Most of us have to work like hell just to pull off "below average." Then again, some people are so talented you get the feeling they wouldn't even have to try to excel. And, sometimes, those motherfuckers go ahead and prove it to the world. For example ...
5 Stephen King Wrote Under A Pseudonym To Prove His Success Wasn't A Fluke
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Stephen King is the king of horror novels (it's right there in his name), but he's always been his own greatest critic. Back in the 1970s, when his bibliography was only three books long, King suffered a crisis of conscience -- what if he was actually a shitty writer and didn't know it?
Trinity Home Entertainment
At least he can take comfort in definitely knowing he's a shitty director.
His first novel, Carrie, was such a smash hit that it was adapted by Brian De Palma into a movie starring John Travolta, and King was concerned that people were buying his books more because of the power of marketing and name recognition than because they were any good. Surely, the bubble would eventually burst, and he would pull a Shyamalan decades before Shyamalan ...
So, King decided to perform an experiment to see whether he could start fresh and replicate the success of Carrie all over again. His fourth novel, Rage, was published in deep cover under a pseudonym: Richard Bachman.
And behind a cover that suggests a Harlequin romance gone horribly wrong.
At King's request, the only people who knew that he was Bachman were his editor and publisher, and, in every other sense, it was to be treated like some unknown hack writer's first novel. That meant as little promotion as possible -- just throwing it out into the discount section of a few bookstores and seeing what would happen.
And because King doesn't do anything by half measures, he invented an entire backstory for Bachman to satisfy the curious: He was a former marine who now lived on a dairy farm with his wife Claudia, and they had lost a child due to a tragic accident. He even went as far as to include a fake photograph of Bachman, which was actually a photo of the insurance agent of King's agent, Kirby McCauley:
Claudia Inez Bachman
Seen here about to ask you if you want to go hunting, drink whiskey,
and talk about life's greatest mysteries.
"Bachman" wound up publishing five novels, which sold poorly at first but gradually began to develop a cult following. As a result, the fifth book, Thinner, was a minor hit, and an unsuspecting reviewer actually described it as "what Stephen King would write if Stephen King could write."
One fan of "both" authors became suspicious enough to investigate and wound up discovering that the Library Of Congress listed King as the copyright holder to Bachman's novels. King gave up the game without a fight and dropped the Bachman charade (although, he would later release another two books as Bachman, presumably just to spite that one critic with his sweet burn.)
4 Nick Fury's Comic Was Given A Deliberately Stupid Title On A Bet
Nick Fury is the leader of The Avengers, which is a curiously lofty position considering his only superpower is the ability to shoot a gun with no depth perception. But, Fury was originally "Sgt. Fury" and looked more like Rambo than his current incarnation. He was created on a bet by Marvel heavyweights Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to prove they could sell a comic with the dumbest name they could think of.
The working title was Sgt. Fury And His Lunkhead Lead Getter-Outters,
Featuring Hamish MacAvocadoGrenadier.
See, the vast majority of Marvel's titles, at the time, followed a strict and simple three-word formula: first word was "The," second word was some synonym for "Fantastic" (Amazing, Uncanny, Incredible, etc.), and the third word was the name of the superhero in question. The publisher Martin Goodman thought this rule was a significant factor in their success, but Lee and Kirby disagreed, figuring it had more to do with, you know, their integrity as artists and storytellers.
So, Lee made a bet with Goodman that they could release a comic with the stupidest, clunkiest title they could come up with and still make it a success. The result was "Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos." The title defied every convention that Marvel had for naming its comics. First of all, it was way too many words. Plus, "Howling" and "Commandos" didn't properly communicate how uncanny or fantastic its heroes were. Not to mention that "Sgt. Fury" was just a cheesy-as-hell name for a character -- really no better than "Private Dancer" or "Major Bummer."
Or Private Percival Pinkerton, beloved Fightin' Fireball of the
Howling Commandos and father of Waldo.
After stacking the cards against himself, Stan Lee proceeded to write a comic about a badass World War II fighting squad led by the eponymous Sgt. Fury. And, of course, the comic became one of their best-selling titles, running for almost 20 years and eventually having its main character adapted for the big screen in one of the most memorable and popular portrayals of a Marvel hero ever. We are obviously referring to the 1998 David Hasselhoff film.
20th Century Fox Television
"Hassel him, and all bets are hoff."