Original Art Stories: The Don Perlin 'Shit' Page

Out of all the stories I've been told from artists over the years this one still holds a special place in my heart, and, frankly, it's still one of the funniest. Back in 2003 I interviewed Don Perlin for my main web-site and he gave me the following story about he being the first person to use the word 'shit' in a mainstream comic book. At the time I was aware of profanity in comic books, via that famous Ka-Zar cover, but I wasn't aware that one of my favourite titles as a kid, The Defenders (the page in question is page 2 from issue #89), also had swearing within the pages. It might seem tame, especially when you consider that you can pick up comic books off the racks now to find language in them that'd make Richard Pryor blush, God bless his soul, but in the day it was shocking, flash forward to 2003 and it was just too damn amusing.

After Don had told me the story, and I wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes, he then told me that he believed that the page had been stolen, as you'll read. I was tickled pink to get an email this week from Bryan Galatis who told me that he had the page of original art in question and that it was now on display. Bryan had also thought that the page was stolen art, so he did the right thing and contacted Don to ask for sure, and to let him know that the page was rightfully his (Dons) if indeed it had been lifted. Thankfully for all concerned Don now believes that the issue had been split between penciler and inker, in this case Pablos Marcos, and that Pablo had received the page and then sold it on. So now Bryan has one of the unintentionally funniest pages that Marvel published in the 1980s.

So go ahead, read the snippet, the full interview can be found here, and enjoy looking at the original art, courtesy of Bryan.

DON PERLIN: I was the first guy, unwittingly, to put profanity in comics.

DANIEL BEST: The Kazar cover?

DP: No, it wasn’t the Kazar cover, what was that?

DB: Issue one of Kazar, back in the early 1970s, on the cover the artist had the trees in the background spelling the magic word.

DP: This happened in one of the Defenders. There was a character in there who was a lawyer for the Defenders and his gimmick was that no matter where you saw him in his office, there had to be a TV set on - he was always watching TV. And while I was drawing one of the panels I was listening to a talk show and there was someone on telling how bad cereals for kids were - they were all loaded with sugar. So I drew a picture on the TV of a bunny rabbit holding a box of cereal and across the label where the name of the cereal would be I pencilled in 'shit'. So I figured, because I used to write nutty comments in the borders and stuff I thought they‚d get a laugh out of it and change it. So they gave it to Pablo Marcos and I don’t know if he knew how to read English or not but he inked it. I walked in one day and I said hello - everybody used to greet me at Marvel with smiles. And I came in there and they looked at me, boy, like don’t go near him, something might happen to you. Shooter was looking for me and I went up there and Shooter started yelling, "What did you do? Look at it! They called me upstairs and showed me this" and I said, "Wait a minute. That thing goes through an assistant editor, an editor, a proof- reader and then you’re supposed to read it. And no-one picked it up so don‚t blame me." So what happened was he said fine, just don’t write anymore comments on your pages. [laughter]

DB: I’m not sure that many people know of that one because I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere.

DP: It’s right down near the spine so you might even pass by and not notice it. A friend of mine who had a comic book store called me up and he said, "I have a person who wants to buy the page for $100 At that time $100 was a lot of money. Do you have the page? I looked at what I got back and I didn’t have the page, and I called Pablo up and said you can get $100 if you have that page. He told me he didn’t have the page. Somebody stole that page.

DB: I never knew that and I used to read the Defenders when I was a kid.

DP: At that time there was no profanity in it. I didn’t mean for that to be in it. I just thought hey, everybody’s smart enough to take that out, c’mon. [laughter] I guess my estimate of them was too high. [laughter]


Anonymous said…
A very interesting tale of the TV rabbit. However, I had never heard of the Kazar cover. Can anyone direct me to the story behind the infamous F*** on the back of Zabu on Kazar #1?

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