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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #158

STATUS: True

As has been shown on numerous occasions, comic book artists like to base characters on famous people - usually actors.

When they do so, it usually is a matter where they come up with a character then decide to base the character's visual appearance on a famous celebrity.

Therefore, it is well known that John Constantine's visual look is based on the appearance of the musician Sting (then of the band The Police).

However, in the case of John Constantine, it was actually a MUCH stranger situation where Constantine was developed AFTER the idea to use Sting's appearance was determined.

In a 1993 interview with Wizard, Moore explained the strange genesis of Constantine:

Basically, when I take over something as a writer, I always try to work as closely as I can with the artists on the book, so I immediately did my best to strike up a friendship with Steve Bissette and John Totleben. I asked them what they would like to do in Swamp Thing . They both sent me reams of material. Things that they had always wanted to do in Swamp Thing, but never thought they would get away with. I incorporated this into my scheme of things, and tried to pin it all together.

One of those early notes was they both wanted to do a character that looked like Sting. I think DC is terrified that Sting will sue them, although Sting has seen the character and commented in Rolling Stone that he thought it was great. He was very flattered to have a comic character who looked like him, but DC gets nervous about these things. They started to eradicate all traces of references in the introduction of the early Swamp Thing books to John Constantine's resemblance to Sting . But I can state categorically that the character only existed because Steve and John wanted to do a character that looked like Sting. Having been given that challenge, how could I fit Sting into Swamp Thing ? I have an idea that most of the mystics in comics are generally older people, very austere, very proper, very middle class in a lot of ways. They are not at all functional on the street. It struck me that it might be interesting for once to do an almost blue-collar warlock. Somebody who was streetwise, working class, and from a different background than the standard run of comic book mystics. Constantine started to grow out of that.

Bissette and Totleben had already worked Sting into a previous issue (Saga of the Swamp Thing 25)....

But it was Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 that Constantine made his first real appearance, looking just like Sting (amusingly enough, for a character created just because Bissette and Totleben wanted to draw him, his first appearance was in an issue guest-penciled by Rick Veitch!)

Sting apparently knows about it, and is fine enough with it, especially as he is one of those "that's not me - that's the persona I put on for the public" people, so you'd imagine he especially would be okay with it.

Thanks to William A. Christensen and Mark Seifert, authors of the Wizard article in question. Also thanks to two of the most outstanding comic resources out there:

A. Greg Plantamura's Annotations for Swamp Thing (which is where I got the pictures from)

and

B. John Goodrich's The Ultimate Hellblazer Index (which is where I got the article quote from).

And hell, since the topic is Swamp Thing, how about a link to Mike Sterling? He's great and he loves him his Swamp Thing! So here's his awesome website, Progressive Ruin.

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 - for a nice, normal-sized edition!

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