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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #401

Welcome to the four hundred and first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn whether Supergirl co-creator Al Plastino was secretly Charles Schulz’s back-up on Peanuts if Schulz ever became ill! Did an issue of Cable predict Hurricane Sandy? Finally, discover the seven-year old who got a plot assist on an issue of Power Rangers!

Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Al Plastino created a few month’s worth of Peanuts strips in case Charles Schulz ever became ill and needed back-up.

STATUS: False (with some truthiness mixed in there)

Awhile back, reader Darius S. wrote in to ask:

Al Plastino drew a year’s worth of Peanuts for the cartoon syndicate as a contingency measure in case Schulz should fall ill in the early ’80?s. True or false?

Al Platino is likely best known for being the co-creator of Supergirl (here is his art from her first appearance)…

He was one of the great comic book artists of the 1950s, although he is sadly not as well known today.

In any event, the above story about Plastino and Schulz has been passed around for many years and there is some truth to them, but it is not the way that people often tell the story.

What really happened is that in the late 1970s, Schulz was at an impasse with his negotiations with United Feature Syndicate over Peanuts. Unbeknownst to Schulz, UFS president, William C. Payette hired Plastino to start drawing a backlog of Peanuts strips in case negotiations collapsed. Essentially, a safety net in case they ever lost Schulz but were able to continue doing the strip.

Eventually, Schulz and UFS came to an agreement and Payette hid the strips in a vault somewhere (not wanting to irk Schulz but, at the same time, hey, who knows when you might need them?).

As these things are wont to do, the strips eventually became public and Schulz was reasonably irked at Payette’s maneuvering.

Plastino’s strips were never used and Schulz drew every single Peanuts strip until he retired (which ended up being soon before his actual death).

Still, if you’re curious about Plastino’s strips, here are two…

Thanks to David Michaelis, author of the excellent Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, for the information. And thanks to Darius for the suggestion!
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Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

Did Van Morrison’s Record Company Force Him to Change the Name of His Song “Brown Skinned Girl” to “Brown Eyed Girl?”

Did a Major Dark Shadows Character Come About Due to a Typo?

Was the Who’s “My Generation” Banned by the BBC for Being Offensive to Stutterers?
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COMIC LEGEND: An issue of Cable from 2008 predicted a “super storm” in New Jersey in 2012.

STATUS: True

I’m doing a new feature called The Past is Close Behind, where we take a look at older comic books that take on new meanings when looked at today. Well, reader Angel S. wrote in with a legend suggestion that deals with just such an instance.

Here, from 2008′s Cable #1 by Duane Swierczynski and Ariel Olivetti, is the opening…

Pretty eerie, right?

As you all know, 2012 did, indeed, see New Jersey bombarded by Hurricane Sandy, which was, in many ways, a “super-storm.”

That’s just plain ol’ bizarre.

Here’s an actual shot of a New Jersey town flooded after the hurricane…

Eerie.

Thanks to Angel for the suggestion!
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Check out some classic Cable-related Comic Book Legends Revealed!

The convoluted story behind Cable’s creation

Was Cable originally written as an older version of Cannonball?

Did Marvel change the name of Cable’s series to avoid paying royalties to Rob Liefeld?

Did Marvel re-write the ending of the X-Cutioner’s Song because they decided not to reveal Cable’s origin at the end of it as the originally planned?

Was Magog created as a parody of Cable?
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COMIC LEGEND: A seven-year old got a co-plotting credit on an issue of Power Rangers.

STATUS: True

In Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Ninja Rangers/VR Troopers #3 (from Marvel Comics in the mid-1990s), there was the introduction of a new threat to the Power Rangers.

A sort of ANTI-Power Rangers made up of a bunch of jerky teens…

The Power Rangers all joined to form their big ass robot to fight the big ass robot of the bad guys later in the issue…

As you might imagine, the idea of doing a bad guy version of the Power Rangers is a sort of basic idea, but still a very cool one (like the Crime Syndicate of America, for instance).

However, in this instance, the idea came from seven-year old Vincent Lovece, son to Frank Lovece, writer of the comic.

And sure enough, check out the credits for the issue in question…

How awesome.

A bunch of folks offered to scan the pages I needed from the issue. Reader Jacob S. was the first to reply, but thanks to all of you who offered to help! And thanks to Frank Lovece, who shared this story in the column seven years ago!
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Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did Jay Thomas’ character on Cheers get killed off because he insulted Rhea Perlman?
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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? 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!

