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Comic Legends: Was the Falcon’s Facial Appearance Based on OJ Simpson?

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Comic Legends: Was the Falcon’s Facial Appearance Based on OJ Simpson?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and sixty-first week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week’s legends. Click here for Part 2 of this week’s legends.

COMIC LEGEND:

Gene Colan based the Falcon’s facial appearance on OJ Simpson

STATUS:

I’m Going With True

In the previous legend of this week’s weekly trio of legends, I discussed how Stan Lee came to create the Falcon, Marvel’s first African-American hero. As noted there, Stan Lee first announced the creation of Marvel’s first African-American hero at a panel at Duke University in February 1969. The panel was titled “Comics as a Reflection of Contemporary Culture.” Therefore, it was clear that the Falcon was created to serve a point, as Lee wanted to show that Marvel was trying their best to BE a true reflection of contemporary culture.

The task, though, fell to Gene Colan, to design the new hero, who would ultimately be introduced in Captain America #117 (Joe Sinnott inked Colan in the issue) in an awesome, if bizarre, story. Cap, you see, has switched bodies with the Red Skull (through the Skull using the Cosmic Cube) and Cap used clay to fashion a mask to make himself look like a normal person. The Skull then sends Cap to an island where Skull’s old cronies had been exiled. Cap happens to bump into a guy named Sam Wilson and Cap decides to train Sam to help him take down the Red Skull. Sam becomes the Falcon!

That initial panel is tremendous…

It also appears evident that Colan is using photo reference for Sam Wilson’s face there. But WHO?

Well, you see, knowing Lee’s intent with the character, Colan decided to peruse a bunch of popular African-American centric magazines of the era to find someone who he could base the Falcon on that would be a hero to the black community of the time. And he found it, in the person of then-USC star football player, OJ Simpson, who had just won the Heisman Trophy and was about to enter the NFL.

Colan recalled, “I took my time going through my reference material and ultimately came up with a young sports hero named OJ Simpson. He was a handsome fellow at that time and certainly a hero in most folks’ eyes. Today, of course, it’s another story. Sadly.”

What’s funny is that I almost see more of a Sam Wilson/Jim Brown comparison…

And so, too, did Jet Magazine, when they said that the Falcon looked like Jim Brown back in 1970…

But hey, if Gene Colan said that he based him on OJ Simpson, I see no reason to doubt him.


Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed – Why did Fox need Marvel’s permission to use an X-Character in Deadpool when they already held the license to the X-Men characters?


OK, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Here’s my most recent book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? The cover is by Kevin Hopgood (the fellow who designed War Machine’s armor).

batshark

If you want to order a copy, ordering it here gives me a referral fee.

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get some original content from me, as well!

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends. — half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

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