Welcome to the three hundredth and sixty-seventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, learn of the production of Julius Caesar with costumes designed by Jack Kirby, discover the Spider-Man “wardrobe malfunction” that got Marvel Comics in a bit of jam and find out just how much involvement Hasbro had in Larry Hama’s writing style on G.I. Joe.
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and sixty-six (we now have enough legends for every day of the year!).
COMIC LEGEND: Jack Kirby designed the costumes for a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
My pal Stony recommended I feature this story here, so here goes!
In 1969, the University of Santa Cruz wrote to Marvel Comics asking if any Marvel artists would be interested/willing to design costumes for a college production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Jack Kirby and his family had just recently moved to California, so Stan Lee recommended that the University contact Jack.
They did and Kirby was pleased to help out the college, designing all of the costumes AND doing poster work all for free.
Here are some of Kirby’s designs…
And here is one of the designs along with a picture of the costume in real life…
And here is the program for the production.
Rand Hoppe has an extensive feature on this story complete with ALL of Kirby’s designs (plus another picture of an actor in the actual costume) plus lots of other neat stuff at the always amazing Kirby Museum here. Be sure to check it out.
Thanks to Rand and the Museum for the information, thanks to Stephen Drewes. and Steve Robertson for the scans and the photos. And thanks to Stony for suggesting it!
COMIC LEGEND: An issue of Spider-Man: Reign was recalled because of a drawing of what appears to be Spider-Man’s genitals.
STATUS: True Enough
Reader Mike Blake asked about a comment another reader made about Spider-Man: Reign when I featured the series in I Love Ya But You’re Strange.
Mike asked if it was true that the series was re-issued and re-drawn because of Spider-Man’s “low hangers.”
Yes, that’s basically what happened, Mike.
The series is about Spider-Man in the future (essentially Batman: The Dark Knight Returns with Spider-Man)…
Peter is an old man dreaming of his dead wife, Mary Jane…
Here is sits in bed…
And yep, that sure does look like a drawing of his genitals….
Marvel apologized and sent notices to retailers saying that the issue should have been marked for a Parental Advisory instead of Teen Plus. They made the issue returnable and issued a second printing with the area now covered in shadows.
The issue was not RECALLED exactly, but otherwise, yeah, the story is true (and “made returnable” is close enough to “recalled” for the purposes of this bit).
Thanks to Mike and Xanadude for the idea of featuring this!
COMIC LEGEND: Hasbro had Larry Hama make a point of naming all of the characters each issue.
Reader Josh B. had a question awhile back about how in Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe series from Marvel (which we were just discussing last week! Check it out here) each of the characters were specifically named each issue.
He wondered “if Hasbro had some sort of deal with Marvel for Larry Hama to ensure he named the various characters to build brand identity with the action figures.”
It really is kind of funny when you’re specifically looking for it. I picked a random issue of G.I. Joe, #25, and check it out…
So I asked Larry Hama about it and he not only explained the reason for the names but he added some extra insight into his writing style…
There was never any directive from Hasbro on that. I did it of my own accord. When you have that many characters it pays to keep reminding the reader who they are. If I’m reading something and nobody calls anybody by name, and I start to lose track of who is who, then I give up on reading it. 90% of my writing style is based on correcting stuff that annoyed me when I was reading comics as a kid. That’s why there are few captions and no thought balloons in my stories.
So there ya go, Josh! Thanks for the question! And thanks so much to Larry Hama for not only the answer but the extra information!
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!
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See you all next week!