61 Comments

Anyone else think it’s weird they named the Japanese Dark Ranger after Osamu Tezuka?

Man, you need to warn people when you’re going to show Ariel Olivetti artwork, especially from his more recent days. That’s just dangerous to look at!

Makes perfect sense to me.

Wonder who really drew that Power Rangers strip? Newbaum Turk has to be a pseudoynm surely? After The New Bomb Turks? The style does look kind of familiar but can’t quite place it, maybe its just ‘generic mid-90′s Marvel’…

I just presumed it was Ron Lim.

“In Japan… looter Osamu Tezuka!” That has to be the weakest tribute ever paid to the God of Comics.

If I was down to a Power Rangers book, I would call myself Alan Smithee.

I’m curious how many other comics have accurately “predicted” the future. Maybe 10-15 years ago, DC published a Science Fiction TPB (it threw in some Adam Strange and Ultra stories). One of them was a 1940s or 50s comic about “How television will be used in the future.” The comic pretty much predicted the moon landing, the Home Shopping Network, and America’s Most Wanted (not specificaly by name, but by concept). I’d take this as a form of good speculation for technology application rather than any prophecy, but it was still neat to read.

Any other comics really make a decent job at “prophecy”?

Interesting that Zedd pulls his Rangers from all over the world, while Zordon was able to find (originally) five “teenagers with attitude” who all lived in the same town, and knew each other.

Also, I was under the impression that New Jersey and Manhattan were mostly connected by tunnels. What bridge is Cable trying to cross there?

And the truth comes out: Duane Swierczynski is really just a pen name for Isaac Mendez.

Dark Rangers are pretty much the Captain Planet kids, with Matee and Gi’s genders reversed.

Plastino actually does a pretty decent version of Schulz’s characters. He’s a great artist in that he does a great job of staying on-model to the original artist (in Superman’s case the Wayne Boring version). He did the same thing when he took over Nancy in the late ’80s.

Whether or not he could write the same level of Schulz is hard to see from the samples here. The Sunday strip is a well executed gag. But it was the daily continuities that really made Schulz stand out where several days of gags suddenly turn into something really meaningful or really funny or both. I don’t know if Plastino had that.

Interesting enough, The Al Plastino website is the one really disseminating the myth that Plastino was on deck for when Schulz had heart surgery in the ’80s.
http://www.alplastino.com/alplastino/About_Al.html

Charles J. Baserap

January 11, 2013 at 11:28 am

@Adam, a few of them, I’m sure, along with a lot of science fiction novels, early on. What made this one really stand out is that it said “superstorm” on the East Coast in 2012 and that’s exactly what it was called, “Superstorm Sandy;” it’s on all the commercials for Red Cross and everything over here (I’m in DC).

I can’t remember another instance of something so perfectly coincidental; there was some hubbub about the Adventures of Superman issue that was released the day after 9/11 and had a picture of the Lex towers being repaired but looked similar to the Twin Towers of the WTC.

You’re 100% right; things like that SciFi trade you mentioned are really fun to read, just to see how modern life sometimes catches up with imagination and things we thought were fiction become reality.

Yeah, yikes, Graeme, they take the legend to a whole other level and claim that Plastino flat out ghosted for Schulz. That was something that Schulz really disliked people saying (since he was so concerned with the idea of him being the only one to ever draw the strip).

Thats obviously Ron Lims pencil work on the Power Rangers; I’d recognize it anywhere.

The Marvel MMPR comics had the weird conceit that when they have the Ninja Ranger costumes, they summon the Ninjazords, and then they “upgrade” into the regular costumes to use the Shogunzords. That… made a weird sort of sense to me as a kid, since it justified having two very different Megazords.

@ Michael P
January 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

“…..Also, I was under the impression that New Jersey and Manhattan were mostly connected by tunnels. What bridge is Cable trying to cross there?”

George Washington Bridge connects Manhattan & NJ.

Actually, they got (in fact your whole legend) from Plastino HIMSELF, who said in an interview in Alter Ego 75:

I did Snoopy [Peanuts] for a year and a half, in case Charles Schulz died after heart bypass surgery. It was never used, and he never knew. I was writing it, too, by the way, and made Snoopy a vegetarian. When I wrote Peanuts, I realized it was not the obvious punch`line, it was the not-obvious punch line that made it successful. I really got pretty good at it because it was so interesting.

