Comic Legends: Gary Friedrich's Bizarre Superhero Comic Debut

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

As part of our celebration of SEVEN HUNDRED of these things, this will be a special holiday weekend where we honor seven comic book greats that we lost this year with a legend devoted to each one of them (Steve Ditko, Russ Heath, Gary Friedrich, Marie Severin, Norm Breyfogle, Carlos Ezquerra and Jim Novak). As I add the legends, you can click on the given person's name and it will bring you to their legend!

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Roy Thomas secretly created Gary Friedrich's first comic book feature, the Sentinels.


Basically True

As you may or may not know, Gary Friedrich, one of the most original voices in mainstream comics in the late 1960s and early 1970s was brought into the field by his longtime friend from back home in Missouri, the comic book legend Roy Thomas, the guy who essentially wrote all the books Stan Lee wasn't writing in the mid-1960s for Marvel Comics.

Thomas called Friedrich up and told him that he should travel to New York City where he could live with Thomas and then Thomas would help him break into the comic book field, as Thomas believed that Friedrich could do well in it despite Friedrich really not being into comics nearly as much as Thomas was. He had worked in newspapers, though (before the paper he worked on folded), so Thomas obviously thought Friedrich could do well at the thing that Thomas was doing well in at the time and he wanted to help his friend.

Anyhow, Thomas couldn't get Friedrich a gig at Marvel right away. Thomas himself hadn't been there that long, after all.

Instead, Friedrich got gigs writing for Charlton. Charlton had not yet bought into the big superhero boom (although they DID have superheroes, of course), so Friedrich wrote romance comics with a slightly satirical edge. They're really fun comics to read, by the way.

Anyhow, this led to the Sentinels, a short-lived superhero feature by Friedrich along with artist Sam Grainger that debuted in Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt #54...

However, the whole thing was Thomas' idea!

Friedrich explained it to Jon B. Cooke and Comic Book Artist back in 2001:

Cooke: So did you just cut "The Sentinels" from whole cloth? Was it a completely original idea?Friedrich: The Sentinels? I don't remember very well. My memory of the comic-writing years is severely hazed with alcohol [laughs] and it's not very good. I don't remember much about The Sentinles at all other than it was an idea that Roy had and, of course, he couldn't take any credit for it becasuse he was working for Marvel. He kind of kicked it over to me and we talked about it and, of course, Roy helped me with it.Cooke: How extensively did he help you with it? Did he make suggestions?Friedrich: Yeah. Basically, what Roy and I were doing was we just brainstormed together. We just kicked stuff back and forth.

Later, Thomas successfully brought Friedrich to Marvel and Friedrich had to stop working for Charlton right away. Cooke asked him about that, about how Thomas told him he had to stop working for them despite Thomas helping him with story ideas for The Sentinels and Friedrich noted, "Oh look, Roy would have been fired if Stan had known about it. I have no doubt about it."

Thomas sure was a good pal.

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Discover the major change that John Carpenter did to Halloween after a film executive that he screened an early version of the film criticized the film!

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