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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #53!

by  in Comic News Comment

This is the fifty-third 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 fifty-two.

Last year was the end of the first year of doing this, and this installment is the beginning of year TWO!

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Mike W. Barr was initially inspired to write Batman: Year Two upon reading Frank Miller’s seminal Batman storyline, Batman: Year One.

STATUS: False

One of the “problems” from the later collections of comic book storylines is that later readers tend to get a bit fuzzy on dates. For instance, readers from 2006 are not aware as much of the large delays in titles like Watchmen or Dark Knight Returns, mainly because they only know the works AS collections.

It is because of this phenomenen, I believe, that leads people to believe that Mike W. Barr came up with the idea for Batman: Year Two based upon Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One.

This is not the case, which would be a bit more reasonable if people remembered the comics as COMICS, not collections, as they would then recall that Batman: Year One…


came out a mere FIVE months before Batman: Year Two….


In any event, Barr had originally came up with the idea back in 1984, and the story was to be titled Batman: 1980. DC turned the idea down, though, because the idea of looking back into Batman’s continuity was not seen as appealing.

Post-Crisis, though, things changed, and when word got out that Miller was doing Year One, current Detective Comics writer Barr was offered the chance to do a matching story.

He dug out the old “Batman 1980” stories, made a few appropriate changes, and viola, a story “inspired” by a story that was written two years after it.

Quite a trick.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Wendy Pini used to attend comic conventions dressed as Red Sonja.

STATUS: True

I have heard this one a few different times, most recently on the Comics Journal messageboard, citing an entry on Mark Evanier’s blog, News From Me.
Here is the lowdown from the website for Creation Entertainment, which helps organize genre conventions (sci-fi, comics, etc.).


In their section on conventions from days gone by, the site points out…WENDY PINI, co-creator of Elfquest, in her Red Sonja costume that she wore while frequently appearing with Sonja writer Frank Thorne.


FRANK THORNE (with GENE COLAN looking on) and WENDY PINI created the RED SONJA SHOW which they performed at several comic book events in the early seventies.

Evanier’s entry was about an appearances Pini made on the Mike Douglas show along with Phil Seuling. Seuling was asked by Douglas to bring along someone dressed up as a comic book character. Much to everyone’s surprise, the comic book character Seuling was thinking of was Red Sonja!

Here is a pic from the show, courtesy of Evanier’s site, with the four people in the photo being, from left to right, Mike Douglas, Phil Seuling, Wendy Pini and Jamie Farr (co-host for that show).


Pretty neat, eh?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Gyro Gearloose was cut off from the rest of the Uncle Scrooge gang due to postal rules.

STATUS: True

Carl Barks created many popular comic book characters for Disney, none greater than Uncle Scrooge. One invention, though, was Gyro Gearloose, the inventor.


Gyro was pretty popular, and proven popular enough to gain his own back-up story in the pages of Uncle Scrooge, beginining in 1956’s issue #13…


However, mere popularity wasn’t the only reason for Gyro’s inclusion. According to Daniël van Eijmeren’s amazing website, the Guide to the Carl Barks Universe

As explained in the entry for “Land Beneath the Ground” (US 13-02), the Gyro Gearloose stories that began in “Uncle Scrooge” No. 13 came about as a result of Western’s applying for a second class mailing permit for the comic. To gain second class privileges a periodical must contain at least two stories, each one featuring different characters. Barks turned to Gyro Gearloose, the inventor, to provide the required second feature.Two stories had been completed before it was realized that no characters from the lead story could be used.

This is why Gyro did not appear in most of Barks’ Uncle Scrooge stories, he COULDN’T!

It’s too bad, too, as I liked Gyro. What the heck WAS he, anyways? A chicken?

Well, that’s it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

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