Welcome to the two-hundred and ninety-fourth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and ninety-three.
Comic Book Legends Revealed is part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I'd especially recommend you check out this installment of TV Legends Revealed for the story behind why Cagney and Lacey kept crediting an actor in the opening credits years after he died, plus what actress was nominated for an Emmy for a role that lasted all of 14 seconds of screen time?
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COMIC LEGEND: Mickey Mouse fought the Nazis in a series of comic strips during the 1940s
You know, it's funny, the earlier edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that featured the old Mickey Mouse strips from 1930 where Mickey Mouse comically tried to kill himself for a few days (which you can find here) has been linked to so many times that I actually know the number of the installment off the top of my head (#114).
Anyhow, a reader recently wrote in to ask about a series of Mickey Mouse strips that, while perhaps not quite as bizarre as the sight of Mickey trying to blow his own brains out, were still pretty strange, namely, did Mickey Mouse ever fight the Nazis?
Specifically, reader Devin wrote in to ask, "I know you did a column on Mickey Mouse trying to kill himself, but is it also true that an old Mickey strip had him fighting the Nazis during World War II?"
The answer is, of course, a resounding yes!
In fact, more than a few of the Mickey Mouse comics of 1943 and 1944 involved Mickey against the Nazis.
Floyd Gotfredson was the plotter and the penciler for these stories, with Dick Moores on inks and Bill Walsh handling the scripting duties.
Mickey's Nazi problems began in late June of 1943, while he was asked by the Chief of Police to pose as a gasoline truck driver to investigate rumors of a Nazi spy ring in the States. Minnie came along for the ride and, well, things got dangerous...
After Mickey knocked the Nazi out, he had to steer the sub with his teeth while avoiding U.S. ships trying to sink the Nazi sub!
Eventually, things worked out okay...
Almost immediately (if not actually immediately) following this series of strips, the same creative team got together for an EPIC storyline with Mickey volunteering for a secret mission in Berlin...
It involved an experimental plane. However, through various problems, Mickey ends up losing the plane and getting captured to boot!
Through various (and amusing) hijinx (the whole thing lasted from the middle of July to the end of October, so it was a loooong story), Mickey ends up getting free and getting the plane back. He then goes on a strafing run of Germany...
After dipping his plane in tar, Mickey takes a novel approach to capturing some high-ranking Nazi officials...
At the end, we learn who the REAL hero of World War II was!
Even Pluto got into the act! In a short series of strips in February of 1944 (by the same Gotfredson/Walsh/Moores creative team), Pluto captures an escaped Nazi!
So there ya go, Devin! Mickey Mouse's World War II adventures!
COMIC LEGEND: Revell never actually gave away the full-sized replica of the Gemini spacecraft.
As you probably noticed by now, all month-long I have been featuring (and will continue to feature) interesting and amusing comic book ads in the feature "I Saw It Advertised One Day." Here is an archive of the ads that have been featured so far. I've asked people to send in suggestions for ads that they would like me to feature, and recently, a reader Steve M. wrote in to ask an interesting question:
Someone in the comments mentioned Clark bar ad offers that they thought that the company never actually went through. That reminded me of an old comic book ad where a model company said that they would donate a replica of the Gemini space model. A friend of mine years ago said that the whole thing was a scam and I have never seen or heard otherwise. So what's the deal?
Steve is referring to this striking ad from 1967...
Revell, as you may or may not know, is a very prominent company in the world of model kits. They continue to be so to this day (here is their website), but especially during the 1950s and 1960s, you could barely pick up a comic book without finding an ad for a Revell model kit!
But what's the deal with the Gemini replica? Did they ever actually give this thing away?
Luckily for us, Mark Engblom, of the awesome website, Comics Coverage, got to the bottom of the story, getting a response from Ms. Joyce Collier of the Revell Sales Department, who noted that the campaign was the brainstorm of Howard Reider, the PR and Marketing Manager of Revell during the 1960s. She had a bunch of interesting info about the campaign, including:
To confirm for all, this was not a model. This was an actual replica that was produced by McDonald Douglas. The capsule had to be shipped via railroad direct to the museum. The prize was awarded via a sweepstakes type entry, in order to win; the winner had to agree that they would donate to a local museum for two reasons, (1) So that others may enjoy and (2) Because it had to be shipped via railroad direct to the donation site.
A little more trivia for you, the cost of building this kit was $5,000. In 1967 $5,000 was unheard for any type of prize. Plus the additional model kits that the kid won. At least the kid got to keep all the model kits as he watched his beloved capsule given away. There were numerous glitches along the way in production. At the last minute McDonald Douglas said they would not provide the capsule. However, after seeing all the press etc, they some how found a way to complete the project and deliver to the museum.
Here's a few shots of the exhibit in use at its current home, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry...
Be sure to read more from Ms. Collier's letter at Mark's website here.
So who actually WON the contest?
The answer is found in a contemporary issue of Boy's Life magazine, which details that Boy Scout Robbie Alen Hanshaw, 13 years old, of Portland, Oregon, won the contest and donated the replica to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
Not only did Robbie win the right to donate the replica, but he received over 200 Revell model kits plus five years' worth of free Baskin Robbins ice cream! Wow, that is quite a prize for a 13 year old! The museum also gave him a lifetime membership.
Thanks to Joyce Collier for the interesting information and thanks to Mark Engblom for getting that info! And thanks to Boy's Life for the info about who won the contest!
COMIC LEGEND: A quote from an odd little comic about heroin abuse in 1966 ended up in in the Principia Discordia!
Principia Discordia is a well-known, and quite bizarre, text from the 1960s and 1970s (it was updated over the years) that deals with "Discordian" beliefs (which is that all there is in the universe is chaos, and both order and disorder are illusions of chaos).
You can decide for yourself whether Discordian believers actually believe what they are writing, or if they are just trying to satirize/mock the idea of religion.
Similarly, Principia Discordia can be read that way, as well - as a bizarre piece of humor or as, well, an actual book about Discordian beliefs.
Ethan Persoff runs an amazing site where he posts various comic book oddities, like, well, a comic book about heroin abuse from 1966 that was given out for a few months at methadone clinics in New York. You can read the whole thing here.
Here's a quick sample panel...
Well, what's interesting is that soon after Ethan put up Hooked on his site, a reader of his made an amazingly strange connection.
Check out this panel from Hooked...
Now check out this page from the 1968 edition of Principia Discordia...
Trippy, huh? That must be right up there with one of the most obscure references that you will ever see anywhere!!
Thanks to Ethan for Hooked (and his reader for the Principia Discordia pick-up)! Check out his site for more odd comic book goodies!!!
Okay, that's it for this week! I hope you all had a Very Happy New Year!!
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!
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...(click to enlarge)...
If you'd like to order it, you can use the following code if you'd like to send me a bit of a referral fee...
See you all next week!