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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #371

Welcome to the three hundred and seventy-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn whether Marvel actually had a ban on the words “hell” and “damn” in the early 1990s. Plus, did Ray Bradbury really write the classic EC Comic story “Judgment Day”? And was Larry Hama really THAT nice to G.I. Joe fans during the 1980s?!

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

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Marvel had a ban on characters using the words “hell” and “damn” in the early 1990s.

STATUS: True

Reader Gavin asked a few years back:

I’m sure I read a letter column (remember those?) in an early 90s Marvel book that made reference to the fact that the words ‘damn’ and ‘hell’ were prohibited in all Marvel books. After reading this I started noticing a whole lot of “go to blazes” and “darn”s in Marvel books. It seems a little old fashioned a policy for such a recent period, so did I imagine this or is there a story behind it?

I checked with both Toms DeFalco and Brevoort, and they both confirmed that yes, Marvel did, indeed, have an internal guideline where the words “hell” and “damn” were not allowed in Marvel Comics (I presume they meant in the dialogue, since, as commenter Jesse pointed out, the Hellfire Club was still around).

The examples are likely endless. If anyone wants to e-mail me (at bcronin@comicbookresources.com) an issue that had a particularly amusing “darn” or “blazes” or “blasted,” then I’ll feature them. However, just looking at literally the first comic I picked up from the era, Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #14 from 1994, notice Spider-Man’s internal monologue…

Thirteen years later, in another Spider-Man Annual (Sensational Spider-Man Annual #1 – also, no joke, the first comic I picked up from this era to find an example of a “hell” or a “damn”), which was labeled for “All Audiences”…

Tom Brevoort had a great anecdote about this era in Marvel history, specifically a 1993 Editorial Retreat:

At that time, the Image books were ascendant, and other companies such as Valiant were becoming legitimate competition in the marketplace. As a result, there was a bit of pressure internally to loosen up some of the restrictions on our material, to allow people to depict a greater amount of violence, and use some harsher language. This was going to be a topic discussed at this Editorial Retreat, and the night before, Tom and publisher Mike Hobson met privately and decided to loosen some of the restrictions, and allow some of this language.

Well, at the retreat proper, the debate was long and spirited, but at the end of the day the editorial staff took the position that Marvel didn’t need to use such language or show such graphic violence in order to compete effectively or to tell compelling stories. So the restrictions remained in place—and both Tom and Hobson felt great pride towards the editorial team they’d assembled.

Good stuff.

Thanks to Gavin for the suggestion and thanks to both Toms for their information. Special thanks to Tom Brevoort for that excellent story. My room got really dusty while I was reading that story. It kept getting in my eyes.

COMIC LEGEND: The classic EC Comic tale “Judgment Day” was adapted from a Ray Bradbury short story.

STATUS: False

Science fiction legend Ray Bradbury died ten days ago. Besides being a famed novelist and short story writer, Bradbury is well known to comic book readers for a number of critically acclaimed adaptations that EC Comics did of his work (after first adapting his work without his permission, as I detailed in an old Comic Book Legends installment here). Pretty much every month in 1953 they had a Bradbury adaptation in one of their various comic book magazines. Many of them were amazing. I recently did a bit over at the Huffington Post as to what I felt were the 8 best adaptations (you can read that here).

Anyhow, I think I have noticed something interesting about Bradbury’s adaptations. They have become SO famous that he is beginning to get credit for stories he didn’t even do!

In early 1953, Weird Fantasy #18 came out, proclaiming to the world on the cover that it had a Ray Bradbury story inside…

However, that tale was “Zero Hour,” a decent enough story about Martians invading through the help of children…

Later in the issue, though, was “Judgment Day,” an EC Comics classic by Al Feldstein and artist Joe Orlando about a space explorer sent to a planet of robots to see if they are ready to join the Galactic Empire of Earth. However, there are hints that something is not quite right about the planet…

Further exploration uncovers deep seated bigotry…

And, then, of course, the twist…

Great story. Also one that the Comics Code tried to make EC change from a black astronaut to a white astronaut when EC reprinted it in 1955 (check out this installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed for the low down on what happened).

In the wake of Bradbury’s death, I’ve seen a number of sites reference this story as being based on a Bradbury story (I’ve seen sites mention it being a Bradbury adaptation a few years back, as well). However, this was an Al Feldstein story through and through. Feldstein referred to it as one of his “preachies,” allegorical science fiction passion plays.

