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Comic Book Legends Revealed #428

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COMIC LEGEND: Argentinian author Julio Cortázar wrote a comic book featuring Fantomas.

STATUS: Basically False

Noted Argentinian author Julio Cortázar (famous for his role in the so-called “Latin American Boom” of the 1960s and 1970s, when writers like Gabriel García Márquez and Cortázar gained much critical acclaim) was well-known for how experimental he was a as a novelist. His most famous novel, Hopskotch, is notable for the way that it deconstructs the very structure of a novel (it has multiple endings and you can literally “hop” around the plot in the book and create your own unique story from choosing which chapters to read in what order)…

Cortázar_Hopscotch_cover 1

In 1975, Cortázar (who lived from 1914-1984) wrote a novella titled Fantomas contra los vampiros multinacionales (Fantomas versus the multinational vampires)…

Vampiros

where he depicts a character based on himself (even NAMED Julio Cortázar) who daydreams that he is the famed Fantomas (a popular pulp novel, film and comic book character in Europe and Central and South America – also the influence for Fantomex, as explained in this old Comic Book Legends Revealed). The daydreams are shown as an actual comic book story intermixed with the novel…

Here are a few sample pages…

fantomas1

fantomas2

fantomas3

As you can see, it is not exactly a comic book but it is pretty damn close.

However, the pages are not original to the work, but rather are examples of Cortázar using fair use (and likely skirting the edges of the definition of that term) to illustrate his story.

The artwork was done by artists from a popular Mexican comic book company, Editorial Novaro, for their very popular (throughout all of Central and South America) comic book series starring Fantomas.

So Cortázar did not ACTUALLY write a Fantomas comic book, but rather appropriated a Fantomas comic book for a fascinating mixed media story. Check out this site has a full copy of the story.

Thanks to Juan D. for correcting an earlier edition of the legend when I was misinformed that Cortázar actually wrote the comic in question.
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Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to OTHER famous authors and whether they wrote comic books!

Did Patricia Highsmith, author of The Talented Mister Ripley, write comics?

Did Mario Puzo write comics?

Did John “North and South” Jakes write comics?

Did Mickey Spillane write comics?
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On the next page, who or what is the Gay Desperado and what does he have to do with the Bold Buckaroo and the Lone Vigilante?

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32 Comments

Gay Desperado?? Oh, to see Grant Morrison’s take on that character……..

William Kendall

July 19, 2013 at 10:05 am

Moondragon would have preferred that coming from the She-Hulk.

moondragon would have proably prefered gettiing a spanking from like maybe one of the female avengers. or even Valkire from the defenders for think she was a member of the defenders during that period or evil back then. plus can just see grant running with gay Desperado turning despero gay like part of his multiplicity thing.

Actually, I would have preferred seeing She-Hulk spanking Moondragon…

Actually, Fantomas (original French spelling: Fantômas) is a popular French pulp-novel villain dating back to 1911. Although there have been comic adaptations since the 1940s, he remains popular primarily to the movie versions, especially the ones starring Jean Marais as Fantômas and Louis de Funès as his foil, Inspector Juve.

Oh yeah, Menshevik, I know that (I did a CBLR on Fantomas, specifically the story of how Morrison just adapted the character into Fantomex a number of years back). I was just noting that he WAS a popular comic book character in Europe, Central and Latin America at the time. It is just that he was a pulp novel character, as well. ;

So did readers catch on to the story being reused or not?

Odds are that their theory that kids from 1948 wouldn’t be still reading comics in 1950 was accurate and not many people noticed.

I think my favorite part of those Gay Desperado pages is how they made his real name as close to the earlier version as possible for ease of relettering. Jim Collins becomes Tim Rollins becomes Tom Cullen.

Of course, this is far and away my favorite Gay Desperado panel, for obvious reasons.
http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/0/40/489198-backdoor.jpg

Makes me wonder when the term “gay” became no longer viable or too weighted for a character. I would imagine the changing of Gay Buckaroo to Bold Buckaroo had something to do with that, though obviously it was still debatable at the time, since it stuck on the cover. I also wonder if certain characters like Cowboys, could carry off the term longer, since they were set in the past.

