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Comic Book Legends Revealed #369

Welcome to the three hundredth and sixty-ninth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. I believe this is almost exactly the seven-year anniversary of the column (June 3, 2005 to now, June 1, 2012). Nuts. Anyhow, this week is a theme week. Talking animal comics!! Discover the possible comic origin of Donald Duck! Find out where Bucky O’Hare almost debuted! And finally, marvel at how Marvel nearly had a Spider-Ham comic book….by Dave Sim!!!!!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and sixty-eight.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Donald Duck debuted in a 1931 illustrated Mickey Mouse book three years before debuting in a cartoon.

STATUS: I am going with False

Awhile back, reader Ortiz e-mailed me with the cryptic inquiry:

I read that Donald Duck is a little older, that he was created in 1931, not in 1934, could you check it please?

When I looked into it, I discovered what Ortiz is referring to.

You see, Donald Duck’s official first appearance is in the 1934 cartoon, The Wise Little Hen…

Four years ago, the model sheet for that cartoon sold for $75,000!!

However, in 1931, a Mickey Mouse children’s book called The Adventures of Mickey Mouse was released.

In it, it references a duck named “Donald Duck”…

and there is a drawing of what is presumably said duck…

However, it does not appear as though this is an official declaration of the Walt Disney company, but rather that the author just decided to come up with a bunch of names on his/her own for the characters from Mickey Mouse’s Silly Symphonies. For instance, the horse is named Henry, while the horse in the cartoons had already been given a name, Horace Horsecollar…

There were duck characters in Silly Symphonies, so almost certainly this is the book author just trying to name them, without checking to see if they HAD names (like Horace).

There was a similar British children’s book in 1932 that followed the plot of the 1931 U.S. book carefully, including using the name Donald, as well.

In the end, though, I think this is just the case of a licensed book author making up names and Disney not particularly being invested in continuity (the 1931 book was the first Disney licensed book for sale after a Mickey Mouse giveaway book in 1930).

Is it possible that someone at Disney saw the book and remembered the name Donald years later? It is certainly POSSIBLE, but I find it pretty unlikely. Donald Duck is just a fairly normal name for a character, especially when you already have Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Thanks so much to KAYA ÖZKARACALAR for discovering the Donald Duck find a few years back! Check out Kaya’s blog here for more information about the book. And thanks to Ortiz for the question.

COMIC LEGEND: Larry Hama developed Bucky O’Hare for DC Comics.

STATUS: True

Awhile back, reader “Sabrina” wrote in to ask:

I was reading through a few old comics I just got off eBay and came across a DC editorial where Jeannete Kahn (Khan?) mentions a pilot that Larry Hama is working on that’s “as wonderfully lunatic as Howard the Duck.” She also mentions something that Paul Levitz is working on, as well as the team of Neal Adams and Mike Nasser. Now, I’m guessing these were all victims of the DC Implosion, but the thing is, I’d never heard of any of these projects, even as cancelled ones. Was there ever going to be a DC series by Hama that was supposed to be a take-off on Howard the Duck?

I asked Larry Hama about it and his answer was fascinating, as it turns out the book in question was his famed independent comic book character, Bucky O’Hare!

Hama stated:

She was talking about BUCKY O’HARE, which I originally put together as one of the first creator-owned comics for DC, but after a year of waiting for the DC legal department to actually come up with a contract, my lawyer (Ed Preiss, who also represented Siegel & Schuster) reminded me that “a spoken agreement is worth the paper it is printed on,” I pulled the project from DC and brought it to Neal Adams, who cut me and Michael Golden in on a very generous creators percentage.

Since there was both a Bucky O’Hare cartoon series AND a Bucky O’Hare video game, I’d say that that worked out pretty darn well for Hama (and Golden)!

Thanks for the question, “Sabrina”! And thanks for the information, Larry!

By the way, Hama had another interesting tidbit in his response that I’ll get to in a future legend installment.

COMIC LEGEND: Dave Sim pitched Marvel on a Spider-Ham series.

