Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Manly Wade Wellman's Captain Marvel Sneak

Captain Marvel Adventures 1 tier--Sivana and henchmen

To expand pictorially on what I mentioned in the last post's comments: in the DC/Fawcett lawsuit in the late Forties, Manly Wade Wellman proved that he was an early Captain Marvel writer, even though he had no credits in the comics, because in Captain Marvel Adventures 1 (1941) he had sneaked in his name in the word balloons.

I've found this mentioned in a number of places, but I haven't found an illustration of the claim. Here are the first lines of each panel's first balloon on the first three pages of CMA 1:

acrostic from first lines of balloons in CMA 1: MANLY MADE TELLMAH
Note that the acrostic actually spells MANLY MADE TELLMAH; his sneak was messed up by editorial rewriting in some panels. I've shown  the first tier of panels above; to make this work, we have to assume that the inset in the second panel was material included in the first panel in the script.

Joe Simon also testified at that trial, as he and Jack Kirby supplied the art. Part of his testimony included the fact that they worked from Fawcett's scripts—and despite that, to this day the writing of CMA 1 has been attributed in places like the DC Archives reprint to Simon.

The point of Wellman's testimony was that he was instructed to copy Superman. But that reads, in the retellings at least, as his being instructed to copy Superman before Fawcett ever first published Captain Marvel—his writing Captain Marvel Adventures 1 showing that he was "in on the beginning" of the character because, you know, #1. That Cap debuted in Whiz Comics a year earlier goes unmentioned.


  1. So...were the rest of the stories in CMA #1 written by Wellman?

  2. I haven't studied the issue's other stories in comparison yet--this subject distracted me from what I was working on for my next post--but I hope this story is where can I make a start at IDing Wellman's style for all the stories he didn't "sign."

  3. and say, maybe you can solve the mystery of whether Wellman has any stories in the 1950s Phantom Stranger. Julius Schwartz said Wellman created the character. Murphy Anderson says what a treat it was for him to work on Wellman's stories in the Phantom Stranger (as he was a fan of Wellman's Weird Tales stories). Others suggest that Anderson may be recalling stories that appeared in Sensation Mystery, Strange Adventures, etc, and that creating doesn't mean he wrote the stories. Thanks!

  4. I took notes on the Phantom Stranger stories' styles some time ago, hoping to eventually find Wellman's style to compare, so PS is on my to-do list.

  5. Thank you. I'm referencing you in a paper on Wellman. Daniel Schnopp-Wyatt

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