Bradbury WAS a big fan of “Judgment Day,” by the way. He wrote to EC about it stating, “”I realize you’ve been battling in the sea of comics to try and do better things. You have certainly succeeded in ‘Judgment Day’, which should be required reading for every man, woman, and child in the United States.” Man, Bradbury sure seemed like a swell guy.

COMIC LEGEND: Larry Hama used to write a postcard response to every fan letter he received back when he was writing G.I. Joe for Marvel Comics (not counting hate mail or no-prize requests).

STATUS: Technically False, but I think True Enough for a True (True with an unimportant caveat)

Reader R. wrote in awhile back to ask:

Is it true that Larry Hama wrote everyone who wrote in to the G. I. JOE letters page a personal postcard response (unless they sent hate mail or a no-prize request)?

I asked Larry Hama about it and here is what he had to say:

No, not EVERYONE. I got hundreds of letters a week. And I read them all. I answered something like 20 or 30 letters a week with a short personalized sentence or two on postcards that Marvel had printed up for that purpose. I also sent out no=prizes when they were deserved. I answered the letters that actually posed questions or pointed out something interesting. At least 50% of letters are “print trollers” or people who have a form complimentary letter that they send to every title to try to get their name into a letters page. “I really liked issue #______ of ________! It was excellent! I liked it when _________ fought ___________! That was so cool!” Those, and the nasty hate letters got thrown out. If somebody had legitimate criticism and wasn’t being a jerk about it, I sent them a reply.

Come on, that’s close enough, right?

Man, Larry Hama rules.

Here he is signing for fans at Jim Hanley’s Universe in Midtown Manhattan.

Thanks to R for the question and thanks to Larry for both the question and for being a neat guy.

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!

79 Comments

Regarding the first story- How did they make references to characters such as Hellcat or the Hellfire Club during this period? Were they grandfathered in?

I presume they just meant in dialogue. That being said, Hellcat wasn’t really around during the early 1990s.

bluedevil2002

June 15, 2012 at 9:29 am

I remember reading DC’s Zero Hour, and being surprised by seeing Guy Gardner’s “Who the hell are you?” line to Kyle Rayner, and realizing that DC allowed a few more words in their comics than Marvel.

Was this around the time that Marvel was doing comic books based on Clive Barker’s Heckraiser? :)

That Larry Hama story is extra neat because of the reminder it provides of how different comics fandom was just a generation ago. When I was growing up creators were, at least by default, invisible and remote beings. And communicating responses to a comic you enjoyed was entirely by letter sent off to the publisher in New York; if you got any kind of reply at all it was generally going to be in the letter column, and written by one of the editors.

Now we’re more than a decade in to having lots of writers and artists interacting on blogs, forums, Twitter, etc. It’s hard to remember that it was once so different.

Though not entirely different, I guess; Larry Hama was running a Twitter account back when he had to use the postal service for it. That’s pretty cool.

Glenn Simpson

June 15, 2012 at 9:44 am

The headline on the main page has “Censored” misspelled.

You don’t need language and huge amounts of violence to tell a good story. they’re very often shortcuts and a lot of times what isn’t shown is a lot more powerful when used in the hand of a master at his or her craft.

It takes a lot more imagination and skill to not just fall back on gore, violence and shock. While writers and artists shouldn’t be forced to do that, I do think they should be encouraged to find more creative ways to handle things.

I think it is clear that when they said there was a ban on the word hell, it was a ban on the word ‘as a curse’.

The Hellfire Club etc. are not using it in that way.

Growing up with ’90s comics, I was kind of shocked the first time I saw Spider-Man swear. I remember it was in 2000’s Amazing Spider-Man (v2) #20…but he didn’t swear in that book’s *new* story. It was in the reprint of the then-two-decade-old Amazing Spider-Man #192 at the back of the book!

I remember “what the H-E-double-hockey-sticks” or something like that in an issue of X-Force.

I feel like there was a period where Marvel stopped calling the place hell and started calling Hades. Am I misremembering?

“I think it is clear that when they said there was a ban on the word hell, it was a ban on the word ‘as a curse’.”

I remember reading things in Marvel comics at the time like “See you in the afterlife” or, even better, “The road to Hades is paved with good intentions.”

Larry Hama = Class Act. What a great guy.

wouldn’t the word hell been mentioned in ghost rider comics of the 90s,also what about hellstorm didn’t he have a comic in the 90s.