STATUS: True

I have featured a number of Comic Book Legends Revealed installments on whether Spider-Ham was intended as a parody of Cerebus (in retaliation for Dave Sim parodying a few Marvel characters in the pages of Cerebus, like Moon Roach and Wolverroach). This one and this one are the two major ones.

In any event, what’s fascinating about Sim and Spider-Ham is that a few years back, Sim actually pitched Marvel on Sim doing a Spider-Ham comic! How awesome would that have been (here is a bit of a sign)?

Here’s Sim on the topic (and why it did not pan out) from Claude Flowers’ painstaking reproduction and archiving of Sim’s blog posts from 2006-2008

So, I faxed my contact “I really can’t sign this, so how about instead I’ll tell you half of my idea, the half where there’s no jurisdictional risk to Marvel at stake. What I want to do is Spider-Ham but it’s a completely different approach to what Marvel has done with the character. So what I’m proposing is that Marvel gives me a stake—nothing huge—but a stake in my version of Spider-Ham and if it turns into a series or Hollywood wants to make a movie out of it, I make a small percentage. If you do YOUR version of Spider-Ham I don’t get anything.” Given that it’s going to cut into my own writing and drawing time and I’ll probably be making substantially less money, I have to come up with a scenario, however remote, that would potentially make this a cagey move. Even the outside chance of getting 1% of a 75-million or 200-million dollar movie would justify a certain encroachment on how I do things (is the uneasy underpinning of my rationalization).

Well, he [Sim's unnamed contact at Marvel - BC] went and ran that past whoever he had to run that past and phoned back a couple of days later and said, “No, Joe Straczyinski just did Spider-Ham in Civil War, so Spider-Ham is out.” This is one of the things I have trouble understanding about mainstream comics. I’m not talking about Joe’s Spider-Ham, I’m talking about Dave’s Spider-Ham. It has something to do, I would guess, with creating the illusion that they’re actually documenting real-life characters and if Dave’s Spider-Ham shows up too soon after Joe’s Spider-Ham that will make Spider-Ham less believable in an overall Marvel continuity sense.

The real world part of me thinks “We’re discussing a cartoon pig in a Spider-man costume. `Believable’ is a relative concept with very, very big quotation marks around it.” You know. “Let’s get a grip, here.” But Dave Sim, fanboy, understands perfectly. Mark “Marvel Universe” Gruenwald (God rest his soul) has been dead and gone for some years, but the urge to make everything conform to One Giant Marvel Comics Flow Chart of Internally Consistent Reality has survived him in spirit if not in fact (a die-hard Marvel fan would know better than I would). Dave Sim, comic-book writer, who has a foot in both the real world and the fanboy world thinks, “I made twenty-six years of a cartoon aardvark plausible to an audience made up largely of grown-ups. Send me what Joe did and I’ll figure a way to turn his Spider-Ham into my Spider-Ham in two panels that will have Mark Gruenwald weeping in the great by-and-by at the sheer symmetrical and internally consistent inventiveness of it all.” But “real world” Dave understands that that’s VERY unlikely to happen. “Real world” Dave is “new around here”. When in Rome do as the Romans tell you to do.

The Spider-Ham book by Straczynski is the following from 2007…

Thanks to Dave Sim and Claude Flowers for the information!

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!

Here’s my new book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? It came out this week! The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine’s armor).

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

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, Urban Legends Revealed, where I look into urban legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at urbanlegendsrevealed.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!

42 Comments

Loved Bucky O’Hare wish if Hama would re launch him.

Okay that whole thing Dave Sim said about Marvel’s continuity is what’s wrong with comics (of course, I say that about everything that’s wrong with comics) but that right there is one of the really big problems. I miss the Elseworld books where different creators could work on a book and do their own takes in alternate realities. This is just ridiculous and not just because its not a super gigantic property, we’re not talking about making a more more Ultimate Spiderman but Spider ham. And the truth is they probably didn’t want to give him the 1% is all. It’s as much about money as it is about anything else, I think.

