Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #157

This is the one-hundred and fifty-seventh in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and fifty-six. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

Let's begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Johnny Carson apologized to Jack Kirby on the air of the Tonight Show after insulting Kirby on the show


Reader Ken Holtzhouser asked me about this one the other day, noting that it had been bugging him for years after he recalled seeing, years ago, Carson apologize to Kirby on the air.

The story is a rather odd one, but it ultimately had a good ending.

I wrote a few years back about Kirby's involvement in one of the great comic book disasters, the launch of Harvey's 3-D comic, Captain 3-D.

Years later, in 1982, Kirby drew another 3-D comic, along with the great Ray Zone - it was called Battle of the Third-Dimensional World.

Along with the comic, they included 3-D glasses that had on them "Jack Kirby, King of the Comics." (click on the glasses to enlarge the image)

Well, at some point the year, Johnny Carson did a bit involving the glasses, and it soon turned into a riff on the tagline on the glasses.

Carson was quite put off that this Kirby guy was calling himself the "King of the Comics" when he had not even heard of him. Carson asked Ed McMahon if he had heard o him. No, Ed, said. The bit went on for awhile, with Carson ripping Kirby the whole time.

Well, as you might imagine, Kirby was quite displeased about this whole thing. So displeased, that he even got a lawyer involved.

Ultimately, things were resolved amicably, with Carson devoting time in his show to apologizing to Kirby for his mistaken comments.

I'm a bit uncertain about some of the specifics of the situation. Mark Evanier has described the situation on his website in the past here suggesting that lawyers never actually got directly involved, but I am pretty sure that a lawyer WAS involved - unless the situation Evanier is describing in the above linked story is somehow a different friend of his that was accidentally insulted by Carson. Hopefully, Mark will stop by and clear it up for us - but the main gist of the story is straightforward - Carson accidentally thought Kirby was making claims Kirby was not making, so he ripped Kirby - Kirby got mad, Carson apologized.

Pretty trippy, huh?

Two "Kings" going at it - the King of Late Night and the King of Comics!!

Thanks to Ken Holtzhouser for the question, Mark Evanier for the information and Jeff Sharpe for the scan of the glasses!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Blackhawks were inspired by the Flying Tigers

STATUS: Most Likely False

A few years back, I featured the story of Bert Christman, a comic book artist who did a feature about volunteer pilots who later went on to be a volunteer pilot himself, as a member of the legendary "Flying Tiger" pilots of the early 1940s - who fought volunteer missions for China during World War II.

Reader Shane Williams asked:

Were the Blackhawks based on the real life 'Flying Tigers'

As far as I can tell, Shane, no, no they were not.

First off, the dates are off a bit - the Flying Tigers began forming in the late 1940s, but were not in the form that drew them the most amount of fame until after Military Comics #1 was released in early Summer of 1941 - the first appearance of the Blackhawks.

The Flying Tigers' first official mission was not until December of 1941.

However, it is still possible that, since recruiting for the group had started before they actually went into battle, that the creators of the Blackhawks, Will Eisner, Chuck Cuidera and Bob Powell were inspired by the recruited group and specifically their fellow comic artist, Christman.

That said, two things stand out...

1. Christman did not leave for the Flying Tigers until the Summer of 1941, likely too late to inspire the creation of a book that was published in early Summer, 1941


2. The creators of the comic, specifically Cuidera, have been very open with the origins of the Blackhawks, even explaining other works that directly influenced the creation of the Blackhawks, and none of them ever addressed Christman or the Flying Tigers as an influence.

So I'm going with a most likely no, the Blackhawks were not inspired by the Flying Tigers.

Thanks to Shane for the question, Mark Evanier (for providing the transcription of a panel where the creation of the Blackhawks was discussed) and finally, Andred Glaess, for his piece about Christman on his website about the aviators of World War II here.

For fun, check out the history of the Flying Tigers here.

And check out this picture of a member of the group...named Bill Reed!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The inker "Crusty Bunkers" was really a group of artists.


