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Comic Book Legends Revealed #445

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COMIC LEGEND: John Cale and Lou Reed used to dress up as Batman and Robin for kid’s birthday parties before the Velvet Underground hit it big(ger).

STATUS: Appears to be False

Sadly, we lost one of the great rock and roll singer/songwriters recently when Lou Reed passed away (the artists of the Line it is Drawn did a fine tribute to him last week). An interesting thing about Lou Reed’s amazing first rock band, the Velvet Underground, was that they were not particularly successful at first, at least not commercially. There is a very famous quote by Brian Eno about the Velvet Underground that barely anyone bought their albums, but whoever did formed their own bands. That’s how influential they were to a whole generation of rock and roll bands.

But even THAT level of success (actually having an album professionally released) did not come about until Andy Warhol became fascinated with the group and became their manager in 1965 (their first album was recorded in 1966 but did not come out until 1967). In the early days of the group, when Reed formed the band with John Cale in 1964, they were not exactly a professional outfit. In fact, when they got their first paying gig ($75 for the group), their original drummer quit because he felt that taking money to play music was “selling out.”

So the group had to find other ways of making money until they hit it big(ger, at least).

One story is that Cale and Reed and dressed up as Batman and Robin at kid’s birthday parties!

Here, courtesy of Sonic More Music (suggested to me on Twitter by Steven Getman ) is a picture supposedly of John Cale as Batman and Lou Reed as Robin…


The photo, sadly, appears to be a hoax. Here is the original use of the photo, from someone just sharing a photo of themselves from the 1980s. Thanks to reader Rodrigo for the head’s up!

Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to rock and roll!

Did Devo get their name in part from an issue of Wonder Woman?

Did a musician try to take on the persona of Eclipso for his albums?

Did Jack Kirby pitch a syndicated comic strip based on Frank Zappa’s “Valley Girl”?

Did Steve Vai perform the X-Men Animated Series theme song?

Was Neil Gaiman inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” to create Morpheus?

Did Devo take the lyrics of one of their songs from an old Silver Age DC sci-fi comic book story?

Did the Winter Brothers sue DC Comics for their likenesses appearing in a DC Comic?

Is Ben Orr of the Cars related to famed letterer Tom Orzechowski?

On the next page, what was the secret countdown during the Death of Superman?

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An unfortunate effect of the Superman countdown is that it made for a faster and faster read. Victoria BC’s downtown isnt the biggest in the world, and I was more than a little annoyed that I started reading the death issue on a bus and the bus hadn’t even left downtown before I finished the issue. If memory serves I was at least tempted to partly solve the problem of that comic’s lack of scarcity, even if I could only contribute to that solution by one copy.

I didn’t know the Superman part was even an urban legend. I remember reading about that in Wizard or some such comic magazine back in 1992/93 when the Death of Superman was happening.

That second legend has me just speechless, in all my years of VU worship I never encountered that bit of trivia!

I was skeptical at first, but that wide Bat chin does look a great deal like Cale’s

Thanks! I’m chuckling thinking about the endless arguments over who was going to be the one to dress up as Robin, and just how hopped up on speed they probably were at these kids birthday parties.

Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather indeed!

Bryan, the phrasing “Scarlet Witch was originally going to be killed off during Siege before being changed to the Sentry” makes it sound like the Scarlet Witch was transmogrified into the ol’ Man of a Thousand Exploding Suns (or whatever it was). Which probably would have made for a good story.

Oh, and John Cale as Batman + Lou Reed as Robin= mind blown. I just wish the picture was larger so that I could make it my wallpaper.

The Lou Reed / John Cale thing is a hoax. The photo is from the 1980’s, and it was originally published in 2006 in somebody’s Flickr account:

Thanks, Rodrigo, I fixed it!

Ah my sense of reality is restored. I thought that was a bit early for Lou to be sporting his curly locks.

I did have a hard time imagining them doing that, but when you’re desperate for money…

God, I so wish it were true though!

Also: Man, I wish I could have have had the Dynamic Duo (either B&R or Reed & Cale) at one of my birthday parties!

I’ll never understand why Tom Grummett didn’t become a huge name. Only a blind man couldn’t see how great those pages linked in the article are.

How about a real VU/DC link, namely the photo of Nico and Warhol as Batman and Robin??

Now that was a nice surprise to see you tackling what I brought up in the other thread. The rumor as I heard it, was that Wanda would have had Sentry’s spot on the Norman Osborne Avengers and of course be his ace in the hole against the remaining members of the Cabal. She then would find redemption in a heroic death at the climax of Siege, only for marvel to kibosh it as they wanted her to come back as a full time, full fledged, classic Avenger. Not that I mind, I much prefer her to the Sentry anyday.

