David Lewis, writer of Mortal Coils and The Lone and
Level Sands, has long been a champion of comics as a true
art form, and currently teaches English at Northeastern
University, where he does indeed sneak comics into the curriculum
wherever he can. He first posted this article on his
blog, Loose Pages.
I know the real
reason Hawkeye was killed off.
It has nothing
to do with the Scarlet Witch, nothing to do with House of
M, and nothing to do with any alien invasion kamikaze run.
A far more nefarious and clandestine enemy had it out for
the Avenging Archer.
Hawkeye was eliminated
because of his name: Clint Barton. It drove a generation
of men and women to madness, and this was how they had their
revenge. Because of Hawkeye's secret identity, because of
"Clint Barton," the letterers had him killed!
Richard Starking -- Hide behind your anonymous Comicraft.
You, too, Chris Eliopoulos -- Even Erik Larsen can't save
you now. Underbosses like Jaco Haney and Ed Dukeshire better
watch yourselves, too. I know all about your cadre, your
cabal, your throng of word-wrung wearies. You had a grudge
against Barton, and you held Brian Michael Bendis' "Avengers
Disassembled" caption boxes hostage until he committed
the dirty deed for you.
For shame, letterers.
Why, you ask,
would letterers, a group normally thought to be noble and
precise, seek revenge on ol' Clint?
That's just it:
His name was CLINT.
for a moment of the movie Election.
Reese Witherspoon (a name with its own problems, admittedly)
stars as Tracy, the ambitious high school student determined
to be chosen as President of her high school student government.
In one of the more notable scenes from this Alexander Payne
quirk-fest, Tracy prepares cupcakes which encourage voters
to choose her come election day; in full caps, the baked
goods have her last name and campaign slogan written in
However, an errant
morsel of sugary goodness or the slightest twinge of hyperopia
can easily translate that phrase into:
are the perils of the capitalized "LI" combination,
a well-known pitfall to those in the comic book industry...except,
oddly enough, Stan Lee and Don Heck who created Hawkeye
for Tales of Suspense #57 in September of 1964.
(Or has this been an in-joke of their all along? Bedeviling!)
The venerable Julie Schwartz (RIP) certainly knew about
it, as he penned this warning for his Man of Two Worlds
Three Words You Must Never Use
When I first started off in comics, a wise man named Shelly
Mayer gave me some advice, which I will now impart to you.
you don't want to get in trouble:
Never call a character CLINT
2. Never use the word FLICK
3. And always avoid using the contraction WHO'RE. (157)
this potential faux pas must also plague movie
theater owners or concert promoters when dealing with the
likes of Clints Eastwood or Black, respectively. It's also
a simple matter of Googling "Bill Cunton" to find
a wealth of disparaging parodies on the former President
employing this elision.
the fun doesn't stop there, oh no. Hawkeye became a thorn
in letterers sides (or knuckles?) for yet another reason:
Misspelling "Clint" leads to its own share of
headaches. Missing the c isn't so bad; then you simply have
changed the novel character into a navel character. But,
botching the n is a special hazard unto itself.
this imagined script from an old issue of West Coast
Wonder Man: SOMEONE KNOCKED OUT THE COMPOUND'S ELECTRIC
Mockingbird: SIMON, HAVE YOU SEEN CLIT?
Wonder Man: NO, I... -- what?
letterers had the opportunity. They likely had the ability.
And it seems to me that they well had this deep, painful
motivation to off this founding member of Cap's Kooky Quartet.
just to add insult to injury, the fomer Wacko chairman had
an additional reason to vex letterers: You really want to
confuse "fletching an arrow" with "feltching
an arrow?" I realize that the error itself is a misspelling
of "felch," but, even so, once that concept has
mistakenly wandered on to a mighty Marvel page, proper spelling
is going to be the least of your problems.