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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #114

by  in Comic News Comment

This is the one-hundred and fourteenth 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 thirteen. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Disney once had a series of Mickey Mouse comic strips depicting Mickey trying various ways of killing himself.

STATUS: True

Mickey Mouse was quite a sensation at the end of the 20s and the beginning of the 1930s, so it is no surprise that someone decided that Mickey would work well in a comic strip. Walt Disney was generally too busy to be involved in the actual production of the comic strip, but he did make sure to contribute one significant idea to strip writer/artist Floyd Gottfredson – the first story arc should include Mickey trying varying ways of killing himself, which would all end comically!!!

Here are some examples (from mid-October, 1930) (click on the image to enlarge)…

First off, Mickey thinks Minnie is cheating on him with some city clicker mouse…



This causes Mickey to want to kill himself…






Eventually, he comes to his senses…


Isn’t that fascinating?

How senses of humor (and Mickey Mouse having humor PERIOD) have changed…
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COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC had to change the name of their Helix line of comic books because of the Shadowrun role playing game.

STATUS: False

When DC announced the name of their new science fiction and science fantasy line of comic books (that notably featured Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan) back in 1996, the name of the line was the Matrix.


Most folks assumed that when the name changed, it was due to the upcoming film, The Matrix.


However, there also grew a significant scuttlebutt that it, instead, had to do with the Shadowrun role playing game, which included a Matrix of their own. Reader Richard Rittenhouse explains:

The story that I heard at the time was that the change was prompted by FASA, the publishers of the SHADOWRUN pen-and-paper role playing game. In the game, there was a virtual reality cyberspace called the “Matrix”, and the publishers had supposedly trademarked the term.


It was an interesting possibility, so I went to the original editor of the Helix line of comics, Stuart Moore, as to why the name was changed. I asked Moore if it was because of the Matrix film or some other reason, and this is what he had to say:

Yes, that’s pretty much what happened. Given the way things change all the time in Hollywood, I was just glad when THE MATRIX film actually came out, under that name, and was a hit. At least that justified all the last-minute hell of changing our imprint name. I remember, at the time, being sure that years later I’d go to the theater and they’d have changed the movie’s title to “THE LATTICE,” or something. That would have been too much.

That really would have been!

So there you go, it was the film after all!

Thanks to Richard for the question and Stuart for the information!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Bernie Wrightson once thought he had some sort of disease due to the paint brush he was using.

STATUS: True

In the early 1980s, Bernie Wrightson did some of the most beautiful work of his career on a black and white adaptation of Frankenstein.


However, during his work on the book, he was rumored to have developed what appeared to be some sort of disease.


In an amazing interview in Comic Book Artist #4, Jon B. Cooke got to the bottom of the mystery, when he asked Wrightson about the rumor, and here is Wrightson’s reply:

What happened was that I developed a sensitivity to the metal nickel and that’s what the little metal part on a brush that holds the bristles is made of-it’s called the ferule-and it’s 90% nickel. It made my fingertips sore and inflamed-and they hurt and were really tender all the time. That’s all it was but, of course, I was worried about it because I didn’t know what it was. I saw several doctors who couldn’t identify it and I finally saw a skin specialist who diagnosed it and she gave me an ointment to put on. That cleared it up but the biggest problem I had was what am I going to do about holding a brush now? My fingers had to come in contact with the metal and I tried everything: I tried wrapping it in masking tape and that was no good because you lose the grip; I tried holding the brush further up on the stem so my fingers were on the wood but that was just ridiculous. So after trying all this stuff, my ex-wife suggested, “Why don’t you just paint that thing with nail polish?” Well, duh! [laughs] So I’ve been doing that ever since and it’s no problem.

Pretty weird, eh?

Thanks to Jon B. Cooke for the excellent interview!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!