboy. So it’s a bit of a stretch just to focus on whether or not he’d been cast …he did lose out on the role because he’d played the character before.

Did I misread or did you say the Superboy/man legend was untrue then go on to prove it was in fact true… ?

Did I misread or did you say the Superboy/man legend was untrue then go on to prove it was in fact true… ?

The former.

Dude, I sent in the question about the Silver Age on 4/5/2010, it even included a scan from an article in Wizard in which Robinson is quoted about the plot for the story.

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y220/ManofTheAtom/robinsonsilverage.jpg

Cool stuff, Michael, thanks! That was before Robinson gave the interview, so I didn’t put two and two together with regards to your question from April 2010. But I’ll add that into the piece now!

Awesome

Brian does get caught up on how he chose to word the legend at times. From a purely technical standpoint, change “cast as” to “considered for” and the status of the Superman legend is true. For most people, however, the spirit of what’s being communicated would be the same in either instance, and the rest is just semantics.

From a purely technical standpoint, change “Gerard Christopher” to “Margaret Thatcher” and then you really have yourself a legend!

Seriously, though, the legend IS that he was cast. Google “Gerard Christopher cast as Clark” and you will get multiple stories saying he was cast as Clark until they discovered that he was on the Superboy TV series. That is the legend being debunked here. It is a prevalent FALSE story. So I debunked it here. That it also allowed me also to tell a cool story about his reading in front of the producers was gravy (really cool gravy, though!).

I think that a more accurate wording would be that he read for the part but was not cast because of his past association with the role.

I agree with both sides. Technically Brian is right, he did debunk a myth, but it could definitely have been worded more clearly. Count me among the initially confused. I had to reread the myth before I realized what he meant. When I saw the word “False” without any qualifier, I thought the whole legend was going to be untrue, like for example he was disqualified for a totally different reason.

A qualification in the status is fair enough. I do do those frequently enough, so I’m fine with adding that.

That’s a crying shame about Robinson’s Silver Age. I recall reading the Golden Age and thinking what an awesome story that was. I recall working in the local comic book shop as we all eagerly awaited Chaykin on Silver Age. I’m truly sad to learn it won’t be happening ever.

Yeah, I’m bummed The Silver Age never came out. Didn’t know Chaykin was to be the artist. How awesome would that be ?

I’m sure if DC published it, it’d still sell. Those two names on the sequel to the Golden Age = $ale$

That Terry and the Pirates strip is quite wordy piece, not exactly a shining point of comics storytelling…but amusing to note how “22 Panels That Always Work” it has been executed…

That Terry and the Pirates strip is quite wordy piece, not exactly a shining point of comics storytelling

I beg to differ, just being wordy isn’t in and of itself bad storytelling. It was wordy, but it was great writing. I never read the strip before, but in a single strip I totally grasped who they people were and their personalities immediately. And it was inspiring. And I think as storytelling it was very good because I liked the contrast in the last panel, where it’s silent. By filling the other panels full of words, the contrast makes the silent panel at the end that much more powerful, as you can tell the powerful words are marinating in Terry’s head and he has just been sent off to become a man.

Going slightly off topic, for my money, that Superboy show was the BEST live-action realization of super-hero comics ever. Sure, it was low budget, but the kinds of stories and their tone were like the best of the Silver and Bronze eras combined. Not surprising, when you consider the number of scripts written by the likes of Cary Bates, Mike Carlin & Andy Helfer, Denny O’Neill, and J.M. DeMatteis!

They really should have done The Silver Age.

Whoa! I read that article about Robinson’s “The Silver Age” way back then, but had completely forgotten about it until I saw that scan! It’s a damn shame the project never happened.

Seconding Perry’s fondness for the Superboy during the Christopher run (first season is best forgotten).
The Caniff speech was wordy, but it works for me. And of course it was in an era when we were in the middle of the war and talk like that would have meant more (and flying was a lot cooler in people’s eyes).
I remember Clark Kent’s one time in uniform in WW II was when he did a story on the maintenance crews by volunteering as one of them.

Checked out “how to spot a Jap” at the link. Almost mild compared to a lot of anti-Japanese propaganda.
Even the Bowery Boys got in on this subject (back when they were the East Side Kids), harassing a local store owner who turns out to be a Chinese-American rather than Japanese.

