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10 Comics That Came Surprisingly Close to Real Life

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Comics aren’t often accused of being too realistic, but sometimes they eerily tip-toe into the realm of non-fiction. Here are 10 comics that brushed uncomfortably close with real life—some inadvertently, others on purpose.

1. THE LEXCORP TOWER AND 9/11

DC Comics

In the days after 9/11 there were lots of disaster-themed media that suddenly seemed wildly inappropriate in light of the tragedy that just occurred. Comics had their own uncomfortable example of this when Adventures of Superman #596 hit stores the day after the 9/11 attacks with an image of the smoking, damaged husk of Lex Luthor’s single L-shaped Lexcorp tower which, viewed from the angle below, looks much like the Twin Towers (keep in mind for everything on this list that comics generally take months to produce and distribute before they hit the stands so these are all incredible coincidences).

Unbelievably, later in that issue, an image of the actual Twin Towers is shown with damage that is remarkably close to where the real hijacked planes crashed into them.

DC Comics

2. WONDER WOMAN AND THE DEATH OF PRINCESS DI

In August 1997, DC Comics released Wonder Woman #126 in which Wonder Woman, also known as Princess Diana of Themyscira, would die at the hands of the demonic villain Neron. Her death would actually happen in the following issue and she would be brought back to life (of course) shortly after. This was to be the beginning of popular comic creator John Byrne’s run on the title.

Four days after this comic hit the stands bearing the cover below, Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash and every newspaper in the world suddenly had a headline that was eerily similar to the subhead in this one.

DC Comics

3. SUPERMAN AND THE CHALLENGER DISASTER

DC Comics

There's no explanation for why there are so many Superman comics on this list, but just as strange is the number of items that involve comics creator John Byrne.

On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after launch, killing all seven crew members including school teacher Christa McAuliffe. John Byrne had just completed the first issue of his new Man of Steel limited series which would introduce a brand new iteration of Superman to DC Comics. However, in the issue was a scene where Superman saves a space shuttle that was carrying a special passenger—reporter Lois Lane.

Byrne quickly redrew the scene so as to avoid seeming insensitive, replacing the shuttle with an odd-looking futuristic “space plane."

DC Comics

4. SPIDER-MAN AND THE NEW YORK CITY BLACKOUT OF 1977

Marvel Comics

In Marvel Team-Up #60, Spider-man and the Wasp join forces to fight a villain named Equinox. In the course of their battle, a transformer is blown up and all of Manhattan suffers a blackout. This issue came out on the same week of the great New York City Blackout of July 1977. It should be noted that there hadn’t previously been a major blackout in New York City since 1965. The next one after was in 2003, so to have this comic and an actual real live blackout happen in New York on the same week is pretty amazing.

Oh, and guess who drew this comic? You got it, John Byrne. It doesn’t even end here.There are enough coincidences like this that people took to calling it “The Byrne Curse.”

5. LEX LUTHOR AND THE ATOMIC BOMB

DC Comics

In Superman #38, released in 1946, Lex Luthor terrorizes Metropolis with an “atomic bomb.” This comic had actually been written and produced two years earlier, but when the U.S. government got wind of it they sent agents to the offices of DC Comics to stop publication until they received official permission. At the time, the Manhattan Project was underway and the government did not want the Axis powers to know that they were working on an atomic bomb and were closely monitoring any public mention that could be considered a clue. The folks at DC were not given a reason for the censorship and could only assume they had hit on something sensitive, but they did not know what. Two years later, with the war over, the comic was cleared to be released.

However, not knowing what they had done wrong, DC toed the line too closely for the government's taste a few more times before the war ended. A newspaper strip showing Superman getting bombarded by a cyclotron (atom smasher) and a comic depicting an atomic bomb test were also forced to be delayed.

6. UNCLE SAM AND PEARL HARBOR

Quality Comics

In National Comics #18, released in November of 1941, the Germans attacked Pearl Harbor in a ruse to lure the U.S. Navy away from their primary target—the Eastern seaboard. Not even a month later, on December 7, Pearl Harbor actually was attacked by Japan.

7. SUPERMAN AND THE JFK ASSASSINATION

DC Comics

In Action Comics #309, Superman upped his game of increasingly elaborate attempts to throw people off the trail of his secret identity by having President John F. Kennedy pose as Clark Kent for him. The issue hit the stands the week after Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, too late for DC to recall the issue.

