Welcome to the four hundred and fifty-sixth 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 fifty-five. This week, did Marvel take the idea for Wolverine from a “create a character” fan contest? How did a Marvel editor cleaning out his office lead to the discovery of Art Adams? Finally, did an unpublished Logan’s Run issue end up in Bizarre Adventures?
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 took the idea for Wolverine from a fan submission to a contest.
STATUS: I’m Going With False
A few readers have written in to me asking me to comment on the story that Bleeding Cool ran last month about FOOM #2.
You see, in 1973, Marvel had a fan contest in the pages of FOOM (their fan magazine). I detailed the story about the WINNER of that contest in a Comic Book Legends Revealed a while back. However, before revealing the winner in FOOM #3 they showed a few entries in FOOM #2.
And one of those entries was a fellow named Wolverine…
Wolverine made his Marvel debut in the Summer of 1974…
Rich Johnston actually got into contact with Andy Olsen and Olsen, naturally enough, believes that Marvel basically just took his idea, noting:
Excited, I mentioned this to my uncle who was an established commercial artist on Madison Avenue (that’s in NYC for those who don’t know) who replied: “You did WHAT?? You idiot! Don’t you know what these guys did? They pulled ideas from you kids, make money off it and payed you NOTHING!!” Probably using other colorful words. But that’s the best I could remember. Feel free to insert your own.
I felt rather used and stupid.
That was the end of it, time moved on and so did I. Even comics lost my interest, but not art as a field of study.
Fast forward a few years later as a college student I passed as comic book stand and noticed a large X-Men Marvel title: Wolverine.
Of all the Marvel heroes- X-Men I felt were the bottom feeders.
Then it hit me. I had been had..Uncle was right.
Now while I certainly understand why Olsen would believe this to be true, I really don’t think it is the case. Roy Thomas has spoken for DECADES about the creation of Wolverine, and he has always been clear about it. Heck, just recently he wrote a critique about Sean Howe’s Marvel Comicss – The Untold Story where he noted:
Not a big deal, but it really does irk me when all the credit for creating Wolverine is given to Len and John Romita, important as they were. I mean, I didn’t just mention that I’d like a Canadian character. I told Len I wanted him to make up a character specifically named Wolverine, who is Canadian and small/short of stature and has a fierce temper (like a real wolverine); if that doesn’t establish my bona fides as co-creator of Wolverine, I don’t know what does.
The timeline of Wolverine’s creation is really one of the most detailed we’ve ever had. Thomas, Len Wein and John Romita have all commented extensively about the creative process of the character.
We have Romita’s original sketches, for crying out loud!
Now also note that neither Thomas nor Wein nor Romita actually own rights to Wolverine. It is not like they get financial benefits out of their claims to creating Wolverine.
And Roy Thomas is one of the best comic book historians that there IS, so I really find little reason to disbelieve Thomas when he said that he decided to have a Canadian hero and he decided to look up animals that lived in both the U.S. and Canada and came up with Badger and Wolverine and finally decided to go with Wolverine and told Wein to create a character based on that name.
So I would have to go with a false here.
By the way, the same page that Wolverine was introduced in FOOM also had Quasar on it…
Again, I doubt there was any connection with Mark Gruenwald’s Quasar.
EDITED TO ADD: To those who would argue that Olsen’s Wolverine has a metal skeleton and a healing ability (I don’t believe either are actually evident – I think Olsen’s Wolverine looks more like a cyborg more than anything), it is important to note that Wolverine had neither in his first appearance so it really doesn’t help Olsen’s case.
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
Did Star Trek: The Next Generation Use Sherlock Holmes Characters in an Episode Not Knowing That the Characters Were Not Yet in the Public Domain?
All comic book creators have “breaking into comics” stories, but I find the tale of how the great Art Adams made it into comics as one of the best since it basically was TWO stories!
First off, Art Adams’ portfolio was seen by the great inker Joe Rubinstein. Rubinstein thought Adams had a lot of talent so he began sending Art’s work to everybody he knew. Eventually Denny O’Neil and Linda Grant gave Adams a shot on a Bizarre Adventures story but the title was canceled before Adams’ short story appeared and as Adams later recalled, he probably wasn’t ready just yet to be a professional artist. So he did not break in YET.
When Grant essentially told him “don’t call us, we’ll call you,” Adams realized that he needed to move forward. So about a year later, he developed brand-new sample pages, presumably showing his growth as an artist in that year. He sent these new samples to everyone he knew of at DC and Marvel but he got no responses.
Then a funny thing happened. Al Milgrom quit.
Al Milgrom was working for Marvel as an editor when he decided he would rather be a freelancer. So he had to give up his Marvel office. When cleaning up his office, he came across Adams’ samples and gave them to Carl Potts, who was succeeding Milgrom.
Potts, always a great eye for talent (he helped bring both Jim Lee AND Whilce Portacio to Marvel), then hired Adams to do a New Defenders inventory story that never was published.
Here’s one page from the New Defenders story (go buy Modern Masters: Art Adams to see another page from the story as well as two pages from the unpublished Bizarre Adventures story!)…
Potts’ ASSISTANT, though, was Ann Nocenti, who had an idea for a story that became….
And right from the release of Longshot two years later, Adams became a star.
But imagine if it were not for Milgrom cleaning out his office!
Thanks to Art Adams and George Khoury for the information!
Be sure to pick up Khoury’s massive (and awesome) interview with Art Adams in Modern Masters: Art Adams from TwoMorrows Publishing!
It’s just five bucks!
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed involving comic book creators’ big breaks!
Did John Romita break into comics by pretending to be inking a penciler when Romita was actually doing the pencils?
On the next page, learn how an unpublished Logan’s Run comic ended up being used by Marvel elsewhere!
COMIC LEGEND: Unused Logan’s Run comics became a Bizarre Adventures story.
Just last week we discussed Logan’s Run and I said I’d have a little bit more about Marvel’s Logan’s Run comic.
Marvel has always been unwilling to just let unused stories go to waste (as seen in this previous legend, in this previous legend and in this previous legend, so a Logan’s Run back-up that was likely going to run through Logan’s Run #9 and #10 by Archie Goodwin and Michael Golden instead became a brand-new story in Bizarre Adventures #28!
Our own Greg Hatcher wrote about the story a few years back here.
Here is one of the original pages. You can see right on top where it says it was intended for Logan’s Run #10!
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Was Darth Vader originally NOT Luke Skywalker’s father in Empire Strikes Back?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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