And I think we need more Bucky O’hare comics. Or at least some spiffy new hardcover collection of the old issues. I came across one in a quarter bin. Michael Golden art OMG! Beautiful stuff, but I need the other issues. I remember watching the show as a kid, I always liked it … and hated that Usagi Yojimbo didn’t get a show allegedly because this one had failed.

I still don’t know why Bucky didn’t do better. A serious take on talking animals was something new and fresh.

Bucky O’Hare looked a lot like Jaxxon from Thomas and Chaykin’s run on Marvel’s Star Wars comic.

Now I’m curious to know what the Adams/Nasser and Levitz series mentioned above were.

I still can’t believe Marvel is so stupid as to not let Sim have his chance at Spider-Ham, all because of that terrible one-shot written by a man that clearly never actually read much Spider-Ham.

There was also a Bucky toy line.

Please tell me that’s “Hambit” on that cover above Wolverham. And that he’s called that in the actual pages of the comic.

HesKindaRight

June 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Marvel wouldn’t let Dave Sim do Spider-Ham because of the “He-Man Guy?”?

It’s so sad how Marvel Comics screwed up Spider-Ham comics.

Man, oh, man…did I love Bucky O’Hare as a kid!

Dave Sim is such an egotistical ass. They should have just turned him down for the ridiculous request for a share. Dave Sim “idiot” wants to change something about an already established character and get create as a creator. I have a Spiderman story idea, but in mine Spiderman’s hair is blonde. I should receive money if ever there is a blonde actor playing Spiderman. Dave Sim “tool” thinks he deserves rights to the character because he worked on the character. You do get compensation for the time and effort you put on the story. It is called a paycheck. Dave Sim “asshat” needs to get over himself and his overblown ego.

Wait, wait, wait… what the hell is going on in that Spider-Ham Civil War comic? Since when does Spider-Ham live in an all-pig world? What happened to Captain Americat and Iron Mouse? Was that supposed to be yet another alternate full-animal universe or what?

Wait, wait, wait… what the hell is going on in that Spider-Ham Civil War comic? Since when does Spider-Ham live in an all-pig world? What happened to Captain Americat and Iron Mouse? Was that supposed to be yet another alternate full-animal universe or what?

As noted, it was Spider-Ham by someone who really didn’t know much about Spider-Ham (which is fine, of course, as you could always say, as the title notes, that this ULTIMATE Spider-Ham, but still).

beta ray steve

June 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I like all the concern about realism in a comic about a talking pig with the proportional strength of a spider.

“Send me what Joe did and I’ll figure a way to turn his Spider-Ham into my Spider-Ham in two panels that will have Mark Gruenwald weeping in the great by-and-by at the sheer symmetrical and internally consistent inventiveness of it all.”
I LOVE that quote! Continuity is not hard, it just takes a tiny bit of effort, that’s all.

As noted, it was Spider-Ham by someone who really didn’t know much about Spider-Ham (which is fine, of course, as you could always say, as the title notes, that this ULTIMATE Spider-Ham, but still).

Well, considering it was written by the same guy who wrote a big Gwen Stacy story without knowing anything about Gwen Stacy…

JMS (long string of expletives deleted.)

It WAS Ultimate Spider-Man. It was set up that way as a one-off parody comic that meshed together all the different Marvel U’s. I can gladly accept that it wasn’t canon-Ham.

…I can’t believe this is a conversation.

Wow, my question was answered, thanks a lot Brian :D

Peace

Michael Howey

June 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm

No Punfisher or Doctor Octopussycat? (If that was real? all from memory) The absence of Mary Jane Water Buffallo was the greatest cut of all. She was fine.

Anyway. Making the Hulk green eggs and ham was just horrible.
Worst of all it wasn’t even a funny comic.

Dave Sim doing anything is a good thing. (Apart from giving his opinions. That never goes well.) A real talent and having him on a Peter Porker title would kill for me.

The Crazed Spruce

June 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm

This if the first time I’ve even heard of JMS’s “Spider-Ham” comic. Yeeeeeeesh….

I mean, the main adversaries in Civil War were represented by a cat and a mouse. It almost writes itself!

