The Steve Ditko/Wallace Wood Comic Book That Was Only Available Via Theft

In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, discover how a Steve Ditko/Wallace Wood comic book was only available through STEALING a copy!

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and forty-seventh installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. Click here for the first legend in this installment. Click here for the second legend in this installment.

NOTE: If my twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I’ll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? so go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

COMIC LEGEND:

Steve Ditko and Wallace Wood did a comic book in 1969 that was only available by stealing it!

STATUS:

true

It’s hard to quite conceptualize today just what it was like for a comic book artist to decide to do an independent comic book in 1966. Heck, it was a huge seismic shift when the original Image Comics creators left Marvel to form Image, and they did so knowing that the market was booming and that while they certainly did not know that they would be successful, they also knew that there was a lot of money out there for new comic book content, so they had to be pretty confident that the same guys who just sold millions of copies of spider man, X-Force and X-Men could probably sell at least half a million copies of their own creations.


During the 1960s, however, it was a whole other story. Think about this. Will Eisner was a legend in the field. This was a guy who knew (I mean, he knew) that he could easily launch a comic book company for someone else, since he had done it a number of times in the 1940s. He also started the spirit comic book supplement in the 1940s. So if anyone could do a self-published comic book series, it would be Eisner. And what did Eisner do? He went to go work for the Army for 20 years doing PS, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly.

Therefore, it is very impressive how Wallace Wood was able to launch an independent comic book in 1966. Inspired by talk from one of his assistants, Dan Adkins, a year or so earlier about his own ideas about doing a self-published magazine (Adkins had actually done a short-lived magazine years earlier), Wood launched the independent comic book magazine witzend in 1966. All the top artists in comics knew and respected the heck out of Wood, so he got a lot of responses when he offered to make witzend a place where his peers could do whatever they felt like. As you might expect, the release schedule was…erratic.


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In a fascinating note in the first issue, he mentions that Steve Ditko would be doing something for them in the future.

Ditko contributed a few stories to the second issue of witzendbut then Wood moved on from the project and Ditko was really just there for Wood, so he left, too.

Wood got a gig in 1968 doing a sort of X-Rated comic strip for the military called Sally Forth (here’s one of the few pages I could find of Sally Forth by Wood that didn’t have Sally naked in them)…

This gave Wood the idea of ​​making a comic book that would be sold directly to servicemen in the United States. He enlisted Steve Ditko to draw the lead story of the first issue of Heroes Inc.


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The lead story (by Wood and Ditko) introduced the macho superhero, Cannon (the book also pushed the boundaries of R-rated comic, so I picked a page that is a bit less on the edge of said boundaries)…

But really, you get the picture of what kind of feature this is, right?

Wood and Ralph Reese, one of Wood’s assistants at the time, did a nice science fiction story in the first issue called The Misfits…

Some good, Fantastic Four/Doom Patrol-by-way-of-Wallace-Wood stuff here…

The problem is that, for whatever reason, whatever deal Wood had to publish #1 fell through. So despite printing a goodly-sized run of the first issue of the series, it was never officially published. Someone, though, stole a thousand copies or so from the warehouse and those copies were then sold over the years and got very high price totals because it was such a rare comic book (Wood and Ditko!). However, hilariously enough, eventually the remaining copies (roughly 70,000 of them) were eventually auctioned off and so now, this is one of the CHEAPEST Silver Age comic books, since there are so many copies available that came directly from a warehouse, and thus, they’re all in really nice shape for a comic book that’s over 50 years old. You can snare a copy for around $10 online at any given moment.


CHECK OUT THE TV LEGENDS REVEALED!

In the latest TV Legends Revealed – Did a fake name for Lt. Columbo somehow lead to a lawsuit against Trivial Pursuit?

MORE LEGENDS STUFF!

OK, that’s it for this installment!

Thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don’t even actually anymore, but I used it for years and you still see it when you see my old columns, so it’s fair enough to still thank him, I think.

Feel free (heck, I beg you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My email address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well! Also, if you have a correction or a comment, feel free to also e-mail me. CBR sometimes e-mails me with e-mails they get about CBLR and that’s fair enough, but the quickest way to get a correction through is to just e-mail me directly, honest. I don’t mind corrections. Always best to get things accurate!

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