Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and first installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the weekly three legends.
Beast became furry due to the success of Werewolf By Night
False, but true in a roundabout way
When you’ve been doing over 700 editions of a column, there are certain trends that repeat themselves frequently and the most common one, by far, is the idea of the children’s party game, “Telephone,” where one person tells a phrase to another person who tells it to the next person until you get to the end of the line and see how mangled the original phrase has gotten in the retelling.
That is the basic reasoning behind the “fact” that I have seen in a few places discussing Beast’s change to a furry form in 1972 that “The concept originated with Roy Thomas, an effort to make the character more visibly striking, and Beast also became more werewolf-like to capitalize on the success of Werewolf by Night.”
Naturally, Beast DOES, in fact, look a lot like Werewolf By Night.
However, Beast turned furry in Amazing Adventures #11, which came out either the last month of 1971 or the first month of 1972 (for a March 1972 cover date)..
(I recently wrote about that period for an Abandoned Love here)
Werewolf by Night debuted in Marvel Spotlight #2, which came out either the second to last month of 1971 or the last month of 1971 (for a February 1972 cover date)…
Obviously, then, the Beast did not turn furry due to the success of a character whose first issue came out a month earlier than his. That’s not comic books work.
However, the real “fault” behind the genesis of this article just comes from a sort of misconstruction of what Steve Englehart said in this great interview by GrnMarvel14 on Marvel Wikia:
Gerry Conway wrote Amazing Adventures #11, with the Beast first in his furry form, but you picked up the series with issue 12. Whose idea was it to turn him furry, and was there any reason beyond it being a new direction for the character?
Englehart: I think the idea was Roy Thomas’s. It was around the time that Subby got black leathers, and the reason in both cases, as I understand it, was to make them more visually striking — in the Beast’s case, as part of a new direction, as you say. For the same reason, his light gray fur later changed to dark gray to make him more striking. That new direction, in addition, was around the time that Werewolf by Night and the other monster characters were doing well, so that’s why he got more “werewolf”-like in appearance. I kind of dug it, since he had to expand beyond simply using big words.
As Englehart notes, it was just “around the time that Werewolf by Night and the other monster characters were doing well,” which is true. This was around the time that the Comics Code had finally abandoned a lot of their monster restrictions, so Marvel was going overboard doing as many monster-related characters as possible, so the “beast” aspect of the Beast’s name was played up and he was turned into a sort of monster.
So Englehart’s comments were accurate, but the telephone game turned them into “Beast came about because of the success of Werewolf by Night,” which is not accurate.
Thanks to GrnMarvl14 and Steve Englehart for the information!
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Check back tomorrow for part 2 of this week’s legends!
And remember, if you have a legend that you’re curious about, drop me a line at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org!
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