Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The infamous "Giffen Legion Poster"

Over at Urban Legends Revealed last week on CBR, during a discussion of whether Paul Levitz actually used index cards to keep track of his running plotlines (no, just a scorecard), the question came up as to whether or not Keith Giffen actually quit the Legion because of his work on that huge poster. The answer, of course, is yes. Here’s what Giffen said about the poster in an issue of The Jack Kirby Collector #29 (August 2000):

What happened was I did this Legion poster, characters all over the place. And in drawing that Legion poster I totally burned myself out on the book. After the poster I just had to walk away.

Today, at Comics Should Be Good, they posted a picture of the poster (courtesy of Legion World), but it's the one from the Great Darkness Saga TPB, which has been trimmed a bit around the edges, making some characters hard to see. Here's the full poster (click to enlarge):

The poster was reprinted in the Great Darkness Saga TPB with the following introduction:

I'll note for the record that over a summer reading my entire Legion collection (mostly originals, with some reprints at the time), I identified all 275 characters. I got about 200 from memory, and reading the stories filled out the rest.


Mike said...

I'm so thrilled that I still have my original copy of this poster, now that I know the history behind it. It hung over my bedroom door for years when I was a teenager.

Craig said...

I had this up on my wall as a teenager too, and I made the mistake of taking it with me to college. After several moves to new dorm rooms and then new apartments over the years, at some point it was lost. I would buy another if I could find one, but its virtually impossible to track down a copy.

Tony said...

I just recently uncovered my copy of this poster. Love it.

Greybird said...

Thanks for the untrimmed scan!

The poster, with its intro page and (fan-created!) character key, was only printed in the first edition of the Great Darkness TPB. It was omitted from the more recent reprinting.

RAB said...

Not to take anything away from Arthur here, but there’s one other fan contribution to that poster which may never have been recorded for posterity. Giffen and Mahlstedt turned in the poster as black and white art and didn’t provide a color guide, so the colorist had to find visual references for each character himself. To make things even more complicated, there were at least a few characters Giffen himself couldn’t identify anymore! Apparently, he hadn’t thought to keep a master list even for his own reference. Anyway, the colorist brought a photostat of the poster to a comics convention in New York and (very hush-hush) invited a group of veteran Legion fans to help identify the ones he hadn’t been able to track down by any other means. Yes, I was there, but I don’t specifically remember identifying any particular character. And then none of us thought of keeping a master list either, so when the poster finally came out Arthur had to do it all from scratch!

Michael said...

Interesting story! I guess if it happened now, they could just email a copy to a number of knowledgeable fans wherever they are, set up an instant message chat room somewhere, and hash it out that way.

I'm sure the bit about the key circulating throughout Legion fandom means it went to Interlac (as the Outpost was down by then) in those pre-internet days.

Several years ago I scanned the poster, cut it into six pieces, numbered each character, and then sent out a section to one of the Legion mailing lists I was on as a trivia quiz. Maybe I'll do that here too.

Bryan-Mitchell said...

So where is the character guide? Any linkage? There are some characters on here I'm at a loss for and some characters that I think should be on it that I can't find.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, this poster has never been scarce in Canada. It can still be found for sale in many shops that stock older posters. I also recently came across several in the Houston area.