Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #19!

by  in Comic News Comment
Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #19!

This is the nineteenth 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 eighteen.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Dave Cockrum once sold the same character to both DC and Marvel…at the same time!!!


It can be quite useful to be able to work for two companies at once, but beware, because there are always pitfalls involved, including this one that befell Dave Cockrum (Thanks to Paul Newell for sending me this tale):

I had tried selling Manphibian at both companies and I sold it to Marvel, finally. Marv Wolfman and I were working on a Manphibian strip, so I was really kind of horrified to get my next Legion plot and discover that Manphibian was in that, too. I scrambled over to DC and got Cary [Bates] and told him, “Listen, you can’t use that! I just sold it to Marvel!” So we changed the name and I changed the visual and Devilfish made out better. I mean, he got a sequel, which Manphibian never did.

Here is Manphibian’s debut, in the first issue of Legion of Monsters in 1975.

Meanwhile, here is Devilfish’s debut in Superboy #202, which came out a little bit earlier, in 1974.

It is like the plot to a sitcom!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston invented the polygraph test!


It has long been a funny sort of dramatic irony that William Moulton Marston, creator of Wonder Woman and her golden lariat, which forces people to tell the truth, was also the inventor of the polygraph test, which (purportedly) detects whether people are lying.

However, this is not the case.

Marston WAS, however, an early innovator in the field of lie detection, and his contributions to the polygraph test should not be overlooked, for Martson DID, in fact, invent the first lie detector of any sorts, in 1917. In 1921, Martson published his doctoral thesis for Harvard University. The title was “Systolic blood pressure symptoms of deception and constituent mental states.” That was Marston’s innovation – the idea that, by testing a subject’s systolic blood pressure, one would be able to determine whether the subject was lying.

The polygraph test, however, uses three OTHER methods, not just blood pressure. It is only when using the four methods combined that the results of the polygraph test are achieved. The other three tests are for heart rate, respiration and skin conductivity.

Still, one out of four is very impressive!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: John Byrne wrote TWO separate first issues of Blood of the Demon!


Yes, the first issue of the Blood of the Demon has a very interesting pedigree.

On his forum, John Byrne described the situation like this (for the original quote, click here and scroll down about halfway):

I have been pitching a Demon series every couple of years or so since I first went to work for DC “full time” in the days of MAN OF STEEL. With a “new regime” in the form of Dan DiDio, I decided it was time to try again, but this time, knowing Dan comes from a Hollywood background, I decided to take a slightly different approach. To this end, I sat down and “shot the pilot”, drawing, completely on spec, the whole 22 pages of my “first issue”. This I turned in to Dan, along with a script. He liked it — but there was a problem. DC has a new policy (DC seems to be in love with new policies, just at the nonce) which requires that all work done with existing characters be vouchered before the work is done. (Smart, I suppose — prevents people popping up later and trying to say work-made-for-hire was not, in fact, work-made-for-hire.) This meant they could not use the “pilot” — but they did want a Demon series from me.

So, with echoes of STAR TREK in my brain, I wrote up vouchers for the first six issues, and sat down to salvage as many pages from the original job as I could. (Imagine if “The Menagerie” had been ST:TOS’s second pilot.) This turned out to be quite a few, luckily for me. Altho some got left out, and some got chopped up (literally) to make new pages, I ended up with a new story that was just as satisfying, to me, as the first one had been.

I have been enjoying Blood of the Demon. I hope it sticks around.

Well, that’s it for me this week!

Feel free to tell me some urban legends you have heard, and I will try to confirm or deny them (always better to have someone give me a good one, like Paul did this week, than to scrounge up my own…hehe)!