Welcome to the four hundred and ninety-eighth 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 ninety-seven. As I mentioned last week, I’m in Paris this week doing a Comic Book Legends Revealed exhibit at the Paris Comics Expo, so I thought it’d be fun to tie in this week’s legends with the Paris Comics Expo. Therefore, each legend this week will be tied in to an artist appearing at the show! How did the size of Batman’s gun lead to Alan Davis quitting Detective Comics? Did Elliot S! Maggin get fired from DC over Superman’s appearance in Loeb and Sale’s Challengers of the Unknown series? And how do we owe MySpace for seeing Adi Granov’s artist vision on the Iron Man films?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Alan Davis quit Detective Comics over the size of Batman’s gun on the cover to Detective Comics #575.
STATUS: Basically True (at least in terms of it being his proverbial last straw)
First up is Alan Davis.
Alan Davis was already a successful comic book artist in his native England (famously drawing Captain Britain and Marvelman) when he got his big break in the United States taking over for Jim Aparo on Batman and the Outsiders with writer Mike W. Barr when Aparo left to launch the Direct Market version of the title, The Outsiders (just like how Keith Giffen and George Perez each stopped drawing the newsstand versions of their titles, Legion of Super-Heroes and New Teen Titans, to also launch Direct Market versions of those titles). The stint on Outsiders was inherently limited (as the plan was for the Direct Edition to run new stories and then a year later those stories would appear in the Newsstand edition – thus, there was only the need for a year’s worth of stories from another artist before Aparo’s Direct Market stories would take over – as it turned out, there was no market for this approach and all three books were canceled very soon after they switched to the reprint format) but it worked to launch Davis’ career in the States.
After Crisis on Infinite Earths led to DC shuffling their editorial offices, Denny O’Neil took over the Bat books and while he was working on doing Year One with Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli over on Batman, he brought Barr and Davis over to Detective Comics for what proved to be an awesome, if sadly short-lived run on the title.
You might be thinking, “but WHY was it so short?”
There were a couple of factors. While it was perhaps not the biggest one, Davis WAS being wooed by Chris Claremont to come over to Marvel even before the Detective Comics run began. It is hard to resist when a guy is offering you a gig drawing the X-Men, ya know? But Davis had committed to DC, so he stuck with them.
The bigger factor was that he felt that he and Barr were running into editorial problems on Detective Comics. The biggest problem is that Davis was such a fast and professional artist that he was beginning to be sort of ignored by editorial, as they tended to set their sights on the late artists while ignoring the guys getting in work on time. In fact, the bigger issue is that Davis was so fast that he was getting in work well ahead of deadline.
This led to a problem with Batman: Year Two.
In the story, which featured Joe Chill, Barr wanted Joe Chill to have a really big gun. He asked Davis to draw Chill with a Mauser (like the one Manhunter used…
So Davis did so, all throughout Detective Comics #575 plus the cover to the issue. However, Davis then came across copies of the pages for Batman #404 (set to come out months before Batman: Year Two – that’s how far ahead Davis was) by Miller and Mazzucchelli.
In it, Joe Chill uses a different gun…
Davis suggested that they change Mazzucchelli’s panels, as it was only in a few panels.
Instead, DC decided to have Davis re-draw all of his drawings of Chill’s gun, including the cover to Detective Comics #575…
Davis refused and Dick Giordano ended up doing it instead. And that was the last straw for Davis. He quit and took Claremont up on his offer (the two launched Excalibur soon after, although Davis eventually went back to DC and has done a number of projects for DC over the years).
Thanks to Eric Nolen-Weathington and Alan Davis for this great story from Modern Masters: Alan Davis from TwoMorrows. Be sure to go out and buy a copy! It’s a great read!
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Why did Michael Landon REALLY blow up the Little House on the Prairie sets?
On the next page, did an editor get fired for allowing Superman to appear in Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Challengers of the Unknown?
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