All that makes me think about Jack Kirby and the Fourth World. I first read New Gods in the ‘80s when DC reprinted it in conjunction with the Hunger Dogs graphic novel. In one of the essays. Mark Evanier wrote about the genesis of one of Kirby’s characters, I think it was the Black Racer. Evanier had suggested at the time that maybe Kirby should hold that idea back for an issue or two, and Jack agreed, yeah, maybe his young assistant was right. The next time Evanier went to Kirby’s house, he was already well into penciling the pages. Evanier’s point at the time was that Kirby was just so creative that he couldn’t be held back.
What Evanier didn’t know at the time he wrote the essay (and certainly didn’t know when he was Kirby’s assistant), is that DC was under direction from DC to create a new character or concept with every issue. How do I know that? Because Mark Evanier wrote about it again when the Fourth World was collected in hard cover. Apparently he learned of new information in the 20 years between the twp publications. It’s still a good example of Kirby’s creativity, but the second version casts it in a different light.
I don't remember where I read it, but someone posted some Kirby pages from, I dunno, late 40s Fantastic Four. What was remarkable was how Kirby had all these notes in the margins that did not show up in the final book, and what did was a lot of sad thought balloons from Johnny (reminding everyone that he was still pining for Crystal, whom Kirby had failed to include in the book), exposition from Reed and jokes from Ben. It showed me better than any essay or analysis how it took BOTH of them to make FF the book it was.
I've often said it before, but I think one of Stan's unsung talents was as an editor. Kirby was an idea machine, but as is obvious from his solo books, he was incapable of distinguishing a good idea from a bad one. He just threw everything at the wall. When he was paired with Lee, Lee would drop the dumb ideas, or turn them into something Kirby never imagined (Silver Surfer). He filtered out Kirby's missteps and presented him at his best. That's good editing.
Meanwhile, as a writer, Lee was creating and maintaining subplots that Kirby didn't care about (especially romance). Kirby just roared ahead with the action, but Lee had to remind everybody that there was other stuff going on via word and thought balloons. If you look at mid-run Fantastic Four, the subplots are carried almost entirely by Lee's words, and really don't show up in the pictures until they become the A plot.
I didn't check Fantastic Four #8 and made an error. There is a scene where the Puppet Master seems to mentally command the Thing - when he tests his power over him and sends him to attack the others - but it's after he's put him into a trance and he doesn't hold his puppet. (I didn't mean to attribute the duel control point to Marvel Genesis. What it points out is how elaborate the Puppet Master's sets are.)
In Fantastic Four #14 PM still makes a little use of puppetry, but he seems to be in telepathic control of Namor and he's able to follow what's going even though he's not there to see it. He doesn't constantly hold the puppet while commanding Namor.
In the #8 synopsis the Puppet Master's victims go into trances while they're under his control, and he "commands" the Thing to kill Mr Fantastic, which is arguably a second concept (1.control via manipulation of the puppets 2.control via [presumably verbal] commands), unless Lee had in mind some kind of play-acting with the puppets. In the issue the impression of telepathic control over the Thing in the scene is due to how the scene is dialogued, so it apparently came from Lee, rather than Kirby as I suggested.
This page emphasising Kirby's contributions to his stories notes the close parallel between the ending of the first Puppet Master and a story from Black Magic #4. In the Black Magic story the dolls are used to inflict pain rather than for control. The notion that the toppling of the woman's doll caused her fall is arguably there, but you have to read between the lines.
It's a fallacy to suppose that if Kirby had used an idea previously the idea of using it must have come from him, as it could've come from Lee instead through his having read the story. Also, not everything in earlier Kirby stories came from Kirby, as he worked with writers. Lee used the pain doll idea with Ditko in the Mr Doll story in ToS #48.
Since it doesn't mention the radioactive clay, the surviving part of the Fantastic Four #8 synopsis doesn't indicate that the Puppet Master's powers aren't supernaturally based.
"It's a fallacy to suppose that if Kirby had used an idea previously the idea of using it must have come from him, as it could've come from Lee instead through his having read the story."
OTOH, quite a few Challengers of the Unknown plots were reworked into Fantastic Four plots, and it's not likely Lee whould have read the Challs ones.
I'm sure Lee asked Kirby for ideas, and in the two synopses he leaves details up to Kirby, so Kirby could add ideas. (See below.)
Also, Kirby's stories overlapped in content with other creators'. (Again, he didn't do all the writing himself.) My list of volcano characters and Dave's addtions here illustrate the point. Some ideas were used again and again, and Lee had edited an enormous number of stories.
