Welcome to the three hundredth and third in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and two.
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, which gets to the bottom of whether the sequel to Buckaroo Banzai was really adapted into the film Big Trouble in Little China.
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I apologize that I did not think to make this edition an all-Garth Ennis themed installment! It didn’t even occur to me until I saw the number just now. Oh well!
COMIC LEGEND: Before Malibu had a bullet hole cut through an issue of the Protectors, a small comic book company decided to put an ACTUAL bullet hole in an issue of their comic!
Protectors #5 is a famous (infamous?) comic book, because the issue contains a hole punched right through every copy of the book, to designate a bullet hole shot through the character on the cover.
R.A. Jones wrote the issue and Tom Derenick (with Mike Deodato on inks!) drew the issue.
It was one of the most notable gimmick covers of the 1990s (it was released in late 1992). I mentioned it in a Comic Book Legends Revealed column a long time ago (think 154 columns ago) about the Malibu character Night Mask (who was the fellow killed off in the issue in question).
In the comment section, Ryan Dunlavey (the awesome artist whose latest issue of Comic Book Comics with Fred Van Lente just came out THIS WEEK! Go buy it!) noted about how there was a comic from the same time with an ACTUAL bullet hole through it.
Well, Shannon Wheeler, acclaimed creator of Too Much Coffee Man, happened upon the column recently and wrote in to tell the story about the comic in question:
I’m always mad when I see that Protectors cover. It’s true that my friends and I shot our comic book with a gun – right around the same time the Protectors die-cut a hole in their comic book. 2 months before either of our books came out we met the writer of the Protectors (I think it was R.A. Jones) at the Dallas Fantasy Fair comic show. We gave him a promotional mini-comic that detailed our idea – we even shot the mini comic with a gun. We were shocked and pissed off when we saw that we’d been ripped off. I asked Jones about it when we were on a panel and he said that it was a last minute thing they did and some of their advertisers were mad since the hole went through their adds. It’s important to note that the insides of their book didn’t accommodate the hole at all. He claimed he didn’t know where they’d gotten the idea.
We actually shot every one of our comics with a gun. The standard issue was shot with a .22. We had special editions of a 9mm, a .45 and a shot gun issue. We charged more for the higher caliber books. The shotgun issue came in a bag for $20 and was guaranteed unreadable.
Our bullet hole went through the middle of the book. We asked the artists to incorporate the hole into their stories. In my Too Much Coffee Man story the police were continually shooting into his house and I placed the hole in a breaking window, shot Elvis decanter, shattering coffee mugs, etc.
It took 3 days to shoot the 3,000 comic books.
Having the Protectors rip us off was frustrating. They were a real company with professionals. We were a group of goofy friends self-publishing a silly comic – trying to make a name for ourselves. They did a piss-poor job of doing a bullet-hole. We came up with the idea and executed with style and humor. I’m still proud of the book we did which I doubt is something they can say.
The comic in question, Jab #3, also came out in late 1992…
Shannon shared with me a number of pages from the comic to show you how it was designed (sans bullet holes, of course)…
Pretty cool, huh?
I’d love to see a copy of the story WITH the bullet hole in it. Shannon notes that they sold out of the comics and he has only seen a copy once or twice over the years, so if you have a copy, please scan a page or two of it to let us know what the finished work looked like! There were other stories in the comic, it’d be interesting to see what they looked like, too!
EDIT: Dave Cardenas (and his wife) scanned pages from the comic for me here. Check it out!
Thanks to Shannon Wheeler for giving us such a great look back at indie comic history. Be sure to check out Shannon’s website here – it is filled with new comics by him, including his regular “How to be Happy” feature. Thanks to Ryan Dunlavey for mentioning the comic! Go buy Comic Book Comics!
COMIC LEGEND: Wolverine’s classic costume got its distinct cowl because of a Gil Kane mistake on a comic book cover that Dave Cockrum liked so much that he adopted it – even after Cockrum had drawn the costume differently throughout the actual comic!
As you may well know, John Romita designed Wolverine’s original costume when Wolverine debuted in the pages of the Incredible Hulk.
