This is the seventieth 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-nine. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Due to Don Perlin, a profanity accidentally snuck into an issue of Defenders.
Don Perlin discussed this interesting occurance in a yet another fabulous interview by Daniel Best for Adelaide's Comics and Books. Check out his archive of past interviews here.
Here's the piece from the interview:
Don Perlin: I was the first guy, unwittingly, to put profanity in comics.Perlin: This happened in one of the Defenders. There was a character in there who was a lawyer for the Defenders and his gimmick was that no matter where you saw him in his office, there had to be a TV set on - he was always watching TV. And while I was drawing one of the panels I was listening to a talk show and there was someone on telling how bad cereals for kids were - they were all loaded with sugar. So I drew a picture on the TV of a bunny rabbit holding a box of cereal and across the label where the name of the cereal would be I pencilled in 'shit'. (laughter) So I figured, because I used to write nutty comments in the borders and stuff I thought theyâ€šd get a laugh out of it and change it. So they gave it to Pablo Marcos and I don't know if he knew how to read English or not but he inked it. I walked in one day and I said hello - everybody used to greet me at Marvel with smiles. And I came in there and they looked at me, boy, like don't go near him, something might happen to you. Shooter was looking for me and I went up there and Shooter started yelling, "What did you do? Look at it! They called me upstairs and showed me this" and I said, "Wait a minute. That thing goes through an assistant editor, an editor, a proof- reader and then you're supposed to read it. And no-one picked it up so donâ€št blame me." So what happened was he said fine, just don't write anymore comments on your pages. (laughter)
Daniel Best: I'm not sure that many people know of that one because I've never seen it mentioned anywhere.
Perlin: It's right down near the spine so you might even pass by and not notice it. A friend of mine who had a comic book store called me up and he said, "I have a person who wants to buy the page for $100 At that time $100 was a lot of money. Do you have the page? I looked at what I got back and I didn't have the page, and I called Pablo up and said you can get $100 if you have that page. He told me he didn't have the page. Somebody stole that page.
Best: I never knew that and I used to read the Defenders when I was a kid.
Perlin: At that time there was no profanity in it. I didn't mean for that to be in it. I just thought hey, everybody's smart enough to take that out, c'mon. (laughter) I guess my estimate of them was too high. (laughter)
Best also provides a scan of the page, courtesy of Hoy Murphy.
The issue was Defenders #89.
Here is the page (click on it for a large version) and the detail from the page follows.