8. DICK TRACY AND THE LINDBERGH BABY

Chester Gould

Whereas the previous items in this list show comic creators inadvertently referencing real life, the next two entries show comics that purposely chose to mirror it.

In March of 1932, the nation was captivated by news of the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh's 20-month-old son. Chester Gould, the creator behind the popular daily newspaper strip Dick Tracy, decided to rip this story idea from the headlines. In the comic, Buddy, the son of millionaire John H. Waldorf, is kidnapped and Dick Tracy is put on the case. Readers followed both this and the real Lindbergh case simultaneously, though unlike the real case, Gould’s story had a happy ending. It turns out Buddy was kidnapped by another real-life analogue—Big Boy Caprice, an obvious stand-in for Al Capone who some at the time believed was behind the Lindbergh kidnapping.

In other examples in this list, comic creators tried if they could to avoid similarities to the real event, but here Gould did the opposite. Though it may seem off-putting now, the way Dick Tracy stories drew parallels to real news stories was part of what made it such a big hit to readers at the time. The happy endings supplied the types of escapist fantasy that people wanted to read.

9. SUPERMAN AND THE HOLOCAUST

DC Comics

To celebrate Superman’s 60th anniversary in 1998, DC Comics released a series of comics where Superman time-traveled to different eras of the past 60 years. One of those would be the era of his origins in the 1930s, and they made the risky decision to show Superman intervening during the Holocaust.

The editorial team decided not run any of the writer's references to Holocaust victims as “Jews” or “Jewish,” fearing those words would be taken as slurs. The result was a comic that aimed to educate about a historic event but purposely omitted a key aspect of it. Holocaust scholars and the Anti-Defamation League raised concerns once they learned of the comic, and DC quickly offered an apology. The ADL accepted, saying, "The intention was OK but the execution wasn't. One can get so locked in trying not to offend, you offend."

10. DONALD DUCK DISCOVERS METHYLENE

Walt Disney/Western Publishing

Published in 1944, Walt Disney Comics and Stories #44 showed Donald Duck receiving a nasty bump to the noggin causing him to become “the mightiest chemist in the universe.” He begins spouting out chemical equations, one of which—CH2—happens to be the formula for methylene, an unknown compound at the time. It would turn out to be the first published mention of methylene, and the panels below would be used as a footnote in the 1969 paper “The Spin States of Carbenes” by P.P. Gaspar and G.S. Hammond as well as other academic papers in following years.

The man behind this Donald Duck comic is the famous Carl Barks, known during his career as “the good duck artist” whose Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics foretold more than just the invention of methylene.

[h/t: Cracked.comGoodComics.com]

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12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi
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On October 20, 1882—135 years ago today—one of the world's most gifted performers was born. In his heyday, Bela Lugosi was hailed as the undisputed king of horror. Eighty-five years after he first donned a vampire’s cape, Lugosi's take on Count Dracula is still widely hailed as the definitive portrayal of the legendary fiend. But who was the man behind the monster?

1. HE WORKED WITH THE NATIONAL THEATER OF HUNGARY.

To the chagrin of his biographers, the details concerning Bela Lugosi’s youth have been clouded in mystery. (In a 1929 interview, he straight-up admitted “for purposes of simplification, I have always thought it better to tell [lies] about the early years of my life.”) That said, we do know that he was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20, 1882 in Lugoj, Hungary (now part of Romania). We also know that his professional stage debut came at some point in either 1901 or 1902. By 1903, Lugosi had begun to find steady work with traveling theater companies, through which he took part in operas, operettas, and stage plays. In 1913, Lugosi caught a major break when the most prestigious performing arts venue in his native country—the Budapest-based National Theater of Hungary—cast him in no less than 34 shows. Most of the characters that he played there were small Shakespearean roles such as Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Sir Walter Herbert in Richard III.

2. HE FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR I.

The so-called war to end all wars put Lugosi’s dramatic aspirations on hold. Although being a member of the National Theater exempted him from military service, he voluntarily enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914. Over the next year and a half, he fought against Russian forces as a lieutenant with the 43rd Royal Hungarian Infantry. While serving in the Carpathian mountains, Lugosi was wounded on three separate occasions. Upon healing from his injuries, he left the armed forces in 1916 and gratefully resumed his work with the National Theater.