I don't know if we should assume Lee didn't read DC comics. In his article Thomas says when he knew Lee in the 1960s Lee didn't pay "much attention to what the competition was doing". On the other hand, "The Mystery Villain!" from Strange Tales #127 sure reads like it was taken from "The Raid on Blackhawk Island" in Blackhawk #109.
The FF #1 synopsis has a fairly detailed account of the origin, which is only 5 pages in the issue. The issue opens with an 8 page sequence where the others respond to Reed's flare and cause a lot of trouble. The synopsis merely says the issue "might open with a meeting of the Fantastic Four. As the meeting starts, [a] caption tells [the] reader that we will go back a few weeks to see how it all began". The issue used the indicated flashback structure, but that could mean a meeting like the one at the start of Avengers #2.
Complicating things, Lee may have given Kirby directions beyond those in the synopsis verbally. The opening sequence in the finished issue shows the characters' powers. Likewise, in the FF #8 synopsis Lee has Johnny, Sue and Reed show their powers in the opening chapter.
Kirby followed the FF #8 synopsis but made changes:
-In the synopsis people stare at the Thing talking to the invisible Sue. In the issue a couple of them start mocking him, and Sue and the Thing take revenge.
-As Thomas notes, Kirby added the bit where the Puppet Master's finger is burned due to Johnny's rescue.
-In the synopsis after the Thing answers the Puppet Master's call he reveals Sue's presence . There follows "some interesting scenes showing how PM tries to capture her, and he finally succeeds, helped by [his] blind daughter who can sense things unseen". In the issue Alicia senses Sue's presence and he captures her with ether. He happens to have an ether dispenser built into his apartment and three gas masks handy.
-In the synopsis the Thing is changed back to Ben by rays that only work while he's in the room. In the issue it's by chemicals that only work until they dry off.
-In the last part of the synopsis as it survives the Puppet Master starts making a doll to "finish off" Sue once the warden has opened the "prison gates". In the issue the warden's "personal trustee"(1) opens the cell doors, she wakes up while the Puppet Master's preoccupied with the jailbreak, and he recaptures her with a doll he's already made.
-Finally, the synopsis initially calls the Puppet Master's figure of the near-jumper a "model", then a "puppet". It refers to "puppets" afterwards (and models of rooms), and calls the one he begins to make of Sue a "doll". It doesn't describe his Puppet Making process. In the issue, he has puppets and manipulates his figure of the trustee as a puppet, but his figure of the Thing is a clay figurine he sculpts.
Since the whole synopsis doesn't survive it's possible the rest of the issue was sketched out more vaguely, leaving more of the details to Kirby. It's my guess the end of the story, apparently taken from the Black Magic one, was present in the synopsis as it fits with the idea of a supernaturally powered foe and it was apparently Kirby who made the Puppet Master radioactive clay-powered (but again that's not certain, as it could have come up verbally).
Thomas's article can currently be read in the preview of Alter Ego: The Comic Book Artist Collection at Google Books.
(1) Note the switch from the warden to a trustee. That sounds like a Code change. There's a panel where the warden realises his keys are gone. Perhaps that originally showed the warden coming under the Puppet Master's control. That can only be true if the art was retouched, as the warden doesn't look like the trustee doll.
My thanks to everyone who posted replies about humour comics pp.261-263.
Learn a little something every day dept.: Marvel wasn't the first company to do a Planet of the Apes comic! Western did an adaptation of Beneath the Planet of the Apes in 1970.
Also, Power Records also did a series of book-and-record sets adapting four of the movies in 1974. Since I don't know their exact date I can't say if they preceded the Marvel B&W title, which DC Indexes says started June 1974. If I follow correctly the other Power Records Apes records didn't have comics content.
I had the four Power Record POTA adaptations. I remember specifically conning my grandmother into buying them for me, reasoning that each one adapts an entire movie, whereas it took six Marvel magazines to do so (although I had no intention to stop buying the Marvel magazines). I probably didn't fool her, but she bought them for me anyway. All four were available for sale approcximately the time Marvel was doing the Beneath POTA adaptation.
I also had Power Records for Fantastic Four, Hulk and Man-Thing. I kept the books stored with my comics and the 45s stpored with my records. At some point, my mom got rid of all of my children's records, including all of the Power ones.I still have the super-hero comics, but I have no idea what happened to the POTA ones. They must have been stored with my records. Sure with I had them today.
Years later I found the Hulk 45 for sale at a flea market and was able to replace it.
Come to think of it, since Marvel did it too Beneath was adapted three times within six years.