Hugely Influential Superhero Creators Who Did Vile Stuff IRL

Comics may tell stories about superhuman forces or good, but they're still written and drawn by regular non-super human beings. And human beings sometimes suck. Until we finally get more mutant, Kryptonian, Atlantean, etc. representation in the comic book industry, we'll keep hearing horrible behind-the-scenes stories like the time when ...

Advertisement

5
DC Let A Serial Harasser Edit Superman For Almost 20 Years

If you've read any DC comics this century, you've probably seen the name Eddie Berganza about as often as the word "cape." Berganza became Superman editor in 2000 and went on to oversee all of the universe-shattering, once-in-a-lifetime crossover events DC puts out every two years or so. When he was promoted to Executive Editor in 2010, the company praised Berganza as someone who was "on the ground zero for all DCU's major storylines!" Here he is talking about DC's attempts to "boost its female readership":

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Too bad he was a serial harasser almost that whole time, according to the at least five people who reported him to HR before he was promoted. First, they told HR, he grabbed a female editor during a staff party and "repeatedly tried to pull her in for a kiss," and then he cornered another editor, "stuck his tongue in her mouth, and attempted to grope her." He was known for making people uncomfortable -- saying something inappropriate at the office was known as crossing "The Berganza Line." And even after all that, DC still said, "Hmm, yes, this seems like a guy who should be in charge of Superman and pals."

But only if it's this version of the character.DC ComicsBut only if it's this version of the character.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Because of his promotion, one of his victims had to decide between working with him or quitting her dream job (she picked the latter). In 2011, Berganza oversaw DC's "New 52" relaunch, which included tasteful stuff like Catwoman graphically banging Batman or the Teen Titans' Starfire becoming an amnesiac sex machine. But at least he'd learned to behave around real-life women, right? Nope!

During a convention in 2012, according to witnesses, Berganza once again "stuck his tongue" down the throat of a comics creator who was dating a DC employee. DC acted swiftly and decisively by ... continuing to employ him, but in a somewhat less important job (group editor for Superman and Wonder Woman comics). But how could they prevent him from forcefully tonguing more people? Easy: according to writer Alex De Campi, they simply didn't hire any women to work with those characters.

Thirteen names in this Wonder Woman credit box and the only female one is Wonder Woman.DC ComicsThirteen names in this Wonder Woman credit box and the only female one is "Wonder Woman."

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Everyone who spoke up against him in 2010 stopped working in superhero comics. In 2017, while DC was basking on the positive feedback from the Wonder Woman movie, Buzzfeed News published an article about Berganza. DC was shocked, just shocked, to see all of this information they already knew about and finally fired him, claiming they are "committed to eradicating harassment." As soon as it becomes public, anyway.

4
A Long-Time Green Lantern Writer Is Currently In Jail For Uploading Child Porn To YouTube

Remember the Green Lantern movie with Ryan Reynolds? Pretend you do. Well, out of the hundreds of green-clad aliens you see flying on screen in that movie, a good bunch were created by DC writer Gerard Jones, who wrote around a hundred Green Lantern-related comics in the '80s and '90s. He also created a Marvel character who appeared in Thor: Ragnarok and wrote an acclaimed book about the history of superhero comics. Why, he even had the honor of being used as a talking head in a Superman documentary produced by Bryan Singer and narrated by beloved actor Kevin Spacey!

Comic Sans?! This documentary is a disgrace.Warner Bros. EntertainmentComic Sans?! This documentary is a disgrace.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

In the early 2000s, Jones took a step back from his superhero writing career (his last work for DC was a Batman special featuring the classic, thong-wearing Robin) and became better known for his non-fiction work. But since 2016, he's even better known for something else: possession and distribution of very graphic child pornography. Why "distribution"? Because this unbelievable dumbass got caught when he tried to upload that nasty shit to YouTube. How does that happen? Did he think the Deep Web has America's Got Talent clips and pewdiepie videos on the front page? OK, maybe it does.

At first, Jones pled innocence and said on his blog that he was actually looking forward to writing about this little "legal issue" once it was all cleared up. But, after finding out that the "It was just a pop-up!" defense doesn't work when you're talking about hundreds of videos and thousands of images, he changed his plea to guilty. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison and $10,200 in fines ... but hey, at least DC has gone back to reprinting some of his work (they stopped right after his arrest), so maybe he can pay that off with the 8 cent royalty checks from Warner Bros. he probably gets every month.

He should be paid exclusively in unsold copies of this issue.DC ComicsHe should be paid exclusively in unsold copies of this issue.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

3
The Artist For DC's The Creeper Turns Out To Be A Major Creep

OK, maybe DC needs to start asking people if they're massive perverts during job interviews. Josue Rivera, a.k.a. Justiniano, was a popular DC artist during the 2000s, drawing comics starring Superman, Flash, the Justice League, and, of course, The Creeper. You might remember that last one from Batman cartoons -- he's the one who looks like the Joker fell into a giant bowl of Froot Loops instead of a vat of chemicals.

Or like an Oompa-Loompa who got jacked and became a stripper.Warner Bros. AnimationOr like an Oompa-Loompa who got jacked and became a stripper.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Rivera also drew a bunch of comics starring the Teen Titans and Beast Boy in particular. These became retroactively disturbing when, like Jones, he got arrested for possession of child pornography. And also like Jones, the way he got caught was extremely dumb: he was supposed to give the director of a funeral home a thumb drive with photos of a relative for a slideshow, but instead, he accidentally handed him a drive full of extremely illegal porn. We're just glad someone caught the error before the funeral director hit play on an instrumental rendition of "My Heart Will Go On" and projected the slideshow.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Naturally, local news sites had fun with a certain part of his resume when he was arrested.

