Welcome to the two-hundred and ninety-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 ninety.
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 Movie Legends Revealed to learn if it is true that Robert Altman’s teenage son made four times as much money for writing the lyrics to “Suicide Is Painless” than the elder Altman did for directing the film! Plus, did Lalo Schifrin really just re-use his rejected score for The Exorcist for The Amityville Horror?
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COMIC LEGEND: Two comic book experts discovered a multi-million dollar string of forgeries.
If there is one thing that comic book fans are really good at, it is picking nits. They’re quite attentive to details. This came in handy in discovering a multi-million dollar string of forgeries in 1989.
During his career, Andy Warhol (who lived from 1928-1987) was often interested in the world of comics.
In the early 1980s, Warhol did a series of pieces called “Myths,” where he would spotlight notable pop culture characters, like Santa Claus, the Wicked Witch of the West, Mickey Mouse and, yes, of course, Superman…
The above painting sold awhile back for nearly two million dollars.
That, though, is not the most famous Superman work by Warhol.
You see, when Warhol first began working in paintings and collages in the very early 1960s, his first works were based on comic book and comic strip characters.
His 1960 piece, Superman, featured a panel from a Superman comic (I believe it was a comic strip, but I could be wrong)…
This piece sold a few years back for a cool twenty-five million dollars.
Well, in 1989, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City had a Warhol Retrospective, and in it were seven other similar Superman pieces to the one above, dated 1960 and 1961. They came from a collection of 19 such pieces. The entire collection was valued at the time at about five million dollars. And that was in 1989!
So at the Retrospective, two comic book fans happened to attend the retrospective on different occasions. Both Arlen Schumer and Richard Sheinaus noted that the inking style in the comic panel looked to be Jack Abel, but Jack Abel was not yet working on Superman in 1960 or 1961, so it could not have been a Superman comic panel from 1960 or 1961.
When Schumer and Sheinaus talked to each other later on, they figured that they must be on to something, so they contacted the Museum.
The Museum noted in 1989:
In any retrospective of an artist there may be questions regarding dating; however, we have no reason whatsoever to doubt the authenticity of any of the works included in the Andy Warhol retrospective.
However, it soon came out that the works indeed WERE forgeries!
They were done by noted art forger David Stein, who produced the forgeries to pay off creditors in the 1980s in New York and Paris.
Noted art collector Robert Miller ended up with almost all of them. As you might imagine, he was not pleased.
The event actually sparked a dramatic shift in how Warhol paintings and collages are authenticated, with an Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board now standing as the sole determiner if a Warhol painting is “real” or not.
And to think that Stein fooled world-renowned art collectors, but he couldn’t sneak his forgeries by two comic book fans!
NOTE: As you might imagine, since Warhol would use other objects in his pieces (like Campbell Soup labels), it is particularly easy to fake a Warhol piece, so there are a lot of forgeries out there.
I wish I could get a picture of one of the fakes!
COMIC LEGEND: Buck Jones died in an accident the same month his comic book ceased publication.
Buck Jones was one of the top cowboy actors of the 1920s, right up there with Tom Mix.
By the 1940s, Jones had done well over a hundred films. So as you might imagine, he was a desirable person to be featured in comic books, and boy was he ever!
He first appeared in the short-lived Wow comic in 1936…
and was then a featured character in Whitman’s Crackajack Funnies from 1938 through 1939…
Next, he appeared in Fawcett’s Master Comics…
Tragically, Buck Jones was one of the nearly 500 people who died in the terrible Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire in late November, 1942 in Boston, MA.
(If you’re interested, I did a TV Legends Revealed here about how that fire related to Cheers).
Well, with the December 1942 edition of Master Comics, Buck Jones was replaced by Hopalong Cassiday.
Isn’t that a bizarre coincidence?
Here is the last page of Buck’s comic book story in Master Comics #32 (pages courtesy of this archive site, as Buck Jones’ comics are public domain – too bad they’re such poor copies).
And check out the next page, telling us about the change in the comic…
Note the date, EARLY November, so while some folks have inferred that Buck Jones’ comic ended because of his death, his comic actually ended BEFORE his death – but freakishly RIGHT before his death! There are coincidences, and then there are coincidences, and that one definitely earns the bolding.
In 1951, Dell brought Buck Jones back for his own comic book series that lasted about a year.
Does anyone happen to have any information about this Dell series? I’ve heard some interesting rumors about it, but I can’t think of anyone who knows anything about Dell Comics from 1951, so I’ll admit, I’m stumped, so I might as well ask you folks.
COMIC LEGEND: Superman and Asterix had an official team-up.
Reader Bob asked awhile back:
I recall there was once a Superman comic that featured Asterix and Obelix. Was that a proper cross-company collaboration? It was at least a couple decades back and my old collection is sadly long gone…
Well, did Asterix…
actually team-up together?
Well, not in a proper cross-company collaboration, that is.
The two DID meet, in a fashion, in 1986’s Action Comics #579, by Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier and artist Keith Giffen.
In the issue, Jimmy Olsen is shown an ancient shield from Gallic times…
Later, we are taken back in time to those times…
And eventually, though time travel, Superman and Jimmy are taken back, as well!
While Superman is becoming Superix, Jimmy is meeting some interesting folks…
and later, Superman takes on a familiar character in a battle…
Is the secret of the special formula at last going to fall into the Romans’ hands?!!? Pick up the issue and find out! It’s a fun comic.
But is it an OFFICIAL crossover? No, but it’s about as close as you’re ever going to get to seeing Asterix and Superman in the same comic book!
Thanks to Bob (and I believe a few other people have asked me about this one over the years, as well) for the question!
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!
Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are BRAND NEW legends never published on the blog!).
The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…
If you’d like to order it (Christmas is coming soon – good time to buy my book as a present!), you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…
See you all next week!