Flash Fact!1 of 35Comic book characters can be interesting, and the real people behind them can be even more fascinating.
For years, I’ve been squirreling away interesting facts and quotes from comic creators. Certainly many of the “fascinating facts” you’ll read here are out on the public record, if you know where to look. But a few are likely brand-spanking new, freshly hatched from a manila folder in my bottom desk drawer.
Enjoy. No mater what you already know, we’re willing to be you’ll find a few new nuggets here that you’ll enjoy.
1002 of 35Back in 1970, Marvel paid $200 an issue to Conan Properties to license Conan for comic books. Part of the reason Barry Smith drew the early issues was that he was a new artist and worked cheaper than Marvel stalwarts John Buscema and Gil Kane. Marvel used his cheaper rate to “recoup” the whopping $200 licensing fee.
$200 may not seem like much, but with inflation that comes out to $1,284.86 in 2017.
993 of 35Brian Peets, the owner of A-1 Comics in Sacramento, Ca. also played in the NFL! He was a tight end for the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers from 1978-81.
984 of 35The logo for the Earth-2 comic stores in Los Angeles was designed by artist and writer Jeff Parker.
Bonus fact - for a time, Geoff Johns co-owned one of the stores.
975 of 35Marvel’s Origin series was colored direct from the pencils. Penciler Andy Kubert is right-handed, but colorist Richard Isanove is a lefty. Isanove had to scan and flip the pages to color them left-handed. Even though he was using a stylus, he had to match the “brushstroke” of the art. He effectively colored the book backward!
966 of 35Wally Wood was a talented but problematic artist. Joe Orlando was a kind-hearted DC editor and artist. When other DC editors refused to work with Wood, Orlando would invite him to the office late at night and they would draw entire short stories for DC anthologies overnight on a flat desk. Orlando would pencil, and Wood would sit across from him and ink the page upside-down, literally chasing him down the page!
957 of 35When comic writer Denny O'Neil and his first wife, Ann, had their first night out after the birth of their first child, their babysitter was… Wally Wood.
948 of 35Stan Lee was the arguably the most efficient editor in comic books. In 1968, artist Dick Ayers drove his family to Canada for vacation for a few days, telling Stan what date and time he’d be back. As Ayers pulled up in his driveway, he heard the phone ringing. It was Stan, and he had a cover he wanted Ayers to ink.
939 of 35Stan Lee was a judo instructor in the U.S. Army in World War II.
9210 of 35Dick Ayers was colorblind - but he colored! He kept all his paints in jars where he could read the labels. Artists John Severin, Tim Sale, John Byrne, and Howard Chaykin are also colorblind.
9111 of 35In 1940, DC Comics developed its first set of standards and practices. Among the rules, the word “FLICK” was banned, due to fear the lettering could run together and result in an altogether new word.
9012 of 35Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s famous contract with DC sold Superman for $130, plus a 10-year contract to do the book, plus 32.5% to 40% of net proceeds derived from the newspaper strip, plus 5% of all other licensing.
In 1942 alone, they made $63,776.46 in Superman income, the equivalent of $986,459.35 in 2017 dollars.
8913 of 35Batman co-creator Bob Kane used legions of ghost artists to crank out his material, but sometimes paid them very handsomely. Kane was paying his artists up to $200 a page for pencils in the 1950s. That’s more than many pencilers make today, and the equivalent of $2,066.71 a page in 2016.
8814 of 35Former Batman artist Jerry Robinson owned Superman co-creator Joe Shuster’s original drawing board! Shuster gave it to him before he moved to California in the late 1970s, simply because he wanted to get rid of things that he’d otherwise have to move.
8715 of 35Jerry Robinson also owned the original art to Fred Ray’s Superman #14 cover! Ray called Robinson one day, and said he admired Robinson’s Detective Comics covers, and asked if he could have one. Robinson agreed, and Ray offered to send him a Superman in return. Robinson asked for #14, and Ray agreed, noting that Robinson should call the engraver quickly, as it had already been printed and was probably set to be destroyed. Robinson called, and literally had the engraver pluck it out of the trash just before the garbage man arrived!
8616 of 35After the near-miss Fred Ray cover incident, Jerry Robinson started swapping covers with other artists he liked. He collected 1940s-era covers by Joe Shuster, Jack Kirby, and Mort Meskin.
8517 of 35Joe Shuster was quite an audiophile, and was obsessed with always having the best sound equipment. When he died in 1992, he donated his stereo speakers to Los Angeles Valley College.
