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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #396

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Welcome to the three hundredth and ninety-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn what surprising place had the first comic book appearance of Nintendo’s Mario, discover the bizarre secret of the Bearriers and marvel at Walter Simonson fighting alongside Luke Skywalker!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and ninety-five.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Nintendo’s Mario made his first comic book appearance during Valiant’s early days.


The company that eventually became the Valiant Comics we all knew and loved from the 1990s began doing licensed comics, including Wrestling comics…

and also what was called the “Nintendo Comic System,” a series of licensed comics based on Nintendo’s stable of characters, like Captain N…

Link from Legend of Zelda…

and, of course, Mario…

Most folks believe this to be Mario’s first comic book appearance.

However, did you know that Mario actually debuted in comics YEARS earlier?

You see, in 1983, Marvel (never one to look a gift fad in the mouth) did a video game magazine called Blip (similar to their equally oddball magazine effort, Pizzazz, which I’ve featured here in the past)

Here are some sample pages…

And sure enough, there is a comic inside the issue with Mario’s FIRST comic book appearance…

Thanks to gaastra for the information!

Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

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What Lengths Did Petula Clark Go to to Keep a Scene With Harry Belafonte From Being Cut From Her TV Special?

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He put himself on the cover too. That’s fantastic! This would be a really cool issue to have Walt sign at a show…

Between that and Walt’s role in Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse, he’s got some pretty impressive hero-ing credentials!

Funniest thing about the Bearriers piece is that apparently they didn’t realize it actually looked pretty cool and do something with it. :)

I think I recall Toyfare did a few other toy line hoaxes, though none of them were as in-depth as the Bearriors. I miss that magazine.

The Bearriors thing is facsining, but the phrase “Check out Dunlavey’s site here for the full details” doesn’t actually have a link in it.

Thanks for the head’s up, Anthony! The link is fixed now!

I had one of those Valiant Mario comics. There was a Captain N backup, too, that lacked Simon Belmont and Mega Man (presumably due to licensing issues, since they were owned by Konami and Capcom). For some reason, I thought this meant they were dead.

I have just seen some of those early Valiant comics at a local store. I flipped through them to look for the credits, because didn’t Quesada do some art in some of the early issues?

Wizard/Toyfare did some funny stuff, and funny hoaxes. The one dude went on to co-create Robot Chicken.

Walt had to catch up to Weezie, since she’s on the cover of a pretty significant comic book (I think you covered that one before, right? I’m being deliberately vague in order to lord my knowledge over you all! LORD LORD!!!)

That is a classic issue of Star Wars. It’s a great series and the Walt run is its best.

Who did the art on that Blip Mario comic? The style looks very familiar

And, of course, Walt is Power Pack’s dad.

Back in my teenage years I worked in a dollar store, and we had a boatload of those old Nintendo comics. I’d never seen them before, and was surprised to learn that Valiant didn’t just begin with Magnus #1.

Who did the art on that Blip Mario comic? The style looks very familiar

Oh, sorry, I thought I posted the first page with the credits. Steven Grant wrote it and Bob Camp drew it.

[…] Comic Book Resources’ long running expose feature “Comic Book Legends Revealed” has scans of what they are calling Mario’s first comic book appearance. […]

Man, Walter Simonson is so good. I really think he’s under appreciated, he was way before his time in the 80s.

That Mario appearance is awesome. He was hardly the superstar in ’83 he would become after Super Mario Bros. And people always forget that he started out as a carpenter (hence the painter’s hat… Luigi was the plumber).

@ Ken Raining How is Walt the father of Power Pack? I know his wife was involved but didn’t know he had anything to do with their creation. I also agree with the poster that said the Star Wars art shows what a great artist Walt is. That’s some pretty detailed art for 1982!

June Brigman based the appearance of the father of the Power Pack kids on Walter.

And let’s not forget that there’s been a good deal of Mario-related manga released in Japan. When did that start? I’d guess sometime at the earliest shortly after Super Mario Bros. came out in 1985, but I’m not sure.

Yeah, the Japanese stuff was somewhere between the Blip appearance and the Valiant stuff.

i always thought the cab driver from the Dark Knight Returns looked like Walt Simonson.

@00gonzo: Believe it or not, “pretty detailed art” isn’t some recent innovation. Heck, go back and take a look at some of Carl Barks’ Duck work from the 1950s and 1960s. And as much as I’m not a big fan of either man’s artwork, when Kirby and Ditko were working on just one or two books a month, they could pack more detail into their work than some of today’s “hot” detail artists do when working on just one book in two or three months. And, of course, you’ve got Neal Adams, George Perez, Barry Windsor-Smith, Mike Kaluta, Berni Wrightson, Craig Russell–the list is pretty impressive.

Travis gloated:
“Walt had to catch up to Weezie, since she’s on the cover of a pretty significant comic book (I think you covered that one before, right? I’m being deliberately vague in order to lord my knowledge over you all! LORD LORD!!!)”

C’mon, isn’t Weezie being the girl on that cover the main reason people remember it? Can’t lord it over me!

Well, you can go back much farther then Barks to find detailed artists; I’d stack Will Eisner, Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Matt Baker, Lou Fine, and many more Golden Age artists up against the guys we see today.

