Welcome to the two-hundred and fifth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and four.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com.
COMIC LEGEND: The Hall of Justice is based on a train station in Cincinnati.
Reader Squashua asked the other week about the design of the Hall of Justice and the design of Cincinnati’s Union Terminal. Reader Vinnie Bartilucci quickly stepped in with a link to an interesting piece on the subject.
In 1933, a massive train station opened in Cincinnati, based on the Art Deco designs of architects Alfred Fellheimer and Steward Wagner. Union Terminal needed to be a gigantic building at the time, because Cincinnati used to be a major port for shipping, particularly as a bridge between Northeastern and Midwestern shipping points.
Here it is in 2008…
Hanna Barbera (founded by William Hanna and Joe Barbera) sold their animation studio to Cincinnati corporation Taft Broadcasting Co. in 1967. Occasionally, workers from Hanna Barbara would travel to Cincinnati for corporate reasons, but mostly they stayed autonomous back in California.
In any event, in 1973, Super Friends debuted.
The design of their headquarters, the “Hall of Justice” was given to Al Gmuer, a background supervisor for Hanna-Barbera for decades.
And he came up with the Union Terminal as the basis…
Here’s Gmuer on the design…
Mine had more windows. In the long run, I hated that building. The way it’s designed, it was not easy to draw. I had nightmares about that damn building.
So there ya go!
Thanks to Squashua for the suggestion and Vinnie for the information and thanks to Alex Shebar for the quote from Gmuer!
COMIC LEGEND: Alfred was made thin because of the 1960s Batman TV Show.
Reader George wrote in asking perhaps the first question involving my new book, Was Superman a Spy? and Other Comic Book Legends Revealed. He asked:
In the section about Alfred on the TV series, is it also true that they changed Alfred’s appearance to look more like Alan Napier?
The answer, George, is no – but not far from the truth.
When Napier took over the role of Alfred for the TV series, yes, he portrayed Alfred as a thin man.
And yes, when Alfred debuted, he looked like this…
However, while Alfred DID change, it was for the Batman FILM SERIAL, not the Batman TV SERIES.
In 1943, soon after Alfred first showed up, a Batman film serial started, with Alfred portrayed by veteran actor William Austin…
Soon afterwards, in the Batman comics of the later 40s, Alfred began looking like the Alfred we know and love today…
So close, George! So very close!
Nowadays, we’re used to writers such as Dwayne McDuffie being told for a book like Justice League of America, DC’s premier superhero team, that he cannot use characters that he would want to have on the team, like big-time characters such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
Heck, Grant Morrison’s JLA seemed to have an imposed change to the roster every six months (“Sorry, Superman’s blue now.” “Sorry, Hippolyta is Wonder Woman now.” “Sorry, this guy is Flash now.”).
Well, such restrictions were in place for decades, such as when Marvel Head Editor Stan Lee passed on his self-imposed restrictions from himself to incoming Avengers writer, Roy Thomas.
Thomas wanted to write the bigger names, like Iron Man and Thor, but Lee stuck him with the current team, a mixture of “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” plus Wasp and Goliath.
Soon, though, even Captain America was off-limits to Thomas, as Lee wanted the Avengers to strictly spotlight the lower level characters from the Marvel Universe.
Thomas complied, and he did some great work with the Avengers, whoEVER he used, but he also made a point of bringing back the big names whenever he could, whether for a new member’s initiation…
or a wedding…
And once he was on the book for a long enough time, Thomas just decided to start ignoring the order, and he slowly but surely brought them back until he had all of the “Big Three” of Captain America, Thor and Iron Man on the Avengers again.
By then, Lee was fine with it (and who knows how involved he was by then, anyways).
Thanks to Chuck at Design Notes and Roy Thomas for the information (courtesy of this interview Chuck did with Roy). And I can’t mention Roy Thomas without plugging his awesome comic book history magazine, Alter Ego! Be sure to check it out!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you likely know by now, this Tuesday, April 28th, my book finally came out!
Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…
If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…
See you next week!