Say what you will about the Superboy TV show, but Stacy Haiduk was an infinitely better Lana Lang than Kristin Kreuk. This is known.

I think Brian’s on the money here. All we really know is that Christopher had a good audition. There’s a big difference between that and being cast.

Sorbo has the build for Superman all right, but not the face. And Clark Kent… fuhgeddaboudit. Can you even picture him in glasses?

I loved Cain’s Superman when I was a kid, so I think it worked out for the best. As for Sorbo, if you want to see him play a superhero who’s always right, that’s what Andromeda’s for.

Golden Age – probably the best comic book story I have ever read IMO

Final Frontier probably the 2nd best comic story I have ever read IMO

Once again, I agree with T.

Naturalistic dialogue isn’t the be-all, end-all of storytelling. People from Dostoyevsky to Cervantes had very wordy dialogue. They’re still geniuses. I really wish people stopped mocking comics from the past for “wordiness.”

Never saw the SUPERBOY TV show. One of those shows that never made it into Brazil, I suppose. Watched LOIS & CLARK for the first couple of seasons, but soon I grew tired of it. I never liked the typical superhero TV show that didn’t involve supervillains or other superheroes, just the one superhero fighting against normal people.

I do remember Robinson’s proposal. I had wet dreams about it at the time, I was so crazy about Robinson. How things have changed…

Ah, Kevin Sorbo, the littlest Hercules. He may have made a good Perseus or Jason, but he always seemed (to me) too small to really be a good Hercules.

Similarly, I remember thinking that Dean Cain would have been a spot-on Kyle Rayner GL, but had neither the size nor presence to pull off Superman.

I liked the Superboy show in the 90’s because they did a Bizarro episode that was pretty cool for a TV version, but I’m not sure what season that was.

Ok, perhaps a bad choice of words…I didn’t mind the actual number of words or how natural the talk sounds like, just how it was presented, as a series of talking heads. It’s like Caniff came up with the text and then remembered that oh yeah, this is going to the comic page, he should probably do some pictures to go with it.

Worth-reading piece of write-up for comic book lovers. I’d appreciate to know more about some popular comic books from your side. Useful information shared. I am very happy to read this article. Thanks for giving us nice info. Fantastic walk-through.

I vaguely remember hearing about that Superman story. That’s pretty funny. I also seem to remember the bit about it being between Cain and Sorbo.

That Terry strip gets me, in my patriotic bone. Salute! And I definitely agree with T and Rene. Just because it’s wordy, doesn’t automatically make it bad comics. Like T said, the silent panel is even more effective due to the wordiness of the rest.

That said, there are some comics that ARE too wordy, and don’t take advantage of what comics can do.

I definitely remember that Wizard article about the Silver Age. I may have come across it recently when I was looking something else up. Chaykin definitely would have been a good one for it.

Robinson sure likes Jim Harper, huh?

I remember a Superboy scene where they had Bizarro Lana and Bizarro having breakfast and it was very reminiscent of the old Bizarro tales.
And yes, Stacy Haiduk. And yes again.
Plus Sherman Howard, who played Lex from second season, had the raw hate that was so characteristic of Silver Age Luthor.

“Ah, Kevin Sorbo, the littlest Hercules. He may have made a good Perseus or Jason, but he always seemed (to me) too small to really be a good Hercules.”

I saw Sorbo in person in San Diego at the Hard Rock Hotel… the guy is HUGE.

Haiduk was a most excellent actress, for two very good reasons.

It’s funny because I read the DC Silver Age series from about 2000, and heard there was a corresponding Golden Age series out there and spent ages tracking it down. Of course the two series were as different as night and day, but I enjoyed them both.

Pat, you mean Waid’s Silver Age event?

@Renee: I think it is a fair point when you are talking about a visual medium whose writers do not necessarily have the command of prose that those writers you just name-dropped did, especially when most of the “wordiness” comes from detailed explanations of what is already being shown. Compare something by Gaiman, Moore, or Robinson on a good day to something be Stan Lee. Both could be considered wordy, but one has wordiness that ads to the story and the other doesn’t.

The Terry strip – this is one of those emotionally loaded topics where objective discussion is near impossible. People can’t separate criticism of the message delivery from the message itself. Without the context of the time, it reads just like any other motivational war story or memorial. Not seeing what distinguishes this from countless thousands of other war stories or movies, or otherwise makes it noteworthy.