As I recall from the mid-90s, the 616 Marvel books were kept pretty clean and devoid of bad words (I figured it was, merely, a requirement set by the Comics Code). This was, certainly, the case in all of the X-Men titles at the time. When they all switched over to the alternate “Age Of Apocalypse” universe for four months, I can recall seeing quite a few “hells” and “damns” in the books during that story line. I don’t know if that’s indicative of when Marvel started “loosening up” on their language restrictions.

Going off memory, here, but perhaps related to this is the, short-lived, “Strange Tales” imprint Marvel had in the mid-to-late 90s. Early promotional material indicated that “Strange Tales” was meant to be a mature readers imprint. However, the two series from the imprint that were released, MAN-THING by J.M. DeMatteis and Liam Sharp and WEREWOLF BY NIGHT by Paul Jenkins and Leonardo Manco, had Comics Code seals on them. I recall reading that some suit upstairs decided that everything Marvel published needed be code approved. I’m assuming the two series that were published were cleaned up to satisfy that requirement. The imprint’s third planned series, Warren Ellis and Jae Lee’s SATANNA, never saw print. I recall that Ellis had the issue #1 script posted on his web site, at some point, and commented that the book would’ve required some pretty heavy revision to pass the code. Regardless, MT and WBN both folded within a year. I would’ve been interested to see what might have been.

Larry Hama does rule. Period.

There was an X-Factor where Havok very dramatically yells “TO BLAZES WITH YOU!” and a teammate goes “…’blazes’?” And Havok says “You know what I mean.” Probably don’t need to mention that this was a Peter David issue.

Pete Woodhouse

June 15, 2012 at 10:23 am

Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #14 – Sal Buscema & Jerry Bingham are one hell (oops!) of a combination, one that I’ve never seen before.

Ryan Costello, Jr

June 15, 2012 at 10:31 am

I was in 5th grade in 1990 when I started reading comics, so I immediately noticed that it was okay for Nightwing to say bastard in a DC Comic but that Marvel characters never said so much as hell or damn. That’s why I remember in the 1993 The Punisher arcade game, after the last boss fight when the Kingpin gets away, how odd it was that The Punisher says “Damn you Fisk,” or something to that effect. It was the first time I remember seeing damn in an arcade game, which was particularly strange given that it was based on a Marvel comic. Of course I’d already seen the Dolph Lundgren The Punisher film by then, so it wasn’t the most shocking thing I’d seen that character do.

Hey Brian,

They didn’t mention the Hellfire club during this time as well. Wasn’t the early 90s around the time when they were replacing them with the Upstarts? Later on in the 90s having Shinobi try and restart the club. Hellcat was around kinda. She was in the Hellstorm book, but she was more as patty. Now for a funny thing I think except for a few times, Hellstorm was mostly referred to as Daimon, or the Son of Satan in that series as well. Been a while since I read it though so I could be mistaken.

Larry Hama=One of the most underrated comic writers EVER.

“Go to Hades, Osborn.”

I think Jack O’ Lantern said that to Norman post-Revelations, pre-Gathering of Five.

Roquefort Raider

June 15, 2012 at 10:41 am

Larry Hama is truly a class act.

I remembered “Judgement Day” from The Amazing World of DC Comics #6, where they had gotten the rights to reprint it from Gaines, back in the mid-70s. I was immediately struck by how relevant it was, even more so that it was originally published in 1953.

I look at the “relevance” stories from the early-mid 70s and feel that the authors could have learned a thing or two from the “preachies” Feldstein and Gaines were producing in the 50s.

Thanks for posting that story about Larry, Brian. That’s truly commendable of him.

Huh, I always figured the lack of swearing was just because of the Comics Code. Whatever DC books I’d read back then usually were non-Code books (like Lobo, Elseworld or miniseries) so I never noticed the difference between the two companies.

But yeah, I remember reading Hulk #24 by Jenkins and Romita Jr and being shocked at the end when General Ross says something like “Go get that son of a bitch!” to Hulk when talking about Abomination. I think that was around the time Marvel decided to drop the Code after X-Force/Statix caused some controversy so to me it still added up to it being a Code issue.

