COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Paul Levitz used note cards to keep the cast of the Legion of Superheroes straight.
A good deal of myths related to comic books (heck, myths related to anything, really) come down to basically a glorified version of the game “telephone.” A person will say one thing, it will be repeated to another – just slightly modified, and that version will be repeated – also slightly modified, until you have something that is just accepted as “truth,” but is not.
In fact, the inspiration for this feature is based on something exactly like this, where Walt Simonson had a story in Fantastic Four #350 where he revealed that Doctor Doom was traveling through time, so that a good deal of his past appearances were actually Doom-bots. Simonson left it to readers to make up their own decision as to which Dooms were “real” and which were not, but it soon was twisted into saying that SIMONSON kept such a list.
Similarly, Paul Levitz has talked more than once over the years about his Legion of Superheroes “scorecard.”
As the story has been retold, it has basically entered into fan lore that, because the book had so many characters, as noted in the famous (infamous, I guess, if you’re looking at it from Keith Giffen’s perspective) Keith Giffen Legion poster from the 1980s (pic courtesy of my pal, Paul Newell)…
that when Levitz says “scorecard,” he meant he kept cards keeping track of the various members of the group.
However, that is not the case.
Jamie Coville brought up this very topic with Levitz a few years back in one of his Coville’s Clubhouse features for The Collector Times, and Levitz cleared the record up:
Coville: It was fairly common knowledge in fan circles that you used cards to keep track of the characters in your second stint as LSH writer. How exactly did that work?
Levitz: Never used cards, actually. Probably comes from a remark about using a SCORECARD to keep track. Basically, a column down the left spelled out the plotlines I had in works. Sequential columns were labelled by upcoming issues, and indicated the developments I expected.
So there ya go!
That clears THAT one up (and I only just recently saw a fan reference Levitz’s character note cards on a forum, so this one has persisted to this day)!
Reader Patrick Wynne adds that in Denny O’Neil’s book DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics, he gives an example of the “Levitz Grid.” Thanks for the tip, Patrick!!
Thanks to Paul Newell for the pic, Paul Levitz for the information and Jamie Coville for GETTING the information!
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.
See you next week!
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