Monday, 23 February 2015


From 1979: A US Marvel Ad for the notorious FANTASTIC FOUR animated series (which aired on ITV in the UK).

The absence of the Human Torch has become the subject of an oft-repeated (even by industry insiders who should know better) urban legend.  the story goes that NBC's censors panicked at the prospect of the nation's impressionable youth igniting themselves and propelling themselves off tall buildings (John Bryne did an excellent riff on this in a memorable issue of the FF comic book, reprinted in the UK as part of SECRET WARS II) and slapped a 'banned' notice on the character.

Not only does that fly in the face of logic but there's nothing to suggest that the character's appearance in the previous incarnation of the show from a decade earlier had induced any dozy pre-teen to try anything similar. 

The less exciting truth is that Marvel had, as part of the superhero screen boom of the time, already signed-away the rights to the character to Universal in the (optimistic) hopes that Johnny Storm would fly solo in a movie or TV project.  When the cartoon producers found out, and mindful of the Star Age impact of the STAR WARS droids, they hot-swapped him for the flying robot HERBIE.  Fandom groaned.  

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the foursome's creators, were indirectly reunited on this project as 'The King' was drafted in to provide designs and storyboards for the show... beginning his twilight years tenure in West Coast animation. 

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