Also, Spidey looks like he’s trying to hold in a nasty case of #2 or something in that first page.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 15, 2012 at 11:32 am

Damn it all to hell!!! Just lost respect for Marvel’s use of censorship! In the ’90’s, no less. ;-)

This is only tangentially related to the topic at hand, but I’ll never forget this gem from an old issue of Weird War Tales: “Blast you, yellow Jap! Blast you to Hades!”

Hey, I have that issue of Spectacular. The art is pretty good, the Bingham influence seems to be mostly in how he layers on the heavy shading on Spider-Man. Also Spider-Man does the thing where his eye pieces go to little slits that Erik Larsen used to do, which I haven’t seen Buscema do elsewhere. Story itself seems to be an example of the DeMatteis Spider-Man jumping the shark though, endless digressions about Harry dying, Liz and Norman being conflicted, and Spidey moaning about his fake parents having come back. All of which was fine for a couple years, but by that time it was getting old. Probably why I haven’t gone back and read it until now. Did I mention that one of the things I like about this blog is how often it makes me go back and read my old dusty comics and see new stuff?

And I always liked how Spider-Man said ‘heck’ so often. It just seemed to be the kind of goofy, self deprecating thing he would do.

I don’t know that the first Spider-Man page is necessarily a good example because I always envisioned Peter as someone who just didn’t swear much in general, except when he was really pissed off.

And I’m gonna have to try and dig up that issue of Spectacular, because the notion of Sal Buscema and Jerry Bingham teaming up on art has really piqued my curiosity.

I don’t think the Comics Code had anything to do with Marvel’s no-swears policy, at least not by the 90s. DC allowed the use of “hell” and “damn” in their Code-approved super-hero comics from the early 80s on.

Brian, you forgot “The October Game” on your list from Huffington Post! Or maybe you didn’t forget. In which case, how could leave “The October Game” off your list?!

Good list otherwise. Thank you for the link. I thought I was the only one who would have ranked “There Will Come Soft Rains…” that high, but, man, what a beautiful job Wally Wood did on that. And “Touch and Go” should be higher!

What’s amazing about all of the EC adaptations is not only how well Feldstein did in working them into little eight page stories, it’s that editorial (Gaines & Feldstein) knew from the outset which artists were the right fit for the stories. No one but Kamen could have pulled off “The Screaming Woman” or “The October Game.” No one but Craig could have done “Touch and Go” justice. Jack Davis on “The Black Ferris,” Graham Ingels on “There Was An Old Woman” — the artist / story pairings were perfect synchronicity. It was something I took for granted when I first started reading EC. Now it’s impossible for me not to recognize it and appreciate it.

So is there any truth to the rumor that they brought back “hell” so they wouldn’t have to cut out 1/3 of all the Bendis dialogue, since every third line is “…the hell?”

(When did people stop dropping the “What the…” anyway? Other than in Bendis books)

Thanks for answering Brian! Wow, you really do always get round to each legend I guess…

A few months ago I read something on Jim Shooter’s late lamented blog about him having to authorise any hells in 80s Marvel books, so maybe the policy was a holdover from that.

I remember the New Universe (and I may be the only one), where they also tried weird compromises… they wanted the characters to ‘swear’, but not to use $@!$, so they also used fake-swears… but far weirder ones than ‘heck’ or ‘darn’.

“Like spit!” was one, “Sheepdip” was another. There were probably others. It was quite bizarre.

“I feel like there was a period where Marvel stopped calling the place hell and started calling Hades. Am I misremembering?”

T – that may have also had some overlap in the whole “Don’t call him The Devil, he’s Mephisto” thing.

“They didn’t mention the Hellfire club during this time as well. Wasn’t the early 90s around the time when they were replacing them with the Upstarts?”

Paul – I was thinking the same thing, but it was a pretty brief window when they weren’t appearing. Check this site out:

http://marvel.wikia.com/Category:Hellfire_Club_%28Earth-616%29/Appearances

Click “show” next to “Chronological appearances (by Publication)”. It’s really only about 18 months or so where they didn’t appear.

This was also the period when someone at Marvel decided all their books HAD to be CCA approved. Warren Ellis’s Satana book was scrapped and Werewolf by Night and Man-Thing were slightly modified. And this new line was supposed to compete with Vertigo, right? Who made that call? Haha. Just a few years later, Jemas was afraid of Sentinels and Marvel dropped the code outright.

