Welcome to the two-hundred and fifty-ninth 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-eight.
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 Sports Legends Revealed to learn which Chicago Hall of Fame player routinely vomited before every game!
COMIC LEGEND: Penciler Sid Greene worked depictions of Julie Schwartz into a large amount of his Mystery in Space and Strange Adventures comics.
Like many of the people who worked for DC Comics Editor Julie Schwartz, Sid Greene was a big fan of Schwartz. By the time Greene came to work for Schwartz at DC, Greene was almost 50 years old, so you know he appreciated the steady work that Schwartz gave him, and Schwartz, likewise, appreciated Greene’s great speed as both a penciler and as an inker.
Greene was so pleased with Schwartz that, as a token of his appreciation for his editor, he would try to work a depiction of Schwartz into as many of his comics as possible (I’ve heard this story told as “Sid Greene never failed to work a drawing of Schwartz into a comic, and I almost went for a “false” for this one on that “never failed” line – but that just seemed a slight bit too pedantic).
Here is Julie Schwartz in the 1970s (Cary Bates is the fellow on the left talking to Schwartz)…
Now that you know what Schwartz looks like…
Here are a sampling of some of his Schwartz “cameos” from ten different issues…
Pretty cool, huh?
Sadly, Greene passed away in 1972, but he left a great legacy of comic artwork behind!
Thanks to Dial B for Blog for the nice Schwartz picture!
COMIC LEGEND: Sergio Aragones got his “margin drawing” gig by doodling in the margins of some issues before they were sent to the printers.
Reader Jesse wrote in to ask:
Did MAD’s comics around the borders of strips really start because Sergio Aragones was left alone in a room for a few minutes and started drawing on original pages before they were set for the printer and the editors enjoyed them so much they just kept them in?
Simply put, no.
Oh, okay, I can go into more detail!
Aragones started working at Mad Magazine in the early 1960s, with #76.
He has worked there ever since, missing only one issue, I believe.
And right from the start, he was doing the margin drawings that he is famous for today.
Here’s some from a random issue of Mad from the early 90s…
However, he did not do anything outlandish to get the gig – he suggested the idea and demonstrated on some pages and the folks at Mad loved it, because before his drawings, they were doing text jokes in the margins – this made it a lot easier for them!
Here are some of their old text bits…
And here is Aragones’ first margin drawings from his FIRST issue of Mad Magazine, 1962’s #76…
Associate Editor Jerry DeFuccio said, “Writing the ‘Marginal Thinking’ marginals had always been a pain in the butt. Sergio made the pain go away.” Amusingly enough, while they liked his idea, the folks at Mad never thought he would actually keep up with it and that they’d soon have to go back to coming up with text gags every issue. Instead, over forty-five years later, he’s still doing them!
Thanks for the question, Jesse! And thanks to Mark Evanier (whose site you should always check out) for the quote!
COMIC LEGEND: Whitney Ellsworth re-named a brand new Simon/Kirby character so that it was an extension of a previous character.
STATUS: True (although maybe it was a different editor).
When Joe Simon and Jack Kirby left Timely Comics and their star creation, Captain America, for DC Comics in the early 1940s, DC was hankering for them to create something new for them.
They complied quickly with Adventure Comics #73, where they took a private investigator character in Adventure Comics called Paul Kirk, Manhunter (he did not call himself manhunter, that’s just what he was – he hunted down bad guys) and used the name to come up with a brand-new superhero called Manhunter!
This hero was a former big-game hunter pulled into the world of crimefighting. He was named Rick Nelson.
However, an editor (presumably Whitney Ellsworth, who edited Adventure Comics, and who we know from past Comic Book Legends Revealeds was plenty fine with changing things around if he felt it necessary) changed Nelson the next issue to Paul Kirk!
So now, instead of a NEW character, it was an extension of the previous series, only the two series had nothing in common (this certainly could not be Paul Kirk, as the origin of Rick Nelson had nothing in common with Kirk, who was a detective, not a big game hunter!!).
Another interesting thing to note about the first issue is the appearance. You’ll notice that Manhunter has a half-cowl, like Batman and Captain America.
However, soon he would take a full blue face mask, which is the now famous Manhunter “look.”
If you look at his first apppearance, though, it’s clear that he was ALWAYS meant to have the blue mask – the colorist just made a mistake.
Check out this page – it’s clear that that is a colored in half-mask!
Thanks to Harry Mendryk for the pick-up of the blue face mix-up! Check out his piece on Manhunter here at his great Simon/Kirby History blog (on second thought, maybe you shouldn’t, his site just went down – I certainly hope we didn’t overload it – in case we did, DON’T click on his site for awhile)!
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!