Sometimes these columns almost write themselves. Thanks to my wide base of knowledgeable readers, I’ve got an emailboxful of information regarding previous topics…
All this talk about Superman’s “lame” glasses disguise as Clark Kent got me digging up some childhood memories… I seem to recall a Superman story in the 1970s where the “glasses disguise” was explained; according to this story, Supes’ glasses gave off a low-level hypnotic pulse that hypnotized people to NOT connect Clark’s face with Superman’s… anyone remember this story?
Also, in Byrne’s SUPERMAN run, I think he stated that Superman would vibrate at an almost infinitesimal level, enough to blur his features; This never allowed him to be photographed well, and people never saw his features very sharply.
I think any explanation becomes as silly as the disguise itself. If you believe a man could fly, and would choose to wear blue tights, well then, the glasses disguise isn’t much to swallow.
— Bill Walko (firstname.lastname@example.org)
…Yet more feedback on the Clark Kent disguise: In a silver age story (Curt Swan probably), Superman fought a villain whose power was super hypnosis. In the end he triumphs, but along the way he realizes that he uses hypnosis at all times as Clark, and is somehow resistant to it as well!
It turned out that when he used his heat vision as a teenager, Clark he melted his regular glass lenses, so he ended up using invulnerable glass from his Kryptonian rocket. This had the lucky effect of enabling Clark to use a low-level from of hypnosis that changed the way people perceived him when looking at him front on. He proved this through some examples: Sketch artists changed their sketches when he used normal glasses (they drew what we saw), as compared to what other people saw with the “super” lenses (a frail early 50’s aged man); and people sometimes didn’t realize it was Clark when seeing him from behind (as he’s built like, well, Superman) until he turned and looked at them through the glasses. In fact during the story when he made his friends invulnerable to hypnosis, they couldn’t believe the Clark disguise and kept telling Supes that he could never pull it off!
Very cool silver age explanation for the glasses being the perfect, and only, workable disguise.
— Jimbo (email@example.com)
With regard to Ambush Bug possibly seeing past secret identities since he knows he is only a comic book character: Animal Man apparently also knows and, by extension, the Martian Manhunter, since he read Animal Man’s mind during JLAPE.
Also, Johnny Thunder’s Thunderbolt might know, since in the SECRET ORIGINS issue about JT, the Thunderbolt said, “You would know that Cei-u sounds the same as ‘Say you’ if this weren’t a comic book.”
— John McDonagh (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A comment, actually: I’m pretty sure T. M. Maple’s real name was Jim Burke. I’m not surprised that I remember that; his seemingly ubiquitous presence on the letters pages of the late ’70s and early ’80s made me suspect that he was actually a team of Canadians! The revelation that he was really just one guy made me feel even worse that I couldn’t seem to get around to writing even a single letter!
— Scott Tacktill (email@example.com)
…Not a question, but some more information on one of this week’s answers. The Mad Maple’s real name was Jim Burke, and sadly he passed away soon after revealing his identity.
— Jason Michael (firstname.lastname@example.org)
…He revealed himself to be Jim Burke at some point. And not too long after died. I don’t remember details just that it was “untimely.”
— the L?N email@example.com
…T. M. Maple turned out to be Jim Burke, who unfortunately died back in 1994, I believe of a major heart attack. Checking Usenet archives, several people mentioned that there was a blurb about his death in at least several DC letter columns of the time.
— Tom Galloway (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Just some responses to your latest…
T. M. Maple’s real name was Jim Burke. His original pseudonym, as you mention, was “The Mad Maple,” but during a period that Jim Shooter had outlawed using letters with pseudonyms on them in lettercols, Roger Stern, short of usable letters, shortened the name to “T. M. Maple” to make it look like a real name, and it slipped by. After a few of these instances, Burke liked it enough to start signing the letters that way.
Stan may have been the one to popularize “Nuff Said” in comics, but he didn’t coin the phrase. I had thought it was a catchphrase of the 20s and 30s, but looking around the Internet for its origin traces it back at least to 1838, according to http://murray.newcastle.edu.au/users/staff/peter/auefaq.html
As I understand it, blood was often colored unrealistically in comics of an earlier age because the Code objected (or the editors feared the Code would object). Blood in, say, a transfusion bag was fine to be colored red, but if it was violent — a blood spray coming from a wound, say, it was considered safer and less objectionable to make it purple or even black.
I doubt there’s a picture on the web of Downwind Jaxon, who was a recurring character in the SMILIN’ JACK comic strip. The gag in the strip was that we never got to see his face, and since Zack Mosely never drew it, it doesn’t exist to be put on the net.
