Friday, May 19, 2023

Today in Comics History, May 19: Happy birthday, Grace Jones!

This is an expanded and updated version of a post originally published May 19, 2022.

Born today: model, singer, and actor Grace Jones! Last year, I apologized for not being able to find any comic book appearances of her. I've since found/remembered a few and some friends chipped in!

cover of the pop culture and comics magazine Starlet #1/1980 (Semic (Finland), January 2, 1980)

Except for this Swedish album, the James Bond film A View to a Kill, in which Grace played Christopher Walken's chief enforcer, doesn't appear to have to have been adapted into comic book form. Here's a (very tiny) cover appearance of Ms. Jones in the lower left:

from James Bond [Album] 1985: Levande måltavla (Semic (Sweden), 1985)

Here's a nice illustration from the collected reprint of the '80s Eclipse cult comic Fashion in Action:

from "Pong Punk" in John K. Snyder III's Fashion in Action 1985-1987 (Bedside, 2017), painted by John K. Snyder III

Pal and comics critic Tegan O'Neil informed me that Grace Jones has an important comic book connection to the X-Men's Rogue. Thanks, Tegan! (in my best Johnny Carson impression:) I did not know that!
[Chris] Claremont’s only advice to [Michael] Golden was that the musician and actress Grace Jones should inspire Rogue and that she have white streaks in her hair. The only problem was that Golden had never heard of Jones — this was years before her appearance in the second Conan the Barbarian movie or the James Bond film A View To Kill.
from "X-Men's Rogue: From Mississippi and proud of it" in Jackson, Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger, by Jacob Threadgill

Speaking of that Conan flick, you can also find Grace as the deadly warrior Zula in this Marvel adapatation of the movie!

from Marvel Super Special #35 [Conan the Destroyer] (Marvel, December 1984), movie story by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, movie script by Stanley Mann, comics script by Michael Fleisher, pencils and inks by John Buscema, colors by George Roussos, letters by Rick Parker

So, okay, now we know that Grace was the inspiration for Rogue and a Hyborian Age warrior. Could there be even more characters in the Marvel Universe who took her as inspiration? Why, of course, yes. Or I wouldn't be asking this!

1. Dazzler was almost based on Grace Jones. From Wikipedia, your #1 source for Grace Jones-related factoids written by folks on the internet:
Dazzler was commissioned by Casablanca Records in 1978 as an animated special to be a multi-media cross-promotion with the character known as "The Disco Queen." Marvel Comics would develop a singing superhero, while Casablanca would produce a singer. Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Jim Shooter wrote a treatment for the animated special, which quickly turned into a live-action feature-length film project that would be produced by Filmworks. Shooter put together a small committee at Marvel to figure out the character's nature, background and personality. Writer Tom DeFalco was the lead writer behind her creation, while artist John Romita Jr. designed her. The character soon changed its name from The Disco Queen to Dazzler, thanks to a suggestion from writer Roger Stern. Due to financial concerns, Casablanca Records left the project, but the film was still in the works.

Romita, Jr. intended for the character to resemble model, actress, and singer Grace Jones, but representatives from Filmworks – wanting to promote model and actress Bo Derek – insisted on design changes to reflect Derek's features.
And now that the Dazzler film, records, and toys have been such a roaring success since the seventies...I'm sorry, I couldn't finish that sentence. But what a wonderful world it would have been.

early Dazzler test art by John Romita, Jr. (1979)

2. Storm's 1980s look was based on Grace Jones. Or, the story goes: it's been bandied about for many years, but I can't find any primary Claremont or Smith source on that. (If you know, let me know in the comments!)

Grace Jones

from Uncanny X-Men (1963 series) #173 (Marvel, September 1983), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Paul Smith, inks by Bob Wiacek, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Tom Orzechowski

Of course, some artists' renditions of Ororo really do fall heavily on Grace Jones as an inspiration!

from Wolverine and the X-Men (2014 series) #11 (December 2014), script by Jason LaTour, art by Chris Brunner and Rico Renzi (?), lketters by Clayton Cowles

Even if it's an urban comics legend, it's a pretty good one, but I'm not sure if it's Mythbusters-level verified. Still, fun, huh?

Happy birthday, Grace!

Nancy (March 26, 1958, United Feature Syndicate), by Ernie Bushmiller

1 comment:

Blam said...

It’s way past time for Grace Jones to show up as a Wakanda ancestor, or Storm’s mom, or something.