I can’t believe that Bendis still uses double spaces after his commas and periods!

And using double spaces after commas was ALWAYS wrong. The whole point of double spaces after periods was so as not to confuse them with commas.

I agree, Red. Grummett is one of my all time fave artists.

I think you’ve got a minor typo. You referred to Superman #75 as being one of the first three chapters of Doomsday when that was the last. Methinks you intended #74? :)

One other pretty cool thing with the panels in #75 is the finale. The entire book has been one panel per page, then the last two pages (Superman dying in Lois’ arms) form a spread. And the final image of the book is three pages, seen by unfolding the gatefold back cover (and re-using the portion of the image from the left-hand page).

The Velvet Underground didn’t dress as the Dynamic Duo, but Nico and Andy Warhol did: http://blogs.artinfo.com/lacmonfire/2011/03/11/biggest-warhol-batman-shocker/
For a magazine shoot during the Batman TV craze.

I dunno, I can see where someone might think John Cale would have dressed up like that.

After all, they say fear is a (Bat-)man’s best friend.

I’m just curious, where do people hear all these rumors? A lot of legends start out with “I heard back in the day x was going to do this” etc, but where are people getting that from? Are there a bunch of writers and artists giving out hints about things online somewhere? Where did whoever asked hear that the scarlet witch was going to die originally during Siege? Because it kind of reads like “I wonder if it was going to happen this way, but there’ll be a better chance of my question being used if I say I heard a rumor about it.”

@Paul, I think rumours can come from anywhere, from something a pro said in an interview to something someone posted on a message board that somehow snowballed into a rumour.

I don’t know Brian’s criteria for choosing legends to showcase, but I’d assume they don’t need to be full-fledged rumours. My guess is that if he gets a suggestion sounds interesting enough and he finds something worth noting in his research, he’ll showcase it, even if the rumour only exists in the head of the person who proposed it!

FWIW, I recently sent Brian a legend suggestion (which I don’t know if he’ll use) that’s kind of the opposite of a rumour: I have a strong suspicion that I couldn’t verify through my own research, so I relayed to the expert, who might be able to dig up something interesting!

I don’t know Brian’s criteria for choosing legends to showcase, but I’d assume they don’t need to be full-fledged rumours. My guess is that if he gets a suggestion sounds interesting enough and he finds something worth noting in his research, he’ll showcase it, even if the rumour only exists in the head of the person who proposed it!

I’d say that the criteria is generally if someone reasonably believes something to be true, I’ll feature it. So, like, if someone writes in with “Stan Lee is secretly an alien” then whether that guy truly believes it or not, it is not a reasonable position to have. Now “the Scarlet Witch was going to be killed instead of Sentry”? That seems like a reasonable possibility, even if it is one that I doubted to be true. When I began this column, it was specifically TO address beliefs people had that weren’t necessarily true.

@brian Cronin

Then can you please explain why WIZARD said Mephisto was the villain to watch for a full year and he did NOTHING til december? Was he supposed to be in something marvel planned all year or was it just brand new day hype? Cause that is a jerky thing marvel wizard did then. I was hoping to see him do ANYTHING in a long time and waited 11 months for his “villain of the year” claim to happen. IMO not really “villain of the year” watch worthy

I originally found it somewhere online way, way back on a message board. And please, my name is David, not who ever.

Grummet didn’t become a big name because his stuff is bland and generic.

That page has no backgrounds.

A bit harsh, but yeah, Tom Grummet’s has always been very standard with no particular distinguishing features. I’ve always wondered why some people get excited about his work.

Tom Grummet can never become a big name because of the curse of the Superman mullet era.

Personally, backgrounds don’t mean a whole lot to me, especially when rendering action scenes. Those are GORGEOUS pages, in my view. Tremendous work, with sequences that make sense and some nice Miller-esque flair thrown in with the more traditional character models (which I prefer, personally, to the more “cartoony” artists).

I agree that Grummet’s a great artist. He was one of my favourites as a kid (though now I’m older, the Superman artist of that era I really lean toward is Bogdanove).
I’d say “solid” or “traditional” where some apparently say “bland” or “standard”. His style isn’t exactly what was trendy at the time (I.e; horrible, amateurish, over-rendered shite), so it isn’t that surpsurprising to me he wasn’t/isn’t more well-regarded (I mean in general; it’s fine that some people here have expressed dislike of his style. Different strokes and that).

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