Now Plastino was 84 when he was interviewed for this (in 2005) so maybe he’s misremembering the details. Or embroidering. And the website missed out the fact that he said he was on stand-by.

Either way, the whole thing is a giant game of broken telephone…

Is the lettering in that Power Rangers comic really that slanted and cramped, or is it just the scan? I can barely read it. I misread “Dark Rangers” as “Park Rangers.” Which puts a whole other spin on it.

And Superman never noticed the fact that Supergirl popped out of the rocket after having read his mind! Or at least his thought balloon!

Oh, that’s DEFINITELY Ron Lim art on the Power Rangers book. The faces in the sidebar of the first page gives it away.

“The faces in the sidebar of the first page gives it away.”

Ack! Curse my miserable typing!

Yeah, I remember that Superman comic. I believe it was whatever “Adventures of Superman” issue followed “Our Worlds at War.” During OWAW, somebody–Darkseid, Brainiac, or Lex himself, I forget who–turned the LexCorp towers into a giant laser canon or something. The idea is that they were still hot and smoking after shooting off. If you used your imagination, then yes, they kind-of, sort-of, looked like the Twin Towers while they were smoking from the plane crashes. Obviously, the issues were planned and drawn months before 9/11, but the timing was discomforting to some people with cries of insensitivity.

I forget if the issue came out the day after 9/11, or a week (plus one day) after, but it was close enough to cause a minor stir. There was an even smaller stir a month later when an issue of Loeb’s Superman showed a fully intact Pentagon, but with the caption “After the War…” (referring to OWAW). Again, obviously planned and drawn well before the impact on the Pentagon.

“As you all know, 2012 did, indeed, see New Jersey bombarded by Hurricane Sandy, which was, in many ways, a “super-storm.””

In New York media, they’ve been calling it Super-Storm Sandy since about 48 hours after it hit. Within a week, nobody on the radio or local TV was saying “Hurricane Sandy” anymore. I heard somebody on the radio talking about how it wasn’t technically a hurricane because of wind strength; I’m not sure that’s true, but I’m also not sure why they made the switch to exclusively calling it “Super-Storm Sandy”; I suspect it *might* be because certain areas didn’t have the required wind speeds to be technically a Hurricane, and they’re trying to blanketly raise money for all people who were hit by Sandy rather than limiting it to *just* the areas with the requisite wind speeds, but I’m not sure about that.

I believe that that is it, exactly, Sean. It’s a major point when it comes to insurance, as well, as many insurance deductibles are something like $2,500 for storm damage but $25,000 for hurricane damage, so trying to prove what Sandy was when it hit your home is obviously quite difficult.

“I’m curious how many other comics have accurately “predicted” the future.”

I`m blanking on a comic book example, but the very first episode of Doctor Who had a woman from the future make a math error because she forgot that Britiain`s currency hadn`t turned decimal yet. Of course that actually happened so soon after that it`s not unreasonable that a woman from the future would make that mistake.

@Neil Robertson: Couldn’t agree with you more.

Definitely looks like Ron Lim

Is it possible Plastino was told by UFS that he was doing the strips in case something happened to Schultz not because of contract negotiations? He might not have done it if he thought he was undercutting a fellow cartoonist.

Is it possible Plastino was told by UFS that he was doing the strips in case something happened to Schultz not because of contract negotiations? He might not have done it if he thought he was undercutting a fellow cartoonist.

Possibly, sure.

Beside Osamu Tezuka, I am LMAO at Marie-Claire le Monde (and yeah, they are a magazine and a newspaper).

Ofcourse, a 7 year old COULD write Power Rangers. Geez.

It’s sad when you make stories about disasters, and they come true.

That issue of Cable was one of the first I ever bought, and it’s eerie as hell.

Actually, it occurs to me that it’d be need if this column looked at prophecies in Marvel’s “What If…?” It’s kind of surprising how many proposals from that series later became actual Marvel plotlines, i.e.: What If Spider-Man Never Married Mary Jane? (Came true in “One More Day.) What if Rick Jones Became the Hulk? (Came true in Incredible Hulk #325.) What If Bucky Had Lived? (Thanks, Ed Brubaker.) How about it, Brian?

Damning with faint praise, but that’s by far the best Ariel Olivetti art I’ve seen. He applied filters to the background photos this time, so the figure drawing doesn’t look as out of place as it usually does. On the other hand, I may just be excited to see a background in a comic book panel, having just read Iron Man: Extremis. I guess what I’m saying is: it could be worse, Greg; it could be far far worse.