When I first started reading comics, I was strictly a Marvel guy for a little while. At one point a friend of mine got a big stack of DC Comics from a relative and I read a Detroit-era Justice League comic where someone said “damn” and I remember being shocked that the company that printed Superman and Batman (whom I only knew as the Adam West version at the time) used harsher language than the one that printed comics with Wolverine and the Punisher in them.

For some reason it struck me as desperate (I never swore as a kid but it didn’t really bother me when other people did and I understood that “damn” wasn’t THAT big a deal. But since I cut my teeth on Marvel, I thought it was the industry standard and DC was making a conscious effort to be “naughty” to seem cool) and that, combined with characters like Vibe and Steel and a lack of anyone I recognized other than Aquaman (whom I didn’t think was lame, but finding out he’s the biggest name on the freakin’ Justice League was like finding an ice cream parlor that tells you vanilla is their best flavor), put me off DC Comics for years, until a different friend convinced me to give the Giffen/DeMatteis League a try.

I remember reading an issue of Superman where he got angry and yelled “Damn!” and it shattered my world.

I remember an issue of What The!? (yes, I read What The!? and stuck with comics despite such a tribulation) where the Wolverine parody says “heck”. There is an editorial caption that says something like “If this were a comic published by [some clever reference to DC], I could say h*ll!” I am sure I do not still have this issue.

In regards to your first story, Marvel’s ban on the words “damn” and “hell” (as cuss words in dialogue) did not begin in the 90’s. The ban actually began in the late 70’s/early 80’s and was initiated by Jim Shooter (he even said so on his own blog). The ban was only restricted to the Code approved Marvel comics line, not the Marvel Magazine, EPIC,or Marvel Graphic Novel lines. During this time, Marvel also had guidelines in the depictions of violence and sexual innuendos. Back in those days, Marvel manage to push the envelope in their CCA approved comics while still managing to remain suitable for most (if not all) ages.

I should also point out that there was an old CNN news story about Todd McFarlane and the formation of Image, where he said that one of the reasons why he left Marvel was because they made him redraw an issue of SPIDER-MAN that showed Shatterstar’s swords piercing Juggernaut’s eyeballs in a very graphic and gory manner. In that same interview, Tom DeFalco defended his decision to have Todd redraw that scene in a less graphic manner because their young kids reading the book (and I agree with him). I wish I could find that old video interview, but I have had no luck in finding it online. Maybe you guys can ask either DeFalco or McFarlane about it.

OMT, Larry Hama is indeed one of the most underrated comic book creators working in the industry.

Brian, you forgot “The October Game” on your list from Huffington Post! Or maybe you didn’t forget. In which case, how could leave “The October Game” off your list?!

Good list otherwise. Thank you for the link. I thought I was the only one who would have ranked “There Will Come Soft Rains…” that high, but, man, what a beautiful job Wally Wood did on that. And “Touch and Go” should be higher!

What’s amazing about all of the EC adaptations is not only how well Feldstein did in working them into little eight page stories, it’s that editorial (Gaines & Feldstein) knew from the outset which artists were the right fit for the stories. No one but Kamen could have pulled off “The Screaming Woman” or “The October Game.” No one but Craig could have done “Touch and Go” justice. Jack Davis on “The Black Ferris,” Graham Ingels on “There Was An Old Woman” — the artist / story pairings were perfect synchronicity. It was something I took for granted when I first started reading EC. Now it’s impossible for me not to recognize it and appreciate it.

The list was in chronological order so I wasn’t ranking them against each other, just noting them as the best eight. If I were to rank them in order, “The Lake” would be #1, “Soft Rains” #2 and…huh…I dunno. I guess I could see a case for “Touch and Go!” as #3. But wow, “The Lake” and “Soft Rains” (especially “The Lake”) are just masterpieces. “The October Game” is definitely a good one. I think seven of the stories are better, but like I noted, “The Screaming Woman” is likely not as good but I just couldn’t help but put it on the list as it is so unusually HAPPY for a Bradbury crime story.

Larry was the first “guest of honor” at a 2 day VA Comicon. He is a professional and gentleman of the highest regard…and even quietly donated his time and some of his personal collection to help out with the auction we held for the Hero Initiative. I am honored to call him a friend.

Marvel should hire Larry to write a new SHIELD book starring Nick “Marcus Johnson” Fury JR,Cheese,Daisy Dugan, Gabe Jones JR,John Wraith,Daryl Smith,Shang-Chi,Pierce,and the Harriers.

