Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and forty-fifth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
Click here for Part 1 of this week’s legends.
Len Wein and another DC Comics assistant editor were the models for Cain and Abel.
In the late 1960s, Joe Orlando had a bit of a problem. He had just been hired to be in charge of DC’s horror titles (House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Tales of the Unexpected and a new series he was launching, The Witching Hour), but by this point in time, the books were mostly filled with reprints of earlier horror stories (horror stories being particularly easy to reprint since the books were anthologies without any continuity).
Orlando, though, felt it was kind of weird to just throw these old reprints out there without any sort of say so, so he decided that the comics needed a host. Orlando had broken into comics working for EC Comics and their horror titles had hosts, with the most famous being Tales From the Crypt’s Crypt-Keeper. Orlando later helped launch Warren Publishing’s successful line of black and white horror magazines in 1964. The three titles, Eerie, Creepy and Vampirella all had hosts (Cousin Eerie, Uncle Creepy and, well, you know, Vampirella). So this was clearly something that Orlando believed was beneficial to the comic books.
So in 1968’s House of Mystery #175, he introduced the new host of the series, Cain…
There’s a fun bit later in the issue by Sergio Aragones…
And a year later, he introduced Abel in DC Special #4…
Anyhow, as to the design of the characters. Back in the late 1960s, two fellows who were always hanging around the DC Comics offices were Marv Wolfman and Len Wein, barely out of their teens but raring to take the comic book industry by the storm. Meanwhile, another diehard DC Comics fan was Mark Hanerfield, who had gotten a gig as an assistant to Joe Orlando.
So Orlando based Cain’s appearance on Wein and then a year later, his assistant, Hanerfield, had Abel based on him.
Here are Wein and Hanerfield posing for their characters back in the day…
Pretty awesome stuff, right?
Thanks to reader Neil R. for suggesting I feature this one following the tragic passing of Len Wein.
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed – Did Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew need special protection while filming in the Redwood forests of California to make sure people didn’t shoot him, thinking he was Big Foot?
Part 3 will be up on Sunday! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org!
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