3. WHEN HE MADE HIS BROADWAY DEBUT, LUGOSI BARELY KNEW ANY ENGLISH.

In December 1920, Lugosi boarded a cargo boat and emigrated to the United States. Two years later, audiences on the Great White Way got their first look at this charismatic stage veteran. Lugosi was cast as Fernando—a suave, Latin lover—in the 1922 Broadway stage play The Red Poppy. At the time, his grasp of the English language was practically nonexistent. Undaunted, Lugosi went over all of his lines with a tutor. Although he couldn’t comprehend their meaning, the actor managed to memorize and phonetically reproduce every single syllable that he was supposed to deliver on stage.

4. UNIVERSAL DIDN’T WANT TO CAST HIM AS COUNT DRACULA.

The year 1927 saw Bela Lugosi sink his teeth into the role of a lifetime. A play based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker had opened in London in 1924. Sensing its potential, Horace Liveright, an American producer, decided to create an U.S. version of the show. Over the summer of 1927, Lugosi was cast as the blood-sucking Count Dracula. For him, the part represented a real challenge. In Lugosi’s own words, “It was a complete change from the usual romantic characters I was playing, but it was a success.” It certainly was. Enhanced by his presence, the American Dracula remained on Broadway for a full year, then spent two years touring the country.

Impressed by its box office prowess, Universal decided to adapt the show into a major motion picture in 1930. Horror fans might be surprised to learn that when the studio began the process of casting this movie’s vampiric villain, Lugosi was not their first choice. At the time, Lugosi was still a relative unknown, which made director Tod Browning more than a little hesitant to offer him the job. A number of established actors were all considered before the man who’d played Dracula on Broadway was tapped to immortalize his biting performance on film.

5. MOST OF HIS DRACULA-RELATED FAN MAIL CAME FROM WOMEN.

The recent Twilight phenomenon is not without historical precedent. Lugosi estimated that, while he was playing the Count on Broadway, more than 97 percent of the fan letters he received were penned by female admirers. A 1932 Universal press book quotes him as saying, “When I was on the stage in Dracula, my audiences were composed mostly of women.” Moreover, Lugosi contended that most of the men who’d attended his show had merely been dragged there by female companions.   

6. HE TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER.

Released in 1931, Dracula quickly became one of the year's biggest hits for Universal (some film historians even argue that the movie single-handedly rescued the ailing studio from bankruptcy). Furthermore, its astronomical success transformed Lugosi into a household name for the first time in his career. Regrettably for him, though, he’d soon miss the chance to star in another smash. Pleased by Dracula’s box office showing, Universal green-lit a new cinematic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lugosi seemed like the natural choice to play the monster, but because the poor brute had few lines and would be caked in layers of thick makeup, the actor rejected the job offer. As far as Lugosi was concerned, the character was better suited for some “half-wit extra” than a serious actor. Once the superstar tossed Frankenstein aside, the part was given to a little-known actor named Boris Karloff.

Moviegoers eventually did get to see Lugosi play the bolt-necked corpse in the 1943 cult classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. According to some sources, he strongly detested the guttural scream that the script forced him to emit at regular intervals. “That yell is the worst thing about the part. You feel like a big jerk every time you do it!” Lugosi allegedly complained.

7. LUGOSI’S RELATIONSHIP WITH BORIS KARLOFF WAS MORE CORDIAL THAN IT’S USUALLY MADE OUT TO BE.

It’s often reported that the two horror icons were embittered rivals. In reality, however, Karloff and Lugosi seemed to have harbored some mutual respect—and perhaps even affection for one another. The dynamic duo co-starred in five films together, the first of which was 1934’s The Black Cat; Karloff claimed that, on set, Lugosi was “Suspicious of tricks, fearful of what he regarded as scene stealing. Later on, when he realized I didn’t go in for such nonsense, we became friends.” During one of their later collaborations, Lugosi told the press “we laughed over my sad mistake and his good fortune as Frankenstein is concerned.”

That being said, Lugosi probably didn’t appreciate the fact that in every single film which featured both actors, Karloff got top billing. Also, he once privately remarked, “If it hadn’t been for Boris Karloff, I could have had a corner on the horror market.”

8. HE LOVED SOCCER.

In 1935, Lugosi was named Honorary President of the Los Angeles Soccer League. An avid fan, he was regularly seen at Loyola Stadium, where he’d occasionally kick off the first ball during games held there. Also, on top of donating funds to certain Hungarian teams, Lugosi helped finance the Los Angeles Magyar soccer club. When the team won a state championship in 1935, one newspaper wrote that the players were “headed back to Dracula’s castle with the state cup.” [PDF]

9. HE WAS A HARDCORE STAMP COLLECTOR.

Lugosi's fourth wife, Lillian Arch, claimed that Lugosi maintained a collection of more than 150,000 stamps. Once, on a 1944 trip to Boston, he told the press that he intended to visit all 18 of the city's resident philately dealers. “Stamp collecting,” Lugosi declared, “is a hobby which may cost you as much as 10 percent of your investment. You can always sell your stamps with not more than a 10 percent loss. Sometimes, you can even make money.” Fittingly enough, the image of Lugosi’s iconic Dracula appeared on a commemorative stamp issued by the post office in 1997.

