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Comic Legends: The Swipe That Drove a Writer From DC to Marvel Comics

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COMIC LEGEND:

A writer left DC for Marvel because DC wouldn't replace the artist on his series after the artist swiped the design of a spaceship from a cartoon series.

STATUS:

True

In the late 1970s, DC tried to expand their comic book line by trying out some non-superhero titles as part of a big expansion of the comic book line promoted as the "DC Explosion." One of these titles was created by David Michelinie and it was called Star Hunters, about a space ship crew trying to find the origin of man in the universe. If they didn't find the answer, they wouldn't be allowed to return to Earth or else they would be mutated!

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Check out their original ship, as drawn by the original series artist, Don Newton...

Rich Buckler, then a very popular artist for DC, did the covers and with issue #4, he took over as the series' interior artist, as well...

In that issue, Buckler debuted a new space ship for the team...

Buckler had provided Michelinie a couple of choices and Michelinie thought that the one used was a lot better than the other options.

So they continue working together and do the next couple of issues...

But while they working on the next issue...

the fourth issue was released and Michelinie discovered that Buckler had just lifted the deign of the space ship from an animation cel of the then-current Filmation cartoon series, Space Sentinels...

Check out the ship on the cartoon...

And see them side by side...

Michelinie explained to CBR's Alex Dueben a few years ago how he reacted to the situation...

That was the result of one of my first Great Disappointments in my comics career. I had created a series for DC that had been troubled from the start--I don't believe it ever had more than two issues in a row by the same art team. At one point a new design for a major prop was needed, and the current artist submitted several original drawings and one Xeroxed design. The originals weren't very imaginative (they turned out to have been drawn by the artist's assistant), but the Xerox was pretty cool, so we went with that. After the first issue using that design had gone to print, it was discovered that the xerox had been of an animation cell from a Saturday morning cartoon show! So basically the series that I had worked so hard to create and make original was using a line-for-line theft from a TV show.

I made my anger known to DC and was told that the artist would be replaced. But I was asked not to tell anyone until the art for the current issue was finished. When the last page of art came in, I asked my editor who the new artist would be, and he told me they had decided to keep the current guy, knowing that if that happened I would quit. This showed me that DC, at least at the time, valued a dishonest (and lazy) artist over a writer who had given them unquestioned loyalty for five years. I called Jim Shooter at Marvel and asked if I could get work there; his reply was, "Would today be too soon?"

Hilarious.

The series was going to continue without Michelinie, but then the infamous "DC Implosion" occurred, and may DC titles were canceled, including Star Hunters.

Thanks to Michelinie and the always great Dueben for the awesome information!

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