This is the thirtieth 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 twenty-nine.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Frank Brunner and Steve Englehart faked a fan letter to themselves.
In an interview in Comic Book Artist #6, Frank Brunner shared an interesting story about how he and Steve Englehart managed to wriggle their way out of a small controversy over a storyline in their Doctor Strange series in Marvel Premiere involing Sise-neg/Genesis, which basically revolved around Dr. Strange following “God” along as he creates the universe
We had just completed Marvel Premiere #14-well, I had just completed the pencils, most of the art, but for some reason or another, nobody took notice of what we were doing. When the book came out, Stan finally got a hold of it, and I don’t know, somebody pointed it out, or he read it, and he wrote us a letter saying, “We can’t do God. You’re going to have to print in the letters column a retraction saying this is not ‘the’ God, this is just a god.” Steve and I said, “Oh, come on! This is the whole point of the story! If we did that retraction of God, this is meaningless!” So, Steve happened to be on his way to Texas for something, this is when we were in California, and we cooked up this plot-we wrote a letter from a Reverend Billingsley in Texas, a fictional person, saying that one of the children in his parish brought him the comic book, and he was astounded and thrilled by it, and he said, “Wow, this is the best comic book I’ve ever read.” And we signed it “Reverend so-and-so, Austin Texas”-and when Steve was in Texas, he mailed the letter so it had the proper postmark. Then, we got a phone call from Roy, and he said, “Hey, about that retraction, I’m going to send you a letter, and instead of the retraction, I want you to print this letter.” And it was our letter! We printed our letter!
In July of 1995, Mike Deodato was credited as the artist on Avengers #398, Glory #5 and Wonder Woman #99 and 100.
Mike Deodato did not draw all those comics, which was a common occurance in the mid-90s, much to Deodato’s chagrin, as he has to deal with the ramifications of those days even now.
In the early 90s, Mike Deodato was a very hard worker. Never one to turn down a challenge, when a company offered him work, he accepted it. And when they asked him to form his own studio, it became “the biggest mistake of his life.” According to Deodato,
I signed to do six issues of Glory at Extreme, with the understanding I’d do as much as I could before I moved on to an exclusive contract at Marvel after Wonder Woman was over. They asked if I could set up a Studio of other people who could more or less work in my style to continue it. Marvel was sort of looking for the same thing on some of their titles…so I said OK, as long as the artists’ names got listed. Extreme ignored that, slapped my name over everything — including numerous books I’d never even heard of — no matter who did them or what the style or quality was. Artists Ed Benes, Mozart Couto, Emir Ribeiro, and Rene Micheletti got the short end of the stick there. I remember a Glory cover — it may have been #8 — that Ed Benes signed his name to, and in the printed book my signature was pasted on overtop it.
While Extreme was the more egregious example, Marvel was not great, either,
I had to report back to Marvel every incident where it happened. It was sad. Marvel also put the Studio on books where they wanted my style and I was too busy or the budget couldn’t afford me personally, because I was getting a real good rate. Marvel was more conscientious about the credit, but didn’t always get it 100% right. The result was I was credited — or blamed — for a ton of work I had nothing to do with, and it haunts me to this day.
And, as Deodato mentions later, even to this day, he has to deal with the suspicion that he is not doing his own work, which is certainly something that can weigh upon a creative talent, as it resulted in situations like, as Deodato describes,
An X-Men editor hired me to do a 12-page Nightcrawler story, saying, “I want Deodato’s best work! Really tight, powerful pencils, the best he’s ever done, and I want HIM to do it, not his Studio.” Even at Marvel, one of the places where they asked me to do that Studio for awhile, it still haunted me years afterward. Dave said, “Deodato doesn’t have a Studio,” and the editor replied, “I don’t care, I don’t want his Studio doing this.”
It was the late 60s when the young Jim Shooter began working on Legion of Superheroes, and he wanted to try new things. One of the ideas he had was to have the first black superhero (a feat achieved very soon after Shooter made his proposal, in the person of the Black Panther over in Fantastic Four). The character who was to BE the first black superhero? Legion of Superhero member, Ferro Lad.
According to Shooter,
Ferro Lad (who was masked, remember) was supposed to be black. My plan was that when this was revealed, no one would bat an eye—it would be a total non-issue as one might expect in the enlightened future. Mort vetoed it on the grounds that if we had a black character ID wholesaler distributors in the South would refuse to carry DC Comics. Hmf.
The question is open, though, as to whether this decision by Weisinger directly led to Shooter’s decision to soon after kill off Ferro Lad.
I do not know about whether the refusal to make him black led to Shooter killing off Ferro Lad.
Well, that’s it for this week, folks!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!!