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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #437

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COMIC LEGEND: Marvel comic characters appeared in the Beatlemania film.

STATUS: Technically True

Beatlemania was a Broadway musical revue in the late 1970s that consisted of four performing doing, well, you guessed it, Beatles songs!

It was popular enough that they decided to make a movie. It was basically just a film recording of the musical and it came out in 1981. It came and went pretty fast, hurt by both the fact that movies tend to get a closer look than a stage show (so audiences could realize that the actors didn’t look too much like the actual Beatles) and the fact that the film came out soon after John Lennon’s death (and they didn’t even acknowledge his death in the film. Not even a “In memory of” or anything like that. What the heck?) In any event, due to a later lawsuit that the Beatles filed against the show, the film cannot come out on DVD (the settlement allows for the musical to continue but no commercial release of the film) so it has become a bit of a mystery.

The mystery came into comic book circles when the trailer began getting passed around over the years…

And people wondered what the heck was up with all of the Marvel comic characters in the trailer…

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Yes, the Human Fly was in the trailer! I did a Comic Book Legends Revealed on the Human Fly years ago. You can check it out here.

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Did Marvel have some sort of role in the movie?

As it turns out, there is just a scene in the musical where they play “Lucy in the SKy With Diamonds” and characters get stoned….

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and they project comic book characters on to the screen in the background…

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At the end of the film, they claim that the “cartoon characters” are all courtesy of Marvel Comics, and with the way that Marvel handled their intellectual property back then, I would not be surprised at all if someone at Marvel DID basically tell them, “Yeah, sure, take whatever you want. Don’t worry about it.”

Of course, they also had DC Comic characters!

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Intellectual property sure has come a long way since 1981! Can you imagine a musical trying to just cut out drawings from comics and using them to illustrate a sequence in a musical today?

Okay, that’s it for this week!
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Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did H.R. Giger, the guy who designed the alien in Alien, design a bizarre Batmobile that was rejected for Batman Forever?
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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 newest 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!). 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!

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21 Comments

Flash is shocked to see those performers getting stoned.

Steve Whisler Jr.

September 20, 2013 at 9:39 am

Moore as has pretty cool pin-up Mr. Monster. Yes, Mr. Monster art by Alan Moore.

Who is the character in the red costume above Captain America?

@Andrew: That’s the Human Fly, a character from a short-lived Marvel title at the tail-end of the 70s. He doesn’t show up anymore because he was based on a real person that Marvel no longer has any sort of licensing deal with.

I had that issue of AH and I was really looking forward to that crossover.

*sigh*

Wait, there was a BEATLEMANIA movie? That one seemed to have breezed through the theaters faster than LET IT BE!

With all the IP issues using materials belonging to the Beatles would entail, maybe the producers just decided to double down on the potential pain with the Marvel usage…

BTW, wasn’t that smart of them to throw in Ms. Marvel; in addition to everything else, the fact that she premiered seven years after LET IT BE finally came out should have placed in on preclusionary hold…

To be fair, at the end of Beatlemania, it turns out that it was just the Life Model Decoy of John Lennon that was killed.

That looks likes a Neal Adams Flash, although I’m not 100% on that. If so, I’m trying to work out where it’s from.

Pete – maybe Flash 246 from 1976 / 1977 ? http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Flash_Vol_1_246

According to IMDB, both Christina Applegate and Gina Gershon made their debuts in that movie.

@Howson WOW!

@ Captain Swift and Andrew

NOT TRUE!!

The Human Fly is alive and kicking in 2013!!!

Not only does he have a new comic in 2013, he will be starring in an independently funded MOVIE!! Wahoooo!!

You can check it out here:

http://javiersblog.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/taking-ride-with-new-adventures-of.html

If you google ” Human Fly movie” you’ll get lots of info too.

I love the Human Fly – one of my all-time favourite bronze age characters with art by the amazing ( but an acquired taste ) of Frank Robbins!

Brian from Canada

September 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm

It’s amazing how clueless the producers of Beatlemania were. The Beatles didn’t know much about American comics: they’d get the odd one brought in via sailor to Liverpool in the late 50s/early 60s and that’s about it. In the mid-70s, Paul McCartney got a tour of Marvel and didn’t really get anything out of it.

That’s not to say the companies didn’t try. Marvel let Paul project images of Magneto and Titanium Man through a song on the 1975 and 1976 tour.

Jack Kirby actually met Paul and Linda McCartney at a concert in California, where he presented them with some artwork. They also gave him a shout out at the concert. Mark Evanier’s book has pictures from the meeting.

The Beatles did know a bit about certain comic books, hence the reference to Captain Marvel in one song. Marvel was still pretty new (in terms of the “Marvel Universe”) so they probably weren’t big on the Fab Four’s radar yet.

Brian from Canada

September 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm

@Jeff: Captain Marvel’s reference may be more from the movie serials. All four Beatles talk about how much the movies — especially American movies — impacted them in their early teens (particularly The Girl Can’t Help It) and the boys would have been 12-15 in 1955 when they were re-released.

As for meeting Kirby, Evanier will play it up because he was Kirby’s assistant. The McCartney camp hardly makes reference to it. [It’s not even mentioned in the archive edition for that tour’s live album… and there’s a lot of extra material about the tour in there!] Kirby would have been just one of the celebrities who attended the shows, including Elton John, Jackie O., Jack Nicholson, Neil Sedaka, Angelica Houston — and a certain ex-Liverpudian named Richard “Ringo Starr” Starkey, who gave flowers to Paul at the end of their American tour in Los Angeles.

(Nicholson gets special note because the Back In The US DVD from 2002 flashes to Jack many, many, many times.)

That last superhero looks a bit like Buried Alien from Quasar… I wonder if they’re related…

Another big Human Fly fan here from back in the 70s (issue 13 is my favorite and I actually learned the word “chasm” from that cover!)
Marvel did their own Beatles comic in ’78, Marvel Super Special 4, with art by George Perez. I’ve only seen copies on eBay, so I know it exists but it’s out of my price range, sadly.
Finally, in the Beatles movie “Help!”, there’s a short scene with the lads in their apartment, and a bunch of 60s DC books are on the piano. I keep forgetting to watch it again to pause it just to try to identify the covers. I’m not in much of a hurry to watch it again, because it’s a fairly uninteresting movie. You’re better off avoiding their movies and just playing their albums.

Alan Moore didn’t leave DC over Watchmen. While the handling of payments on Watchmen-related merchandise did strain their relationship, that was resolved to his satisfaction. Instead, shortly after that, he left over DC making a unilateral decision to put age-rating labels on all its books without consulting the creative staff.

As far as Venom is concerned, I’d lean more towards truth. Michelinie’s exact quote from David Michelinie’s Grand Design:

“Things went pretty well. Writing the character was a lot of fun. But since I had planned to stay on Amazing for at least 20 to 30 years, I started thinking about the future–and I got a dangerous idea: since Venom had his first story in Amazing 300, why not have his last story in Amazing 400! Yeah! I could kill Eddie Brock off, then have the costume wander around the Marvel Universe for a year or two, joining with various other characters, before settling in on another host and becoming the “New Venom”‘”

So while perhaps Marvel didn’t plan on killing Venom in issue 400, his creator certainly did.

Right, but when Michelinie suggested it, they said no. So Marvel was never going to kill Venom in Amazing Spider-Man #400. As Fingeroth notes, it never even got far enough to be discussed in the plans for Amazing #400, since Michelinie came up with the idea a few years before Amazing #400 plans would have even been formulated.

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