Thursday, October 06, 2005

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #19!

This is the nineteenth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous eighteen.

Let's begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Dave Cockrum once sold the same character to both DC and Marvel...at the same time!!!

STATUS: True

It can be quite useful to be able to work for two companies at once, but beware, because there are always pitfalls involved, including this one that befell Dave Cockrum (Thanks to Paul Newell for sending me this tale):
I had tried selling Manphibian at both companies and I sold it to Marvel, finally. Marv Wolfman and I were working on a Manphibian strip, so I was really kind of horrified to get my next Legion plot and discover that Manphibian was in that, too. I scrambled over to DC and got Cary [Bates] and told him, "Listen, you can't use that! I just sold it to Marvel!" So we changed the name and I changed the visual and Devilfish made out better. I mean, he got a sequel, which Manphibian never did.
Here is Manphibian's debut, in the first issue of Legion of Monsters in 1975.

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Meanwhile, here is Devilfish's debut in Superboy #202, which came out a little bit earlier, in 1974.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It is like the plot to a sitcom!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston invented the polygraph test!

STATUS: False

It has long been a funny sort of dramatic irony that William Moulton Marston, creator of Wonder Woman and her golden lariat, which forces people to tell the truth, was also the inventor of the polygraph test, which (purportedly) detects whether people are lying.

However, this is not the case.

Marston WAS, however, an early innovator in the field of lie detection, and his contributions to the polygraph test should not be overlooked, for Martson DID, in fact, invent the first lie detector of any sorts, in 1917. In 1921, Martson published his doctoral thesis for Harvard University. The title was "Systolic blood pressure symptoms of deception and constituent mental states." That was Marston's innovation - the idea that, by testing a subject's systolic blood pressure, one would be able to determine whether the subject was lying.

The polygraph test, however, uses three OTHER methods, not just blood pressure. It is only when using the four methods combined that the results of the polygraph test are achieved. The other three tests are for heart rate, respiration and skin conductivity.

Still, one out of four is very impressive!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: John Byrne wrote TWO separate first issues of Blood of the Demon!

STATUS: True

Yes, the first issue of the Blood of the Demon has a very interesting pedigree.

On his forum, John Byrne described the situation like this (for the original quote, click here and scroll down about halfway):
I have been pitching a Demon series every couple of years or so since I first went to work for DC "full time" in the days of MAN OF STEEL. With a "new regime" in the form of Dan DiDio, I decided it was time to try again, but this time, knowing Dan comes from a Hollywood background, I decided to take a slightly different approach. To this end, I sat down and "shot the pilot", drawing, completely on spec, the whole 22 pages of my "first issue". This I turned in to Dan, along with a script. He liked it -- but there was a problem. DC has a new policy (DC seems to be in love with new policies, just at the nonce) which requires that all work done with existing characters be vouchered before the work is done. (Smart, I suppose -- prevents people popping up later and trying to say work-made-for-hire was not, in fact, work-made-for-hire.) This meant they could not use the "pilot" -- but they did want a Demon series from me.

So, with echoes of STAR TREK in my brain, I wrote up vouchers for the first six issues, and sat down to salvage as many pages from the original job as I could. (Imagine if "The Menagerie" had been ST:TOS's second pilot.) This turned out to be quite a few, luckily for me. Altho some got left out, and some got chopped up (literally) to make new pages, I ended up with a new story that was just as satisfying, to me, as the first one had been.
I have been enjoying Blood of the Demon. I hope it sticks around.

Well, that's it for me this week!

Feel free to tell me some urban legends you have heard, and I will try to confirm or deny them (always better to have someone give me a good one, like Paul did this week, than to scrounge up my own...hehe)!

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13 Comments:

Blogger kelvingreen said...

Just two? I want to know about Jim Cheung's sunlight allergy! And whether he's English!

Sadly (ofr you, I don't read it), I believe that Blood of the Demon has been cancelled.

