Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and tenth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the weekly three legends.
Funky Flashman was always based on Stan Lee.
In case you are unfamiliar with the character, Funky Flashman, who debuted in Mister Miracle #6 (by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer), is one of the more savage piece of mocking of Stan Lee you'll ever see (Roy Thomas also gets dragged for NO reason, as I don't think Thomas and Kirby had any beef, so that one was super weird)...
This is basically Kirby ripping on Lee's salesmanship...
Pretty straightforward, right?
However, Mark Evanier did an interview with John Morrow for Jack Kirby Collector and he revealed the real original inspiration for Funky Flashman...
I'll tell you how that issue came about. Steve and I had worked for Marvelmania International, a Marvel mail-order firm. The guy who ran it was...well, let's say that a lot of kids never got the Silver Surfer posters they ordered, and a lot of artists and folks who worked for him never got paid. When Jack asked us to come up with ideas for stories, we suggested, "Hey, let's do him." Funky Flashman was originally conceived as our version of that guy we worked for at Marvelmania. When Jack started doing it, the character started turning into Stan Lee. I don't think Jack consciously decided, "I'm going to parody Stan." I think he just sat down to draw this character who was going to be sweet-talking Mister Miracle into working with him and his personal reference points for that kind of relationship led him to start drawing Stan.
Evanier talked further about Don Wallace, the head of Marvelmania, on Evanier's website in 2002:
In 1969, Jack was snookered into producing a ton of artwork for a Los Angeles-based company called Marvelmania International — a mail order firm that had licensed the right to manufacture Marvel merchandise in the guise of a fan club. The fellow who operated Marvelmania was not the most honest guy in the world. I worked there a while and quit when the full magnitude of his duplicity became apparent. Many of us were either never paid, or paid way less than we were owed.
Jack was promised hefty sums of cash to draw dozens of things, including eight posters of Marvel heroes that the guy at Marvelmania promised to market. The eight drawings represented some of Jack's finest work, and he actually inked them himself, which was something he rarely did.
Only four of the eight were ever issued and, though poorly printed, they sold well...which, of course, did not mean that Jack received the promised hefty sums. He got only a few bucks for the four that were released and nothing at all for the others. The Captain America drawing that adorns the above cover was one of those that weren't printed as posters — and what a terrific, dynamic piece of work it is. So are all the lost Kirby treasures you'll find in The Jack Kirby Collector, which you can find at your local funnybook shop or order direct from www.twomorrows.com.
It'll run you $9.95 and if that strikes you as high, just remember it's $9.95 more than Jack got for drawing the Captain America poster. Einstein supposedly once said there was a compensating rule of talents. That is, if you were very, very good at playing the violin, you'd turn out to be very, very bad at something else to balance. Jack Kirby was very, very good at creating comic book art and very, very bad at getting paid for it.
It's kind of sad that Kirby had multiple people in his life that could be seen as Funky Flashman type people.
Thanks to Mark Evanier and John Morrow for the information!
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Check back tomorrow for part 2 of this week's legends!
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