I Dare You!

There’s a sto­ry behind this one. Of course! Isn’t there always? 😀

But first; there are prob­a­bly some of you scratch­ing your heads, going, “Huh? That’s not Dare­dev­il!” It’s under­stand­able that you might only know about Mar­vel Comics’ ver­sion of Dare­dev­il, from the comics and the recent Net­flix series. But back in the Gold­en Age of comics, there was a dif­fer­ent Dare­dev­il, pub­lished by Lev Glea­son. The char­ac­ter’s title sold very well, run­ning for about 16 years, until sales fell (like many super­hero titles did post-WWII). This Dare­dev­il had a kid gang who hung around with him called the Lit­tle Wise Guys. The boys had tak­en over his title by the time the book ceased pub­lish­ing, Dare­dev­il him­self hav­ing gone MIA about six years pri­or to that.

But I should get back to the sto­ry behind this re-cre­ation/rein­ter­pre­ta­tion. Ear­li­er this year, I was chat­ting with direc­tor Dan Riba (known for his work on Bat­man: the Ani­mat­ed Series, among many oth­er car­toons). In the course of our con­ver­sa­tion, he men­tioned that he’d recent­ly had an online inter­ac­tion with movie pro­duc­er Michael Uslan, via the Book of Faces. Some­where out there on the inter­net, Mr. Uslan had stum­bled across my ear­li­er re-work­ing of Mar­vel’s Cap­tain Mar­vel #1, replac­ing the Kree ver­sion with the Gold­en Age Faw­cett orig­i­nal, as if Mar­vel had bought the rights to the char­ac­ter from Faw­cett.

Dan told me that Mr. Uslan liked my cov­er, but did­n’t know where it had come from (The inter­net some­times has a way of strip­ping us cre­ative folk of cred­it for our work). Dan informed him that it was my work. In reply, Mr. Uslan won­dered if I had ever con­sid­ered doing a sim­i­lar thing with Dare­dev­il #1, rework­ing it as if in some alter­nate uni­verse, Mar­vel had bought the rights to the orig­i­nal Gold­en Age char­ac­ter instead of invent­ing their own new ver­sion. (Some­where, I read that this was actu­al­ly con­sid­ered briefly).

I told Dan that I had­n’t thought of that, but it was an inter­est­ing idea. The con­ver­sa­tion moved on from there, and I did­n’t think about it again. At least not for a lit­tle while. But this thought kept peri­od­i­cal­ly cir­cling back into my brain. And as occa­sion­al­ly hap­pens, it got lodged in there. When that hap­pens, I’ve found the only way to get it out is to actu­al­ly do the thing. So here it is!

Re-cre­at­ing and re-imag­in­ing this cov­er was a much big­ger chal­lenge than my Cap­tain Mar­vel #1 was. In the process of dig­ging in and work­ing with a cov­er image like this, you come to real­ize cer­tain things about it. One is that for a Mar­vel Comics cov­er of this vin­tage, it’s a very busy cov­er! It’s almost more like a DC Annu­al or 80-Page Giant cov­er of that era.

I have a the­o­ry about the rea­son why this cov­er is so unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly busy for Mar­vel. It’s only a guess, mind you, but I sus­pect that orig­i­nal­ly the cov­er was going to be just the pri­ma­ry image at left. That part looks to have been drawn by Jack Kir­by, while there are oth­er hands in the rest of the art. Three of the Fan­tas­tic Four heads are just the paste-up art they used in that comic’s cor­ner box! I can’t help but won­der if some­one (per­haps Stan Lee, or maybe Mar­tin Good­man) felt like this new title need­ed more of a sales boost than just the one image, so the main piece of art was reduced and shoved to the left, and all the addi­tion­al text men­tion­ing Spi­der-Man and the Fan­tas­tic Four was added in that col­umn on the right.

Adding to my sus­pi­cions are all the tan­gents that exist­ed on the orig­i­nal, which I made an effort to fix here. They feel like the sort of thing that hap­pens when art is re-worked after the fact by oth­er hands, in ways the ini­tial artist did­n’t plan for.

