Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and forty-ninth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
As we’ve been doing it for some time now, one legend today, one tomorrow and one Sunday.
What was originally going to be New Mutants #1 was instead re-worked in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 after another book failed to meet its deadline for that issue.
In the early 1980s, Marvel made a big splash when they announced plans for a new line of deluxe books called Marvel Graphic Novels. These books were designed to appeal to the book store market and were meant to be special comic book stories that you couldn’t do in a normal Marvel comic book. The first one was by Jim Starlin in 1982 and it told the death of Captain Marvel.
Here, though, was the problem. When you make a big push for new graphic novels where you will let creators mix in creator-owned work with in-continuity stories and when you allow them tons of freedom, you’re also going to run into issues with deadlines. It’s just GOING to happen. And sure enough, it happened very early on in the production of the Graphic Novels and Shooter was scrambling. He had announced something like the first five graphic novels right off the bat and now the fourth graphic novel was not going to be able to come out on time. He did not want to miss a deadline so soon early on, so he made an executive decision.
Louise Simonson later recalled to Paul Grant in Wizard’s special edition commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the X-Men, that what was going to be New Mutants #1 suddenly had to become a graphic novel on a very short deadline. As Simonson recalled,
“It was supposed to be just a regular-sized issue. What happened was that graphic novels had just recently been introduced, and there was some sort of publishing schedule for these things that was not being met. The first issue of New Mutants was half-drawn, and Shooter came down to my office and said someone had not turned in his graphic novel when he was supposed to, so New Mutants was now going to be a graphic novel because we needed something in that publishing slot. None of us were very pleased about that. I think we felt it was a perfectly good introductory issue, but a graphic novel really ought to be something more. It should have a bigger story than this.”
Simonson noted that they had to then add 10 more pages to pad out the story and voila, a normal comic book became a “graphic novel.” Do note that the final product was 47 pages long, so it’s likely that the original comic book was always going to be extra-sized, which was typical for the era and when Simonson says “regular-sized,” she likely means just comic book format rather than book format.
Hilariously enough, Bob McLeod was going on his honeymoon and he was not going to meet the new deadline inking himself, so Shooter told Simonson to get someone else to ink it, but Simonson had promised McLeod that he could ink himself, so she just let him go on his honeymoon and the book ended up missing the deadline that Shooter had worked so hard to hit by about two weeks. Simonson noted that it put her on Shooter’s bad side for a year or so after that, but she had made a promise to McLeod and she wanted to stick to it.
So then the Graphic Novel led into the new “#1,” which presumably would have been New Mutants #2 and so on and so forth.
Thanks to Grant and Simonson for the information!
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