We don't think original Creeper (and Spider-Man) creator Steve Ditko appreciated this random dig at him.Connecticut PostWe don't think original Creeper (and Spider-Man) creator Steve Ditko appreciated this random dig at him.

Rivera tried to claim that he only downloaded the photos (plus hundreds more on his computer) because he was "bored," but the judge didn't buy that, especially because out of "boredom" he'd also Photoshopped a picture of his 10-year-old niece to look like porn. Appropriately, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 10 more in probation. When asked by the judge if he had anything to add before the sentencing, he said "I think I'm good." Nah, man.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

2
The Creator Of Li'l Abner Was The Harvey Weinstein Of His Time

Lil' Abner was a massively popular comic strip in the "making fun of country yokels" genre. Between the 1940s and 1970s, there were multiple cartoons, movies, and musicals based on Li'l Abner characters, which include Sadie Hawkins and the Shmoo, that sentient dickbag that occasionally hanged out with the Flintstones.

At least it's wearing protection.Hanna-BarberaAt least it's wearing protection.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

The strip's creator, Al Capp, was a household name in Hollywood for decades. And what did he do with that money and influence? Sexually harassing young starlets, of course. Like Goldie Hawn, who says she was 19 when he got her in a room claiming it was for an audition, then came to meet her wearing a "dressing gown." The sight of a 55-year-old man in grandma clothes somehow failed to arouse Hawn, and Capp became angry when she refused to kiss him. He started telling her she'd never make it in show business with that attitude, so she might as well go back home and marry a dentist. She declined the kind career advice.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

But it wasn't just Hawn. Grace Kelly auditioned for a Lil' Abner musical early in her career and, according to her manager, Capp physically attacked her and tried to rape her, causing her to physically get the fuck out of his office and never see him again.

For women, every day was Get The Fuck Out Of Al Capp's Office day.Al CappFor women, every day was "Get The Fuck Out Of Al Capp's Office" day.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Capp was also infamous for showing his "Li'l Abner" to multiple college students while sexually propositioning them. After a confusing 1971 incident at a university in Wisconsin, he was arrested and charged with indecent exposure, "sodomy," and attempted adultery. Only the last one stuck. That was the alarming part for the authorities back then, the fact that he wanted to cheat on his wife.

Capp's career fizzled out after that scandal. Meanwhile, Goldie Hawn sent him a thank you note for not casting her after she won an Oscar. She went on to marry Kurt Russell, who's like the furthest thing from a dentist.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

1
The Creator Of Crime Does Not Pay Was Involved In A Bizarre Murder Case

As we recently told you, "true crime" comics were a multi-million dollar industry in the '40s and '50s, and one particular series called Crime Does Not Pay was raking in almost criminal amounts of dough. At one point, roughly one in every 25 Americans was reading the comic every month to get their "drawings of criminals dying in gruesome ways" fix.

We need a 20-hour crime podcast about the gangster in the pram.Lev GleasonWe need a 20-hour crime podcast about the gangster in the pram.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Crime Does Not Pay was created by cartoonists Bob Wood and Charles Biro, reportedly after Biro met a man who kidnapped women and forced them into prostitution and thought "Wowie zowie, what a character!" The whole idea of the comic was showing criminals doing awful shit, followed by awful shit happening to criminals, all presented by a cartoon mascot called Mr. Crime. The comic was selling like gangbusters, leading to an official spin-off and dozens of unofficial copycats. And then it all went to hell. Crime comics got their balls cut off by Congress, which forced Biro and Wood to change their premise to "cops are brave and perfect and awesome and can do no wrong."

This failed to reduce crime in America, but they did reduce the size of the word crime on the covers.Lev GleasonThis failed to reduce crime in America, but they did reduce the size of the word "crime" on the covers.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

The new boot-licker version of Crime Does Not Pay only lasted a few issues before getting cancelled in 1955. Wood moved on to a new occupation: getting drunk and gambling all day. In 1958, he showed up in a NYC taxi cab covered in blood. When the cabbie asked him if he'd just killed someone, probably just making conversation, Wood immediately dropped the entire story on him: "Yes, I killed a woman who was giving me a bad time in Room 91 of the Irving Hotel. Why don't you call someone at a newspaper and make yourself a few dollars." The cabbie called the cops instead, who found out that Wood had beaten his current girlfriend to death after spending 11 days getting drunk in a hotel room.

Beating people to death after spending 11 days getting drunk in a hotel room does not pay.New York Daily NewsBeating people to death after spending 11 days getting drunk in a hotel room does not pay.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Wood got three years in jail for "voluntary manslaughter." If you think that's an inadequate sentence for murd-- sorry, manslaughtering someone, don't worry. He was paroled a few months before finishing his sentence ... then broke his parole and got an extra year. He was finally released in 1963, only to be run over by a car three years later. No word on whether any cartoon mascots materialized in the air and dispensed punny wisdom during his final moments.

Follow Maxwell Yezpitelok's heroic effort to read and comment every '90s Superman comic at Superman86to99.tumblr.com.

To turn on reply notifications, click here

35 Comments

Load Comments