Welcome to the four hundred and eighty-third 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 eighty-two. This week, was there really a sexually suggestive Mickey Mouse milk ad from 1934? How did Casper the Friendly Ghost give us the Silver Age return of the Spectre? And what was Marv Wolfman’s “escape route” for keeping Barry Allen alive after Crisis on Infinite Earths?
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: A creamery made a sexually suggestive Mickey Mouse ad back in 1934.
Something I have tried to make clear over the years is that retelling a false legend isn’t a big deal, as that’s WHY they’re legends, it is specifically BECAUSE they are believable. I mean, the entire ORIGIN of this column is that I fell for a false legend involving Walter Simonson years ago (Here is the legend in question). I bring this up because this week we take a look at a legend that I fell for, hook, line and sinker.
A few years back, there was a hilariously sexually suggestive milk ad featuring Mickey and Minny Mouse making the rounds on the internet…
I was wary about the legitimacy of the ad (I’m pretty much a professional skeptic, ya know?) but I thought that I had found confirmation when I found the actual comic book that the ad was from, a giveaway from the Grand Rapids Creamery…
And sure enough, I saw the ad on the back cover and thought, “Oh, okay, the ad is for real.” So I ran it for I Saw It Advertised One Day.
However, I foolishly didn’t look further. I just saw the ad and said “Oh, okay, the ad is for real” instead of actually EXAMINING the ad. Had I done so, I would have discovered the following copy on the ACTUAL ad…
A few thoughts…
1. That’s some damn fine editing of the picture by whoever created the fake ad. Well done.
2. While I made the mistake, I still feel somewhat pleased to at least look back at the people who admonished people for thinking that the fake ad was sexually suggestive. “It’s a stretch to read anything dirty into that.” Nope, it being dirty was the POINT of the hoax.
Anyhow, while I missed the change, my pal, the great Disney expert David Gerstein, did not and David let me know about the hoax.
David also threw in some extra neat info about the making of the Grand Rapids Creamery comic book, noting “publisher Hal Horne licensed the characters, then used a mixture of Disney art and his staffers’ own. Dairies like Grand Rapids made arrangements with Horne and Disney to distribute certain numbers of copies with their names attached.”
Awesome. Thanks, David! Be sure to check out David’s website, everyone! It’s filled with neat stuff!
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Discover the strange origins of the TV series Miami Vice!
How did Casper the Friendly Ghost factor into the Silver Age return of The Spectre?
COMIC LEGEND: Casper the Friendly Ghost helped give us the Silver Age return of The Spectre.
STATUS: I’m Going With True
My buddy Zack Smith mentioned this to me a few years back, during his awesome Oral History of Captain Marvel at Newsarama (check it out here).
As I’m sure nearly all of you know, after the Golden Age of comic book superheroes finished (late 1940s/early 1950s, whenever you feel like saying the end was), DC Comics put a number of their Golden Age heroes out to pasture. Heroes like Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkman, Spectre, Dr. Mid-Nite and Starman all were essentially retired.
So by the 1960s, a whole generation of new readers really were no longer familiar with these older heroes. But by then, Julie Schwartz had begun introducing new superheroes using the same names as these old characters, like the Flash…
and Green Lantern…
However, through Jules Feiffer’ 1965 history of comic book superheroes, new fans could read about these Golden Age heroes again.
One such young fan, Michael Uslan (who has since went on to become a comic book writer and famous movie producer – he has produced every Batman movie since Tim Burton’s 1989 film!), was particularly interested in Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily’s The Spectre…
However, when he would pester Julie Schwartz about bringing the Spectre back, Schwartz would explain to him that that was not possible, since the Comics Code wouldn’t allow it, as the then-current Comics Code stated “Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.” According to Schwartz, the Spectre was either walking dead or a ghoul.
Uslan wrote back asking then what about the Comics Code approved Casper the Friendly Ghost from Harvey?
Apparently that was enough for Schwartz, as Uslan told Smith,
The next thing I know, I got a note back from Julie saying, ‘You’ll be happy to know that the Spectre is coming back in Showcase #60, teamed up with Doctor Mid-Nite.’ And he did come back in that issue, though not with Dr. Mid-Nite. And that remains one of the proudest moments of my comic-collecting life, though it wouldn’t have happened without Feiffer’s book. That was essential.”
My only SLIGHT doubt on this being true is whether Schwartz was planning on bringing the character back no matter what, and it was just a coincidence, but the fact that he actually made a point to write to Uslan about the Spectre’s return makes me willing to believe that it WAS Uslan’s writings that compelled Schwartz to bring the character back.
Thanks to Zack Smith and Michael Uslan for the information!
On the next page, what was Marv Wolfman’s “escape route” for Barry Allen at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths?
COMIC LEGEND: Marv Wolfman had a plan to keep the Flash alive after Crisis on Infinite Earths.
A few weeks ago, I did a Comic Book Legends Revealed about why the Flash was chosen to be killed off during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Commenter Fraser recalled a story about Marv Wolfman having an idea for a new Flash other than Wally West to be introduced after Crisis. That’s true, and I discussed that in an ooooooooold Comic Book Legends Revealed. However, while I was reading that old Comic Book Legend, I discovered that I had just made a quick reference to Marv Wolfman’s famed “escape route” for Barry Allen after Crisis and I realized that I had somehow just never featured that as its own legend, which is a silly idea by me, as it is a really cool story!
Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 features Barry Allen’s heroic sacrifice…
Those snippets where Barry sees the Joker, Kid Flash and Batman are from different points in the series, demonstrating that Barry was traveling through time.
This, then, was Marv Wolfman’s awesome “escape clause” for keeping Barry alive (in a way) after Crisis.
The idea was that since leading up to his death Barry was traveling erratically through time, Barry would pop up in the present day from the time traveling journey that led up to his death. Barry would then live in the present knowing that at any moment, he will be picked up and sent to the NEXT stop in his travels, which will ultimately lead to his death.
Wolfman felt that this would be a major shakeup, and would add a great sense of drama to the series. The new status quo would be that (as Wolfman so eloquently put it) “from now on the fastest man alive would literally be running for his life.”
Marvel did a variation on that when they seemingly returned Captain Marvel via time travel (but after he had already been exposed to the radiation that would ultimately kill him) during Civil War (he turned out to be a Skrull, though):
Obviously, DC passed on both that idea and the idea of the new Flash, so Wally West got the job for the next twenty-plus years instead!
Thanks to Marv Wolfman for the information and thanks to Fraser for compelling me to realize that I had never used this one before for some reason!
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!