Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and seventeenth week of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
A comic creator lifted the Joker’s origin for two different villains within two years of the Joker’s debut.
Let’s get this right out of the way before we begin – almost every Golden Age artist swiped other people’s art. It was just the way that things worked back then. Alex Raymond and Hal Foster’s drawings almost appeared more in comics drawn by OTHER people than in comics drawn by Alex Raymond and Hal Foster. In Batman’s first appearance in “Detective Comics” #27, Bob Kane swiped many of the drawings in many of the panels from other sources. Heck, that same first “Batman” story in “Detective Comics” #27 was stolen by Bill Finger from a “Shadow” story. So it happened a LOT. We are by no means here to say that we are shocked, shocked that there is gambling going on here.
That being said, these two particular swipes are funny enough that I felt them worthy of being spotlighted here.
For ease, I’ll use the stated cover date for each book (just note that the on-sale date was months earlier). In June 1940, “Batman” #1 came out and in the introduction of the Joker (by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos), here is how he was introduced.
Pretty awesome, right?
George Brenner clearly thought so. Brenner was a comic book writer and artist who rose up the ranks at Quality Comics, becoming an executive editor there. In “Crack Comics” #4, from just TWO MONTHS after the release of “Batman” #1, Brenner wrote and drew a story featuring his hero, The Clock (who was actually the first masked hero in comics – he predated Batman by years!) fighting against the Asp. Check out how the Asp is introduced…
Isn’t that amazing! He just lifted the plot of another comic book company’s big debut issue (Batman was already a major hit character by 1940) and used it almost wholeseale!
Then, to boot, a year later, in “Smash Comics” #25, Brenner did another riff on the Joker in his Bozo the Robot feature, with the Clown!
That is TOO funny.
But again, this was pretty common back in the day, so don’t judge Brenner too harshly.
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at CBR: Did James Lipton seriously write the awesome theme song to “Thundercats?
OK, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends. — half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).
The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…
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See you all next week!