Welcome to the four hundred and fifth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and four. This week, learn of the secret return to the X-Men titles Chris Claremont made in 1999! Discover whether Steve Ditko seriously turned down a chance to adapt Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged as a comic book! Finally, what’s the deal with this Peanuts comic strip with Charlie Brown and archery?
COMIC LEGEND: Chris Claremont secretly wrote three issues of X-Men before his official return to the titles in 2000.
After Steven Seagle and Joe Kelly quit writing the two main X-Men titles in 1999, the X-Franchise was in a bit of a bind. Alan Davis had recently been brought in by his old friend and collaborator Chris Claremont to have a short run as the penciler on one of the X-Men titles and he recalled in his Modern Masters volume about how the penciling gig grew into something more…
Only a few weeks after beginning penciling, Mark Powers phoned and said Joe Kelly and Steven Seagle had quit, and asked if I’d help out by plotting the next issue. I said I would and sent a plot in. Mark phoned and said they really liked the plot and would I plot Uncanny as well? So I said okay and it was “can you plot next month’s as well?” [laughter] I’d said there was no way I could manage to do the dialogue, so I just continued penciling one and plotting both X-Men titles and suddenly 18 months have passed and I’ve penciled 11 issues and plotted 24 or more.
Davis’ run was an interesting arrangement, as it seemed almost destined to be a placeholder run. He described the time as:
In that instance, however Mark Powers gave me lists of characters and events that had to be introduced or resolved to tie in with other titles. It was complicated because the other writers and editors didn’t want to play ball. It got very messy. Working on X-Men was my most “professional” writing, in that I was problem-solving rather than coming up with ideas that I would have chosen.
In any event, Davis worked with a few different scripters over his plots. Mostly, Terry Kavanagh (Davis’ old editor on Excalibur) did the scripts…
but so did Jay Faerber…
Interestingly, though, X-Men #95-96 and Uncanny X-Men #379 all have credits for ONLY Alan Davis…
This is because these issues were secretly scripted by Chris Claremont, in his return to the X-Men titles a little bit before he officially returned with X-Men #100 and Uncanny X-Men #381. This information was confirmed in 2009 in the Official Index to the Marvel Universe.
Here’s some sample pages from X-Men #95…
X-Men #96 (Wolverine even says “a body”)…
And Uncanny #379…
Thanks to Alan Davis and Eric Nolen-Weathington for the quotes! Go buy Modern Masters: Alan Davis!
Check out some Entertainment Urban Legends Revealed!
Was Madeline Really an Orphan?
COMIC LEGEND: Marvel tried to do a comic book adaptation of Atlas Shrugged in the early 1990s with Steve Ditko doing the adaptation!
Reader Jason C. wrote in a couple of years ago to ask whether the following statement was true:
Despite being strongly influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand Steve Ditko was once offered a chance to work on an adaptation of Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged by turned it down.
Oddly enough, Jason, that’s exactly what happened!
Atlas Shrugged, of course, is the famed final novel from Ayn Rand, founder of the philosophical movement known as “Objectivism,” which legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko was/is a follower of.
Former Marvel editor Mort Todd discussed what could have been on the Ditkomania group at Yahoo! in response to someone noting that Ditko had turned down the chance to do a comic book adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead:
In fact, it was Atlas Shrugged. When I was an Editor at Marvel [which was during the 1990s – BC], I got them to approve a 4 issue graphic novel series (though I wanted to do a 44 issue Akira-style adaptation). The Rand Estate was cool with it as long as Ditko would draw it and I was going to get John Severin to ink it. Steve declined and I think the world lost out on a masterpiece!
As it turned out, Ditko felt that he did not wish to be the one who actually came up with the visualizations of characters heretofore only visualized within the reader’s mind. I suppose he found it too presumptuous?
In any event, we missed out on what certainly would have been at the very least an interesting collaboration between two of the more notable pop culture figures of the 20th Century!
Thanks to Jason for the question and thanks to Mort Todd for the information!
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed dealing with Chris Claremont’s X-Men!
Did Dave Sim and Chris Claremont really once plan a Cerebus/X-Men crossover?
COMIC LEGEND: There is a notable Peanuts strip where Charlie Brown shoots arrows and then draws targets around wherever they land, making it look like he was dead on each time.
It really is fascinating how some of these stories become so ingrained in the public consciousness.
Here’s a sampling of different articles all citing the same comic strip:
A Peanuts cartoon once depicted Charlie Brown practicing archery in his back yard. Target after target had been drawn on the wooden fence. Each one had a whole in the bull’s-eye where Charlie Brown had shot an arrow. Lucy stops by and wants Charlie Brown to demonstrate his skills. To her surprise, Charlie took the arrow, placed it on his bow and fired it into the fence, not anywhere near a target. He then proceeded to draw a target around the arrow. Lucy could not help but question, “Charlie Brown, what are you doing?” Without any embarrassment he answered, “I’m making sure I never miss.”
Unfortunately that approach is often taken in ministry. Programs are launched and if anything is accomplished we are quickly claim to have reached the intended goal. Much energy, time, and resources are wasted when we fail to aim at a specific target.
A Peanuts cartoon had Charlie Brown shooting his new bow and arrow. Each time he shot it; he would run to the fence and draw a bull’s eye around the arrow. Lucy saw what he was doing and informed him that he was not doing it correctly. His reply to her was, “It works. I always hit the target.” Many people are like Charlie Brown. They are shooting their arrows into the air and drawing a bull’s eye around wherever they land. They operate under the old idiom, “If you aim for nothing you will hit it every time.” The problem with this philosophy is that it accomplishes little and it leaves the individual feeling empty and unfulfilled.
People who know their God-given purpose are determined to hit the target God has set for them. This point reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown was practicing his archery. In addition to his bow and arrow, Charlie Brown took a paintbrush and a bucket of paint along.
Pulling an arrow from his quiver, he drew the string back firmly and let it slide from his fingers, hurling the arrow toward its destination. Approaching the target with his bucket of paint in tow, Charlie Brown drew a bull’s eye around the arrow.
Frustrated by this nonsense, Lucy asked Charlie what he was doing. Charlie Brown answered, “This way I ensure I always hit my target.”
Sadly, this is the way many Christians live their lives. Wherever the arrows of life happen to land, they claim, was their destination all along!
Of course, all of these articles are citing a cartoon that never actually existed (just like the IRS Peanuts strip from a few Comic Book Legends Revealed ago)
It is a joke that once showed up in a Brother Juniper strip…
But never in Peanuts.
Al Pascale thinks that it derives from the following passage in John Maxwell’s book “The Winning
One day Charlie Brown was in his back yard having target practice with his bow and arrow. He would pull the bow string back and let the arrow fly into a fence. Then he would go to where the arrow had landed and draw a target around it. Several arrows and targets later, Lucy said, “You don’t do target practice that way. You draw the target, then shoot the arrow.” Charlie’s response: “I know that, but if you do it my way, you never miss!”
While Maxwell never actually says there was a strip, I tend to think he’s just doing the same as the above writers and referencing what he thinks WAS an actual strip, but I could be wrong.
Either way, the strip never existed!
Thanks to Derrick Bang for the Brother Juniper connection! Thanks to Al Pascale for his theory!
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did Ernie Hudson seriously lose out on his OWN role in Ghostbusters when he auditioned for the Real Ghostbusters cartoon?
Okay, 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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See you all next week!
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