Welcome to the four hundred and twenty-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 twenty-six. This week, did Marvel edit out a photo of Stan Lee posing nude in an 1980s Marvel comic? Did Thor nearly have a spin-off in the mid-1970s? And finally, what’s the deal with Charlie Brown’s baseball team – did they really NEVER win a game?
NOTE: The column is 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: Marvel edited a photo of Stan Lee posing nude out of a comic book.
This one is an example of some funny timing. My pal John Trumbull suggested this one to me a little over a year ago and I was all set to run it in a week or so when Sean Howe began doing promotional work for his great Marvel: The Untold Story book that came out last year and he mentioned this story, so I didn’t want to run the story as a legend then since I didn’t want to step on Sean’s promotional efforts. But it’s been over a year now, so I think it is fair game!
The story is about the Marvel Fumetti Book from 1984…
The Marvel Fumetti Book was one of a few Direct Market releases Marvel made in the early 1980s that seemed to be geared to the REALLY devoted Marvel fan, as it was a series of stories about the Marvel Bullpen told through “Fumetti,” the Italian term for comics that has been used in America to mean “photonovels.”
One of the stories involves Joe Rubinstein trying to get the female staffers at Marvel to do a wet T-Shirt contest…
Then there is the aftermath to that little escapade…
Funny gag, right?
However, that’s not what the centerfold ORIGINALLY looked like!
Here’s the original shot, in all of its glory, before they decided to censor it with the Hulk paste-over…
If only they had used a copy of Giant-Sized Man-Thing to cover him up instead! It could have been the greatest photo ever known to man!
Thanks to John Trumbull for this suggestion! And go buy Sean Howe’s book! It is a great read!
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
Was “A Hard Day’s Night” Created to Get Around Capitol Records’ Exclusive Deal to Release Beatles Music in the United States?
On the next page, learn about the almost-spinoff Thor title in the 1970s!
It’s weird how things can sort of become conflated in your mind. Steve Englehart left Marvel Comics in the middle of 1976, so when I think back to his departure, I always think of that as the time he left all his major works of the era, namely Avengers, Captain America and Doctor Strange. However, Englehart actually left Cap a year before the other two. As it turns out, it was because he was going to write a Thor spin-off!
Yes, buoyed by the success of their black and white Conan magazine…
Marvel was going to launch a Thor black and white magazine called Thor the Mighty. Englehart was to write it and John Buscema was going to draw it.
Things, though, as they are wont to do, fell apart.
Englehart wrote about the proposed title on his website:
I had dropped CAPTAIN AMERICA with great reluctance because I was offered a monthly, black & white magazine chronicling the mythological adventures of Thor, with John Buscema art. Unfortunately, in one of those things that just happen in life, publishing plans changed and THOR THE MIGHTY was shelved.
Englehart’s story instead appeared in 1976’s Thor Annual #5…
It was AWESOME.
And for years, folks have wondered A. Why that Annual seemed a bit out of continuity and B. Why the heck was that the only Thor comic Englehart wrote?
That is why.
Another story seemingly intended for Thor the Mighty by Len Wein and Jim Starlin eventually appeared in Marvel Preview #10, with a cover that certainly seems like it was meant for this Thor the Mighty magazine we never saw….
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: What’s the deal with Saturday Night Live and the bizarrely ever-present Lincoln, llamas and showgirls?
COMIC LEGEND: Charlie Brown’s baseball team never won a game.
In the aformentioned edition of this week’s TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online, I deal with something that pops up a lot (like this OTHER recent TV Legends Revealed), the idea of people presuming running gags are not just “often occurring” but rather “ALWAYS occurring.” You know, instead of “Often this happens” it becomes “This ALWAYS happens.”
In the case of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, its most famous running gag (Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown) actually IS an example of it ALWAYS happening.
Charlie Brown never kicks the football in the Peanuts comic strip (he did in the cartoon, but never in the comic). However, a less famous but still noteworthy running gag is how awful Charlie Brown’s baseball team is and how they never win any games. Charlie Brown even talks about how his baseball team never wins. Heck, there is even a song in the Peanuts musical that has a lyric “Did you know that Charlie Brown has never pitched a winning baseball game?” So it is easy to believe that, just like how Charlie Brown never kicks the football, he never wins a baseball game.
This, though, is not the case.
In March of 1993, Schulz began a stretch of strips dealing with their first game of that season…
Charlie Brown eventually comes up in the bottom of the ninth inning…
and actually WINS THE GAME!
This leads to a series of strips with the pitcher who gives up the home run becoming a nemesis, of sorts, for Charlie Brown.
Reading it all back again…damn, Schulz was awesome. In June of 1993, Charlie Brown even wins ANOTHER game with ANOTHER homer off of that pitcher (Royanne Hobbs, grand-daughter of Roy Hobbs).
Charlie Brown’s team has won other games over the years, but they tend to be when Charlie Brown is not involved. This is one of the rare examples where Charlie actually definitely won the game.
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to Peanuts!
Was there a little-known Peanuts character who walked around with a cloud following him?
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!