This is the one-hundredth and third in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and two. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Orson Welles was planning on doing a Batman film in the 1940s.
This is a fun one to debunk, as it is an urban legend that Comic Book Resources personally helped create.
Back in 2003, comic writer Mark Millar wrote a column for Comic Book Resources titled, creatively enough, “The Column.”
Millar would talk about various comic-related topics, and in his final column for CBR, he detailed the story of the proposed Batman film Orson Welles was planning in 1946.
The column is collected here.
Millar was kind enough to even supply design sketches by Welles from 1946 (click on the image to enlarge).
It’s a grand story, but, of course, it was also a hoax.
Much like Orson Welles’ very own War of the Worlds story, Millar perpetuated a hoax on all us folks out there (or, as Welles’ Harry Lime would call us – “the suckers and the mugs”).
Still, it is neat to think of how cool that movie WOULD have been!
CBR head honcho has more info to share with us about the hoax:
A little more on the Orson Welles hoax, that art is actually drawn by Millar’s good friend Bryan Hitch. In order to help give it a more rough look, instead of scanning Hitch’s sketch, Millar faxed it to me and then I scanned the fax, loosing a couple of generations of quality right there. It helped bring a more “authentic” look to it all. And as Millar’s final column on CBR, it was his most popular by far.
Robin MacNeil asked me about this rumor a little while ago, so I went to Beau Smith about it, and as luck would have it, not only was this TRUE, he had JUST written about it at his awesome column he writes for Silver Bullet Comics, Busted Knuckles!!
Beau was gracious enough to allow me to quote liberally from his article (which, again, you can find here) and even show you folks some of the pages from the unseen comic (more pages can be seen at the article, which you can find here – aren’t I good plugger?)!! Cool, huh?
Here’s what Beau had to say about the comic:
During a recent organizing of the office here at the ranch, I came across tons of stuff that I had in storage. As most of you also know, I rarely throw anything out. Well, I came across the script, plot, and contracts for Wonder Woman vs. Xena: The Princess War Diaries. I also came across Xeroxes of some of Eduardo’s rough pencils for the book. So I made some copies and hauled em’ to the store signing because folks always ask about this book. It was something everybody was looking forward to. Quick story for that. After the script was done, turned in, approved and paid for, the Xena TV show ended and Dan DiDio came on board at DC. In the huge job of having to oversee everything at DC creative, I got a letter from DC telling me that Dan figured that without the show being on TV and such that there wasn’t in their best interest to do the book now. I was disappointed and disagreed. Marketing and business 101 in the comic book direct market will tell you that there IS an audience for Wonder Woman and Xena going toe to toe. TV show or not. I was also told by one of the editors that Dan wasn’t a fan of humor with their icon heroes. Wonder Woman being one of em’. Just so you’ll know, the whole point of writing this script was to have it be like one of the light hearted episodes of Xena that Sam Rami and the cast pulled off so very well. As y’all know, I am a huge believer in having a sense of natural humor in characters… all characters. It’s what makes them real and most importantly, an emotional investment to the reader. I never blamed Dan. If anything he had my pity. Coming in he had a hell of a job to do. From the looks of DC it looks like he is doing things right.
The fate of the book was out of my hands. After all, I had been paid and it was their sandbox and their toys. So in the last five years or so it has become one of those projects that is always brought up and always asked about. The same thing happens in films that were almost made and music that was almost cut. (The Beach Boys “Smile” Album) Eduardo and I moved on. In fact, I think that was the last project I’ve done for DC after working for them 5 to 6 years.
Beau then proceeds to post some script pages from the comic. You can read them here.
Here, though, are a couple of pages from the artist on the comic, the great Eduardo Barreto (click on the pages to enlarge).
Pretty neat, eh?
Thanks again to Beau! And thanks to Robin for two good urban legend suggestions in a row! Wowsa.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel and DC taking turns making crossover comics resulted in George Perez missing out on X-Men/Teen Titans
One of the more interesting things that is lost to the vagaries of time is why, exactly, Walt Simonson drew the Marvel/DC crossover X-Men/New Teen Titans, as Simonson has never drawn either the X-Men NOR the Teen Titans before.
In addition, Titans artist George Perez was clearly willing to do a Marvel/DC crossover as he was the original artist on the aborted JLA/Avengers crossover from the early 80s.
The answer was in how the crossovers between the companies were produced. Rather than sharing production, they would instead alternate producing each title, using creators from their company (although DC made a point for the first crossover to use creators who had worked for both DC and Marvel).
The first one, in 1976, featured DC creators (at the time) Gerry Conway and Ross Andru, both of whom worked on the Amazing Spider-Man during the 70s.
The second one, in 1981, featured Marvel creators Marv Wolfman (although Wolfman, of course, worked for DC, as well), Jim Shooter and John Buscema.
The third, later in 1981, featured DC creators Len Wein and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
The fourth was the X-Men/Titans crossover, and since it was handled by Marvel, Perez was off-limits.
So who to have draw the comic book? At the time, there were only three artists associated with the Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans – Dave Cockrum, John Byrne and George Perez.
Perez we established was unavailable as he was working for DC.
Byrne had just left the title the previous year, so they weren’t getting him to come back to do the book.
Cockrum had JUST signed on to draw Uncanny X-Men again, and clearly would not have been able to fit a giant-size crossover book into his schedule.
So that left Marvel with, well, nobody.
So they decided to just go with a great artist – Walt Simonson.
DC was to go next, with Perez’ JLA/Avengers, and Perez was even planning on drawing the sequel to the first X-Men/Titans (when it got back to DC’s turn), but when JLA/Avengers fell apart, Perez did not feel like doing another one, even when it was suggested that the sequel could REPLACE JLA/Avengers on the schedule.
Man, can you imagine a 1980s Perez X-Men/Titans book?
That would have been amazing!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!