Welcome to the two-hundred and eighty-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 eighty-four.
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 Music Legends Revealed to learn what classic Carpenters song was originally written for a bank commercial!
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NOTE: There is some nudity (comic and photographic) in this piece, so if you don’t want to see stuff like that, skip this installment!
COMIC LEGEND: A British comic strip celebrated D-Day by showing full front nudity of its female lead for the first time.
Originally titled Jane’s Journal – Or the Diary of a Bright Young Thing, Jane was a comic strip by British writer/artist Norman Pett that appeared in the Daily Mirror for nearly thirty years!
Initially based on his wife, Pett drew much more attention to the strip when he began basing the character on noted nude model Chrystabel Leighton-Porter.
Here is Leighton-Porter, in the flesh…
Along with her pet dachsund, Fritz, Jane would get into all sorts of wacky hijinx that mostly involved her accidentally losing her clothes. By “her clothes,” of course, I mean her blouses and skirts – she’d almost always still be wearing a bra under her shirt.
When writer Don Freeman took over the strip, he began to give Jane actual serial adventures (although, of course, still finding plenty of opportunities for her to disrobe).
In any event, as the story goes, Jane finally showed it all on June 7, 1944, in honor of D-Day. Here is that strip…
In the Telegraph’s obituary for Leighton-Porter (who died in 2000), that’s how they tell the story, as well:
CHRISTABEL LEIGHTON-PORTER, who has died aged 87, was the model for the Daily Mirror’s wartime strip cartoon “Jane”; the character’s lightly-clad adventures with the Security Service were credited with maintaining the morale of the Forces and even, on the morning in 1944 when she first appeared nude, with inspiring the 36th Division to advance six miles through Normandy in a single day.
While it is almost certainly true that Pett and Freeman DID have a special strip to honor the Allied forces in Normandy, and said strip WAS most likely airlifted to the troops to boost morale, Jane had appeared fully nude a number of times before this time.
For instance, here’s a couple of 1943 strips…
So this seems pretty clearly to be an example of a strip being SO famous that people just gave it more importance than it really had.
Pett left the strip in 1948 (his assistant Michael Hubbard took over) and the strip finally ended in 1959, with Jane marrying her longtime beau.
Thanks to R.C. Harvey’s brilliant Rants and Raves column for the scoop (and the scans)!
COMIC LEGEND: Steve Englehart had an interesting farewell to Marvel in the original pages of Avengers #149.
In 1976, Steve Englehart left Marvel Comics over a dispute with editorial. The particulars of the arguments do not really matter (suffice it to say that Englehart was not happy with Marvel), but I just wanted to show something that Scott Edelman (noted sci-fi writer/editor and former writer/editor for Marvel Comics) discovered when looking at some original art from Avengers #149, Englehart’s last full issue of Avengers (he co-scripted #150).
The end of the issue is the same as the normal issue, except for a text box. Scott helpfully circled it…
(click on image to enlarge)
Isn’t that funny?
The most amusing aspect to me is that Tom Orzechowski even LETTERED it, as though it was actually going to be included in the issue!
Scott also points out another interesting aspect of the original pages – if you look at the notes in the margins, it is the penciler of the issue, George Perez, complaining about various delays on Avengers issues that were making his life difficult at the time, deadline-wise (Perez was drawing a TON of comics back then).
Scott notes this is a “farewell,” but commenter Rob M. does bring up an interesting question of whether this is perhaps just an example of the general issues Englehart was having with Marvel editorial at the time and not literally a “farewell.” So I dunno for sure – it’s funny either way! Thanks so much to Scott Edelman for calling attention to this piece of comic book history! Check out his website here.
COMIC LEGEND: A comic book writer sued over comments another writer made over what his comic book work said about his mental state.
Like the Flex Mentallo case last week, this is a story that I likely should have addressed in Comic Book Legends Revealed years ago.
As I featured recently in a Year of Cool Comics, Michael Fleisher and Jim Aparo did a notable run in Adventure Comics starring the Spectre.
The comic was especially notable for how the Spectre would get poetic revenge upon the bad guys. Here are some examples…
Some pretty brutal stuff, eh?
In any event, in a 1979 interview in The Comics Journal by interviewer Gary Groth and interviewee Harlan Ellison, Groth asked if Ellison was following any comics, and Ellison began to talk about Fleisher’s Spectre run and this went off into a tangent about Fleisher’s prose work, as well). During the discussion of Fleisher’s writing, he referred to Fleisher using each of the following terms at one point or another:
Naturally, Fleisher was not happy about this, and he sued Ellison, Groth and The Comics Journal for libel, seeking $2,000,000 in damages.
To succeed on a libel claim, Fleisher had to prove that Ellison had made defamatory comments, that he knew they were false (or at least had a reckless disregard for whether they were true or not) and the comments had to have caused an actual injury to the reputation of Fleisher.
Whether you believe the comments qualified or not (amusingly, Ellison at one point even said in the interview about one of his comments “that’s a libellous thing to say” – Ellison also said at trial, though, that he was meant “bugfuck crazy” as a compliment and that very well could be true as Ellison did tend to talk that way), when the case finally made its way in front of a jury in 1986, the jury found in favor of the defendants and that no libel occurred.
Still, it was a fascinating event in comic book history, and thanks to commenter Rob M for reminding me I really ought to spotlight it (he didn’t specify here, but here’s as good a place as any).
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. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
As you likely know by now, in April of last year my book 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!