Compare something by Gaiman, Moore, or Robinson on a good day to something be Stan Lee. Both could be considered wordy, but one has wordiness that ads to the story and the other doesn’t.

I can agree with that to a degree. I just read Moore’s Miracleman for the first time, and the wordiness really sucked me out of the story to the point I think I read half of the dialogue at most, but Stan Lee’s wordiness never sucks me out of the story and only enhances it in my opinion.

Ok, perhaps a bad choice of words…I didn’t mind the actual number of words or how natural the talk sounds like, just how it was presented, as a series of talking heads. It’s like Caniff came up with the text and then remembered that oh yeah, this is going to the comic page, he should probably do some pictures to go with it.

I totally didn’t get that vibe at all. What other type of visuals is he supposed to have going along with that speech? THe visuals weren’t an afterthought, they were the absolute appropriate visuals for accompanying the speech.

especially when most of the “wordiness” comes from detailed explanations of what is already being shown.

The wordiness in the Terry strip is not a detailed explanation of what is already being shown. If you took the words out and just left the visuals, it would not have the same clear intent. It could just be two guys making an arrangement to head into town together on a break between missions to have some beers and ogle some chicks. I agree that wordy dialogue is bad when it’s simply explaining what’s clear in the art like in a Claremont X-Men book, but I don’t think that criticism applies to the Terry strip.

I love that T’s comment here about the wordiness aspect points out that Stan’s wordiness sucks you in, when Dalarsco was attempting (I believe) to make the point that Stan doesn’t add something… I’m going to fence sit and say both are right…

Looking at that Terry strip again, it’s really really good. It obviously works well enough as a speech that it could be read into the Congressional Record without the visuals, but look at it. Panel 5 with the “ghostly echelon” framed by the searchlights to heaven. Then panel 6 gets bright with the “cocky and proud” bit. Then panel 7 darkens when Terry is reminded of how he might get the glory, but it’s all dependent on the sacrifice of all those before him.

I’d say this isn’t wordy at all, but that it’s a great example of the interdependence of words and pictures in comics.

Michael, yes, the Agamemno and body-switching story.

“I saw Sorbo in person in San Diego at the Hard Rock Hotel… the guy is HUGE.”

Yeah, i think he means he’s not stocky enough, and not that he’s not tall… I mean on andromeda he was taller then any Nietzschean…

I’d be surprised if it even had any effect on casting Dean Cain, but a mixed race guy playing Superman makes perfect sense to me. As advanced as the Kryptonians are, they wouldn’t have multiple races, just one mixed race

Anyone who knows how the audition process works, knows Christopher was not necessarily in the running. And appeared not to be. According to Christopher.

Brian is correct. It’s not true. Though it is interesting.

While Sorbo is tall and he is fit, when people think of Hercules they think of HUGE muscles. You think of a Lou Ferrigno or an Ahnold type.

“Tae
October 24, 2011 at 6:35 pm
Anyone who knows how the audition process works, knows Christopher was not necessarily in the running. And appeared not to be. According to Christopher.”

That’s what I was gonna say. Even saying you are “perfect” for the part is in no way even saying you will go into the next stage.

Get off your high bicycle about those wordy comics!

“While Sorbo is tall and he is fit, when people think of Hercules they think of HUGE muscles. You think of a Lou Ferrigno or an Ahnold type.”

Unfortunately for them anabolic steroids where not around in Ancient Greece…

Maybe it’s because I’ve heard the Sorbo as Superman rumors, but anytime Superman’s sales are low and they say he’s such a hard character to write without being too goody two shoes, he’s uncool, or whatever, I’ve always thought if I got the Superman writing gig (which would never happen, but go with me) I’d find some old dvd’s of Sorbo’s Herc and make my characterization based on him. He was cool and confident, believed in his abilities as a “half-god”, but still caring, an traditional hero and good guy. I thought he walked the perfect line between being too boring whitebread and being to “edgy”. I don’t know if he fits the look for Superman, or if he would have ever made a good Clark…but the character of Superman would work a lot better if they took some of Kevin’s interpretation of Herc for Superman and saved us the angst…or now the jerkiness. I always thought “that’s how you been the all ‘American’ good guy, but still retain some cool to you”.

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