“Dark Rangers are pretty much the Captain Planet kids, with Matee and Gi’s genders reversed.”

Ho. Lee. Crap.

Newbaum (sometimes spelled Newbomb) Turk was the lead in the immortal “Hollywood Knights”, the greatest comedy film of all time. The role was played by Robert Wuhl.

Also, I was under the impression that New Jersey and Manhattan were mostly connected by tunnels. What bridge is Cable trying to cross there?

The George Washington Bridge.

Also, the funny thing about that Cable comic, from a NJ local: in East Orange, where the gas station sign says “self serve”? Impossible. Jersey (along with Oregon, I believe) are the only two states in the country where it is illegal to pump your own gas. Just some useless trivia that could come in handy should you be driving through our fair state someday.

Unless he was already in Manhattan by that panel, in which case it’s also wrong. Everyone knows there are no gas stations in Manhattan!

There’s a cool band called the New Bomb Turks that apparently take their name from the character in Hollywood Knights. I like “Hammerless Nail”, “Professional Againster”, “Aspirin Aspirations”, “Brother Orson Welles”… anyway. Wondering why Lim used a pseudonym — he started on Ex-Mutants, iirc. And why that one, and if it’s from the movie or the band?

The art on the first page you show looks like someone else’s, though. It’s not Chris Bachalo, is it? It sort of looks like his Sandman/Shade-era art, the faces on the kids especially.

Maybe Newbaum Turk is one of those pseudonyms used when several people banged out an art job, like M. Hands or Crusty Bunkers.

I remember when I read that Cable issue, I think it was before ’12, but maybe after…uh, Lee in ’11, right? That was the big one that hit the northeast the year before Sandy, I think.

How adorable is Supergirl in that last panel? Really damn adorable, that’s how!

That Plastino story…I can certainly believe that the syndicate hired Plastino to do strips so that they’d have something to go with if the Schulz negotiations fell through, but I find it hard to believe they’d have him do more than 2-3 months worth. What Graeme quotes says he did a year and a half, and that’s just way out there. I wonder if Plastino was “on call” for that amount of time while Schulz was having health issues, and that’s what he’s referring to?

How adorable is Supergirl in that last panel? Really damn adorable, that’s how!

Right? It’s INSANELY adorable. That’s why I chose that page specifically.

The story for the Power Rangers comic is sort of a retelling of an episode of the TV series. The TV show’s Dark Rangers weren’t from all across the world, they were just bullies who went to the same school as the Power Rangers. And they wore different costumes than the Power Rangers, which are the worst looking outfits you’ve ever seen. I love that the comic brings back the season 2 Zords to pit against the season 3 Zords. That’s such a fan-fictiony thing to do.

I’m sure it’s been covered in a previous column, but it’s interesting that in the context of comic book writers/artists making startling or eerie predictions no one in the comments mentioned the so-called ‘Byrne curse.’

Quite OOT, but Brian’s comment about the insurance values reminds me of how insanely reliant on legal matters we have become. Pay exactly the same damage some amount of insurance if it is decreed that it was caused by a storm, and ten times that if it is decided that it was a hurricane instead? Really? Are we supposed to take that seriously?

“Looting” seems like a curiously specific crime to attribute to the God of Comics. You know, one can be a sneak-thief just about anywhere, but looting really only comes up in the aftermath of disasters. Does Evil Osamu Tezuka just bum around Japan Tokyo Drifter style hoping there’ll be an earthquake or a sarin attack or something?

@Luis Dantas
The difference is because hurricanes are less common, so companies can promise more support if you fall victim to one. You can suffer storm damage two or three times in a single week if you are unlucky (or just willing to go through the paperwork and/or willing to use a hammer to manufacture your own “damage”.). How many storms do you see in a year? Now, how many hurricanes? It depends on your state, but the numbers are a lot lower. How often does New York get hit by a real hurricane, and not just the remnants of something that hit further down the coast and is falling apart by the time it makes its way north?

Its the same reason flood insurance is a different matter in an area that floods at least once every year than a place that is in a 50 year flood zone.

I never heard about those Plastino “Peanuts” strips. It’d be really nice to get a collection of those; the two shown here are promising. Plastino nailed the Schultz style at least as well as the artists in the current Peanuts comic book.

