Welcome to the four hundred and sixty-fourth 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-three. This week, how did Kellogg’s kill a Superboy TV series? Did the Comics Code deprive us from pantless Batman? And was Hulkling of the Young Avengers really originally a girl?
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: Kellogg’s squelched plans for a Superboy TV series in the 1960s.
STATUS: I’m Going With True
Some time ago, I wrote about about how National Comics (DC Comics) tried to follow up their successful syndicated TV series The Adventures of Superman with a new syndicated TV series starring Superboy.
In that article, I explained that for whatever reason, the pilot was not picked up. At the time, reader Cram wrote in to ask about the rumors about why the show wasn’t picked up and whether it was true that Kellogg’s was involved. As it turns out, they WERE!
By the time that the Superboy pilot was produced in 1961, Kellogg’s and Superman had already been paired together for over two decades.
They were the first sponsor for the Superman radio show…
They also licensed Superman for ads for Kellogg’s cereal…
When Superman made his way into the world of television, Kellogg’s was right there with him, sponsoring the original TV series. In fact, the original opening of The Adventures of Superman every week would specifically mention Kellogg’s…
So you might be asking yourself, “Then why didn’t Kellogg’s just sponsor this new show?”
The issue was that Kellogg’s was STILL sponsoring Superman. You see, with a syndicated show like Adventures of Superman, it was still airing regularly in 1961, just not with new episodes. And at the time, Kellogg’s was still the sponsor of the reruns (eventually the economics of television sponsorship got to the point where no one company could afford to sponsor a regular program by themselves), so they had no need to be the sponsor of a new Superman-related TV series.
And therein lied the main problem – the only sponsor that National Comics could get for Superboy was ANOTHER cereal company, Wheaties! Kellogg’s, though, objected to National working with a rival company on a Superman-related product while Kellogg’s was still sponsoring the ongoing syndicated Superman TV series, so National backed off and no one else stepped in to Wheaties’ void and the project failed.
Thanks to Cram for the suggestion and thanks to Jake Rossen, author of Superman vs. Hollywood: How Fiendish Producers, Devious Directors, and Warring Writers Grounded an American Icon, for the information (which Jake, in turn, got from Chuck Harter’s book Superboy and Superpup: The Lost Videos).
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was a sexually explicit trailer for the film Nymphomaniac really shown at a screening of the Disney animated film, Frozen?
On the next page, did the Comics Code keep us from getting a pantsless Batman?
There’s a funny thing about iconic comic book covers. Once they become iconic, you tend to overlook any oddities in them.
To wit, no one is bothered by the fact that Spider-Man is telling his secret identity out loud while holding a crook…
No one really is bothered by the fact that Reed Richards is tied up for no good reason…
Similarly, have you noticed that on the cover of Batman #244 by Neal Adams (speaking of classic Batman covers, we’re in the midst of a countdown of the 75 Greatest Batman Covers of All-Time – check it out here!), Ra’s Al Ghul has Batman’s costume in his hands and yet Batman is still wearing his pants?
Reader Dan P. and his friend noticed, though, and he wrote in to me to help settle an argument he and his friend had over the cover…
My buddy claims it was a mistake on Neal Adams’ part since he is shirtless but wearing pants during parts of the story. I think it was a comics code concern, that DC was forced to color the pantsless Batman on the cover.
As it turns out, it was neither (although more the latter than the former).
Neal Adams explained it all to Dan Greenfield recently…
“You and I are going to play a game,” he said. “How many pairs of pants does Batman have on this cover?”
“Two,” I answered. “He’s wearing a pair and Ra’s al Ghul is holding a pair. But why is that?”
Adams explained: “It’s because (editor) Julie Schwartz refused to let me have bare legs on Batman. It was OK to do the bare chest, but if he had his pants off that would imply that he had taken his shorts off as well. So you couldn’t do that. So I said ‘But he’s got a costume!’ and Julie says, ‘Nobody will notice.’ And it’s true.”
Thanks to Dan P. for the suggestion and thanks to Neal Adams and Dan Greenfield for the suggestion!
On the next page, was Hulkling originally created as a girl?!
Hulkling is the half-Kree/half-Skrull member of Young Avengers…
who is one half of one of the top couples in superhero comics (aided by the fact that DC turned most of their coupled characters single during the New 52), Hulkling and Wiccan…
Amazingly enough, though, for one of the most prominent gay couples in comics, originally Hulkling was going to be a GIRL!
Tom Brevoort explained it a few years ago:
Originally, Allan [Heinberg, creator of the Young Avengers – BC] pitched Hulkling as a female character using her shape-changing abilities to pose as a man. I suspect this was as close as Allan felt he could get to depicting an openly gay relationship in a Marvel comic. But as we got underway… he started to have second thoughts and approached me about maintaining Hulkling and Wiccan as two involved male characters.
And the rest is history!
It’s amazing how close we came to missing out on such a historic pairing.
Thanks to Tom Brevoort for the information (that Brevoort is always such a font of awesome information)!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
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See you all next week!