In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn why a real comic book company created a fake comic book for the movie, The Lost Boys
Welcome to the 880th installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, a column where we examine comic book myths, rumors and legends and confirm or debunk them. This time, learn about a comic book company that actually specialized in creating fake comic books for movies.
This might come as a bit of a surprise to you, but TV shows and movies generally don't give much thought to the use of comic books in them. A few years back, I did a post about an episode of M*A*S*H where we saw Radar O'Reilly falling asleep with a comic book in his hands. Not only were the late 1960s Marvel comic books not time appropriate for the Korean War, but the actual comic book in Radar's hands in his bed when he fell asleep changes in the scene! That's how little thought most people in the world of television and film production put into the use of comic books in their productions. Heck, since the episode was filmed in the mid-1970s, the comic books weren't even time-appropriate for the year that it was filmed! Clearly, some production staffer just had a pile of comic books that were used for whatever occasion.
However, sometimes, TV and filmmakers put more thought into the comic books used in their productions, and that leads to some interesting instances of comic books created just for a film, and wouldn't you just know it, that's exactly what we're about to talk about now! Isn't it crazy how life just works out like that sometimes?
The Lost Boys was a surprise hit 1987 vampire film. Originally written by James Jeremias and Janice Fischer as a sort of vampire version of The Goonies (not literally, of course, as the original script was sold to Producers Sales Organization a couple of months before The Goonies came out, but that basic idea, about a group of teenage vampires being hunted by two Cub scout brothers. The original script played up the whole Peter Pan-esque aspect of the concept, which is why it is called The Lost Boys to begin with, as that is the name of Peter Pan's group of children who never grow up), when Goonies director Richard Donner had to pass on the project as he was too busy, it was picked up by Joel Schumacher, who enlisted noted screenwriter, Jeffrey Boam, to up the ages of the vampires to older teenagers/young adults, and up the violence and the dark humor of the film.
Now, the film was about a young man named Michael (Jason Patric) who moves to Santa Clara with his mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest) and his younger brother Sam (Corey Haim), to live with their grandfather (Barnard Hughes). Once there, a local gang of vampires, led by David (Kiefer Sutherland) begin to turn Michael into a vampire, as well. Earlier, Sam had run into two brothers at the local comic bookshop, Edgar and Alan Forg (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), who tell Sam that they are vampire hunters. Sam sort of "proves" himself to them by showing off his comic book knowledge, as seen in this dialogue (which also doesn't make any sense, but it sounds good):
Sam: I 'm looking for Batman #14
Edgar: That's a very serious book, man.
Alan: Only five in existence.
Sam: Four, actually. I'm always lookin' out for the other three.
Then he picks at the rack, in a weird scene where the dialogue makes sense, but not with the visuals (which involve Sam just moving around some fairly recent Superman back issues on the rack), "You can't put the Superman #77 with the 200s. They haven't even discovered red kryptonite yet. And you can't put the #98 with the 300s. Lori Lemaris hasn't even been introduced." Those are all true facts, but at the same time, they don't really make sense, as, well, wouldn't the logic behind not putting #77 with #200 be simply that, you know, it's inherently much earlier than #200? In any event, with the Frog brothers now feeling that Sam is one of them, they push a comic book on him called Destroy All Vampires, which they insist is essentially a how-to manual on how to deal with vampires, with their phone number on the back when he needs to contact them.
Obviously, Sam doesn't take them seriously until, well, you know, it turns out that they are clearly telling him the truth and that the comic book really does help save his life. Todd K., a friend of mine wrote about the comic book on Facebook a while back and he noted that it was a real comic book company that made the comic book, but that the comic book itself is not real, which led him to ask me, "Why a real publisher on the fake comic?"
Excellent question, Todd, let's answer it!
Steve Schanes, along with his brother William, had co-founded Pacific Comics in the late 1970s, as well as Pacific Comic Distributors. Pacific Comics was one of the most important independent comic book companies in the early 1980s. However, the distribution business took a big hit, and the whole company went under, even though the comic book side of things was doing well. William went on to join Diamond Distributors, while Steve started a new company with his wife called Blackthorne Publishing. The company specialized in comic strip reprints and 3-D comics that it marketed to specialty gift stores like Hallmark stores and Spencer's Gifts, stuff like that.
However, as Schanes explained to Mark Borax in Comics Interview #54, they also did a whole line of movie and TV props!
Schanes: We have a line of activity that the comic book fans aren't aware of. We are currently producing a great deal of props for TV and movies. These are, when you see a movie and an actor reaches for a comic book or a book, somebody has to create this type of prop. We have been doing that. We've created a prop for Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories, a children's book. It looks just like a Dr. Seuss children's book. In this particular episode there was this cartoon animal that romps around this housewife's house. The reason it romps around is because the housewife threw away this book. it actually was the creature in the book, and the moment she retrieves it from the trash he vanishes. She's constantly referring to this book. It's the central prop of the whole episode.
That episode was called "The Greibble."
Here is the book…
And here is the Greibble…
Borax: Did you just have to create a cover, or do they go through the pages?
Schanes: There's about ten pages throughout the book that she'll open up to look and she'll see herself in…it all plays on each other. In a movie called Lost Boys we created two comic books about vampires, and those are props throughout the whole movie. These props, we may need to create five of a copy, or 70 or 80. We just finished props for a movie called Russkies, a $30 million movie, and we created six different comic books, three technical manuals, and a trade paperback. We don't advertise the fact, but we have now a reputation in the film industry. If you need this type of prop , give us a call. We turn it out very fast for a reasonable rate, and these people may need a prop within 24 hours, and it could be a critical prop. For Russkies we put the props on an airplane, first class, to Florida. They paid for a first class seat for the props and had a driver on the other end waiting to pick them up.
Blackthorne Publishing went out of business in the very early 1990s.
Thanks for the question, Todd!
In the latest Movie Legends Revealed – Was Some Kind of Wonderful written to "make up" for the altered ending of Pretty in Pink?
Be sure to check out my Entertainment Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film and TV.
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CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over fifteen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed). He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo. He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed and other pop culture features at Pop Culture References. Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at firstname.lastname@example.org!