Andrew Collins

July 19, 2013 at 11:16 am

My dad’s name is Jim Collins so I’m getting more than a little chuckle out of that last legend…

I think The Cortazar legend lacks of deep.
First, the images, were not drawn for the book. Cortazar discovered he appeared without permission in a Fantomas comic book and decided to re-use some panels for the book. Also without permission.
Lets also say he did not earn any money from it, and he allows its free use as long as the Bertran Tribunal Conclusions are attached to the story as it was.

On the other side, CortazaR DID really write a comic-Book. Although not as know as Fantomas because it was edited after his death.. It saw an ilegal printing in 1980 but wasn’t properly edited until cortazar’s death 20 aniversary
It’s called “La Raiz del Ombú” (Ombu’s Root) and it was drawn by Alberto Cedrón.

I haven’t read it, but here you may see some panels.
http://www.lepoint.fr/culture/un-inedit-de-cortazar-refait-surface-07-06-2012-1470680_3.php
some more (in bad quality) here:
http://www.espanol.rfi.fr/cultura/20120508-traducen-al-frances-historieta-inedita-de-cortazar
http://articulo.mercadolibre.com.ar/MLA-468437451-la-raiz-del-ombu-julio-cortazar-alberto-cedron-antiquarium-_JM

I have no research to confirm it, but I would suspect the 60s as the timeframe for “gay” becoming more closely associated with homosexual. Most movies and literature of the previous periods seem to use more euphemisms, like “pansy” and “nancy”, amongst others. With the 60s, you have Stonewall and the hippie movement, so it would seem to make more sense. Like I say, I have no proof, just a theory.

Here’s a suggestion for a future legend, though it has only a tenuous relationship to comics: was the Shadow swiped from the Louis Feullade silent serial, Judex? Was the original Doctor Who series inspired by the French sci-fi character Doctor Omega?

Jeff Nettleton

July 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Sorry, that was my question about Judex and Doctor Omega. I skipped over the name and e-mail part.

I think The Cortazar legend in not quite acurate.
First, the images, were not drawn for the book. Cortazar discovered he appeared without permission in a Fantomas comic book and decided to re-use some panels for the book. Also without permission.
Lets also say he did not earn any money from it, ands free use is allowed as long as theII Russel Tribunal Conclusions are attached to the story as it was originally.

On the other side, Cortazar DID really write a comic-Book. Although is not as know as Fantomas because it was edited after his death.. It saw an ilegal print in 1980 but wasn’t properly edited until cortazar’s death 20 aniversary
It’s called “La Raiz del Ombú” (Ombu’s Root) and it was drawn by Alberto Cedrón.

To Fredll: The shift in meaning of “gay” from “carefree and playful” to “homosexual” happened in the 1960s. Even then, it was still common to use “gay” without any sexual connotation, as in the last line of THE FLINTSTONES’ theme song, “We’ll have a gay old time.” So since the name change from Gay Desperado to Bold Buckeroo happened in 1948, it would’ve most likely had nothing to do with any sexual connotations — unless it was the connotation “gay” did have at the time of being hedonistic, promiscuous, and morally uninhibited.

I’m amused how in the second panel, the character’s name changes from Jim to Tim to Tom. It’s a word ladder! I suppose they could’ve reprinted the story a few more times with a character named Tod, Rod, Ron, Roy, Ray, Jay…

Brian,

In your list of classic legends on page 2, the ‘Did Mario Puzo write comics?’ hyperlink takes the reader to the ‘Did Patricia Highsmith, author of The Talented Mister Ripley, write comics?’ web page.

The Gay Ghost was in Sensation Comics for a pretty good run in the 40’s. When a story was reprinted in World’s Finest early, early in the 70’s (71 or 72), the character’s name was changed to the Grim Ghost, which DC has maintained ever since (in the few appearances like Who’s Who that the character ever got). So the more provocative connotation most likely started becoming known to the point that “even kids” would know it by the late 60’s.