8418 of 35Superman #75, the “Death Of” issue, had a black-bagged version that contained a large poster that showed a number of DC heroes carrying Superman's casket. Artist Dan Jurgens drew the oversized art, then, in his words, “I had to cut up all sorts of large cardboard for shipping to DC, as it was much bigger than even a double-page spread. I had packed it up and had just put down that last piece of tape to secure the box when I got a call from Mike Carlin at DC telling me that Joe Shuster had died. Bizarre.”
8319 of 35Joe Casey has sang and played guitar in bands such as the Sellouts and Best of Seven, who have played legendary Los Angeles clubs such as the Whiskey-A-Go-Go and the Viper Room.
8220 of 35Artist Andy Kuhn played bass in a band called the Fuglees and also did cover art, natch, for the band’s CDs.
8121 of 35Artist Gene Colan modeled his Dracula in Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula after actor Jack Palance. In the days before Google and DVRs, Colan would actually sit in front of the TV with a Polaroid camera when Palance was on and shoot photo reference right from the screen!
8022 of 35Longtime collaborators Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada met… while standing in line for hamburgers at the Comic-Con International: San Diego. They were introduced by a mutual friend who was also there. They got along and decided it might be fun to work together.
7923 of 35Despite the success of Marvel Knights, Jimmy Palmiotti and Joe Quesada’s “research and development” wing of Marvel, Palmiotti and Quesada were offered only 1-year contracts from 1998 until 2003.
7824 of 35Artist Adam Hughes worked at the Heroes World Comics store in Burlington, N.J. When he started drawing The Maze Agency for Comico in 1988, he cut down to two days a week at the store. When he started Justice League of America in 1989, he cut down to one day, but kept the job, always fearful that his art career might disappear at any moment.
“When my first issue of JLA came out, I unboxed it, put it on the shelves, and then sold it at the register,” he says. “One customer asked ‘Is that the new guy’s first issue?’ I said yes, and asked him what he thought. We thumbed through the issue together and he gave an honest appraisal, never knowing I was the artist.”
7725 of 35Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creators Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman’s Mirage Studio was so named because the “studio” was Laird’s living room. The duo wanted to seem larger than they actually were, and the entire studio was a mirage.
7626 of 35To get the money to print Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, Kevin Eastman applied $500 he got from an income tax return, and a $1000 loan from his uncle Quentin. Peter Laird took $200 out of his bank account. After scrimping and saving, the pair had scraped together enough money to print 3000 copies, and take out one ad in Comic Buyers Guide to launch the book.
7527 of 35Michael Uslan, producer of the Batman movies, took a tour of DC Comics when he was in the 7th grade. He got autographs from whoever happened to be in the office that day. As an adult, he looked back at his autograph book, and saw that one of the autographs was from…Batman co-creator Bill Finger.
Yes, Uslan and others on the tour also received a panel of original art - chopped from a full page - on the tour.
7428 of 35In April 2004, Marvel Comics returned a four-foot stack of original art to artist Stan Goldberg, with material dating back to the 1950s.
7329 of 35On May 25, 2005, Marc Silvestri got a FedEx package from Marvel. It contained one page of art returns from Web of Spider-Man #20… from 1986.
7230 of 35Longtime Famous Monsters of Filmland editor Forrest J Ackerman collected pulp art and comic art from its earliest days. He had Frank R. Paul originals on the walls of his house, and two Virgil Findlay originals in the bathroom!
7131 of 35DC’s Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke had a number of guest-artist pinups in the back. They were budgeted at $550 each. Artist Jim Steranko demanded $1000 for his… and a year to do it!
Editor Mark Chiarello got him $750, and told him he’d have three months like everyone else. Darwyn Cooke paid the difference out of his own pocket to make up the additional $250.
7032 of 35Famed ’60s-era DC writer John Broome left comics in 1970 after a 25-year career. He became a world traveler, living in France and Israel before finally settling in Japan, taking a English professorship at Tokyo University.
6933 of 35Batman co-creator Bill Finger co-wrote the cult classic sci-fi film The Green Slime.
6834 of 35Stan Lee wrote a large part of his Marvel Universe stories while standing. He did this on the balcony his apartment in Manhattan, using the New York skyline as inspiration. He also did it at his home in suburban Hewlett, New York.
1 of 35
2 of 35
3 of 35
4 of 35
5 of 35
6 of 35
7 of 35
8 of 35
9 of 35
10 of 35
11 of 35
12 of 35
13 of 35
14 of 35
15 of 35
16 of 35
17 of 35
18 of 35
19 of 35
20 of 35
21 of 35
22 of 35
23 of 35
24 of 35
25 of 35
26 of 35
27 of 35
28 of 35
29 of 35
30 of 35
31 of 35
32 of 35
33 of 35
34 of 35
35 of 35