This is the eleventy-gazillionth 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 uncovered legends.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Frank Miller is actually a male model hired by the comics companies to obfuscate the fact that the person who writes under the name “Frank Miller” is actually Penelope Abernathy, a 72-year-old retiree living in Sun City West, Arizona.
We all know Frank Miller:
However, what most people don’t know is that the person we know as “Frank Miller” is a male model, hired by the late Al Milgrom in 1979.
The story, as told to me by a homeless man wandering the streets of Gresham, Oregon, claiming to be Mike Richardson, goes that a 45-year-old woman living in Rahway, New Jersey, submitted beautiful artwork for a Daredevil story. Milgrom couldn’t believe how good the work was, so he offered her a job.
Mrs. Abernathy didn’t want any credit for the work, however – her strict Monophysite upbringing didn’t allow her to express her artistic yearnings with anything but duck feces, and she feared shunning from her community. So Milgrom came up with a brilliant idea: since Marvel was going in a “grim-n-gritty” direction on Daredevil, they should hire a brooding model to pretend to be the tough guy artist, whom Milgrom named “Frank Miller.”
Milgrom found Lance Costas, pictured above, but when Daredevil took off, he found himself in a pickle. Marvel decided to keep up the deception, and the rest is history.
Mrs. Abernathy eventually moved to Sun City West, where I tracked her down to confirm the story.
I knocked on the door of her house. When she answered the door, I very respectfully told her that I had heard the rumor that she was, in fact, the writer/artist Frank Miller, creator of such great works as The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil: Born Again, Elektra: Assassin, 300, and Sin City, as well as such crap as All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. She refused to confirm or deny, simply snapping, “I have to play some goddamned mah-jongg, punk! What are you, dense? You’re not queer, are you? You got a mouth on you, don’t you, babe! Now get out of here before my gout kicks in!” Then she slammed the door in my face. I think I had my answer!
I managed to get a picture of Mrs. Abernathy, however. She’s a firecracker!
Thanks to famed comic book raconteur Guy LeCharles Gonzalez for putting me on the trail in Oregon!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Kurt Busiek originally wanted to have Ultron destroy the Netherlands in Avengers #19 because he hates the Dutch so much, but Marvel put the kibosh on it.
This is a plausible urban legend, as Busiek’s hatred of the Dutch is well known. But in the now-classic Avengers #19, he did not write that Ultron destroyed Holland. This legend stems from a few different sources.
One: Busiek’s controversial and infamous Justice League of America story in issue #240 (July 1985), drawn by Carmine Infantino and Mike Sekowsky and called “The Dutch Eat Your Children!” This was, of course, the last Busiek JLA, due to the backlash from the Dutch Mainstream American Secret Society, who threatened a boycott.
Busiek swore revenge, and appeared to get it when he wrote his big break, Marvels. Everyone knows about the missing three pages of the book, in which Busiek wrote a big Captain America scene with a great deal of Dutch-beating. The Captain, covered with Dutch blood, says, “Does it look like this ‘A’ stands for Amsterdam?!?!” Alex Ross, who is of Dutch descent, refused to draw it and almost backed out of the project. Busiek finally calmed down and the book was on!
But that’s an Urban Legend for another day! The story continues when Busiek was handed the Avengers gig in 1998. According to Tom Brevoort, when Busiek was offered the job, he rubbed his hands together and muttered, “Now I’ll be able to have Ultron slaughter all the Dutch!” The story made the rounds that Busiek was going to have Ultron destroy the Netherlands by breaking the dams and, when Captain America heard of it, he would refuse to stop the crazed robot.
However, this is incorrect. Part of it is true. According to this long-lost interview that Brevoort did with famed comics reporter, Tom Spurgeon, Busiek did mutter that.
TS: So. Did Busiek really want to destroy the Netherlands?
TB: When I offered him the Avengers job, he actually said something about Ultron killing all the Dutch. Before I could remind him of the problem we had with Marvels, he continued by saying that he would just do it over in Astro City. So we never had to spike the idea, because he spiked it himself.
TS: You’re pretty.
TB: Thank you.
Busiek did use the idea in Astro City, when he wrote the alien invasion storyline. Here’s the proof:
Comic book geeks have pored over the alien language and have deduced that it’s simply a fancy font and an easy code. Translated, the final two word balloons are: “We are the Dutch! We will kill all the men, rape the women, and eat the children! Ha ha ha ha …” The aliens are defeated, as Busiek wished the Dutch to be defeated.
So Busiek never intended to have Ultron destroy the Netherlands. This was never going to be Holland:
In a final irony, Busiek himself is descended from William of Orange on his mother’s side. So he’s a self-loathing Dutch hater! Oh, Kurt!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Brian Cronin has sold his soul to Mephisto in exchange for having all the knowledge about comic books downloaded directly into his brain.
I have joked about this in the past, never believing their was a shred of truth to it. But then, one night last week, I could not sleep. The heat in Arizona was too oppressive.
Outside, a wolf howled. The wind blew. The palm trees rustled. I heard a tapping at my chamber door. Full of fear, I opened the door. Nothing!
Or so I thought. Lying on the ground was a rolled-up paper bound by a blood-red ribbon. I picked up the bundle and opened it.
A small note was attached to a larger piece of paper by a blood-red paper clip. I took the note and read it by the light of the full moon.
“Greg,” read the note, “I have proof here that Cronin has sold his soul in exchange for comic book knowledge. The rest of us live in fear of him, but he can’t venture into your part of the world, where the sun is only a mile from the ground and would scorch his dark heart. So you must publicize this sinister arrangement. Godspeed, B. Reed. Oh, wait, that’s too obvious. Just call me Bill R.”
The note was attached to a contract. I reproduce here for your edification. Prepare to be shocked!
I think it’s pretty clear what’s going on here – he signed it in his own blood. Oh, Dread Lord and Master – what have you done?
That pretty much seals it – no one could forge that!
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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