Not Brand Echh

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Not Brand Echh

Not Brand Echh #2 (Sept. 1967). Cover art by Marie Severin, featuring parodies of Marvel characters as well as those of DC, Gold Key, and Tower Comics.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
Format Ongoing series
Genre
Publication date Aug. 1967 – May 1969
Number of issues 13

Not Brand Echh was a satiric comic book series published by Marvel Comics that parodied its own superhero stories as well as those of other comics publishers. Running for 13 issues (Aug. 1967 to May 1969), it included among its contributors such notable writers and artists as Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, Bill Everett, John and Marie Severin, and Roy Thomas. With issue #9, it became a 68-page, 25¢ "giant", relative to the typical 12¢ comics of the times.

Its mascot, Forbush Man, introduced in the first issue, was a superhero wannabe with no superpowers and a costume of red long johns emblazoned with the letter "F" and a cooking pot, with eye-holes, covering his never-revealed head. His secret identity was eventually revealed in issue #5 (Dec. 1967) as Irving Forbush, Marvel's fictitious office gofer.

The series title was a play on an advertising convention of the time, in which a competitor's product was not referred to by name, but simply as "Brand X"; DC was sometimes playfully called "Brand Echh" in Marvel "Bullpen Bulletins" and letters pages, hence this comic was "Not Brand Echh." (Radio and TV personality Paul Gambaccini claims to have coined the term "Brand Echh" in a letter he sent to The Amazing Spider-Man #7 [Dec. 1963].)[1] The official title of the comic in its postal indicia was Brand Echh for its first four issues, and afterward Not Brand Echh, the cover title from the start.

Background and content[edit]

Superhero satire had appeared previously in comic books, notably in occasional stories in EC's 1950s Mad comic book, prior to its becoming a black-and-white magazine. Later issues would parody films and TV shows (including Bonnie and Clyde and the 1960s The Green Hornet) as well as comics.

Typical stories and name transpositions included Ironed Man (Iron Man) vs. Magnut, Robot Biter (Gold Key Comics' Magnus, Robot Fighter); "Best Side Story", with Dr. Deranged (Dr. Strange) in a West Side Story pastiche; "The Origin of...Stuporman", a Superman takeoff recalling Wally Wood's influential "Superduperman" in Mad #4 (May 1952); the Ecchs-Men in "If Magneat-O Should Clobber Us", parodying not only the X-Men and Magneto, but also the high melodrama of 1960s Marvel titles; and Marvel characters visually standing-in for the baseball-player protagonists of the otherwise faithfully rendered famous poem "Casey at the Bat". In a more topical reference of the time, Gary Friedrich, writer of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, and cartoonist/Marvel production manager John Verpoorten contributed a Marvel-character version of the Beatles' famed Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band record album art. Events took place in the "Marble Universe", a play on the Marvel Universe. Later issues had parodies of famous films like Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, and features such as super-hero poetry, a super-hero carnival and "Rent A Super-Hero", in which kids got their favourite heroes to help with mundane tasks like family plumbing problems and to give joy rides. Robert Crumb's album cover art for Big Brother and the Holding Company was parodied by Herb Trimpe, and one issue featured nothing but reprints from earlier issues.

Not Brand Echh gave rein to creators not normally associated with humor, and offered rare teams of penciler and inker. Cartoony artist Tom Sutton — who along with Marie Severin was the series' most ubiquitous illustrator — might ink the grand, polar-opposite pencils of Jack Kirby, or even Marie Severin pencils over Kirby layouts, a combination seen nowhere else. Writer Friedrich did layouts completed by artist Herb Trimpe. Warren Publishing editor Bill DuBay drew and co-wrote one story in his only Marvel appearance.

Legacy[edit]

The spirit of Not Brand Echh was revived with What The--?!, a four-issue miniseries (Aug.–Nov. 1988), followed by an additional 22 issues continuing the numbering (July 1989 – Sept. 1993). One story, for instance, featured "Superbman" vs. "The Fantastical Four" — the same name as in Not Brand Echh for a parodistic Fantastic Four. Not Brand Echh mascot Forbush Man made a cover-featured return appearance in issue #12 (May 1991). Two one-shots, Wha...Huh? in 2005 and Now What?! in 2013 revisited the concept again.

The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes (2005) designated the Earth of Not Brand Echh and What The--?! as Earth-665.

Not Brand Echh characters made an appearance in Marvel's Nextwave series.

Reprints[edit]

Several stories were reprinted in the three-issue Marvel comic Crazy! (Feb.–June 1973), not to be confused with Marvel's black-and-white magazine Crazy.

In the UK, the comic was published in a tabloid-like black-and-white format in the early 1980s and renamed Marvel Madhouse.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schelly, Bill. Founders of Comic Fandom: Profiles of 90 Publishers, Dealers, Collectors, Writers, Artists and Other Luminaries of the 1950s and 1960s, (McFarland, 2010), pp. 176–177.
  2. ^ "Cover of 'Marvel Madhouse'". 26pigs.com. 

External links[edit]