Welcome to the three hundredth and fourteenth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn of the amazing connection between Jack Kirby and… Frank Zappa?!?! Plus, who is the mystery man who keeps appearing in issues of Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon? Finally, what is the deal with the film The Wild World of Batwoman?
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and thirteen.
COMIC LEGEND: Jack Kirby pitched a comic strip based on the Frank Zappa song “Valley Girl.”
The late, great Frank Zappa was a big comic book fan.
He even had advertisements in Marvel Comics during the late 1960s!
Here’s one of them…
However, did you know that Zappa and Jack Kirby were actually friends (or at least friendly enough that Kirby had dinner at Zappa’s house)?
In fact, after the great success of Zappa’s hit song, “Valley Girl,” Zappa tried to convince Kirby that Kirby should adapt the song for a comic strip!
Kirby actually went along with the idea!
Here’s the first (and I believe, the only) strip…
Not so surprising, the idea did not go anywhere, but still, how amazing is it that Jack Kirby did a comic strip based on a Frank Zappa song?
We have Len Callo to thank for this awesome piece of information (as well as the strip), as Callo did a piece on the Kirby/Zappa friendship for Jack Kirby Collector. Thanks to reader Mitch for suggesting I feature this strange connection! Mitch had another good suggestion that I’ll feature soon!
Check out the latest TV Legends Revealed to learn whether Sesame Street and, of all shows, 227, have a strange connection! Plus, discover the hilariously commercialistic original theme song of the Beverly Hillbillies! Finally, marvel at the sight of Fred Flintsone and Barney Rubble plugging cigarettes!
COMIC LEGEND: Erik Larsen works the image of a friend of his into pretty much every comic that he draws.
Awhile back, in an installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, I talked about how Todd McFarlane would work Felix the Cat into his comics as a bit of a in-joke to an acquaintance of his.
Commenter Freyes2000 said:
Something similar to McFarlane’s Felix the Cat happens with Erik Larsen: he always draws a bald guy with glasses and a moustache in his comics. I think I read he is best friend?
I asked Erik about it, and he was kind enough to give me the lowdown…
Jon Day is the guy’s name and he has been in a good many of the comics I’ve drawn for pretty much my entire career. Jon was a guy I knew up in Bellingham, Washington who frequented a comic store that I went to. When I was trying to break in I took every job I could get and an early one was for a guy called Moses Figueroa (who went by the name Mr. Moses). Moses published a book called Champions or Wonder World Express
and he hired me to write and draw a creation of his called Spyder. I drew three stories for him, all of which featured a lot of in jokes that only me and my pals would understand–really
self-indulgent stuff. I thought it would be a riot to have Jon Day be a villain in a story since he was just about the least formidable person I knew and so I wrote and drew him into a Spyder yarn as a gun-toting, Zoot-Suit wearing gangster. As far as I know, only one of my stories ever saw print and that wasn’t it. In any case, following its completion, somehow Jon got the impression I was going to stick him in every comic I ever drew from that point on and not wanted to let down a pal I decided–oh, what the hell–it seems harmless enough–why not? And so I did–and he’s been in nearly every book I’ve drawn since. You can find him in most everything (although I admit–I’ve missed a few). In an issue of Adventures of Superman I drew Karl Kesel replaced Jon with his own background guy–and then the letter pasted up a balloon over him! Sometimes inkers change him–Vinnie Colletta removed his glasses in an issue of Thor (and he was colored as though he was black) but he’s in most everything I’ve done.
Here is Jon’s first appearance (he’s the balding fellow with the mustache and glasses on the top righthand panel)…
And his appearances in the first three issues of the Savage Dragon ongoing series…
Erik noted that there is even a wiki page for Jon, listing his appearances. You can check it out here.
Thanks for the question, Freyes2000! And thanks so much to Erik Larsen for giving me more information than I could have hoped for!
Check out the latest Baseball Legends Revealed to learn how the writers of the famous song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” had not even attended a baseball game at the time they wrote the song! Similarly, we learn which Nobel Prize Laureate had not even heard of the World Series when he was given the opportunity to throw out the first pitch! In addition, we discover the true story about whether Grover Cleveland Alexander defeated the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series..drunk!
COMIC LEGEND: DC won a copyright infringement case against The Wild World of Batwoman and got them to change the film’s name to She Was a Hippy Vampire
In the late 1960s, B-Movie producer Jerry Warren tried to cash in on the Batmania from the Batman TV series.
To that end, he released a B-Movie called The Wild World of the Batwoman, starring Katherine Victor. As you can see, it was clearly meant to reel in the Batman fans…
Here is Victor as Batwoman…
DC/National Periodicals, naturally, sued Warren’s production company over the film.
The film was later re-titled She Was a Hippy Vampire, and included a prologue that basically states “oh by the way, they’re vampires” (without changing anything else in the film).
So the presumption has long been that DC won their suit. However, that is not the case. DC did not win the case. It was settled in Warren’s favor. The name change was done by Warren because of the waning popularity of Batmania (it did come and go quite quickly).
To wit, when the film was later released on home video, it was once again going by the original name, clearly showing that Warren had the right to use the name.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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See you all next week!