10. LUGOSI ALMOST DIDN’T APPEAR IN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN—BECAUSE THE STUDIO THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD.

The role of Count Dracula in this 1948 blockbuster was nearly given to Ian Keith—who was considered for the same role in the 1931 Dracula movie. Being a good sport, Lugosi helped promote the horror-comedy by making a special guest appearance on The Abbott and Costello Show. While playing himself in one memorable sketch, the famed actor claimed to eat rattlesnake burgers for dinner and “shrouded wheat” for breakfast.

11. A CHIROPRACTOR FILLED IN FOR HIM IN PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

Toward the end of his life, Lugosi worked on three ultra-low-budget science fiction pictures with Ed Wood, a man who’s been posthumously embraced as the worst director of all time. In the 1953 transvestite picture Glen or Glenda?, Lugosi plays a cryptic narrator who offers such random and unsolicited bits of advice as “Beware of the big, green dragon who sits on your doorstep.” Then came 1955’s Bride of the Monster, in which Lugosi played a mad scientist who ends up doing battle with a (suspiciously limp) giant octopus.

Before long, Wood had cooked up around half a dozen concepts for new films, all starring Lugosi. At some point in the spring of 1956, the director shot some quick footage of the actor wandering around a suburban neighborhood, clad in a baggy cloak. This proved to be the last time that the star would ever appear on film. Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956;  he was 73 years old.

Three years after Lugosi's passing, this footage was spliced into a cult classic that Wood came to regard as his “pride and joy.” Plan 9 From Outer Space tells the twisted tale of extraterrestrial environmentalists who turn newly-deceased human beings into murderous zombies. Since Lugosi could obviously no longer play his character, Wood hired a stand-in for some additional scenes. Unfortunately, the man who was given this job—California chiropractor Tom Mason—was several inches taller than Lugosi. In an attempt to hide the height difference, Wood instructed Mason to constantly hunch over. Also, Mason always kept his face hidden behind a cloak.

12. HE WAS BURIED IN HIS DRACULA CAPE.

Although Lugosi resented the years of typecasting that followed his breakout performance in Dracula, he asked to be laid to rest wearing the Count’s signature garment. Lugosi was buried under a simple tombstone at California's Holy Cross Cemetery.

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How to Carve a Pumpkin—And Not Injure Yourself in the Process
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Wielding a sharp knife with slippery hands around open flames and nearby children doesn't sound like the best idea—but that's exactly what millions of Halloween celebrations entail. While pumpkin carving is a fun tradition, it can also bring the risk of serious hand injuries. According to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), some wounds sustained from pumpkin misadventure can result in surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to minimize trauma. Both ASSH and CTV News have compiled safety tips for pumpkin carvers intended to reduce the chances of a trip to the emergency room.

First, it's recommended that carvers tackle their design with knives made specifically for carving. Kitchen knives are sharp and provide a poor grip when trying to puncture tough pumpkin skin: Pumpkin carving knives have slip-resistant handles and aren't quite as sharp, while kitchen knives can get wedged in, requiring force to pull them out.

Carvers should also keep the pumpkin intact while carving, cleaning out the insides later. Why? Once a pumpkin has been gutted, you’re likely to stick your free hand inside to brace it, opening yourself up to an inadvertent stab from your knife hand. When you do open it up, it's better to cut from the bottom: That way, the pumpkin can be lowered over a light source rather than risk a burn dropping one in from the top.

Most importantly, parents would be wise to never let their kids assist in carving without supervision, and should always work in a brightly-lit area. Adults should handle the knife, while children can draw patterns and scoop out innards. According to Consumer Reports, kids ages 10 to 14 tend to suffer the most Halloween-related accidents, so keeping carving duties to ages 14 and above is a safe bet.

If all else fails and your carving has gone awry, have a first aid kit handy and apply pressure to any wound to staunch bleeding. With some common sense, however, it's unlikely your Halloween celebration will turn into a blood sacrifice.

[h/t CTV News]

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