Welcome to the two-hundred and fifty-eighth 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 fifty-seven.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is 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 Basketball Legends Revealed to learn about a felon who asked for a LONGER prison sentence to honor his favorite basketball player!
COMIC LEGEND: An Alabama printer refused to print Alias #1 because of “offensive material.”
A couple of weeks ago, in an installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, I noted that Marvel decided to change Black Panther’s costume so that his face was not visible on the cover of his first appearance, Fantastic Four #52.
And I noted that while I do not know definitively WHY the change was made, the odds lean pretty heavily towards it being some concern on the part of either Marvel upper management (or even Stan Lee) that having a readily identifiable black superhero might cause too much controversy for Marvel at the time (1966).
I noted that such fears (whether they were well-founded or not) likely would have revolved around the distribution system of the day, as distribution of comics, while coordinated on a national level, was carried out on a local level. So Marvel might have worried about a Southern distributor. However, I also noted that a reader suggested that Marvel was worried about the PRINTER side of things.
And in response to that, a number of readers wrote in to note that there might have been cause for Marvel to be worried, at least in relation to a fairly recent situation involving a printer and Marvel Comics…
First, Jay Potts (writer/artist of the awesome World of Hurt web comic, which you can – and should – check out here) wrote in to say:
Although I don’t dispute that distributors in the 1960s may have had concerns about moving books that featured Black characters, as recently as 2001, there was one high-profile incident of suspected racism on the part of a printer. The first issue of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos’ “Alias” had to change printers from American Color Graphics in Sylacauga, Alabama to Quebecor Printing after American Color Graphics refused to print the issue due to what it alleged was “offensive” content. The printer didn’t indicate what part of the issue he found offensive, but bear in mind that this was the issue that featured the much-discussed interracial sex scene between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. I hate to ascribe ACG’s reluctance to print the book to some lingering prejudice, but I shook the Magic 8-Ball and it said “All Signs Point To Yes.”
Jay is correct, and it’s something I’ve been meaning to feature in Comic Book Legends Revealed for awhile, so now is as good of a time as any!
As Jay noted, American Color Graphics refused to print Alias #1.
Alias #1 had the following labeling on the cover…
So here is the aforementioned “offensive” scene (WARNING – As this is the scene that has the “explicit content,” you might not want to keep reading if you don’t like seeing, you know, explicit content)…
Now, when Jay notes that the scene includes interracial sex, obviously he is correct. But the scene also highly suggests that the characters are engaging in anal sex.
And as reader Jim Stamford wrote in to note that Alabama has very strict rules when it comes to content involving sodomy.
Heck, they were one of the states where sodomy was illegal (before the United States Supreme Court overruled all of those laws in 2003)!!
So it very well could have been the type of sex itself that made the printer wary and not the interracial aspect of the scene.
Thanks to Jay Potts and Jim Stamford (and also Andrew Collins) for writing in about this one! Here‘s Bendis being interviewed on the topic (he doesn’t make a guess as to why the content was deemed “offensive”).
On the next page, learn the bizarre history of the two Golden Age Canadian superheroes known as Captain Wonder!
COMIC LEGEND: Two Golden Age characters named Captain Wonder managed to be take offs of other, more popular characters without actually being influenced by each other!
Reader Hope wrote in to get the lowdown on the two Captain Wonders, so here you go, Hope!
Our story begins in Canada around the beginning of World War II.
From the moment that Canada declared War on Germany in 1939, Canada began rationing foreign currency.
But as 1940 came to a close, Canada found its trade deficit with the United States growing, so they decided to implement more drastic changes, including, in December of 1940, the War Exchange Conservation Act.
This Act involved the banning of importing any non-essential products from the United States. For instance, why import baseballs from Rawlings when Canada could produce their own baseballs and not further their trade deficit with the U.S.?
One major casualty of this were pulps, and by virtue of that, comic books, as well.
Comic books had become very popular in Canada by the end of 1940, with Superman, Captain Marvel and Disney comics being especially popular sellers.
So now with U.S. comics banned, Canadian comic companies sprung up to deal with the demand for comic books.
The first four were Maple Leaf Publishing, Anglo-American Publishing, Hillborough Studios, and Commercial Signs of Canada (the latter three were in Toronto, Maple Leaf was in Vancouver).
Hillborough was formed by a group of artists working together.
In 1941, they came out with their first book, Triumph-Adventure Comics #1.
Eventually, they teamed up with a new company called Bell Features.
Bell put out their comic, now called Triumph Comics…
Both Triumph and Bell’s other notable series, Wow Comics, were noted by their black and white interiors to save money (Wow actually originally tried to get by with just cheap coloring – that did not last long).
One of the characters from Triumph was created by Ross Saakel and he was called Captain Wonder.
Captain Wonder was a young man who was raised by a yogi from youth after his parents were killed. The yogi eventually turned to the Gods of Old and asked: “Oh, Gods, may I present a young Canadian who has lived with me for the past twenty years! His parents were killed by a criminal! And now he wishes to return to Canada to exterminate all such malignant doers! Will you aid him in his task?”
After this, a dazzling flash of lightning transforms the young Canadian. Standing there clad in a colorful costume he now has the three gods’ gifts – the strength of a hundred men, great wisdom, and speed, the power to fly like a bird and swim like a fish.
Meanwhile, in 1943, Timely Comics introduced a brand-new hero in the pages of Kid Comics #1 – Captain Wonder!
While saving the life of a scientist, Jeff Jordan was exposed to chemicals which gave him superhuman strength.
Teaming up with a young sidekick named Tim (whose codename was, well, Tim) – he donned a colorful costume and fought the Nazis and the Japanese in World War II.
Both Captain Wonders certainly evoke OTHER classic Golden Age heroes (Captains Marvel and America, respectively), but they are also not tied to EACH OTHER.
The Timely Captain Wonder, by the way, was recently brought back for J. Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston’s The Twelve series…
So there ya go, Hope! I hope this info helps you out!
On the next page, did the tagline for the film Barb Wire originate as an insult of a John Byrne comic?
COMIC LEGEND: The tagline for the film Barb Wire originated as a shot against another Dark Horse Comic.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
When the film adaptation of Dark Horse Comics’ Barb Wire came out in 1996, starring Pamela Anderson…
one of the taglines for the movie was “Don’t Call Me Babe.”
This is a reference to the cover of the first issue of Barb Wire’s ongoing series, by the great Adam Warren…
(Barb Wire debuted in 1993 as part of Dark Horse Comics’ “Comics’ Greatest World” project…
Many, many places (including the Wikipedia page for the Barb Wire movie which I am about to quote – but it is really LOTS of places) state:
The entire “Don’t call me Babe” leitmotif of Barb Wire comes from the original advertising for the Barb Wire Dark Horse comic book, in which she said those words to differentiate herself from a buxom, slightly airy comic book heroine named “Babe” created by John Byrne.
Only problem, of course, is that not only did Barb Wire debut in 1993, but the specific comic where she makes the “Don’t Call Me Babe” line ALSO came out before Byrne’s Babe made her comics debut (a few months later).
So it is extremely doubtful that they are making a joke reference to a character who had not yet actually appeared in a comic book. Heck, even if it DID come out after Babe, I think it’s a bit of a reach to presume its intent was to take a shot at the comic Babe.
I’m pretty darn certain that the joke is a fairly standard bit where Barb Wire is meta-fictionally taking issue with how Dark Horse is promoting her.
And the film’s producers undoubtedly liked the line so used it in advertising for the film.
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, last 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 all next week!