Welcome to the four hundred and sixty-first 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 sixty. This week, did Marvel have to pull a series of ads bragging about winning DC vs. Marvel? Did Al Capp REALLY invent a Li’l Abner prototype while working on Joe Palooka? And did John Byrne amusingly swipe a drawing that was a swipe of a John Byrne drawing?
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 had to pull a series of house ads bragging about winning DC vs. Marvel.
In 1996, DC and Marvel had the popular crossover series DC vs. Marvel…
which pitted Marvel characters versus DC characters in various fights…
Fans would vote on the winners of the fights. The results would then be put into the comic. This led to the hard-to-believe “resolved off panel” Lobo (who was able to hang in a fight with Superman in the past) vs. Wolverine fight…
Once the series was over, Marvel created a house ad bragging about being the winner. There was just one problem. Part of the contract with DC for the series was that neither company COULD publicly proclaim to be the winner!
So Marvel had to quickly pull all of the house ads. A few made it through, though, including in Fantastic Four 2099 #5. Here it is, courtesy of helpful reader Benjamin Gordon….
Thanks again to Benjamin for the help, and all the dozens of 2099 fans who also were willing to search their collections to find the ad I was looking for!
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was Robert Downey Jr. written out of his own TV wedding on Ally McBeal?
STATUS: I’m Going with False
Li’l Abner was Al Capp’s famous hillbilly comic strip character, so famous that Abner made the cover of Life magazine when Capp had the character get married…
Before starting Li’l Abner, Capp was an assistant for Ham Fisher on the comic strip, Joe Palooka (about a boxer).
In the pages of Joe Palooka, there was a similar hillbilly character named Big Leviticus (here is Big Leviticus from later on in a Joe Palooka comic book)…
For decades, Capp claimed to have created Big Leviticus during his time ghosting for Fisher on Joe Palooka during a period when Fisher was on vacation and there was not enough strips, so Capp had to quickly fill-in and he came up with the hillbilly characters. People all pretty much bought Capp’s take on the situation. Hell, I know I certainly believed it.
However, in their recent (excellent) biography on Al Capp, Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary, Denis Kitchen and Michael Schumacher have successfully convinced me otherwise.
As it turns out, the timing of Leviticus’ first appearance doesn’t seem to support Capp’s assertions. Capp’s first Joe Palooka work appeared in October 15 1933. Big Leviticus appeared a week later. The story went on for FIVE weeks. It is clear that Capp DID draw the Big Leviticus strips, but the notion that Fisher, a very fussy and particular man, would have allowed his brand-new assistant to take over the strip entirely a week after starting on the strip and continuing for five weeks right away does not seem likely, and I tend to agree with Kitchen and Schmucher’s conclusion.
Especially, as they note, there was another extended Big Leviticus storyline in February of 1934. Perhaps Fisher DID go on vacation for THAT storyline, but it seems very unlikely that Fisher would hire a guy and then proceed to go on vacation and just let his brand-new hire produce the strip on his own.
However, I can believe the theory that Capp came up with the IDEA for Big Leviticus and pitched it to Fisher and then Fisher went along with the story but I don’t think that Capp created the characters solo.
Thanks to Denis Kitchen and Michael Schumacher for the information!
STATUS: Appears to be True
Last week, I posted about John Byrne had some fun in an issue of Sensastional She-Hulk by drawing three pages in the style of Rob Liefeld and how the three pages were swipes of three pages from Rob Liefeld’s X-Force #3. This was Byrne poking fun over Liefeld’s much publicized at the time swipes of various other artists.
Well, what I missed in that piece was a whole THIRD level to Byrne’s parody of Liefeld. Not only was Byrne drawing in the style of Liefeld while “swiping” actual Liefeld pages, it certainly appears as though Byrne was doing ANOTHER commentary on Liefeld’s swipes.
A Byrne Robotics poster names Lars Sandmark points out that in the panel where She-Hulk gets punched…
which is swiping the following Liefeld panel…
it is, itself, swiped from an old John Byrne panel from Incredible Hulk #319…
Now, you might say that it was just a coincidence that the Liefeld panel looks just like the Byrne one, and I can even theoretically buy that (not really, but I can accept it for argument’s sake). But even if that were the case, the point is that obviously Byrne felt otherwise, so he not only jokingly swiped a panel from an artist known for swiping panels, but he swiped a panel from an artist known for swiping panels that was a swipe of his OWN work!
That’s some whole other level of joking.
Thanks to Lars Sandmark for the information!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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