Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
COMIC LEGEND: Dave Cockrum created a new member of the X-Men to be introduced in Uncanny X-Men #150 but pulled her back from use.
People sometimes seem to act as if the idea of comic creators wanting to own their characters was something that popped up in the last couple of decades or something like that. The desire to own your own comic characters goes back as far as the EXISTENCE of comic characters. In the past, I featured both conflicts over creators not owning their own characters in the the early days of comic strips and creators who sneakily won the rights to their characters. However, it is fair to say that the 1970s and the 1980s were when such ownership battles really took on a whole new life as the amount of money at stake seemed to be going up and up and up (and it continues to go up to this day, as Marvel builds an empire around their superhero movies). The 1970s then were more or less the last time that comic book companies got access to great new characters without their creators having a stake in the characters’ success. Characters like Wolverine, Punisher, Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus were major characters for Marvel but did not result in any sort of compensation for their creators. In the case of three of those characters, the creator in question was artist Dave Cockrum, who introduced those three along with writer Len Wein (who also was the creator of another character on that list, Wolverine) in Giant-Size X-Men #1 in 1975.
While Cockrum did not make any money off of the popularity of Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus, at least he had a chance to make good money as the artist on Uncanny X-Men. Cockrum was the first artist on the X-Men series starring those aforementioned characters but he left after a dozen or so issues when the title was moved to a monthly schedule. Cockrum was followed by John Byrne. By the time Byrne left the title thirty or so issues later, the book was now one of Marvel’s top sellers and Cockrum was given the chance to return to the title to replace his own replacement. Cockrum achieved a good deal of success on the title during his second run and he even decided to once again introduce a new character. This time, though, Cockrum wanted to make sure that he got a piece of the character.
In a 1981 issue of the British fanzine Cerebro, there was a promotional piece talking about Cockrum’s new creation, the amphibius mutant Silkie, would make her debut in Uncanny X-Men #150…
A deal couldn’t be worked out, though, so Cockrum pulled the character. He continued working on the book, but his thoughts kept turning to the idea of owning his OWN characters. So in 1983, he left X-Men a second time to work on his own characters, including Silkie, who he introduced as part of his new group, the Futurians…
You can see her more clearly on this cover (she’s green)…
Sadly, while Cockrum owned the Futurians, they did not sell that well and X-Men was soon selling well enough that the royalties on the title became quite impressive.
Cockrum kept working in comics for decades until he passed away in 2006, but he sadly never saw a ton of success for his independent characters unlike the massive success he saw the X-Men achieve.
Luckily, today Marvel and DC have programs in place where creators can participate in the profits generated by their creations (unless, of course, they want to just own their own characters outright, in which case they still have to do independent works like Cockrum did).
I don’t know what Silkie would have been like as an X-Man, but I wish things went differently and we could know for ourselves.
Thanks to Sean Howe for the image of Silkie!
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed ALSO involving Dave Cockrum!
Did Dave Cockrum re-draw Wolverine throughout Giant-Size X-Men #1 to make him look the same as Gil Kane made him look like on the cover (when Kane accidentally drew Wolverine’s cowl wrong)?
On the next page, what does Cyclops’ power have to do with other dimensions?!
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.