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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #61

This is the sixty-first 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 sixty.

Let's begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Alias was originally going to star Jessica Drew, but writer Brian Michael Bendis had to change Jessica Drew to Jessica Jones.

STATUS: False

This is an interesting one, as "Alias was originally going to star Jessica Drew, but Bendis was forced to change it to a new character named Jessica Jones" seems to be EVERYwhere. Wikipedia, articles about the book, everywhere.

I ultimately had to go all the way back to a Comic Book Resources piece that isn't even available online anymore, but was thankfully reprinted in the letter column of Brian Michael Bendis' Powers #11, to get the scoop.

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Here it is, from the article:

You may have heard that 'Alias was originally going to star Jessica Drew, Marvel Comics' original Spider-Woman. You would have heard wrong, though.

[Bendis:] 'Nope. This is an urban myth that I believe I will never live down. I was at one time toying with doing Jessica Drew because she has the best hair of any superhero in comics, but this book is entirely different than what that idea was to be.

This character is totally different in every way but sexual gender. And there's that Jessica name that's not going to help me convince anyone.

Any writer can tell you that the development process can be a sparkling and surprising one. You start in one place and end up in an entirely different one. I was also toying with a pornographic version of Dial H for Hero, doesn't mean that this is that book either.'

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Look, Bendis even CALLS it an urban legend (well, myth, but who's counting?)

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Igor Kordey once drew an issue of New X-Men in a week.

STATUS: Basically true

Commenter Matt Little wanted to know the truth behind rumors about how quickly Igor Kordey had to draw issues of New X-Men when he substituted for Frank Quitely.

The answer is truly amazing. Here it is, courtesy of an interview with Kordey at Newsarama (No credit, so I presume it was Matt Brady who conducted the interview...a really nice piece, by the way).

It is too bad that a lot of Kordey's reputation is tied up in those rushed issues.

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I really enjoy a lot of his work.

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Archie Goodwin's passing led to how the last Manhunter story appeared.

STATUS: True

In the late 90s, DC released a new tradepaperback collecting the classic back-up series Manhunter, written by Archie Goodwin with art by Walt Simonson. The collection had a new story in it, credited to Simonson and Goodwin, which was without dialogue. Goodwin had passed away before the collection came about. How that story was produced, then, is a sad story, but a touching one as well.

Jon B. Cooke discusses it with Walt Simonson in an interview from TwoMorrow's Comic Book Artist #10,

Cooke: I have to confess, with the recent Manhunter book, I was really touched by the new story you did, probably because I really liked the original "Manhunter" series so much, and because of the poignancy that Archie is gone now, and he was very easy to love... as a comics reader, not ever personally knowing him-and I never met him face to face-he was very easy to love, because there was a kindness about him. What was touching was there are no words in the new story. Whose idea was that?

Simonson: It was Weezie's suggestion, and it was not a happy accident. About the life and the work of Archie: One of the qualities Archie had as a writer is that tremendous ease of the reading in his words; there are no bumps. Conversations flow, exposition is all worked in very carefully, and you never felt that you were being handed a clunky block of exposition. Archie had a great gift that artists have-with or without a capital "A"-of creating the illusion apparently effortlessly. It seems so easy that you feel, "Oh, well, I could do that." But of course, you can't. That's a measure of the great craft and skill in Archie's work. There was such economy. The labor that fashioned it so was hidden.

As far as that last "Manhunter" story goes , it's wordless because Archie didn't write a script, it was as simple as that. We were going to do that story Marvel style, which was to say, Archie had the idea for the plot, and we threshed it out in detail in his office one day. And it wasn't all fixed. The last scene, for example, which takes place on the bridge, was still up in the air. We hadn't decided if it would be on a bridge or in a railroad yard. We thought a railroad yard at the edge of Gotham might be a good place for the scene. In the end, I drew the bridge. It seemed a stronger visual border for the city limits of Gotham. But while bits of the plot were still flexible at the time I left his office, we had the main points nailed down.

The idea was that I would do layouts-it was going to be an eight-page chapter as most of the chapters in "Manhunter" were-and it would be a prologue to reading the original series in a trade paperback reprint. Well, I was working on the Michael Moorcock Multiverse right then, and that was taking up most of my time, so I got some cover sketches done and gathered some reference material together, but I didn't get the layouts done and Archie died before I did. I just had the plot in a page-and-a-half of notes I'd scribbled, a few doodles, that was about it. And I thought that was going to be the end of it. Then, a couple of months after he died, Weezie and I were talking about the story one day.

I had the notes sitting on my drawing board where they'd been for a year, and Weezie wondered if maybe I could do it as a silent story. Although I'd written a lot of comics, I always felt that "Manhunter" was the combination of Archie and me. I wouldn't have written him but I thought a silent story might be possible. So I talked with Denny O'Neil, the editor, and in the end, worked out a 23-page story that covered the plot Archie and I had developed. However, once there were no words, Denny's feeling-and I agreed with him-was that a story without words could no longer work as a prologue. I was sorry to move it, because I wanted to be as true to Archie's intentions as I could, but I felt Denny was right, you wouldn't know who these guys were, and it made a better epilog at that point. So, we moved it to its proper position chronologically.

I had told DC when I began working on it that it would take longer than eight pages to do without words, and they said if I could do it, they would print it. It was very unusual for me not knowing how many pages are going to be in the job. I work to a 22-page comic, or a 10-page back-up, some specific format. So here, it was hard, especially in the beginning. I must've relaid the first eight pages out about eight or nine times, changing stuff, doing this, moving that. I had no sense of pacing, because I wasn't sure what I was working against, and I found that difficult. Eventually, once I got past page eight, it began to pace itself out naturally, I could really see where I was going, and it worked out very well. DC was still game to publish it in that length.

Archie, before he had died, had talked to Klaus about coloring it, because Klaus had colored the '83 Baxter reprint, and he did a beautiful job on this last story. I did my own sound effects again, because in the original "Manhunter," I was drawing all my own at that time, and I felt that would harken back to the past visually. I tried to capture whatever I could of the original series, even though I draw somewhat differently now. It was interesting to go back and rethink my proportions and layouts, and still do it as a silent story. It was challenging, and it was a hard story to do, emotionally it was tough. It took me several months to do. I didn't make a lot of money that year! [laughs] Fortunately, my wife had a job, so I could afford to take the time I needed to finish that story.

Touching story.

Goodwin was a great writer and editor, and he certainly seems to have been a great person, as well.

Well, that's it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you'd like to see featured!!

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