Travis Pelkie

June 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm

I bought that Ultimate Spider-Ham book because I was reading about Spider-Ham on Dave’s Blog and Mail back then. It’s not awful, iirc, and it does have some neat pinups by cool artists.

I highly suspect that a Dave Sim legend was a special treat for me, so I thank you kindly, Brian. Smile on my face for the first time this week.

I understand that Dave did Elephantmen art for the latest HERO Comics book, so I need to snatch that one up.

@Mel House I am 99% positive that he was indeed called Hambit. That comic was awesome.

I had so looked forward to a new Spider-Ham comic that I sent my wife to the store to go get it for me. Then I read it. Yeeeeeesh. It was that shameful.

I’m glad that Marvel has slowly tried to revamp interest in him again, though. They put out one digest-sized collection of his first 5 issues two years ago. Wish there’d been a second volume….

So, I guess that would be Hambit, Ant-Ham, Daredevilled Ham, The Invisible WomHam, Mr. Hamtastic, Ham-Thing, The Haman Torch, along with WolverHam, Iron Ham and Captain Hamerica?

Dave Sim lives in this reality?

I fully believe that Sims could and would have made his Spider-Ham compatible with Straczyinski’s Spider-Ham if asked to, and that if that was Marvel’s only concern they were being silly. But Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the only thing we know of that Sims had to go on was “No, Joe Straczyinski just did Spider-Ham in Civil War, so Spider-Ham is out.” The part about them not doing his project because of possible continuity problems is speculation on his part.

It could be that whoever made the call just didn’t like Spider-Ham and didn’t want to put out multiple Spider-Ham books in a year. There could have been some kind of weird legal issues with using the character more than a certain amount. It could have been just the most polite way they could think of to say “not interested.”

Oh, and @Ganky: The Suey and Johnny Storm of the Hamtastic Four should be the Invisible Sow and the Porcine Torch. And while I love “Ham-Thing,” I believe that their Ben Grimm should be the Spam, because he’s a ham made out of inorganic material.

Wow! dave Sim thinks he has foot in the real world?

I fully believe that Sims could and would have made his Spider-Ham compatible with Straczyinski’s Spider-Ham if asked to, and that if that was Marvel’s only concern they were being silly. But Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the only thing we know of that Sims had to go on was “No, Joe Straczyinski just did Spider-Ham in Civil War, so Spider-Ham is out.” The part about them not doing his project because of possible continuity problems is speculation on his part.

It could be that whoever made the call just didn’t like Spider-Ham and didn’t want to put out multiple Spider-Ham books in a year. There could have been some kind of weird legal issues with using the character more than a certain amount. It could have been just the most polite way they could think of to say “not interested.”

Oh yeah, totally. All I am attesting to in the legend is that Sim PITCHED Marvel on Spider-Ham. The other stuff is just his take on the situation. Heck, Marvel might just have hated his pitch and just told him this to let him down easy. I tend to believe him, but I wouldn’t attest to something like that just on his say so.

Yah, another post on Spider-Ham which means I have an excuse to bring up the marvelous work of Steve Mellor. Cartoon Retrospot blog ran a series of postings featuring Mellor’s work which Mellor actually responded to. Check it out here: http://cartoonretro.blogspot.com/search/label/Steve%20Mellor

“Dave Sim is such an egotistical ass. They should have just turned him down for the ridiculous request for a share. Dave Sim “idiot” wants to change something about an already established character and get create as a creator. I have a Spider-Man story idea, but in mine Spider-Man’s hair is blonde. I should receive money if ever there is a blonde actor playing Spider-Man.”

Maybe the editor cited the JMS thing but I can’t imagine that was the rationale. I’m sure it was like you said above. There is no way Marvel would give creator participation on an already created character. If they did make a Spider-Ham movie, how can they decide what was Dave Sim’s and what was Marvel’s? If he created a character that would be one thing, but if he created the slightest bit of a change in tone, or even if he made it popular enough to somehow warrant a movie, he could claim credit.

I don’t think there is a contract strong enough to get Marvel to agree to a deal like that and I’m sure THAT was the reason. Not calling Sim a liar, but the Civil War thing sounds like a fib invented to avoid saying “The lawyers think you’re crazy”.

