Thursday, June 30, 2005

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #5!

This is the fifth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. The first one can be found here , the second can be found here, the third can be found here and the fourth can be found here.

Let's start!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: All-Star Comics #3 was an inter-company crossover.

STATUS: True

A good deal of comic book fans are familiar with All-Star Comics #3, as the late 1940 comic features the first appearance of the Justice Society of America.

Written by comic legend Gardner Fox, the team was made up of (in their first pairing) Flash, Hawkman, Sandman, Atom, Spectre, Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and Hourman.

However, what may not be as familiar to some readers is that these characters did not all belong to the same company!

What we now refer back to as DC Comics in the early Golden Age was actually three separate companies, publishing under the same banner.

The three companies were:
  • Detective Comics, Inc. (founded by Harry Donenfeld and J.S. Liebowitz),
  • National Allied Publications (founded by Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson) and
  • All-American Publications (founded by M.C. Gaines).
In 1937, Donenfield and Liebowitz bought out Nicholson, but Gaines' All-American Comics continued to exist as a separate company.

In fact, at one point in the 1944, All-American Comics were published with a different logo!!

Eventually, Gaines sold his company to Donenefield and Liebowitz as well, when he left to go form EC Comics.

However, in 1940, All-American was still its own company, so a quarter of the original JSA were NOT DC/National characters!

Those characters?

Green Lantern and Atom.

Other notable All-American creations were Red Tornado, Doctor Mid-Nite and Sargon the Sorceror.

So Marvel and DC were about thirty-five years late when they came up with their Superman and Spider-Man meeting.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel changed the names of X-Force, Deadpool and Cable to avoid paying Rob Liefeld royalties.

STATUS: False

In 2002, Marvel Comics relaunched three of their series, Cable, X-Force and Deadpool.

Deadpool, by Gail Simone and UDON Studios, became Agent X.

Cable, by Darko Macan and Igor Kordey, became Soldier X.

X-Force, by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred, became X-Statix.

At the time, some conspiracy theorists argued that the move was done by Marvel because of a clause in Rob Liefeld's contract with Marvel that stated that they had to pay him royalties on sales of any titles created by Liefeld, which would include Cable, Deadpool and X-Force.

However, this appears to be extremely unlikely (so much so that I categorize it as false).

For one, it is highly debatable that simply changing the names would change any deal Marvel had with Liefeld.

But most importantly, the move would not make sense...because Marvel WASN'T PAYING Liefeld ANY ROYALTIES at the time!!

Here's Liefeld on the situation,
So the idea that they would kill the books in order to save on royalty payments to people like myself is simply unfounded. It would be much more devious if the books were selling exceptionally well and Marvel re-named them in order to keep the riches for themselves, but in the case of these titles, there are no riches to keep as they are barely posting profits at all.
Liefeld had not received royalties on the books in years.

It was likely that any royalties would kick in at 100,000 copies sold (or perhaps even higher).

The sales on all three titles barely (if even) reached 40,000 before the relaunch.

And none of them improved dramatically post-relaunch.

Therefore, I think it is safe to say that Marvel was just trying to jumpstart low-selling titles, and give what they felt were good creative teams (in particular, the critically-acclaimed, but low-selling Milligan/Allred combo) a boost of publicity.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Woody Allen was once featured in an issue of DC's Showcase.

STATUS: True

In the late 60s, DC was searching to try to duplicate anything that was popular for any other comic company (specifically Archie), and the best place to try these concepts out was, naturally, Showcase, which served host to so many successful comic debuts for DC.

The success of Archie led to the creation of Binky, and with the success of Josie and the Pussycats (who debuted in 1963), DC tried a fictional rock band, and so the Maniaks were born!

Writer E. Nelson Bridwell not only wrote the series, but also supplied songs!!

With art by Mike Sekowsky, the Maniaks weren't just musicians, they were MOD musicians!

In their final Showcase appearance (and I believe their final appearance period), the Maniaks had a special guest - a comedian who was quite famous at the time, but not for the slightly higher brow stuff of the 1970s, Woody Allen!