Hey, Brian. Thanks for the Bearriors shout-out! As one of the ToyFare editors at the time and Bearriors co-creators (along with editors Zach Oat and Jon Gutierrez and article writer Tom Root), I want to mention one more key player in the hoax as well. Joe Amaro (http://www.joeamaro.net/) made the custom figures seen in the article. I believe they actually predated Ryan’s illustrations of the characters, although Ryan originated all but those three Bearriors (and his inclusion of Kodiak in his 80s jam piece is the main reason anyone still talks about Bearriors at all today).

My main regret is that we never had Ryan illustrate the Bearriors’ main enemy, cybernetic lumberjack DeForrest Kutter.

Thanks, Justin, I’ll add that info in there!

Regarding Valiant, in an 1996 or so Wizard Special, they noted that they felt interested in Terry and the Pirates, the Green Hornet and the Shadow. However, they did not secure the rights to any of those properties.

Are there any characters that actually wear eyeglasses in the Star Wars movies? My brain is not coming up with any except maybe Uncle Owen.

Man, I remember those old Marvel house ads for Blip featuring Matthew Laborteaux on the cover. And Bruce Boxleitner looked poised to be tied into the whole TRON franchise since way back in ’82. Who would have

My introduction to Mario was in the classic Donkey Kong game, with Luigi debuting not long after. Donkey Kong himself never truly made the big time quite like the brothers.

As for Walt Simonson, he and Star Wars kinda went like peanut butter and jelly… A perfect fit. Also, I always thought the Powers looked like Walt and Weezie after seeing them in one of the Marvel Universe Handbook updates.

I’ve been curious about Blip since seeing it advertised in back-issues of Marvel Comics. I have to say that I’ve never heard of any of the stars in their “Video Games of the Stars” feature.

Hmmm, I’m with JosephW, puzzling over what “pretty detailed art for 1982″ is supposed to mean. Also, @ThePants, is Walt Simonson really under appreciated? My general impression has always been that he is rather highly appreciated by several generations of comic fans. By the way, for those of you who like his Star Wars work, also well worth checking is his similarly all-too-brief run on Marvel’s Battlestar Galactica series. His style is really suited to space operas – it’s too bad he wasn’t the main Star Wars artist from day one…
And Brian, thanks (I guess) for the memories: until this moment, I don’t Matthew Laborteaux ever crossed my mind even once since the early 1980s…

Odd note about Star Wars in comic books:


Marvel released the first issue of their adaptation of George Lucas’ Star Wars in July 1977.

Star Wars #1 (July 1977) – the comic book which saved Marvel
The book was a giant success, running for a staggering 107 issues before being cancelled in July 1986 – and according to Jim Shooter, editor-in-chief at the time, it virtually saved Marvel from crashing:
“We had been losing money for several years (…) Actually a lot of credit should go to Roy Thomas, who – kicking and screaming – had dragged Marvel into doing Star Wars. If we hadn’t done Star Wars (…) we would have gone out of business. Star Wars single-handedly saved Marvel… and that kept us alive.” [78]

(Incidentally, I find it odd that people call properties such as Zorro “comic book characters” or “cartoon characters” but do not as often slot the Star Wars movies as “comic book” properties. Star Wars has had a much more steady presence in American comic books than Zorro ever has. Star Wars comic books have come out fairly reuglarly for the last thirty-five years. How many Zorro comic books have come out since 1977?

Also, of course, Darth Vader resembles Doctor Doom.)

Weird how our brain stores things. That pic of Matthew Laborteaux from Blip is how I remember the actor despite being forced to watch so many episodes of Little House on the Prairie with my mother.

I wish that I could got a more regular fix of Walt Simonson art in superhero comics… I refused to buy much of Bendis’ Avengers work until Simonson came on board for a few issues. Both creators lived up to my expectations.

So Mario was originally a carpenter?

There is certainly a more than passing resemblance of George Lucas in Walt and how he was drawn.

I wonder if some thought this was who the character was homaging at the time?

It still cracks me up whenever Valiant’s early days are mentioned, because it reminds me that Steve Ditko drew WWF comics. The knowledge that Steve Ditko drew the Ultimate Warrior yelling at the Undertaker just slays me.
I didn’t read Toyfare so the Bearriors thing slipped right past me, but they certainly did a good job designing it. It all fits right in with the toylines of the ’80s, right down to the logo.

@ahuramazda — ah! I always kinda thought it looked like John Byrne (that taxi driver in DKR), but it makes more sense to be Walt as Walt Simonson, Frank Miller, and Howard Chaykin were studio mates at Upstart Studios back in the day.

Probably one of the most concentrated studios of talent besides…um, the Studio (BWS, Jeffery Jones, Wrightson and Kaluta, iirc).

@Mike Blake — I didn’t think it was a Secret, I figured it was a Thing that anyone knew, even if they were from the Swamp. Lord, Lord!

I demand a Wald action figure. Maybe I’ll just grab a Wild Bill, take off the head and add it to an X-Wing pilot’s body.

If they had actually trademarked those Bearriors they might be getting royalties from the Kung Fu Panda and WoW people about now….

The Panda Bearrior looks like Panda Khan, a comic book character that had a figure in the Ninja Turtles toyline.

Funnily enough, there is a character called Wald in Episode I. So the name has been established as a canon SW Universe name.

[…] of other, actual, ’80s ephemera. Readers were rightfully baffled. Finally, in 2007, ToyFare revealed the scheme, and let me tell you, revealing a scheme like that feels […]

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