VULNAVIA’S SECRET – BOOK 3.5 IN THE DR. PHIBES SERIES – IS COMING SOON!

“If they did make a Spider-Ham movie, how can they decide what was Dave Sim’s and what was Marvel’s? If he created a character that would be one thing, but if he created the slightest bit of a change in tone, or even if he made it popular enough to somehow warrant a movie, he could claim credit.”

I see what you mean there.
I was reading another blog the other day about the Avengers movie. The writer pointed out that the characters were more inspired by/modeled after the Ultimates, than they were the earlier works. That the Ultimates creator(s) deserve more credit than Kirby. I can see that, but like you point out, legality wise, he could take credit over the slightest distinction. It is too subjective.

Marvel has used “continuity” as an excuse for lots of decisions. But a look at their multiple X-MEN and Avengers universes shows that to be BS.
And the Morbius in Spider-Man has no relation to the Morbius in Hulk.
Continuity went out the door years ago.

Travis Pelkie

June 1, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Actually, as I recall, Marvel reached out to Dave first, I think, possibly asking him to do some covers as well. Dave had a couple ideas, but the Spider-Ham one was the strongest. This would have been not long after Cerebus ended, Dave needed some cash flow (as it was before Judenhass or Glamourpuss), possibly also due to having to buy out Gerhard’s share of A-V. But as Dave is anti-contract, he had to have it in his terms.

I had forgotten, or glossed over, the bit about him wanting a cut. It reminds me of another possible Legend about him from that time frame.

I definitely thought at the time that the JMS version “reason” for not doing Dave’s version was a bit of a load of something…

Congratulations Dave Sim! With that rant you’ve just vaulted to the top of the “self-absorbed fools who are somehow revered as great creators on the supposed merits of a short list of overrated works” list.

While I’m not a Spiderham fan, one of the fun things about columns like this is reading them and realizing how many people have totally different reading perspectives from mine (without getting into a Your Taste Sucks! debate).

wetstereorebel

June 2, 2012 at 7:40 am

I read the hell out of some Spider-Ham as a kid (as a matter of fact, those are some of the first back issues I remember searching out). Try as I might, I never got into Sim’s work.

Nick A – The Adams/Nasser series might have been MS. MYSTIC — the character appeared as a face in the crowd on the cover of SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI, years before the series was finally published by Pacific Comics.

My friend has that Mickey Mouse book. He loves it. He’s so proud of it because it’s the “first appearance of Donald Duck.” It cost him a lot of money, but you have no idea how happy he is to have that book in his possession. He shows it to everyone who visits his apartment.

Needless to say, I have just e-mailed him a link to your column.

LOL

Knut Robert Knutsen

June 3, 2012 at 4:30 am

Dave Sim’s request is not something unheard of.

According to what I’ve read in interviews over the years, creator participation deals at DC and Marvel already work so that if you create for instance a team book, and a certain percent of the characters are new, you get creator credit and a share for the whole team. Apparently John Byrne was told when he started doing the Alpha Flight book that if he created X number of new characters for the team, he would qualify for royalties.

What Sim was saying was that he wouldn’t get a share of Spider-Ham per se , but a share of a specific, defined conceptual approach to Spider-Ham, which is neither unprecedented nor extreme, and where he’d only get a piece of it in other media if they actually managed to sell Spider-Ham as a movie or cartoon show BASED ON HIS NEW CONCEPT.

That’s a perfectly respectable bargaining position. He’s taking a loss on the up-front page rate against a piece off the back end, and he only gets paid if his material is used.

Marvel, in dealing with talent, may rarely discuss contractual terms or royalty rates, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for a better than standard deal. Nothing he asked for cut into the rights of any other creators, so I say good for him. If he wants to stand up and say “you want me, you pay me what I think I’m worth”, and accepts that it might mean that he loses out on work because of it, then I applaud him.

Wolverham looks like he tastes terrible, even by Canadian standards.

DC Implosion guy

August 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I think Mike Grell’s Starslayer was also in production around that time and returned to Grell during the Implosion.

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