Here is the cover...

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It seems poor Woody was trying to get them to star in a movie by him (isn't it funny that the same jokes made about Allen in 1967 are appropriate in 2005?).

Shouldn't have turned him down, lead singer Silver Shannon!! You might still be being published today!

Read More

21 Comments:

Anonymous Gordon said...

Wow, Silver Shannon really looks like Vertigo of the Marauders. I wonder if she was an influence?

...Holy crap, I'm such a geek.

6/30/2005 07:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

Hunh, I coulda sworn that it was Liefeld himself that started the "they canceled it because they don't want to pay me!" ball rolling, and knowing his track record, it probably was.

6/30/2005 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger naladahc said...

I definitely think it is time for a Maniaks revival.

Or at least Grant Morrison or someone showcasing them in the background occasionally.

6/30/2005 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Shane Bailey said...

You're on the list on my site now. :)

6/30/2005 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Dammit, someone beat me to the "surely Grant Morrison can/is doing something with the Maniaks!" comment.

6/30/2005 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger naladahc said...

=P =)

6/30/2005 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Shane Bailey said...

Oh, and I never knew that about the All-Star crossover. You learn something new and useless every day.

6/30/2005 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record, Brian, the original JSA roster was evenly divided between the two companies. Flash and Hawkman were also AA characters, as were later members Wonder Woman, Johnny Thunder, Dr. Mid-Nite, Wildcat, Mr. Terrific and Black Canary.

Kurt (Cei-U!)

7/21/2005 11:17:00 PM  
Anonymous FunkyGreenJerusalem said...

Does anyone know if there's anywhere to see the pages of Woody in the comic?

And did he have to approve this appearence?

8/08/2005 07:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Cliffy said...

I believe that Jack Liebowitz had a stake in All-American from the very beginning. The way I've heard the story, Max Gaines approached National with material for a fifth title (Nat. already publishing New Fun, Adventure, 'Tec and Action at that point). Donnenfield passed, but Liebowitz thought there was room in the market for another book, so he personally helped bankroll Gaines' new title, All-American Comics (and then Flash Comics). I've also heard that both companies shared production staff. So there was a connection between them before All-Star #3 featured characters from both companies. (They also advertised in each others' books.)

In the mid-'40's, the two companies split apart (with IIRC Gaines buying out Liebowitz) and Nat's characters stopped showing up in All-Star. Then Gaines sold 100% of All-American to National and it consolidated the line.

8/11/2005 05:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment about Josie and the Pussycats being extant in 1963 is in error. True enough, Josie herself was around since then...the book was originally called SHE'S JOSIE, and she was a female Archie clone cloned by Archie comics. But the Pussycats didn't come into existence until circa 1969. The story goes like this: Filmation hit big with THE ARCHIE SHOW on Saturday mornings in 1969. "Sugar, Sugar", one of the songs the Archies rock group debuted on the show, became one of the biggest-selling rock songs of all time. Hanna-Barbera wanted a piece of the action, and asked Archie Comics if they had another rock group in their comics who could be made into a TV cartoon. Well, they didn't until then...but they promptly turned Josie, her friend Melody, and new arrival Val into Josie and the Pussycats.

Another fun story: Val of the Pussycats was supposedly the first black recurring character on Saturday morning cartoons. She almost didn't happen. Singers were being auditioned to fill the vocal parts of the three Pussycats. The one playing Val was, naturally, black. After the casting was done, Hanna-Barbera called up the record producer and said that they'd decided to recast the girls as an all-white trio. The producer put his foot down: either Val and the girl cast to voice her part stayed, or they didn't make the record. There was a three-week standoff. Finally, Hanna-Barbera caved and let Val stay. The rest is history.

8/12/2005 01:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Binky first appeared in the late 40s, not the late 60s. He was, however, created in response to Archie in the 40s. When Archie was popular in the 60s, Binky, Scooter, and Debbi all received DeCarlo-esque make-overs (again in response to Archie).

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