Here are Romita’s original designs…
When Wolverine showed up as a member of the All-New, All-Different X-Men a little while later, though, he had a slightly re-designed (and slightly cooler looking) costume…
Now over the years, perhaps since he was such a great costume designer in his own right, Dave Cockrum has been given credit for doing the re-design on Wolverine’s outfit. However, the truth is a lot odder than that.
You see, when the comic was penciled by Cockrum, he drew Wolverine the same way he appeared originally. Gil Kane, though, who was drawing the cover, accidentally messed the outfit up (or perhaps drew it differently willfully, I dunno) and drew Wolverine with the distinctive cowl he has had ever since.
Rather than fix Kane’s mistake, though, Cockrum decided that Kane’s version looked so good that he decided to adopt it himself! Cockrum then went back through the comic that he had penciled and while inking the book, he inked Wolverine so that his cowl would match Kane’s design.
And so a classic look was born!
Thanks to Brian Warmoth and the late, great Dave Cockrum for an article in Wizard awhile back where Cockrum noted how he re-inked the book after seeing Kane’s design. Thanks to commenter T for reminding me about this story the other day. And thanks to Joel DiGiacomo of the awesome Wolverine website, Wolverine Files, for the Romita designs!
COMIC LEGEND: Charles Addams was driven insane by one of his own cartoons.
In Comic Book Legends Revealed a couple of weeks back, I wrote about how a joke by a friend of Charles Addams in the introduction to a collection of Addams’ cartoons led to people actually believing that Addams’ cartoons were used to diagnose lunacy in patients.
Reader Joe even found the specific cartoon that was supposedly used. Here it is:
The notion would be “if you can understand this cartoon, you are past the initial stages of lunacy and are full-out insane.”
Although a joke, the rumor persisted. Really, it is hard to grasp in 2011 just how “out there” Addams’ work was during the 1930s and 40s and 50s. What we now see as charming, almost quaint comics, were seen in their own time as quite edgy.
Anyhow, in the comments section of the initial column, another reader, Steve Orvis, wrote:
Didn’t ONE of the Addams cartoons drive someone (Addams himself?) insane? Something about a bat carrying a baby away to eat?? I remember hearing something about that…
Steve is almost certainly referring to the story about a ghoul in a maternity waiting room stating to the nurse “don’t bother to wrap it, I’ll eat it right here.”
In her recent biography about Addams, Linda Davis recounts the stories about this cartoon:
They said that Addams would have periodic mental breakdowns and begin drawing the gruesome maternity room cartoon. Or he’d redraw [the comic mentioned earlier by Joe -BC]”The Skier,” his classic 1940 cartoon showing single ski tracks on either side of a tree, as though the skier seen vanishing down the hill has passed right through it. As Addams would begin madly sketching the skier or the maternity ghoul (depending on which version of the story you heard), his New Yorker employer had him carted off in an ambulance to the loony bin.
As you might imagine, the story is not true. However, Davis deliver an even more surprising aspect of the story…
People swore that they had actually seen the maternity room cartoon, but Addams had never drawn it. He had, however, submitted a cartoon rough (an artist’s draft) with a similar idea: “I’m worried about Albert,” says a wife of her husband in a maternity room. “He eats his young.” “It was of course rejected,” Addams told his friend Steven M. L. Aronson, a book editor and writer.
Davis notes, though, that Addams FOSTERED this idea of him as being insane. He would reply to letters using the letterhead “The Gotham Rest Home for Mental Defectives” or do other peculiar things to make himself seem, well, insane. He was amused by the reactions of those around him by his eccentricities.
Davis further explained:
He had long delighted in telling reporters about some of the gifts he had received: a gilded skull, a human thighbone, a frozen beef heart in a box for Valentine’s Day. “I woke up the other night and felt like screaming,” he once told a reporter. “I thought, ‘Why not? No one will ever hear me.’ So I let out a long, thin scream, and felt much better.”
That’s the kind of guy Addams was.
Thanks to Linda Davis for her great book, Charles Addams: A Cartoonist’s Life, and thanks to Steve 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 email@example.com. 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 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, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…
See you all next week!