This is the one-hundred and forty-fourth 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 forty-three. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel got into trouble for using the likeness of Amy Grant on a Doctor Strange cover.
You know, I’ve avoided using this one for awhile, because I thought it was fairly well known, but when reader yo go re told another commenter the other day to check the archives of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed for information on the topic, I realized that, well, it really ought to be, just for completion’s sake. Then a really interesting thing happened – as I did some research, I came across a ton of misinformation about the situation, so I was probably incorrect to think that it was too well known of a story, because a lot of people keep getting it wrong.
In 1986, Amy Grant released “The Collection,” a greatest hits package of her work to that point, which became an extremely popular album (going platinum at least once).
In early 1990, Doctor Strange, Sorceror Supreme #15 came out. It was the second part of a five part story, which involved Marie Laveau, based on a real-life American woman who practiced voodoo in New Orleans in the 19th century. On the cover, artist Jackson Guice depicted the character named
Marie LaveauMorgana Blessing with a familiar look to Amy Grant fans…
Soon after the issue came to their attention, Amy Grant’s management team, Mike Blanton and Dan Harrell, quickly filed a complaint against Marvel Comics. Now here is where it gets tricky. They were not, as many folks think, suing over copyright infringement. First off, the copyright for the photo belonged to photographer Mark Tucker (an accomplished Nashville commercial photographer, whose work has graced a number of music albums – you can check out his website here), so that wouldn’t work.
No, the complaint, filed by Blanton and Harrell in federal court in Tennessee, was related more to the fear that it would appear that Grant was authorizing the use of her likeness, and was therefore condoning the comic book, which would affect her standing in the Christian music community. Reading from the complaint,
many fans of Christian music consider interest in witchcraft and the occult to be antithetical to their Christian beliefs and to the message of Christian music in general. Therefore, an association of Amy Grant or her likeness [with Doctor Strange]…is likely to cause irreparable injury to Grant’s reputation and good will
A US District Court sealed an out-of-court settlement between Grant and Marvel in early 1991, with a consent decree that Marvel did not admit to any liability or wrongdoing.
The issue may or may not have been asked to be pulled from stores, but since it was a monthly book, such an order really doesn’t have much of an effect (as seen in a previous installment of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed involving NFL Super-Pro, an order to remove usually is not that effective when the item is a periodical, as the issue is usually sold out by the time it is ordered to be removed, or heck, sometimes the next issue has already come out!).
Thanks to yo go re for reminding me I ought to feature this one.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Steve Lightle died in a car accident last August.
One of the more annoying rumors are those that involve a fairly notable person dying when he/she did not, in fact, die. What kind of jerk do you have to be to start a rumor like that?
Anyhow, some such jerk started a rumor in August of 2007 that artist Steve Lightle died in a car accident.
Reader Terry asked:
I heard recently that one of the most underrated artists ever, Steve Lightle, died in a car accident. I’ve not been able to find anything confirming or denying this. Any answers?
The story worked pretty well as a rumor because Lightle has been mostly out of the industry for quite awhile, and was never the most public of figures even when he WAS doing comics (like his acclaimed run as Legion of Superheroes artist, following Keith Giffen).
In any event, Lightle recently did a variant cover for Action Comics, and produced the cover for DC after he was rumored to have died (the comic was released in December).
Add that to the severe unlikelihood of DC hyping a variant cover by Lightle (like this January piece at Newsarama about the covers) on the internet without mentioning that he died months earlier, and I think it’s safe to give this one a false.
Now if someone could get an actual quote from a living Steve Lightle, then I’d go from 99% sure to 100%! So get on it, people!
Thanks for the suggestion, Terry!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC’s Mature Readers line was formed due to a storyline involving incest.
STATUS: Basically True.
As a lot of readers know, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing was first referred to as “Sophisticated Suspense” with issue #31, which was released without the Comics Code Authority stamp of approval.
The previous issues, #30, was Comics Code approved.
However, it was actually the PREVIOUS issue that really caused the ruckus.
Saga of the Swamp Thing was one of the first (if not the first out of all) DC comics to be intentionally released without Comics Code Approval…
The reasons were two-fold.
The first involved this horrific two-page spread involving lots of scary zombies that artists Stephen R. Bissette and John Totleben cooked up. Remember, as mentioned in a previous edition of Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed, at the time, the Code was fairly restrictive on scary stuff, so that even more than a year AFTER this incident, they would not accept artist Kevin O’Neill work PERIOD, as ALL of it was deemed too scary!!
The second, though, involved the storyline itself. In the story, it is revealed that Abby Cable’s husband, Matt, who was miraculously healed following an accident, was in fact being possessed by Abby’s own uncle, the evil villain, Anton Arcane!! And the two of them had sex in the issue!! That was also too much for the Comics Code folks (note that I originally had a brain lapse, and wrote father instead of uncle, which is silly, as I knew the joke in the issue was that he reveals himself by telling her, “Say Uncle”! Thanks to the folks who wrote in to correct me).
And since that was basically a major part of the issue, DC decided to ultimately release the issue without the Code approval, and once they made that decision, presumably felt that since the world didn’t end with that, they would just stop submitting it for Code approval, all together, leading to their “Sophisticated Suspense” “warning” that the comic was intended for adult readers.
Now, I say “basically true” because I really do not know if DC was planning on doing this ANYways, and this just sped things up. It was pretty clear at the time that A. The book was a hit and B. Alan Moore was going to continue exploring some pretty dark areas, so it was probably expected that they would eventually have to do something with the Comics Code.
It just so happens that it was this story that made them finally go through with it – I just do not know whether it just sped things up, or whether it decided things for them.
Many thanks to John McDonagh, who sent me this one, and is probably responsible for more urban legend suggestions than any other reader! Thanks again, John! You’re the bee’s knees!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for all this week’s covers!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next week!