10/06/2005 04:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Here's one for you, then: When Len Wein created the "All New, All Different" X-Men, he created Thunderbird with the intention of killing him off two issues later, which is what he did.

10/06/2005 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Excellent! Bonus feature!

10/06/2005 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

That's a good one, Brian.

I think I will use that one soon.

10/07/2005 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

How about a semi-topical one, what with Stephen King working for Marvel now...

I've heard that King and Wrightson's Cycle of the Werewolf was originally intended to be a graphic novel, but got scaled back to an illustrated prose novel before publication.

The accepted story is that it was supposed to be an illustrated horror-themed calendar, but I've seen the graphic novel story pop up occasionally.

10/07/2005 01:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Jer said...

"The polygraph test, however, uses three OTHER methods, not just blood pressure. It is only when using the four methods combined that the results of the polygraph test are achieved."

Which is also why its called a POLYgraph and not a systoli-graph (or somesuch).

10/07/2005 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger West Side said...

I can be a smart-ass and say that the only good lie-detector test remains in the imagination of Wonder Woman fans, but this is still a cool feature. I'd link to a page that would continually update each urban legend as it comes along.

I can also continue to be a smart-ass and say something like Wonder Woman was Marston's imaginative dream acting of what he hoped to contribute to the world (this sounded better in my head than it does in writing), but then that may be the subject of a later "Urban Legends " column. (Is the "William Woolcott" character in Promethea in any way inspired by William Marston?)

10/24/2005 06:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard that King and Wrightson's Cycle of the Werewolf was originally intended to be a graphic novel, but got scaled back to an illustrated prose novel before publication.

Actually, I believe it was orignally intended to be a calendar (which is one of the reasons why it's structured monthly). Before it could be published (possibly before it was even finished), the publisher went under. From that point, King re-worked his end of things into the novella.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he talks about this in the introduction of the 'Cycle of the Werewolf' version, which collects both the novel & the screenplay (to co-incide with the release of the film).

Bill Angus

10/27/2005 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry - that should have read the Silver Bullet edition.

Bill Angus

10/31/2005 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,
You have a neat blog here. I have a site on Blood Pressure Monitors that you may be interested in linking to.

1/08/2006 12:18:00 PM  
Anonymous tbrittreid/Ted Watson said...

Concerning W. M. Marston:

There is a game/panel TV show that has had at least four incarnations that I know of, "To Tell the Truth," in which three people come on stage and all claim to be the same person, with some interesting claim to make, and four semi-celebrities ask questions and vote on who they think is the real one. The greater the number of wrong guesses, the more money the three split. In the 1970s version, on which Roy Thomas once appeared as an impostor, three men claimed to be W. M. Marston, a.k.a. Charles Moulton, co-inventor of the polygraph and creator of Wonder Woman. As I'm sure most people reading this know, the real Marston was dead by 1950, so all three were impostors! (I saw this with my own eyes in my early 20s and had recently examined a library copy of a book collection of Golden Age Wonder Woman stories, with an introduction by Gloria Steinem that mentioned his passing, so the problem jumped out at me. Don't doubt that this happened.) Given that Brian knows what he's talking about, this would explain the incorrect statement there that Marston DID (co-)invent the polygraph.

3/02/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous tbrittreid/Ted Watson said...

Attention Brian (if I may be so familiar):

I just reread the Marston/polygraph item, and it seems that your denying him credit as "inventor" per se of the lie detector is analogous to saying that Alexander Graham Bell didn't invent the telephone because so much that is now considered fundamental to it (e.g., dialing) was subsequently developed by others. As with your claiming that the idea that "Superman/Spider-Man I" was the first Marvel/DC crossover is an incorrect "urban legend," this seems a matter of interpretation and opinion, not irrefutable misinformation.

3/04/2006 02:26:00 PM  
Anonymous tbrittreid/Ted Watson said...

Brian:

OOPS! I meant to--indeed, I would have sworn that I had--put a "(qv.)" after my reference to the "first Marvel/DC crossover" item. Sorry!

3/04/2006 02:28:00 PM  

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