Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and twentieth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
"Woody Allen starred in his own comic strip.
Woody Allen is no stranger to comics, as one of the earliest Comic Book Legends Revealed was about Woody once co-starred in an issue of DC's "Showcase!"
However, things changed dramatically in 1975, when Woody actually officially became a regular comic character! You see, cartoonist Stuart Hample pitched Woody Allen on doing a comic strip that would star Woody!
Allen agreed, once Hample showed that he could tell enough good jokes that Allen didn't think that the strip would embarrass his brand.
The strip began in 1976, titled "Inside Woody Allen." It was syndicated by the big-time comic strip syndicate, King Features.
Allen even included animated versions of Hample's take on Allen in Allen's classic 1977 film, "Annie Hall"...
Hample later wrote about how he was stuck between the syndicates, who wanted to dumb down the strip and Allen, who always wanted him to make the strips MORE challenging. Hample wrote about this issue in 2009:
Woody always envisaged I'd give him a wisecracking, zeitgeisty cartoon that would deal with relationships, politics, social commentary. He wanted his strip to be amusing but also intelligent. But the anxious syndicate honchos demanded more gags and subjects accessible to the largest possible readership. Woody's response was that an artist has to follow his own intuition, rather than obey some huckster driven by readership surveys.
This is borne out by my notes from a meeting with Woody, during which he said: "We will gain more than we will lose by establishing an identity; my tendency would be to risk being more offensive. I always believe that if I love a thing, 90% of the time there will be some people out there who also like it."
Woody's scribblings to me on the strips I sent for his approval offered suggestions: "The key is developing people. They must have desires – goals – so we are interested in them. I still feel you must be daring. The strip can probably exist on the level of 'cute' little jokes each day, but if you really want to involve the readers, it needs more substance – more plot."
Another Woody reminder: "We need more strips I'm not in. My folks. My lovers." And another: "We must not just use jokes that exploit my image – jokes should have genuine insights. Don't pander. Don't be afraid to be far out. Lead your audience; don't look to them to lead you."
The strip lasted all the way to 1984, a very respectable run for a strip about a real life person.
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at CBR: Discover the THREE endings of "Jurassic Park"!
OK, that's it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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Here's my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends. -- half of them are re-worked classic legends I've featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).
The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it...
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See you all next week!