This is the one-hundredth and ninth 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 eight. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel had an agreement with Frank Miller that they would not bring Elektra back unless Miller wanted to do so
STATUS: Basically True
With the revelation in New Avengers #31 (SPOILER ALERT!) that Elektra was a Skrull, a lot of discussion has gone on regarding whether Marvel had an agreement with Frank Miller not to bring Elektra back unless Miller himself chose to do so, so I figured I would address it (my pal Eric actually asked me if I could).
In any event, yes, Frank Miller was, indeed, promised certain treatment regarding the usage of Elektra at one point during the 1980s. Specifically, Daredevil editor Ralph Macchio (who edited Miller’s acclaimed “Born Again” storyline in Daredevil) promised him certain terms (that’s the “basically” part in the above status, as I cannot tell what the exact terms were – were they “we won’t bring her back” or were they “we won’t bring her back unless you say we can” and so on and so forth) about Elektra, and any possible return from the dead.
Ralph promised Frank Miller years ago that he would keep Elektra dead. He meant to keep his promise. But he made the promise when Marvel was a close-knit company, and Marvel the corporation had no intention of leaving Elektra an unturned stone. The orders for Elektra’s return came from above–they wanted to play with her potential as an action figure.
Under the circumstances, I think we did a really good job of bringing her back. The one thing we tried to do was keep Elektra’s return a secret so it would shock the hell out of everyone. Somewhere early along the way we had a huge response to the first few issues of DAREDEVIL. And we never expected the “press” exposure to be so relentless. So we let it slip.
As noted, the promise occurred when Marvel was a private company. A few years later, Marvel was a public company, and now the decision was no longer in the hands of Ralph Macchio, but with “higher ups.” Eventually, the decision was made – Marvel was determined to not let a good asset like Elektra go to waste – so Elektra was to be brought back from the dead, with Miller’s involvement or not.
Miller, naturally, did not like this turn of events, and to this day, he’ll make the odd “Elektra is dead” joke here or there.
I believe Macchio attempted to have Miller be involved in her return, but I cannot speak to that with any certainty.
Anyhow, there ya go, Eric (and others)!
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Little Audrey was one of Harvey’s most popular characters outside of Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich, but for years, there have been some fans who have accused Harvey of just ripping off the comic book Little Lulu.
Little Lulu, created by Marjorie Henderson Buell, was a popular comic strip that became an equally popular comic book by Dell (and some darn fine comic books, at that!).
Little Lulu was also featured in a number of cartoons.
Here, though, is where the confusion comes in – Little Audrey was not created by Harvey Comics!!
If there was any attempted shady duplication, it was by Famous Studios, who originally made Little Lulu cartoons during the early 40s, then stopped doing so in 1948 and began instead making Little Audrey cartoons. Whether this was because they were turned down the Little Lulu rights or because they decided they didn’t want to pay licensing rights anymore is open to debate.
That is when Little Audrey’s comic book debuted.
In fact, Harvey Comics was not even the first comic company to make a Little Audrey comic book!!!
That honor belonged to St. John Comics.
They published Little Audrey for about four years, from the late 40s into the early 50s, when Harvey took over.
Amusingly enough, at the time the change took place, St. John debuted a NEW comic book.
The cycle continues….
(Another neat tidbit – nowadays, Lulu and Audrey are both owned by the same company!).
Thanks to Mark Arnold, the awesome writer of the Harveyville Times, which you can purchase at his amazing Harvey Comics history website here, for his help with the research on this piece.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The sequel to Batman: The Cult became a Punisher mini-series.
Reader Bobb asked me about this just this week, and luckily, everyone’s favorite interviewer, Daniel Best, of Adelaide’s Comics and Books had the scoop from the man himself, Jim Starlin!
Starlin: I was always fond of the one that I did with Bernie Wrightson (Batman: The Cult mini-series).
Best: How did that one come about?
Starlin: Bernie and I wanted to work together on something and we came in and pitched that. At first they loved the idea but they wanted me off the project because I was writing the regular book and they said “If we’re going to have a special project with Bernie then we have to have a different writer on it.” So I said “Oh screw that, I’ll quit the regular book.”
They went along with me being on it and it worked out well. It was like their best-selling book that year.
Best: You worked with Bernie again on a Punisher mini-series at Marvel.
Starlin: The first Punisher job was really the sequel to (Batman) The Cult. That whole story was a Batman story to begin with, and if you go back and look through it you’ll see that some of the characters from The Cult got converted over almost wholesale. We presented that to DC and said “Here, do you want a sequel to this, it was your best-selling book that year” and they said “No, we want Bernie to do Swamp Thing instead”. So Bernie and I wanted to do this story so we took it over to Marvel instead.
And they never did get the Swamp Thing story out of him.
Best: You’d think they could have done a trade off – Bernie does Swamp Thing and then you do the sequel.
Starlin: Well he actually did one issue, he pencilled one issue of Swamp Thing, but he lost interest.
Thanks, Daniel, for another informative interview!!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!