DrakeTungsten

June 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Is it true that Johns has a quota of at least one “hell” and/or “damn” per issue?

The cleverest non-swearing curse was in Morrison’s Doom Patrol when a character who talked only in anagrams had turned a corner and found some threat or another and exclaimed “This!”

I was really hoping you’d explain when and why Marvel banned ‘damn’ and ‘hell’.It really confused me in the ’80s when I noticed they were no longer allowing those words, and yet they had been used fairly often in the ’70s.

I’m not sure Spider-Man is really the best example for you to use here, though, since he’s the sort of guy you’d expect to say ‘heck’ anyway.

Spidey, when written well, seems to be a guy who’d be better served by “the heck with it” than “the hell with it”. I dunno when this pic above was from, but it just sounds off.

I have a related thing to the hell/damn thing, I think, although I’m thinking you may have covered it before. I’ll send an email.

But wasn’t this around the time of a Marvel publisher who killed the Nightmare on Elm Street comics because he didn’t want the company doing that kind of book?

But I definitely remember stupid “go to blazes” stuff. Is there a ’90s GR cover that says that, even? I’m thinking there is. Or maybe it’s a Spidey one. I’m remembering some demon-y character saying, on the cover, “Go to blazes (whichever character it is)”. It’s dumb.

Re: Bradbury, there are definitely a lot of stories I’ve read that seem like they could be Bradbury ones that aren’t, but I can’t think of them right now :) He’s definitely, as much as he’s praised, an underpraised genius.

Over at Mark Evanier’s blog, he just wrapped up telling of when Bradbury first met Al Feldstein. http://www.newsfromme.com

That’s pretty cool of Larry Hama. Did he have any particular reason for replying, or is he just awesome?

Did he have any particular reason for replying, or is he just awesome?

Hm? What do you mean by “particular reason for replying”?

I knew I didn’t explain myself right.

I’m thinking if he had gotten a reply from a creator in the past, and that inspired him to “pay it back”.

Or if he’d been an editor and seen that only a fraction of the letters made the letters page, but wanted to acknowledge the people who took the time to write.

Or something of that nature.

Which isn’t necessarily all that interesting, maybe, but my brain goes in weird directions.

Strange. I remember all the “blue blazes” and “hecks” in DC in the sixties, but it seems odd to think of people having reservations about “hell” in the 1990s.
But the opening Spider-picture? Since he’s more puzzled than intensely angry, I don’t find “heck” out of line there.

An interesting side note to the story about Marvel not using certain words: back in 1984 (or ’85, I can’t remember the year) in Amazing Spider-Man #264, Spider Man in confronted by a wannabe villain named Red 9. Red 9 attacks Spider Man and asks who he is. The quote, if I remember right, was “I’m Spider Man. Who the hell are you?” Surprising for that time period. I can’t find any scans of that particular page. If someone does find one, let me know

Bradbury’s influence definitely rubbed off on EC’s science fiction titles as time went on; the very moving “Round Trip” definitely has a Bradbury feel to it and my favorite Jack Davis horror tale “Let the Punishment Fit the Crime,” is written in such a style and even deals with themes and takes place in a setting familiar to Bradbury readers that I wouldn’t be surprised if it hasn’t been mistaken for a Bradbury adaptation as well. And Bradbury wasn’t the only the only writer to get this work plagiarized by EC in its early days; the first issue of Weird Fantasy featured a uncredited adaptation of Henry Hesse’s “He Who Shrank”, “The Long Trip” came from “Far Centarus” by A.E. Van Vogt, and “Why Poppa Let Home” from Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” They even did a Lovecraft story called “The Dark Arts” and did a humorous pastiche of the Cleve Cartmill “Deadline” incident that featured Al Feldstein and Bill Gaines as actual characters! BTW Brian I finally found that Jack Davis Vault of Horror story I told you about months ago. It’s called “Graft in Concrete” from issue #26 and if you have a copy, tell me if you think the four faces in the final panel look familiar!

CRIPES!!

Yeah, I totally read ‘What The?’

Some of the better writing from Marvel in the early nineties, and some great art from Marie Severin and Aaron Lopresti.

I know G.I. Joe means a lot to a certain generation of readers, but you seem to be going to that well a lot lately.

That’s one of the things that interests me about this (and other) comic blogs–learning what people twenty years younger than me loved as kids and get nostalgic about now (which does not address your comment directly, Ted, of course).