…Downwind Jaxon was Smilin’ Jack’s buddy. You never saw his face because it was always turned away from the readers. So what Leslie is looking for is a Smilin’ Jack website. But does one exist?
— Dave (DavidEMartin@cs.com)
At least one exists (http://www.smilinjackart.com). It is maintained by Mosley’s daughter Jill.
…Downwind Jaxon was a supporting character in Zack Mosley’s comic strip, SMILIN’ JACK. He was supposed to be the handsomest man in the world… so handsome, that Mosley didn’t feel qualified to actually draw his face, so he was only seen from behind.
I can’t find any pictures of Downwind online, but even if I could, they’d only be of the back of his head, and maybe an ear.
While we’re on the subject, one of my favorite comic strip anecdotes was told by Robert Harvey about SMILIN’ JACK. Originally, Mosley’s aviator-adventure strip was called ON THE WING and starred a pilot named Mack Martin. ON THE WING wasn’t too popular and was on the verge of cancellation when Mosley received a telegram from publisher Capt. Joseph Patterson: “Change ‘ON THE WING’ to ‘SMILIN’ JACK.'” Mosley wrote back that the hero’s name was Mack, not Jack. Patterson replied, “Change to Jack.” The strip ran for forty more years as SMILIN’ JACK.
— Bob Buethe (email@example.com)
…Downwind Jaxon was a character from Zack Mosley’s 1930s newspaper strip, SMILIN’ JACK. “Jack’s supporting cast included Downwind Jaxon, the only character more handsome than Jack himself (so good looking, in fact, that readers never saw more than the edge of his face, perhaps in fear they might be struck blind by his beauty)” from http://www.toonopedia.com/smilin_j.htm
The current price of silver is about $4.50 per ounce. You can find it on any commodities ticker.
A favorite pop-up ad killing software? Pressing Ctrl-W.
A question: When did Metamorpho come back to life? I know he died, I remember his funeral, but he was alive and well in BIRDS OF PREY last month and will apparently star in the new OUTSIDERS series. What did I miss?
— Answer Lad (ChuckRo15@aol.com)
Rex (Metamorpho) Mason seems to be the latest comic book character who can claim, “I was dead, but I got better.” There apparently has not yet been an explanation for his resurrection.
Hey, Bob. You can get Hello Kitty stuff at the HK store on 42nd Street in New York City. They also have many mall stores.
— Rick Taylor
Re: the car blown up in “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.” According to the Internet Movie Database, it was a fiberglass replica body of a 1957 Fairlane placed on a newer Ford chassis.
— Tom Panarese (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR DEPARTMENT:
On Saturday, May 10th I’ll be one of the MANY guests at the Mighty Mini-Con in Herkimer, NY and I will be hosting the “Trivia, Trivia, Trivia” contest. Check out the website (http://www.mightyminicon.com/) and make plans to be there.
Fans of the Freedom Fighters should take special note of the guest list: Tony Isabella (who edited a number of their issues), Dick Ayers (who drew most of them) and yours truly (who wrote the majority of them) will all be in attendance.
A FEW NEW QUESTIONS DEPARTMENT:
Apparently it was common for DC artists when working for Marvel in the 1960s to work under an alias. Gil Kane did an early Incredible Hulk over Jack Kirby layouts using the first and middle names of his son and I’ve been told the Mickey Demeo who inked John Romita’s Spider-Man in the mid 1960s was actually Mike Esposito.
Can you give any additional insight on this???
— Robert Vesey (email@example.com)
I can…and did. Check out my columns from April 9th (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/bobro/98679960028756.htm) and 16th (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/bobro/98740440075798.htm) 2001 for a substantial list and feedback on it.
70s DC cover artist Ernie Chan or was it Ernie Chua — is it the same person? If so, why the different names? Any other names we should know about?
— Sandy H (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ernie’s real name is Chan. However, as he tells it, when he arrived in the United States from the Philippines, a “helpful” immigration officer changed it to Chua because “there are too many Chans in the U.S.” He eventually got it legally changed back to Chan.
Has there been a meeting between Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing?
— Adam Taylor (email@example.com)
According to my pal Bob Greenberger, DC’s “continuity cop,” it’s been established that Pamela Isley and Dr. Alec Holland were students of Prof. Jason Woodrue (a.k.a. the Floronic Man) but their paths have never crossed as Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing.
If there was one that you could, would you and who would it be?
— Alfonso Crept (firstname.lastname@example.org)
And sooner than you think, all over again! (I haven’t the faintest idea what these Spoof Central guys are talking about!)
Click on back here next week for another exciting episode. Meanwhile, don’t forget my daily Anything Goes Trivia at www.worldfamouscomics.com/trivia.