The transition in the meaning of “gay” from “happy, carefree” to “homosexual” was long and gradual. There’s a moment in the 1938 comedy “Bringing Up Baby” in which Cary Grant mockingly explains how he ended up wearing a woman’s nightgown by saying that he “just went gay all of a sudden!” This is often cited as the first recorded usage of “gay” to mean “homosexual,” although in order for the joke to make any sense, the usage would by that point have to have been widespread enough for at least *some* of the audience to have caught the meaning. Obviously, though, given what’s already been covered with the Flintstones theme song, the idea of “gay = happy” was still quite common up through the 1960s.

So basically, the Gay Desperado’s name change may or may not have been made to avoid homosexual connotations, as the character’s publication history puts him squarely in the middle of that era of transition.

I may be wrong but didn’t Animal Man meet the Gay Desperado during Grant Morrison’s run?

It was when Buddy’s family had been killed for a bit and he was wandering through the lands of meta-comics before meeting his maker (Grant Morrison himself).

Even the Gay Desperado was too embarrassed to return.

If I remember correctly.

That was the Gay Ghost Animal Man met.

That was the aforementioned Gay Ghost, M.

Also, wow…they did even less work to recycle the Desperado than they did Madame Satan. Though their colouring and/or printing was certainly getting better by the time he became the Lone Vigilante, I have to say.

I completely buy the change in lettering to avoid the spanking, but I’m still trying to figure out what they changed….

Because while CATCH looks changed, doesn’t the SHOULD (and maybe I) look like it was the same print job? But “You want I should spank her for ya” makes perfect sense, so I’m not sure why the SHOULD would need to be reprinted.

Also makes more sense than what is printed there if Sue is saying “If you don’t let go of me this instant…” but the spacing seems all wonky. I believe it’s true, just trying to figure out how they fixed it.

That, and with the recent “Super-Spanking” post, when the Comic Code suddenly decided spanking was no good anymore.

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2013/07/13/drawing-crazy-patterns-superhero-spankings/

“moondragon would have proably prefered gettiing a spanking from like maybe one of the female avengers. or even Valkire from the defenders for think she was a member of the defenders during that period or evil back then.”

That could have made for a funny scene particularly given that at the time Valkyrie couldn’t hit hurt a woman. It would have been funny to see her get fed up with Moondragon, put her over her knees, and then go, “Oh, right. Crap.”

Cortazar did write a comic book!
“La Raíz del Ombú” was written by julio Cortazar and ilustrated by Alberto Cedrón. It’s available in a spanish limited edition and in french as “la racine de l’ombú”.

Insead of fantomas, what about the “raices del´Ombú” comic?

Doesn’t it count as cortazar writing a comic book?

The 1960s British Toys of Doom strip was reprinted at least twice but edited so you supposedly had a different villain (Threat of the Toymaker and Terror Toys–at least one of them had some new artwork added). Plus being reprinted without changes but again as The Terror Toys. And then inspiring a sequel. Details here: http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/t/toymakr1.htm on the excellent International Superheroes site.

I was confused, I thought you meant Fletcher Hanks’ Fantomah, the flying skull jungle revenge woman. A simple mistake!

The best thing about the reused cowboy story is that by the third try, the coloring is getting pretty good!

ParanoidObsessive

July 21, 2013 at 8:58 am

Hah, I have that issue of Marvel Two-in-One. Bought it in a thrift shop with my mom something like 20+ years ago. It’s weird how you sometimes remember stuff like that.

The Gay Desperado story gets even odder. He started off looking very different and wasn’t a cowboy character at all! He had one or two adventures where he wore a mask, a hat and a checkered jacket in a current day urban setting (Punch Comics #13), although the basic premise/back story and names are the same. When reprinted by St.Johns Publications in Authentic Police Cases #4, there’s a recoloring and lettering job so that he becomes the Masked Blackjack!

Haha, whoa, a lot of super creepy posts about spanking here. Thumbs up, dudes!

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