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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #450

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Welcome to the four hundred and fiftieth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and forty-nine. This week is a special theme week! All legends related, in one way or the other, to Christmas! Discover the first strory that Alan Moore wrote for Dez Skinn before Marvelman (hint – it featured Santa Claus)! Was the Christmas story in Marvel Team-Up #1 supposed to be one of a series of Spider-Man/Human Torch team-ups? And did Carl Barks’ really get censored by Disney on one of his classic Christmas stories?!

Let’s begin!

NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).

COMIC LEGEND: Before he wrote Marvelman for Dez Skinn, Alan Moore’s first job for Skinn was a Santa Claus two-pager!


Alan Moore’s career as a comic book superstar is an interesting one. Since he first came to prominence in England, a lot of the timeline of his career gets sort of muddled. This is also impacted by the fact that Moore so quickly established himself as a top talent once he actually got a real chance to write an ongoing series that he seemed to be everywhere at once. As Moore himself has later noted to George Khoury, “I remember that what was generally happening was that everybody wanted to give me work, for fear that I would just be given other work by their rivals. So everybody was offering me things.” And then DC came a-callin’ and Moore was an international comic superstar within a few short years.

However, before Moore got his first big break on Marvelman and V for Vendetta for Quality’s Warrior in late 1981…


Moore was still a largely unknown comic book creator. He was starting to get some attention from people, but he had yet to land an ongoing gig before Warrior.

There is a bit of a dispute over HOW Moore got the gig, though.

In 1981, Moore had contributed to an article in a British comic creators newsletter and one of the questions was about what project you’d like do. Moore said he’d love to reboot Marvelman. Quality Communications founder Dez Skinn was planning a Marvelman reboot for Warrior, so it seems like an obvious connection. Alan Moore certainly thinks that is what the connection was (he figures that David Lloyd, the driving force of the newsletter, likely passed it along to Skinn).

Skinn, meanwhile, doesn’t recall how he got hooked up with Moore, but he seems to believe that it was Steve Moore (no relation), a mutal acquantince between Skinn and Alan Moore, who suggested Alan Moore.

Skinn had Alan Moore write up a pitch and Skinn was blown away and the rest is, as they say, comic book history.

However, amazingly enough, Skinn later recalled that he had actually worked with Alan Moore BEFORE!

You see, before founding Quality Communications in 1981, Dez Skinn had worked for Marvel UK for a few years. While there, he launched a number of titles, including Marvel UK’s answer to Mad Magazine, Frantic. Before making it into an ongoing series, Marvel UK gave the book two try-out issues. A Winter issue and a Summer issue.

Here is the Winter Special from 1979…


In the issue, there was the following two-page story…



Yep, that was both written AND drawn by Alan Moore.

Skinn later noted that he apparently had Moore’s info in his rolodex the whole time!

Pretty darn funny.

Thanks to George Khoury (the absolute expert on all things Marvelman/Miracleman-related. Check out his book Kimota: The Miracleman Companion and also his more recent The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore – George is awesome) and Dez Skinn for the information!


Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!

Did Andrew Lloyd Webber Have a Hit Dance Song About the Video Game Tetris?

Was the Wampa Attack in Empire Strikes Back Written to Explain Away Mark Hamill’s Facial Injuries He Suffered from a Car Accident?

Was There Nearly a Muppet Version of Into the Woods?

What Clever Approach Did Studebaker Come Up With to Afford Sponsoring Mister Ed?

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Is that Alan Davis art from the cover of Warrior #1?

A young Steve Dillon, actually.

Looks a lot like Brian Bolland to me…

If I remember correctly, the “Human Torch and” issues occurred while Marvel was producing the Giant-Size issues in the mid-70s. One of those Giant-Size issues was Giant-Size Spider-Man, which took the same format of starring Spider-Man and a guest star. The Giant-Size issues were published quarterly, so the Human Torch was the primary star in Marvel Team-Up on those months when Giant-Size Spider-Man was published. After the Giant-Size issues were discontinued, Spider-Man went back to being the ongoing primary star in Marvel Team-Up.

Ah, I was about to say it wasn’t really all Spider-Man team-ups from that point forward, but of course you were already all over that action.

And as for the censoring… antimaterialism is of course anathema to Disney, but ethnic slurs like “gypped”? Well, that’s just fine.

It seems to be written and drawn by Curt Vile.

1. Curt Vile? Really?

2. That’s interesting. They sure did have Human Torch in that book a whole lot.

3. How’d they “censor” (or just change, which is what it looks like they actually did rather than “censor”) it exactly? And the ending is fine, regardless of what Barks thinks.

Ah, I love me some Alan Moore art. Some people don’t know he started out as a cartoonist.
Does anyone else think that the drawing here is VERY reminiscent of Thomas Bunk? Especially the faces.
@Anon: can’t tell whether this is sarcasm or not but Curt Vile was one of Moore’s pseudonyms.

I thought Steve Moore was the writing half of Kurt Vile, & Alan the art half.

Re: The Warrior #1 cover. Yes, the face and knee pose of the woman shrieks “Dillon!”

Speaking of covers – and I know this topic has been discussed before in forums like CSBG – but Gil Kane sure had a lot of stock poses!
Did he turn to the same page of his ‘swipe file’ and always take out “GK hero lying defeated No. 1 pose”?! I’m referring to that MTU #3 image of a prone Spidey, which I’ve seen replicated in many other GK covers. The “Beast defeating Iron Man” cover in the Amazing Adventures early 1970s short Beast solo run springs to mind!

