Friends and neighbors:

As most of you know, I am writing a book about journalists in comic books. It's a riff on my Master's thesis. It's kinda fun, and I want to share that, since it's consuming all my time. I think maybe you guys would like to be in on the conversation in my head.

I know some of you have done books on your own, and haven't asked any help here. I acknowledge that, and am not asking for help myself.

I just think it will be fun.

So, do you guys want to go on this journey with me? Sure, you all get credit in the Foreword.

But the first question is ... do you want to play? If not, I'll continue to toil in darkness.

Let me know, Legionnaires!

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I've got a Crimson Avenger question, if anybody can help.

Wikipedia says the sunburst on the original Avenger's superhero costume has been established as a stylized bullet hole, and the footnote is to JSA #53. Well, I just re-read JSA #53 (and the previous issue, which also featured the Avenger) and didn't find any reference. The character does have an ever-bleeding bullet hole on her chest, but she's had that since her first appearance, which was in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #9.

So when was this retcon established? I assume it's a retcon, because I can't believe that a bullet hole was the idea in 1944. Didn't look like one, and God knows DC wouldn't get anywhere near anything that grim.

From what I was able to dig up it, it is mentioned in the The DC Comics Encyclopedia: DC Comics.

"Special Powers/Abilities: Wields twin pistols that never needs reloading; bullet wound in chest symbolizes the violent deaths she is fated to avenge."

Also a footnote I found on Wikepedia, and was then able to find it on Google Books:



Captain Comics said:

I've got a Crimson Avenger question, if anybody can help.

Wikipedia says the sunburst on the original Avenger's superhero costume has been established as a stylized bullet hole, and the footnote is to JSA #53. Well, I just re-read JSA #53 (and the previous issue, which also featured the Avenger) and didn't find any reference. The character does have an ever-bleeding bullet hole on her chest, but she's had that since her first appearance, which was in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #9.

So when was this retcon established? I assume it's a retcon, because I can't believe that a bullet hole was the idea in 1944. Didn't look like one, and God knows DC wouldn't get anywhere near anything that grim.

All that info about the bullet holes seem to pertain to the third Crimson Avenger from JSA.

If they're saying the original CA's emblem is not a sunburst but a bullet-hole, it's definitely a modern retcon. Remember that was the CA's second outfit and it was changed slightly as it first had a cape. Also the CA kept introducing new gimmicks to stand out like red cloud bombs and a flaming sword appearing on his chest!

Almost as bad as the CA's revised origin stating he was avenging the future death of the Post-Crisis Superman...who came back to life!

Oops, reading comprehension mistake on my part!

Thanks, guys. I've got pages already on the Crimson Avenger, through his GA run. His modern appearances aren't terribly pertinent, nor are his successors. So I'm almost done with the guy. But I just wasted an afternoon trying to find out if the bullet-hole concept now applies retroactively to the original's leotard outfit, since Wikipedia implies it does (albeit with an erroneous footnote).

I'll probably have to write around it.

Since I'm on the subject, I caught Wikipedia's error because I checked their footnote (instead of taking it at face value.) I'm no genius, just an old newspaperman. I always double-check everything I read on Wikipedia, because working in newspapers taught me long ago to double-check everything. When crowd-sourced websites came along, that became even more paramount. (I mean, I laugh out loud when people cite Wikipedia. That's like citing your drunk neighbor.) The rule is: Use primary sources where possible; where they're not, get at least two sources in agreement.

But even there failure is very possible. I hate to say this, but the author of the recently published American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944 from TwoMorrows made two errors by not going to primary sources.

Everything I read online -- and the ACBC author, too, of course -- said Crimson Avenger ran from Detective Comics #20-27, then stopped until #37-89. I had that in my notes two or three places. Virtually every source you and I are accustomed to checking said the same thing. Ditto with the idea that the Avenger got his new costume in Detective Comics #43.

But I checked the primary sources -- the books themselves -- and lo and behold, it showed Crimson Avenger running through #29. I double-checked it with the GCD, and sure enough, it showed Avenger stories in #28 and #29. And I found that Lee Travis got his new outfit in Detective Comics #44, not #43, despite what everything online said. So I missed those bullets, and sadly, American Comic Book Chronicles did not.

Needless to say, this is not the first time I've found an online error by following normal reporter protocol. The Public Domain Super Heroes site, for example, is riddled with errors. Don Markstein's Toonopedia is better, but I stumble across an error virtually every time I use it. The GCD is usually accurate, but is occasionally guilty of the sin of omission. I found so much wrong or contradictory when I was looking up Jane Arden's comic book appearances that I just had to go through Famous Funnies issue by issue for more than 100 issues to see if she was there or not.

I'm not crowing. Because I'm sure I'll go to print with some errors. But when I do, it won't be because I didn't take the extra step when I could have. And I thank you, the Legionnaires, for being an extension of that search for accuracy.

According to Wikipedia's page on Four Color the series was really a series of one-shots, and the Four Color name was established by fan cataloguers.

