Comic Legends: Did Lee Marvin's Objections Squelch His Name Is...Savage?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and third installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

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His Name Is...Savage was canceled after one issue because Lee Marvin objected to the use of his image.



Besides being one of the most popular superhero comic book artists of all-time, Gil Kane was also one of the most innovative artists of his generation in terms of trying to move beyond the standard realm of monthly comic books. Kane was constantly trying to find a new path and he helped to innovate the world of graphic novels decades before they really became a financial reality. The modern day Gil Kane would likely be a success in independent comic books, but back in the day, even someone as famous and as awesome as Kane had a hard time trying to make a go at working beyond the traditional comic book market.

I covered one of Kane's early graphic novels, Blackmark, in our countdown (of your votes) of the greatest original graphic novels of all-time.

However, a few years before Blackmark, Kane had tried the graphic novel approach with a hard-boiled graphic novel named His Name Is...Savage (like Blackmark, the story was by the great Archie Goodwin)...

Kane was influenced by the then-recent hard-boiled film, Point Blank, which starred Lee Marvin...

Kane used Marvin as the visual inspiration for Savage...

However, as you can see from this sample page...

Kane's Savage only KIND of looked like Marvin. The painted Robert Foster cover, though, was a dear ringer.

There has been a pervasive legend that Kane had to drop the project because Marvin objected to the use of his likeness.

In reality, it was simply a matter of Kane failing to find any distribution for the project (perhaps at the prodding of DC Comics, which owned Independent News Distributors at the time).

Kane himself even noted in a Comics Journal interview in 1996, "We never had any trouble from Lee Marvin — obviously he never saw the goddamn thing. We never had any trouble from anybody".

Thanks to my pal, Jamie Coville, for the suggestion! Steven Grant (who worked a lot with Kane in Kane's later years) also debunked this claim recently on Facebook, which is what inspired Jamie to suggest it to me. Thanks, Steven!

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - What famous horror film disgusted Walt Disney so much that he wouldn't allow the director of the film to film at Disneyland?

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, which I don't even actually use on the CBR editions of this column, but I do use them when I collect them all on legendsrevealed.com!

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See you all next week!

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