@Steven Grant My quick google suggests that Steve Moore had his own pseudonym (Pedro Henry) for those collaborations.

Fans of Alan Moore’s early work are directed to 2000ad’s website where thet’ve been running a cheap digital thrills promo. Today’s volume is The Complete Alan Moore Future Shocks, a collection of his short strips for 2000ad. At £1.99 UK (about $3.20 ish) it’s a bargain


Available till midnight Friday UK time

I doubt The Golden Christmas Tree would have been particularly good story anyway, it starts out pretty dumb already, but yeah, with the flat ending it is definitely among the weakest of Barks.

@AS —

Bullcrap. It’s an awesome story.

3. How’d they “censor” (or just change, which is what it looks like they actually did rather than “censor”) it exactly? And the ending is fine, regardless of what Barks thinks.

They added the whole “Spirit of Christmas” aspect. Barks originally was going to have it end on more of a darker note, including the witch being killed. The wacky ending of the nephews all getting Golden Christmas Trees was meant to have more of a bite to it.

There was also a period around 1980 or so, when Team-Up alternated between Spidey and the Hulk.

That Frantic cover looks like it was reprinted from an issue of Crazy. And the parodies listed are all American subjects. Was the magazine mostly made of Crazy reprints?

@Pete Woodhouse: Gil Kane used a lot of stock poses on his covers because he was churning them out. he remarked in an interview in The Comics Journal that he went through a divorce around that time and had alimony to pay, so he took on a lot of worked and just cranked it out. Covers were relatively quick and easy, so he did a lot of them. He wasn’t proud of the work, but it was a necessity. If you look at his more personal stuff or the earlier stuff, you can see the care he put into it. However, like many artists on a deadline, he relied on many tricks, including stock shots. Even Kirby and Eisner were guilty of that.

For my money, the best Warrior cover was #7, with the painted cover of Marvelman, emerging from water, followed closely by #11, with V’s Guy Fawkes mask hanging from the logo.

@ant: YES! Tom Bunk! That’s the Mad artist I was trying to figure out who “Kurt Vile”‘s work looked like. Thank you!

I’ve always wondered about the visual similarity between the angular, ice-surfing Iceman and the Silver Surfer. Which character’s look was established first, and did one influence the other?


Both Iceman and the Johnny Storm version of Human Torch were originally drawn by Jack Kirby, so that might be the cause for some of the similarity. FF predates X-Men by a little bit (FF started in 1961, X-Men in ’63), so if there’s any influence, it’d be Torch’s look that was established first.

He lives forever!

Good grief

Thanks, Brian! I’m still curious about Iceman and Silver Surfer, but you’ve certainly given me something to think about. I know the Surfer was a Kirby creation; was Kirby also the first guy to depict Iceman “surfing” on ice, instead of just making snowballs and ice ladders and stuff? I guess I’ll try to find out which iconic image appeared first, and go from there.

@buttler: For starters, the “gyp” connection to “Gypsy” (and its therefore an ethnic slur) is NOT definitive.

Secondly, we’re discussing a story that first appeared in an era (1948, to be specific) when there was no such thing as “political correctness.” (By the way. For someone who’s so concerned about “gypped” being a slur, I notice that you DON’T seem so upset by the portrayal of witches as being evil beings. Talk about a slur being ignored.)

@ JosepW ” Philip Durkin, principal etymologist at the Oxford English Dictionary told the Telegraph that there’s “scholarly consensus” that the word (gypped) originated as a “racial slur.””

It’s pretty clear the term is used in the same manner as “jewed” was once used. I don’t think most people realize what they are saying when the say “gypped” but it is definitely derogatory. You’re right there was no concept of political correctness in 1948. People were much more openly bigoted.

@Jerry: Kirby was never really into the X-Men and was gone long before Iceman took that form.

Back in the early 1970’s ASM started became Marvel’s #1 comic in terms os sales, oustripping FF by 100,000 copies a month. The Bullpen wanted to come up with another title to cash in on Spidey’s popularity. If Brian can check the format for the new title would have been another Spidey only title. I think it was to be written by Len Wein and drawn by John Buscema. In any event the Team Up format was adopted so that feelers could be sent out to gauge the interest of other characters. That’s why the X-men popped up and the Inhumans- who were slated for their own title.

BTW the Hulk started showing up when The Incredible Hulk was on TV. Just another try to cash in on a character’ s popularity.

I suggest “When did Iceman start traveling on ice slides?” might be a good topic for one of Brian’s other columns, such as “When First We Met.”

Already know that Alan Moore can write and draw, but settled on writing to which he truly excels. Thanks Brian for that whole page Moore stuff.

@Dalarsco: Kirby was never really into the X-Men and was gone long before Iceman took that form.

Iceman’s ice-covered form debuted in Uncanny X-Men v.1 #8, while Kirby was still on the book. Kirby didn’t leave until after issue #11.

“This is Iron Man! If he dies — He Stays Dead!”

At that point, was this before writing that (especially on a cover) was ironic? When did it become a mainstream trend that any comic book hero death is and has been laughable?

relating to the first legend, Pressbutton (featured on the Warrior cover) had originally appeared in strips “Three-eyes McGurk and his Death Planet Comandos” and “The Stars my Degradation” by “Pedro Henry” and “Curt Vile” (Steve Moore and Alan Moore)

[…] Moore. Artigo no Comic Book Resources sobre uma BD natalícia desenhada e escrita por Moore no início da sua […]

[…] Comic Book Legends Revealed #450 (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

Man, those Marvel team-Up covers are dynamic! I miss that approach, as well as word balloons being used to draw interest.

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