#2. Funky Flashman
Via Kevin Nowlan
Funky Flashman is probably the biggest douchebag the comic book world has ever seen, and that's counting Mister Fantastic. For those of you unfamiliar with the guy, he first appeared in 1972 as a swarmy pseudobusinessman living off the inheritance of a dead associate. He's got no powers, no talent and no integrity, and his origin story is about as cool as a bowl full of mashed potatoes. It doesn't help that Funky looks like a cross between Sonny Bono, a Geico Caveman and a foot.
It's official: There's no cartoon character named "Funky" we wouldn't punch in the balls.
One of Flashman's ballsiest moves was to open up a store in Metropolis called the Super Store, where he made millions off the likenesses of superheroes such as Superman and Batman. Not that Bruce "Richie Rich" Wayne would care, but Funky made the money without the superheroes' permission, since Flashman's belief was that superheroes were public figures and there was no reason for him to pay for any royalties and licenses. Remember all this, because it's going to be important later.
The Real-Life Inspiration
The nasty, money-hungry con man Funky Flashman was Jack Kirby's exaggerated caricature of his former collaborator and boss Stan Lee.
Via Alan Light
If we're honest, it's not a huge stretch of the imagination.
Back in the early 1960s, Lee was a writer/editor for Marvel Comics and Kirby was an artist/plotter. The two had worked together before and seemed to make a good team. One fan even called them the Lennon/McCartney of comics, which would work if Paul McCartney ended up a down and out freelancer working for his millionaire boss John Lennon.
"More popular than Jesus" jokes notwithstanding.
Kirby and Lee's story started in the 1940s, when Kirby was already proven as the co-creator of Captain America, and Lee was just the kid filling the inkwells. Over the years, though, it was outgoing, business-savvy Lee who moved up the ladder while Kirby kicked around from studio to studio, going wherever the money and the work was. His reputation was solid but his finances were not, which was why he reunited with his old ink filler in the 1960s.
Once Kirby and Lee were together, all kinds of comic book magic happened. Between 1958 and 1970 the pair worked on The Fantastic Four, Thor, The Uncanny X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man, just to name a few. And it wasn't like he was just the guy drawing the pictures. Lee himself admitted that he often just handed over a single sheet of paper with plot points and Kirby and another collaborator, Steve Ditko, did the rest. That's like Stephen King turning over the words "telekinesis," "batshit mother," "unexpected period" and "buckets of pig blood" over to an assistant and getting 100 percent of the credit for Carrie.
"Stone-man, invisible person, irritating dipshit, someone ON FIRE, Excelsior!"
Yet it was Lee, not Kirby or anyone else, who was promoted as the creator of all those characters, while Kirby was scrounging around as a freelancer. By the time Jack took off for DC Comics in 1970, he not only had had his fill of Lee, but he also had a pretty good idea of how to get back at him.
"Who TP'ed my house?"
The funny part is that collaborators say the resemblance didn't start off intentionally. There was another Marvel employee Kirby tried to parody, but as the character got drawn, more and more of Lee's characteristics ended up on the paper. Before you knew it the ugliest, skeeziest version of Stan Lee possible, a guy we here at Cracked happen to love, was in print.
No one here can translate that line. We're forced by his beard to assume it was some sort of sex crime.
#1. Charles Foster Kane
If you've never seen Citizen Kane -- the film critics frequently name as the greatest ever made -- basically Charles Foster Kane, played by Orson Welles, is a man with humble origins whose money and fame turned him into a bitter old man, isolated from the rest of the world in his huge castle. Basically like Mr. Burns -- only without Smithers. Scratch that, he had a Smithers, too.
Mr. Bernstein was probably more about undying loyalty than about homoerotic subtext.
The Real-Life Inspiration
From day one everybody and their mother knew this movie was about a real guy: publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst. The only person who pretended otherwise was Welles himself, and even then the similarities between the real Hearst and the fake one were too glaring to take his claim seriously. It'd be like making a movie about a billionaire New Yorker with a huge yellow comb-over who shouts "YOU'RE FIRED!" and trying to convince people you'd never even heard of Donald Trump.
"Not William Randolph Hearst the newspaper magnate ... William Randolph Hearst the homeless guy on 34th Street."
For anyone not in possession of an intimate knowledge of the early-20th-century publisher coupled with a blow-by-blow recollection of the movie, here are a few of the gaping similarities:
- Both were born to families who made their wealth in mining.
- Both accumulated mansions, antiques, art and ladies.
- Both failed at their bids for political office, although Hearst did make it into the House of Representatives twice. Most of the time he lost, though.
- Both had a showgirl for a mistress, and both used their publications to sing her praises.
"See Marion Davies in her new starring role, I Am William Randolph Hearst and I'm a Lucky Bastard!"
And that, apparently, was where Welles messed up. His decision to portray Hearst's mistress as a worthless alcoholic rather than the talented and beloved figure she was at the time was what turned yet another satirical portrayal of a public figure into an all-out shitstorm.
There's no joke here. We just really love staring at pictures of Marion Davies.
Hearst was old, rich and powerful, and for a while there, he won. He bullied theaters by banning the ones that screened the film from advertising in his newspapers. Citizen Kane performed poorly at the box office, and the film was literally booed at every time it was mentioned at the Academy Awards in 1942. Like that time your drunk aunt and your sister's boyfriend took off for a three-hour drive in her pickup, Citizen Kane became the movie that everyone quietly swept under the carpet and never mentioned again.
Although your aunt nevertheless maintains the opinion that he was the greatest shag of all time.
At least, for about 15 years, which was how long it took for the world to realize they had been bamboozled by a media smear campaign. Today, it's just the opposite -- you can get skinned alive for trash-talking Citizen Kane.
But, here's the real twist of the story. In real life Hearst wasn't the reclusive, eccentric loner Charles Foster Kane was. He started charities, loved parties, loved life and apparently stuck by his lady friend until the day he died. You know who did become a reclusive, eccentric loner, right?
Welles, in trying to write the nastiest ending to Kane's/Hearst's life possible, wound up predicting his own fate. We're not sure if that's irony, or if on some level Welles knew things were going to end badly. How far did Welles fall from Kane? His final performance was as the voice of Unicron in the 1986 animated Transformers movie.
Still, between "Rosebud," and "You cannot destroy my destinyyyy," we know what we'd have as our final words.
And stop by LinkSTORM because it's Friday and there's no reason to do any work today.
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