Reader Sparky MacMillan sent me an e-mail awhile back:

Back in the 70s when I first got into collecting comics (rather than casually reading), I started to become aware of the artists and writers credited in the books and associate them with good/bad art/writing, allowing me to make future decisions about purchases based on who the creative team was. However, I ran a cross a name than perplexed me: Crusty Bunkers. He apparently was an inker at Marvel, although his inks seemed wildly erratic. It was later that a friend told me that Crusty wasn't just one guy but a bunch of guys. In fact "Crusty Bunkers" was the alias of a group of artists Marvel would call in to ink a book when it was late or the regular inker fell through. I was told Neal Adams was the ringleader and his associates in Bunker fame varied depending on whoever was available. I have never been able to verify this.

So, my question ultimately would be "Who is Crusty Bunkers?"

I'd be glad to help you out, Sparky - your friend is, indeed, correct!

Crusty Bunker was a name that was used for a group of artists, organized by Neal Adams, that would pitch in together to get projects done by working together as a team - very much like John Romita's famous "Romita's Raiders."

John Mundt, on his LiveJournal, devoted a whole MONTH to Crusty Bunker, and here is all the names he could find who were Crusty Bunker:

The names of those who once contributed to inking as Crusty Bunker reads like a Who's Who of comic book history. In their ranks are master illustrators, classic embellishers, inventive creators, brilliant writers, innovative editors, amazing publishers, and many, many artists who are so famous that they are often known simply by just their last name. Still, as you read this list (which is just below), try to look past all of that. Try to see these people as a community of friends. Imagine them thirty-five years younger, working side by side into the wee hours of the morning as they struggle to meet a deadline. Think about how one may have helped another, who then influenced another, who inspired another, who challenged yet another. These legends are, ultimately, just people...and that makes their collaboration as Crusty Bunker, and their subsequent groundbreaking work, all the more remarkable. Here, then, to the best of my research, are as many of the names behind the name as I could find -

The Crusty Bunkers

Jack Abel, Neal Adams, Vicente Alcazar, Sal Amendola, Steven Austin, Terry Austin, Joe Barney, Rick Basile, Pat Bastienne, Pat Broderick, Joe Brozowski, Frank Brunner, Rick Bryant, Rich Buckler, Frank Cirocco, Howard Chaykin, Dave Cockrum, Mike Collins, Denys Cowan, Ed Davis, Joe D'Esposito, Karin Dougherty, Steve Engelhart, John Fuller, Dick Giordano, Dan Green, Larry Hama, Steve Harper, Russ Heath, Klaus Janson, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Paul Kirchner, Alan Kupperberg, Carl Lundgren, Estaban Maroto, Gary Martin, Bob McLeod, Al Milgrom, Steve Mitchell, Yong Montano, Tim Moriarity, Gray Morrow, Mike Nasser/Michael Netzer, Bruce Patterson, Carl Potts, Ralph Reese, Mark Rice, Marshall Rogers, Josef Rubinstein, Walter Simonson, Jim Sherman, Mary Skrenes, Bob Smith, Jim Starlin, Greg Theakston, Trevor von Eeden, Alan Weiss, Bob Wiacek, Gary Winnick, and Berni Wrightson.

Click here to read more about the Crusty Bunkers, courtesy of Mr. Mundt's fabulous LiveJournal.

The Crusty Bunkers started in 1972 and were basically done by 1977.

Here is the first comic "Mr. Bunker" ever inked, Weird Worlds #2...

Also via John is Michael Netzer on how the "man" got his name:

As I remember, the name is based on something Neal heard one of his kids saying, such as, "You crusty bunker..." or some such phrase which Neal latched onto and later used as a name for the group... as he's known to do at times. Other such examples of word plays with Neal include his attempt to overcome the pain of a toothache without pills; "Transcending dental medication"... and the famous "Sliding down the razor blade of life." Which is still heard sometimes when Neal talks about the precarious human condition.

Thanks to Sparky MacMillan for the question and thanks especially to John Mundt (and Michael Netzer - whose website can be found here) for the information!

Okay, that's it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week's covers!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

See you next week!

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