Welcome to the four hundred and sixtieth 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-nine. This week, did Marvel really ban the color green from their covers during the 1990s?
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 banned the color green from covers during the 1970s.
STATUS: False But Effectively True
A few years back, I wrote about how an errant Stan Lee comment resulted in Iron Man getting a nose on his facial armor. Well, a similar thing also happened with Lee and the color green on comic book covers!
You see, green is very rarely used as a background color on comic books. Go check your comic collection and see how many covers have a green background. Not a lot, right?
This has led to the legend that Marvel actually BANNED the color at one point. However, the truth was extremely similar to the aforementioned Iron Man nose job.
When Jim Shooter became Editor-in-Chief of Marvel in the late 1970s, the great George Roussos was in charge of coloring pretty much every Marvel comic book cover. Once he became Editor-in-Chief, Shooter began to oversee Roussos’ work a bit more and they soon came into conflict with a cover from the Summer of 1978, Mike Zeck’s cover for the Master of Kung Fu #68, which Roussos refused to color the way Shooter asked him.
Shooter wanted the background to be green and Roussos explained to him that Stan Lee wouldn’t allow the color green be used as a background color of a cover and if Roussos did so, he’d be fired as Stan hates the color green as a background and wouldn’t allow it on any Marvel covers. Shooter and Roussos went back and forth, to the point where Shooter basically told him that he’d either do it or else SHOOTER would send him home. Roussos eventually capitulated (Shooter also said that he, Shooter, would take the blame for any consequences from the action).
Shooter then took the colored cover to Stan Lee’s office and showed it to Stan (while within earshot of Roussos) and asked Lee about it. Lee liked it.
As it turned out, like the nose comment by Lee, Lee would say something offhand and it would be taken as gospel and Lee would typically forget it right away. He’d say something hyperbolic and not really mean it, but everyone would presume that he DID. When Lee and Shooter discussed the story in an early 1980s issue of Marvel Age, Lee still did not recall ever actually saying the green comment.
Thanks to Jim Shooter, who has explained this story a number of places over the years.
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was there no secret decoder ring in A Christmas Story? And if so, WHY not? The answer is surprising!
On the next page, did George Reeves’ death open the door for a Jimmy Olsen spin-off in the 1950s?
Jack Larson starred as Jimmy Olsen on the Adventures of Superman from 1951-1958…
The character, who was Superman’s friend on the show….
proved so popular that DC eventually gave the comic book version of Jimmy his own title!
In 1959, after taking a year off from shooting, National Comics planned on returning to filming new episodes of the Adventures of Superman in September of that year (in the gap between new episodes of the series, National Comics tried a new show using the Superman sets called Superpup, which I detailed here – it’s as insane as it sounds!).
Well, the problem was that George Reeves died before the new episodes could begin filming.
Here’s where it gets weird, though, Mort Weisinger came up with an idea – why not keep going with the show, only now have it star Jimmy Olsen!
In Jake Rossen’s book, Superman vs. Hollywood, the set-up was detailed:
Armed with funds from Kellogg’s, he coerced Larson into his office one day to propose a spin-off series featuring Jimmy Olsen. “I was stunned and upset,” Larseon remembered. “I was not going to do it, but there was some question as to whether I was contractually obligated to do it.”
The idea would be that the series would star Jimmy and occasionally would use a mixture of stock footage and stunt men filmed from behind to act as if Superman would occasionally show up to save Jimmy (if he needed saving).
Despite threats to sue Larson for contract breach, Larson refused to do the series (even temporarily retiring from acting so that they couldn’t use any other acting job he would possibly take as a breach of contract) and eventually it never came to pass.
Imagine, though, what kind of spin-off series THAT would have been!
DC tried again with a Superboy series a couple of years later (as detailed in this old Comic Book Legends Revealed) but that didn’t go any further than Superpup.
Thanks to Jake Rossen for the information!
On the next page, check out John Byrne poking a little fun at a famous Marvel artist in an issue of She-Hulk!
COMIC LEGEND: John Byrne poked a little fun at Rob Liefeld’s art style and his swipes in an issue of She-Hulk
I came across this note recently from over six years ago. Someone suggested this topic and I cannot find out who, just a note to myself to feature it some day. Today is that day! So if you suggested this one to me back in 2008, drop me a line to take credit!
Sensational She-Hulk #43 by John Byrne in 1992 opened peculiarly…
Out comes John Byrne’s editor, Renee Witterstaetter, to yell at him…
And then Byrne “re-drew” the first two pages in his own style…
As you might have guessed it, Byrne was parodying the art style of superstar comic book artist Rob Liefeld. However, that’s not ALL Byrne was doing there. Liefeld, you see, at the time had gotten somewhat of a reputation as a bit of a swiper.
For instance, here’s Liefeld’s X-Force #1…
And here’s George Perez years earlier in New Teen Titans #39…
So not only was Byrne parodying Liefeld’s STYLE, but it was also done specifically as a SWIPE of Liefeld, specifically 1991’s X-Force #3. Check it out…
Talk about putting in the effort and committing to a bit!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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See you all next week!