I remember a Bullpen Bulletin from the ’90s joking about the hell/damn situation by pointing out the fact that they were publishing a book called Hellstorm without being able to use those words in dialogue.

Travis Pelkie

June 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I found the book I was thinking of!

It’s Daredevil 313 http://www.comics.org/issue/52572/cover/4/ from Feb ’93.

What’s actually clever about it is that the story deals with an ARSONIST. So “Go to Blazes” is actually kinda funny.

One example that always struck me as very odd was in an issue of the Steve Englehart/Richard Howell “Vision and Scarlet Witch” mini-series, when Wanda had been captured by the villainous “Salem’s Seven,” and there was a dramatic close-up of her furiously cursing: “Go…to…HADES!”

Wow, this week had a particularly “feel good” atmosphere to it. Too bad it’s mostly about OLD comics.

I wish more recent comics avoided pointless swearing or violence, championed human rights, and had creators showing more respect to their fans.

Every time I think my opinion of Larry Hama can’t be any higher, you post some new Legends Revealed bit that proves me wrong. The man makes the rest of us look inadequate as human beings. Please don’t post anything else about how awesome he is, or some of us might start building altars to him and burning goats in his honor. (I kid, I kid. But only slightly.)

I’m also going to concur with the folks who’ve said that “heck” seems perfectly natural coming from Spider-Man.

“There was an X-Factor where Havok very dramatically yells “TO BLAZES WITH YOU!” and a teammate goes “…’blazes’?” And Havok says “You know what I mean.” Probably don’t need to mention that this was a Peter David issue”

Haha… That made me seriously LOL! What issue?? :)

Now obvious question time!! I thought no prizes weren’t actually anything?? What would he be sending out??

“I also sent out no=prizes when they were deserved.”

Wow, this week had a particularly “feel good” atmosphere to it. Too bad it’s mostly about OLD comics.

I wish more recent comics avoided pointless swearing or violence, championed human rights, and had creators showing more respect to their fans.

____________________________________________

I agree.

Peter David had another funny one in an issue of Hulk (#300 or thereabouts). It was when Hulk was intelligent and working for (or leading) the Pantheon. At the end of one page, something happens, and he yells, “Sh–,” so it looks like he’s saying a naughty word. Then the story jumps to another subplot. When it returns to the Hulk a few pages later, it turns out it’s immediately after, and he’s in the process of yelling, “–oot!”

I hate that shit, when there is a bunch of damn unnecessary vulgarity.

And yet… I am positive that in the 1970s Spidey was saying a hell of a lot of swear words all over the damn place. It’s one of those weird things… like I remember SNL doing stuff in the 70s they wouldn’t do in the 90s.

Sounds like the 90s were, um, effed up.

To be fair, DC had weird censoring of language issues in the 90s.

Babylon 5 #1 featured a pivotal flashback with dialogue which appeared in the show a number of times as “If I’m going out I’m taking you bastards with me.” Behind JMS’s back someone changed it to “demons”.

A female head in the jar of the Superman villain Cerebus called the male heads “mongrels” and herself a “witch” ruining the metaphor.

And combining the inaccurate adaption and inappropriate replacement of “bitch”, the Batman Returns adaptation included the line “Life’s a witch, now so am I”.

[…] editorial retreat on Long Island to discuss if characters can say ‘hell’ or […]

Wonder if this was a Jim Shooter edict? I have a Fantastic Four issue circa 1975-76 wherein the splash page is dominated by the High Evolutionary (remember him?) shaking his fist and bellowing “DAMN Galactus!”

(Given that I was about 6 at the time and my parents seldom swore, seeing this in a comic was a bit of a stunner to sheltered little me.)

When I was a kid, I assumed euphemisms such as “blue blazes” were actual swear words I just hadn’t heard yet.

I did like my friend Tony Isabella’s in-story explanation for Luke Cage’s bowdlerised exclamations such as “Sweet Christmas!”: “I promised my old grandma I’d never swear. And I’m a LOT more frightened of HER than I am of YOU!!”

I wish more recent comics (…) championed human rights

Because more in-your-face political correctness is exactly what American comics need.

Duggy: Hah, the Batman Returns adaptation had LOADS of those non-curses. “She makes a heckuva cup of coffee!”

It’s weird to me that damn and hell are considered such taboo words in the U.S. I guess it’s just that we’re more secular, but they aren’t considered curses where I’m from.

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