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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #1

by  in Comic News Comment
Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #1

So, the other week, I had a post about “Paternalistic Continuity.” In it, I made mention about Walt Simonson having a list of which appearances of Doom were actual, and which were Doombots.

Well, the upshot is, no such list exists.

I had fallen prey to a comic book urban legend.

Well, first off, I’m sorry about that. Poor form on my part (you’d think I would have at LEAST had an “ass-covering” line like “I believe that…” or “I heard that…”).

In any event, while this is a break from the standard type of post here at Comics Should Be Good, I figure it would be a nice idea for a new regular thing – debunking (or confirming) comic book urban legends!!!

Sorta like Snopes, but for comic books!!

Let’s begin!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Jim Shooter wrote comic books when he was 14 years old.

STATUS: True

Future Marvel Editor-in-chief Jim Shooter began writing comics in 1966 when he sent in a story proposal to Legion of Superheroes’ editior Mort Weisinger at the age of 14.

Adventure Comics #346, cover-dated July 1966, marked the first comic work (writing AND pencilling the issue) of Jim Shooter, still 14 years old.

The interesting thing to note is that Shooter was not even the ONLY teenager working at DC regularly at the time.

That same year, Mort Weisinger purchased a story by 17 year old Cary Bates. Weisinger had already used a cover idea sent in by Bates that Bates had done three years earlier.

According to Bates, “And I started doing covers, drawing up ideas. I sent them to Mort Weisinger, and the first that he used featured Luthor and Brainiac snarling at Superman, six inches high, suspended in a cage. I sent that one in sometime in 1963 and he used it later.”

Presumably, he is referring to this cover, cover-dated February 1964…


Cool, huh?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Mark Gruenwald’s ashes were mixed in with the printing of a comic book.

STATUS: True

When Mark Gruenwald tragically passed away at the “too young” age of 42 in 1996, one of his farewell wishes was that he be cremated, and that his ashes be mixed in with the print run of a comic book.

Bob Harras and his widow, Catherine, decided on the first printing of the trade collection of perhaps Mark’s most memorable series, his 1985-86 mini-series, Squadron Supreme.

“This is something that he really wanted because he really loved comics,” said Bob Harras, Marvel’s editor-in-chief. “He wanted to be part of his work in a very real sense.”

Marvel has since done newer printings of the trade, so they do not currently sell copies with Gruenwald’s ashes mixed in, but I’m sure you can find some on Ebay!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC must publish at least four issues of Wonder Woman a year or else lose the rights to the property.

STATUS: False

It has long been said that if DC did not publish Wonder Woman at least four times a year, that the rights would revert back to the estate of William Moulton Marston, creator of Wonder Woman.

Writer Kurt Busiek addressed the rumors earlier this year,

They are no longer true, but they were true for a long time – as I understand it, the terms were that DC had to publish at least four issues with “Wonder Woman” as the banner lead feature or rights would revert. That’s why DC did the LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN mini-series that I wrote and Trina Robbins drew – the Perez revamp was in development, but coming along slowly, and they had to publish something to fulfil the contract terms.

They specifically didn’t want something that would be attention-getting, because they didn’t want to undercut the revamp. So they wanted something gentle and nostalgic, and we had fun doing it.

In the intervening years, though, I’m given to understand that at some point DC bought the character outright, and thus those contract terms are no longer in force.

So there you go!

Feel free to suggest urban legends you’d like to see debunked (or confirmed) in a future installment!