Welcome to the two-hundred and thirty-first 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 thirty.
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. I’d especially recommend you check out this installment of Dance Legends Revealed, which includes an interesting story involving Radiohead and Sigur Rós!
COMIC LEGEND: Pressures to release Secret Wars in Brazil led to some interesting editing in the Brazilian edition of Secret Wars.
Readers Les Fontenelle and Rene both wrote in to let me know about the interesting editing that went on when Marvel’s Secret Wars series was adapted in Brazil in the early 1980s.
You see, the Brazilian publishing company Editora Abril began reprinting Marvel Comics during the very late 1970s.
Capitão América was their main title, which was a magazine where obviously more than just Captain America comic stories would appear.
Here are some examples…
and the X-Men…
In any event, as you might imagine, since they began reprinting the stories starting in the late 1970s, while they were not held to any strict reprinting guideline (to wit, they would not, say, reprint all the stories in exactly the same chronological order, so they could skip over large chunks of issues), they were still behind Marvel’s current continuity.
For instance, while they were still reprinting older Captain America stories, they were already reprinting the All-New, All-Different X-Men stories, just well behind the pace that the X-Men were being released in the United States.
This became an issue in the mid-1980s.
You see, Marvel had released Marvel Super-Heroes: Secret Wars in 1984-1985 to coincide with the release of a series of action figures based on Marvel characters.
Well, naturally, the desire was to release these toys in other countries, as well, and the Brazilian toy company Gulliver produced the Brazil editions of the Secret War toys in 1986.
(Thanks to SpiderManCollectibles.com for the photo!)
However, since they were releasing the Secret Wars TOYS, there was pressure on Editora Abril to release Secret Wars itself in Brazil.
Which was fair enough, except that the continuity at the time was well behind the continuity of Secret Wars.
To wit, Rogue had not yet been introduced as an X-Man, Captain Marvel had not yet been introduced as an Avenger and Storm had not yet gotten to the pint where she had a mohawk and a leather costume.
So Editora Abril did what they felt was most prudent – they edited!
Check out the covers of the twelve (bi-weekly) issues of Guerras Secretas from August 1986-January 1987 as compared to the original twelve covers of Secret Wars!
As you might notice, the edits weren’t always consistent (they do not always remember to change Wolverine’s costume back to his old costume), but what they did do was for certain changes (Storm’s mohawk hair, Professor X walking and Spider-Man’s black costume), they had the Beyonder transform them into that new form and then, at the end of the series, so as to not mess up the continuity of the Marvel reprints at the time, they all changed back!
Later on, though, when continuity caught up, they re-did Secret Wars…
And Secret Wars has been done a few times in Brazil since (more accurate versions of the story).
Thanks again to Les Fontenelle and Rene for recommending this one!
COMIC LEGEND: SpongeBob SquarePants indirectly got his name from Bob Burden.
This is a pretty simple, but cool, story!
Stephen Hillenburg is the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, the goofy, energetic and sweet character who lives under the sea.
Originally, Hillenburg wanted to name the character SpongeBoy.
However, he discovered that Bob Burden, creator of Flaming Carrot..
had already trademarked the name Sponge Boy.
Still wanting to keep the name Sponge (because, as Hillenburg has noted, if he didn’t expressly tell people that the character was a sponge, they’d probably think he was made out of cheese), Hillenburg then just used Burden’s first name, ending up with a name only a letter removed from Sponge Boy – SpongeBob!
Sponge Boy first appeared in AV in 3-D in 1984.
He then appeared along with Flaming Carrot as a guest star in an issue of Dave Sim’s Cerebus…
Now, Sponge Boy was not exactly a major character, and who’s to say that Hillenburg would have actually been stymied if he had gone through with the original name. It’s not like Burden threatened to sue or anything like that. But nevertheless, Hillenburg has been quite open with the fact that it was Burden’s character being around that compelled Hillenburg to change the name.
COMIC LEGEND: Lee Falk was a world traveler when he created Mandrake the Magician and the Phantom.
Reader Deidre wrote in to ask:
While reading about Lee Falk I keep seeing conflicting stories about his exploits traveling the world. Was he an actual explorer or not?
This is an interesting question, Deidre, and I can see why you might be confused, because this is a case where it ONCE was false but then later became true.
Lee Falk was, of course, one of the most celebrated comic strip creators of all-time.
He created both Mandrake the Magician…
and his most famous comic creation, Phantom…
Falk’s comics often contained stories of exotic places all over the world (heck, Phantom was FROM Africa!).
And in the early days of Falk’s burgeoning comic empire, his expertise was credited to his own world traveling.
This, though, was untrue.
You see, Falk never actually left the United State until after World War II. In 1944, he joined the Army Signal Corps (after serving for three years with the Office of War Information in Illinois), and on twelve separate occasions he was scheduled to head overseas before ultimately staying in the United States (he was stationed all over the United States, though).
But when the claim was originally made, Falk had not even done THAT much traveling!
When he sold Mandrake in the early 1930s, that trip to New York City was the farthest he had ever traveled from his home state of Missouri!
Falk, himself, related the story years later:
As soon as I began writing Mandrake for King [Features – BC}, their publicity department requested a biography from me. Up until that point, I hadn’t done much of anything except grow up, so I manufactured a great tale to satisfy them. I wrote that I was a world traveller, that I had met with the magicians of the east and had been initiated into all their mysteries, etc.
In reality, I’d just been in Missouri and Illinois – and that’s about it. But when I came to New York, most of my friends turned out to be in the newspaper business, so I began to know foreign correspondents. They were a very glamorous bunch, the stars of the newspaper world. In those days, people didn’t travel very much, so the foreign correspondents were like movie stars. Naturally, these men had travelled a great deal, and they soon read about Lee Falk, world traveller, in King’s publicity releases.
They began to tell me about that little restaurant in Venice, or that great bistro in Paris, expecting me, of course, to regale them with stories of some of my own favourite hangouts abroad. Naturally, I had to bluff my way through these sessions, so I began to travel in order to catch up with my own autobiography! I travelled and travelled and finally caught up with my bio, and even went ahead of it. Believe me, this is a true story! Finally, the King publicity department sent out releases telling the truth about my original bluff and how I resolved it.
And it is true that yes, Falk eventually became a very impressive world traveler (although, oddly enough, I don’t believe he ever made it to Africa – isn’t that funny?).
So that, Deidre, is almost certainly why you have seen conflicting reports about Falk’s travels.
He EVENTUALLY became a world traveler, but for a time, he was just making it all up.
Thanks to Deidre for the question and thanks to Bryan Shedden’s awesome Phantom website, The Deep Woods, for the information about Falk (and the brilliant quote)!
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, at the end of April, 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!