It didn't carry a Four Color logo, the way Showcase carried a Showcase logo. For a period, beginning during the run of the first volume, and continuing into the second, the covers said "Four Color Comic" under the price. The indicia of the issues I checked used the feature's name as the title name and the series numbering. I would guess the issues often overlapped on the stands.

I think Mark Evanier has written that it was Western that held many of the licenses, so when Dell and Western split Western retained them. Hence those properties continued at Gold Key, along with Turok.

Movie star Westerns were common as dirt during the post-war Western boom. Fawcett, Magazine Enterprises and DC all did them. "Ghost Rider" started in the back of ME's Tim Holt. There were also comics starring other kinds of stars, such as DC's The Adventures of Alan Ladd.

Comics Westerns were often dull, but I don't know one can prove that point by citing Dell's titles. All the adventure-oriented comics Western produced for Dell were dull, including Tarzan and the movie adaptations.

A fair number of the Four Color Westerns were book adaptations. The first "Frontier Marshal" one was an adaptation of Ernest Haycox's Trail Town. This was the basis of the movie Abilene Town, and I think the hero's design was based on Randolph Scott. The comic isn't an adaptation of the movie, so I assume it follows the book. The follow-up "Frontier Marshal"s might be original stories. Silvertip was a Max Brand hero. He was a series character, so all the "Silvertip" issues might be adaptations of his stories, but in that case I've read neither the comics nor the books.

I think Dell bent over backwards not to be too exciting so they could justify their motto "Dell comics are good comics" and avoid being forced into the CCA.

I would guess the issues often overlapped on the stands.

This statement made me check something. Looking at the covers of the 1955 and 1956 Four Color issues, they carry no JAN-DEC coding. Since their titles were not consecutive, there could be and probably were several different consecutive issues on the stands at the same time. If I'm a newsstand vendor I wouldn't think these were issues of the same title and would probably leave them displayed until another issue with the same title showed up (or they disintegrated). This was smart, in that it probably greatly reduced their returned comics.

I must have read GCD's Four Color entry, but I didn't remember the bit of Four Color not being an official title, because every source on planet Earth -- including GCD -- calls it that. I wonder if it's a distinction without a difference for my purpose? Nah, I guess I have to mention it.

You're right that Four Color did a lot of adaptions -- movies, books and TV. Toward the end, there were a LOT of movie adaptations, most of them Disney movies. I don't know if that's because they were running out of headliners (the A-list funny animals all had their own books toward the end), or because Disney was simply making more movies, and Dell had a deal with them to use them. I don't know.

in addition to Disney movies, Four Color would also adapt stories and serials from the The Magical World of Disney TV show that ran 1954-91. Plus, of course, tons of other TV adaptations, from well-known properties like Maverick and Bonanza to a horde of lesser-knowns, none of whom I remember at the moment. 

But as you say, books got adapted quite a bit, too. Off the top of my head I'll mention Black Beauty, House of Seven Gables and virtually the entire oeuvre of Zane Grey. (Zane Grey's Tales of the West was the umbrella for all those adaptations, and when they ran out, they just wrote their own, with "Zane Grey" still on the cover.)

Thanks for the research, Luke!

Luke Blanchard said:

According to Wikipedia's page on Four Color the series was really a series of one-shots, and the Four Color name was established by fan cataloguers.

It didn't carry a Four Color logo, the way Showcase carried a Showcase logo. For a period, beginning during the run of the first volume, and continuing into the second, the covers said "Four Color Comic" under the price. The indicia of the issues I checked used the feature's name as the title name and the series numbering. I would guess the issues often overlapped on the stands.

I think Mark Evanier has written that it was Western that held many of the licenses, so when Dell and Western split Western retained them. Hence those properties continued at Gold Key, along with Turok.

Movie star Westerns were common as dirt during the post-war Western boom. Fawcett, Magazine Enterprises and DC all did them. "Ghost Rider" started in the back of ME's Tim Holt. There were also comics starring other kinds of stars, such as DC's The Adventures of Alan Ladd.

Comics Westerns were often dull, but I don't know one can prove that point by citing Dell's titles. All the adventure-oriented comics Western produced for Dell were dull, including Tarzan and the movie adaptations.

A fair number of the Four Color Westerns were book adaptations. The first "Frontier Marshal" one was an adaptation of Ernest Haycox's Trail Town. This was the basis of the movie Abilene Town, and I think the hero's design was based on Randolph Scott. The comic isn't an adaptation of the movie, so I assume it follows the book. The follow-up "Frontier Marshal"s might be original stories. Silvertip was a Max Brand hero. He was a series character, so all the "Silvertip" issues might be adaptations of his stories, but in that case I've read neither the comics nor the books.

You're absolutely right on all counts, Richard.

Richard Willis said:

I would guess the issues often overlapped on the stands.

This statement made me check something. Looking at the covers of the 1955 and 1956 Four Color issues, they carry no JAN-DEC coding. Since their titles were not consecutive, there could be and probably were several different consecutive issues on the stands at the same time. If I'm a newsstand vendor I wouldn't think these were issues of the same title and would probably leave them displayed until another issue with the same title showed up (or they disintegrated). This was smart, in that it probably greatly reduced their returned comics.

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