ParanoidObsessive

January 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm

The story for the Power Rangers comic is sort of a retelling of an episode of the TV series. The TV show’s Dark Rangers weren’t from all across the world, they were just bullies who went to the same school as the Power Rangers. And they wore different costumes than the Power Rangers, which are the worst looking outfits you’ve ever seen. I love that the comic brings back the season 2 Zords to pit against the season 3 Zords. That’s such a fan-fictiony thing to do.

Was going to say the same thing myself.

From what I can make out from the indicia, it looks like the comic was Feb ’96 coverdate (which means it was probably on newsstands December ’95, give or take), at which point the TV show had already done a Dark Ranger storyline the year before (which I also mostly remember because of the HORRIFIC costumes they were wearing – ie, what you get when you try to diverge from the original Japanese version of the show but have zero budget). BEHOLD!

http://powerrangers.wikia.com/wiki/Dark_Rangers

So I doubt Frank Lovece *really* got the idea for the story from his son, unless it was just something along the lines of “Hey dad, you should totally write about those Dark Rangers from last year, they were awesome,” and then he just gave him credit for the idea because he thought his son would get a kick out of seeing his name in the comic.

Or, since people have pointed out how the comic versions had an origin similar to the Planeteers, maybe his son just said something like “Dad, you should totally write about the Dark Rangers, but make them like bad guy versions of the Planeteers or something!”

Almost definitely not a case of his son pulling the idea completely out of thin air or anything.

ParanoidObsessive

January 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm

And oh yeah, that definitely looks like Ron Lim art without question.

Wonder why he used the pseudonym – just ashamed that he was working on something like Power Rangers at that point in his career, or was there some sort of contractual issues?

Say, that seems like the sort of question that would make a good comic book legend! ~grin~

Was there a comic book for dc way back in the 80s or 90s that was a christmas special that was kinda like x-babies or tiny titans where all the dc superheroes are really young and have to go visit or save santa claus?

“Was there a comic book for dc way back in the 80s or 90s that was a christmas special that was kinda like x-babies or tiny titans where all the dc superheroes are really young and have to go visit or save santa claus?

That sounds like the Super Jrs, who starred in Best of Blue Ribbon Digest #58

And all the other Marvel comics of the time just SEEMED like they were plotted by seven year olds.

Thank you, I’ll be here all night.

On an unrelated note, is the Schulz bio worth reading? I’ve been reluctant in case there was some big revelation that would crush my opinion of one of my heroes.

Yeah, the plotted/drawn by seven year olds joke is too easy, glad somebody got there first.

You have to give Plastino credit, by all reports (and I’ve tried myself, but I suck, so that doesn’t mean much) Peanuts characters are extremely hard to draw accurately.

I think people get too excited about comics predicting stuff. Given how many comics are aiming for realistic projections of events to begin with, then look at how bloody many comics there are, it would be more surprising if comics didn’t get a prediction right now and then.

[...] away, and rumored destroyed, I’d only seen one of these reproduced in the past, and now this blog posts shows a couple of them. They are clearly an imperfect recreation of Schulz in both art and [...]

I’m no Power Rangers fan, but the are there looks really quite good.
The super storm prediction is indeed pretty eerie, even got the year right!

AverageJoeEveryman

January 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm

the title page of the Power Rangers book is obviously Lim with the faces on the left, a lot of the other arwork doesnt look as clean as his usual style so I wonder if the psuedonym comes in either cause he didnt like the work, he only had a little while to get it done and didnt want it on his rep if it looked bad, or somebody else did a bunch of it as well.

Do you guys think the fifth panel in the Supergirl comic, in which Supergirl’s costume is not colored might have been the inspiration for her white T-shirt outfit? Or at least for Power Girl’s?

Evan : A belated response. Yes, the Tezuka reference was an in-joke. And the way you can tell no disrespect was meant is that the Columbia gang-member has my beloved mother’s name!

(And the French girl? The name of two French magazines. Hey, you gotta have SOME fun when you’re writing Power Rangers! Which I enjoyed, by the way — I also wrote severely disturbing stories for Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, one of which went into Checker Publishing’s first best-of trade paperback, so the challenge and the ability to show a range of styles … man, I loved it!)

Hans Keller — I thought it was obvious the looter was looting in the aftermath of the earthquake shown on the very first page of the story. But I guess maybe you were making a joke.

[...] was to ghost Schulz while the cartoonist underwent heart surgery in the early ’80s. However, another account contends United Feature Syndicate was preparing a backlog of strips in the event that contract [...]

So cool when creators pop by to clear things up. =0)
One of the things I love about this ‘place’.

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