Welcome to the four hundred and seventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and six. This week, did William Marston’s boss really have to order him to reduce the amount of times Wonder Woman was tied up with chains by 50%? Did DC Comics really try to stop a cricket company from trademarking the term “Batsman”? And who was the Peanuts character who was followed around by a cloud?
NOTE: Starting this week, the column will be on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: William Marston was specifically told in a memo to cut down on Wonder Woman being chained up by 50-75%.
As we all know by now, William Marston loved to put bondage in Wonder Woman comic books, specifically Wonder Woman being chained. This certainly had something to do with his personal life (read here for the tale of how his lover, Olive, led to the creation of Wonder Woman’s bracelets).
Looking just at the first few issues of Wonder Woman’s own title (as opposed to Sensation Comics), we have, as examples…
Two stories in the first issue…
Two in the second…
Shockingly, NONE in the third!
Luckily, to make up for that, THREE in the fourth…
and one in the fifth…
But it was almost certainly this one in Wonder Woman #6, along with the mask…
that led to a concerned reader writing in.
This, in turn, led to Max Gaines, head of All-American Comics (this was during the time when Wonder Woman was technically separate from DC Comics), had to write Marston a letter…
How awesome is that?
What’s especially hilarious is that they were fine with the BONDAGE, it was just the CHAINS that were at issue! I bet Dorothy Woolfolk (then Roubicek) almost preferred being killed off in a Wonder Woman story to having to research different “fun” ways for Wonder Woman to be tied up!
I wonder if she also had the thankless task of checking the percentages? “You’re one chained story over the limit! Dammit, Marston! Someone get H.G. Peter on the line to tell him to draw a rope, instead, dammit!”
Thanks to Dr. K for the scan (Dr. K has a great bit on what the dialogue must have been between Gaines and Roubicek when he asked her to come up with ways to tie women up) and thanks to Martin Pasko and the DC Vault for bringing this letter to the public!
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to the William Marston and Wonder Woman!
Did William Moulton Marston begin having Wonder Woman exclaim “Suffering Sappho!” as a form of protest to Fredric Wertham?
If you are familiar at all with the game of cricket, you know that the players who bat are called batsmen (or batsman, in the singular).
Recently, a British company decided to try to trademark the term for a line of cricket-related merchandise.
Can you guess who took issue with that?
Yep, DC Comics, who has a European trademark for the term “Batman,” argued that Batman is SUCH a distinctive mark that even in an entirely different context, even one that lends itself so much to cricket as the term “Batsman” does, that consumers would still believe that the product was referring (and thus, was endorsed by) to Batman. So they wanted to cancel the other company’s Batsman trademark.
And guess what?
DC Comics WON.
Reader Jess H. wrote in with an article that he worked on for the decision that a British judge ruled that the Batman trademark was do distinctive that there would be confusion with DC’s Batman, even with cricket fans, so DC Comics won and the cricket company was out of luck.
Thanks so much to Jess for the head’s up! Talk about topical! It JUST happened the other day!
Check out some Entertainment and Sports Urban Legends Revealed!
Did Ryan Fitzpatrick Actually Score a Perfect 50 On His Wonderlic Test?
Once people get an idea in their head, they just won’t let it out, no matter how often you tell them that they’re wrong. This was the case with a mysterious character who people have consistently insisted was a Peanuts character, a fellow who walked around with a cloud over his head but was NOT the character of Pig-Pen, who was followed by a cloud of dust.
The Peanuts museum gets constant questions about this guy and even when they tell them that there is no such Peanuts character, they KEEP BELIEVING IT!!
Derrick Bangs, though, has the answer.
It is Joe Btfsplk, from Al Capp’s L’il Abner.
As you can see from above, he doesn’t even LOOK like a Peanuts character! However, once it is in someone’s head that they remember something (especially from their childhood), you’re not going to sway them from their belief!
Thanks once again, Derrick, for rooting out the Peanuts misinformation!
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did the Mafia really try to kill Desi Arnaz over his TV series The Untouchables?
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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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)…
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See you all next week!