DIAL B for BLOG
NEW ISSUE ARCHIVES BOARD FAQ LINKS CONTACT ADVERTISE
Reader, everything you think you know about ELVIS PRESLEY is
about to get ALL SHOOK UP as rockin’ Robby reveals...

.

PART ONE: The Captain and the Kid!

If you think you know all about Captain Marvel Jr.’s influence on Elvis Presley ... think again! Because the World’s Mightiest Boy didn't just influence the King of Rock and Roll's hairstyle — Captain Marvel Jr. helped shape Elvis’ entire lifestyle.

It all began on the battlefields of the first World War, with soldiers enduring bombs that whizzed right over their heads like a lightning bolt, then exploded nearby with a tremendous bang. Wilford “Billy” Fawcett, a former police reporter for the Minneapolis Journal, was a World War I Army captain. After the war, Fawcett began printing a small two-color pamphlet containing barracks humor meant to entertain disabled servicemen in veterans hospitals.

The title of Fawcett’s self-published pamphlet came from his own former army rank and nickname, plus a reference to one of the “whiz-bang” bombs of WWI. The magazine was called “Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang.” But the monthly collection of off-color jokes, sexy stories and racy cartoons wasn’t a bomb -- it was an instant hit. A wholesaler picked it up in 1919 and started selling it in hotels and drugstores. It soon became an American standard, published continuously for the next thirty years.

.
.
.
August 1921
August 1923
February 1928

FILM TRIVIA: In the film musical “The Music Man," Professor Harold Hill (Robert Preston, pictured below, left) asks the mothers of River City if their sons are “starting to memorize jokes from 'Captain Billy's Whiz .Bang?'" Ironically, the film is set in 1912, but the first issue of "Captain Billy's Whiz Bang" appeared in 1919.

For much of the 1920s, its lighthearted mix of racy poetry, naughty jokes and puns made Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang one of the most prominent publications in the country. The magazine was particularly popular in America’s small towns, with simple folk like Vernon and Gladys Presley of Mississippi. The Presleys were just the sort of small-town audience “Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang” was aimed at.

.Vernon and Gladys Presley had married in 1933 and moved into the shotgun shack pictured right, in East Tupelo, Mississippi -- a two-room house Vernon built himself, for $180. Gladys soon got pregnant, and she gave birth to twin boys right in the Presley’s modest home, on January 8, 1935.

The first of the twin boys, named Jesse Garon Presley, was stillborn. Vernon Presley placed the baby’s tiny corpse in a shoebox and buried it in an unmarked grave. A half hour later, the second twin was born. Gladys Presley .would later tell the boy, “When a twin dies, the one who lives gets the strength of both.” The Presley twin who survived (pictured left with his parents, Gladys and Vernon) was given Vernon’s middle name: Elvis.

Just a month after Elvis Presley turned five years old, Fawcett publications decided to try their luck in the comic book business. Fawcett oversaw the creation of a new superhero whose name came from his own actual rank during the war, Captain, .plus the source of the hero’s magical super powers, Thunder. At the last minute, Captain Thunder’s name was changed to “Captain Marvel” for legal reasons. The new book was titled “Whiz Comics,” a nod to “Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang.”

The first issue Whiz Comics starring Captain Marvel was published in February 1940. The explosion the book made when it hit the stands was not nearly as loud as that of the “whiz-bang” bombs it was named after -- but for the comic industry, it would prove to be every bit as earth shaking.

In the issue, drawn in a cartoony style by Fawcett artist C.C. Beck, a homeless young boy named Billy Batson followed a mysterious stranger deep into the tunnels of an abandoned subway station. There, he encountered an ancient wizard named Shazam, who ordered Billy to speak his name. As Billy spoke the magic name ...

.

SHAZAM, the magic name that transforms Billy Batson into Captain Marvel, is an acronym. It stands for the wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, stamina of Atlas, .power of Zeus, invulnerability of Achilles, and speed of Mercury. The term was popularized as a rustic expression of surprise by Jim Nabors on the TV sitcom "Gomer Pyle, USMC" (pictured left).

Captain Marvel wore a red military-inspired uniform with gold trim and a yellow lightning bolt insignia on the chest. His costume also included a .white collared cape trimmed with gold fleur-di-lis symbols, modeled after the ceremonial cape once worn by British nobility.

MUSIC TRIVIA: The World's Mightiest Mortal, as Cap was often called, is mentioned in the 1968 Beatles song “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill,” written by John Lennon: "Deep in the jungle where the mighty tiger lies, Bill and his elephants were taken by surprise, So Captain Marvel zapped him right between the eyes ... Zap!”

With Whiz Comics selling like hotcakes, Fawcett decided to expand their line by giving Cap his own title, Captain Marvel Adventures, and introducing other superheroes such as Ibis the Invincible, the Golden Arrow, and Spy Smasher.

.
.
.
Whiz #22
Cap #4
Spy Smasher #2
With Captain Marvel outselling even Superman, Fawcett next decided to expand the so-called "Marvel Family." In the fall of 1941, Fawcett writer Ed Herron came up with the idea of creating a junior version of Captain Marvel. DC Comics wouldn’t begin publishing Superboy until March 1949, so this was the first time a .superhero teenager was created not as a mere sidekick, but as a hero in his own right.

Would Herron’s concept work? Would comic fans accept a teenage version of a wildly popular adult superhero? Young Elvis Presley would soon get his first guitar as a birthday present when he turned eleven years old (an event immortalized with a statue, pictured right, located near the Presley's first home) -- would a junior version of Captain Marvel appeal to boys like Elvis?

And even if fans such as Elvis would be willing to accept the new character, how could his origin be explained? After all, the wizard Shazam had already given all his powers to Billy Batson -- how could there be any left for a new teenage hero?

The incredible answers revealed in part two of the Secret Origins of Elvis and Captain Marvel Jr. as I, rockin' Robby Reed, take you on an unforgettable trip to the place where time stands still and the future king of rock 'n' roll meets the hero of a lifetime. It all happens... at the ROCK of ETERNITY!


Chlick here for Part Two!:

ELVIS MEETS CAPTAIN MARVEL JR.
IN A PLACE WHERE TIME STANDS STILL...

At the ROCK of ETERNITY!