There are a cou­ple addi­tion­al things I should men­tion, because of course there are sto­ry bits about this new/old ver­sion that I worked out in my head while doing this cov­er. I fig­ure Mar­vel might have giv­en Dare­dev­il fold-up boomerangs that he could store in his belt (see dia­gram). And at first I was­n’t sure what to do with the spot at low­er right where Fog­gy Nel­son was on the orig­i­nal cov­er. Who could I put there? But as I thought about it, the idea of aging up the Lit­tle Wise Guys to teenagers (ala Rick Jones), and hav­ing them form a band seemed like a good way to go. They’re rep­re­sent­ed here by Scare­crow. It was­n’t too hard to take his hair­cut from his Gold­en Age look and turn it into more of a Bea­t­le cut.

Thanks to Mr. Uslan and Dan for plant­i­ng the bug in my brain!

8 thoughts on “I Dare You!

  1. John G Pierce

    Mark, your the­o­ry about the com­po­si­tion of Mar­vel’s cov­er makes sense. And as usu­al, your ren­di­tion of a reimag­ined ver­sion using the orig­i­nal char­ac­ters is right on tar­get. I remem­ber when I first read about the new Mar­vel title in a fanzine, the edi­tor or writer used an image of the orig­i­nal ver­sion to spot­light the brief news piece, giv­en that at the time, there was no infor­ma­tion as to what the new ver­sion would look like. Dur­ing that era, I was intense­ly inter­est­ed in the Gold­en Age, so I was glad that a new Dare­dev­il was on the hori­zon, even if he was­n’t any­thing like the orig­i­nal, of which I knew next to noth­ing, any­way. It’s next to impos­si­ble to recap­ture or even con­vey the ambi­ence of that time (the ear­ly 60s), when both fan­dom and comic­dom were expand­ing. So every new or new-old char­ac­ter was greet­ed with excite­ment and antic­i­pa­tion. But the one thing I don’t remem­ber read­ing was the reac­tion of any fans of the orig­i­nal Dare­dev­il to the new ver­sion. I’m not say­ing that there was­n’t any, but if so, I don’t remem­ber read­ing it. But I’m sure that for some, at least, just hav­ing an old name back in cir­cu­la­tion was grat­i­fy­ing in itself.

    Reply
    1. Mark Post author

      John: thanks for that win­dow back into ear­li­er com­ic fan­dom. For a num­ber of us, the Sil­ver Age ver­sions of these char­ac­ters have been around for pret­ty much our whole lives, so it’s hard for us to imag­ine a time and place where they did­n’t already exist. It makes for an inter­est­ing per­spec­tive.

      Reply
  2. Dan Riba

    Wow! That is won­der­ful! So very hap­py to have played a small part in the cre­ation of this piece. And while I love the Mar­vel Dare­dev­il par­tic­u­lar­ly the Wood sto­ries and the Everett ori­gin. ..I real­ly wish the orig­i­nal char­ac­ter was­n’t as for­got­ten as he has become. I remem­ber see­ing his image in fanzines as a kid and it cap­tured my imag­i­na­tion. Thanks for cap­tur­ing it again.

    Reply
    1. Mark Post author

      Dan! Thanks for stop­ping by! I’m so very glad you like this piece. It’s fun­ny how a casu­al com­ment can just stick in your head, and lead to some­thing like this.
      Yeah, like you, I remem­ber see­ing images of this guy as a kid and being intrigued by him, based on just the look. But back then, it was hard to find out much more about char­ac­ters like this. One of the great things now about the inter­net is that it’s pos­si­ble to actu­al­ly read Gold­en Age Dare­dev­il comics.

      Reply
  3. Lyle Alan Dodd

    Nice post! I always won­dered if this ver­sion of Dare­dev­il stabbed his wrists with that belt. It looks cool, but does­n’t seem to prac­ti­cal. Any idea who inked the orig­i­nal cov­er? I have two guess­es Dick Ayers or Bill Everett (watch, the artists names will be on the cov­er and I missed it.).
    Every time you do one of these, you add an ele­ment that makes the cov­er more inter­est­ing. It’s fun to look at this and com­pare it with the orig­i­nal.

    Reply
    1. Mark Post author

      Glad you like it.
      Accord­ing to comics.org, the cov­er of Dare­dev­il #1 was inked by Bill Everett (your sec­ond guess). Which is kind of what I fig­ured, since he pen­ciled the inte­ri­or of the book.
      As for adding to/tweaking the orig­i­nals when I do these re-cre­ations, I feel like (for me at least) it would be bor­ing to just dupli­cate an exist­ing cov­er ver­ba­tim. Putting some kind of a fresh spin on it makes it more inter­est­ing, and gives me more of a rea­son to do it.

      Reply

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