Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Captain and the King

The things that you fall in love with as a kid are always with you. They stick in your subconscious like nothing else. I decided when I was 12 years old what I thought was cool -- and that was comic books, baseball, crossword puzzles, country music and girls with dark hair and dark eyes. And that's still what I think is cool today.

Elvis Presley died thirty years ago today. He and I have at least one thing in common -- he fell under the spell of comic books at an early age too, and he never got over it; it influenced the rest of his life and consequently American culture. Elvis's favorite comic book hero was Captain Marvel Junior, who was the first teenage hero in his right rather than being relegated to sidekick. Unlike Billy Batson, who transformed into the original Captain Marvel by saying the acronym SHAZAM, Freddie Freeman became Captain Marvel. Jr by shouting out "Captain Marvel." (And yes, that means he was the only superhero who could not say his own name otherwise he would turn into a crippled little boy, not a good thing to do when you're fighting bad guys like Captain Nazi.)

Elvis's feelings for Captain Marvel Jr are well-documented. The Presley's apartment in Memphis has been preserved as a historical and a copy of a Captain Marvel Junior comic book sits on a desk in Elvis's old bedroom, and there are a stack of them in the attic at Graceland. According to Pamela Clarke Keogh’s “Elvis Presley: The Man. The Life. The Legend,” Elvis used comics as an escape. “Like a lot of kids with a chaotic home life, Elvis created his own world inside his head. He read comic books and was drawn to Superman, Batman, and, most of all, Captain Marvel Jr. Around the age of 12, Elvis discovered Captain Marvel Jr. and quickly became almost obsessed with him.”

Want proof of the extent of Freddie Freeman's influence on Elvis Presley? All you have to do is look at the hair Elvis always dyed black (his hair was naturally light brown) like CMJ, and those sideburns, which started out looking just like CMJ's. The Vegas outfits Elvis wore , the jumpsuits, scarves, boots and half-capes are all from Captain Marvel Junior. The Taking Care of Business TCB emblem that Elvis designed and emblazoned all over jewelry and clothing has a lightning bolt in the middle that looks a lot like the one that struck when Freddy changed into Captain Marvel Junior, and that he wore on his chest.

By the way, it wasn't all one-sided hero worship either. In a recent issue of Teen Titans, Captain Marvel Junior reveals that he's a big fan of the King's too.

You can read a lot more about the connection between the Captain and the King here.


Linda G said...

I knew I could count on you to post something about the 30th anniversary. Sorry to say that I didn't remember it, but Don read it somewhere and told me.

Just finished blogging and am beat, so off to bed.

Norrin2 said...

I neglected to mention that yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Harmonic Convergence, when that major Mayan energy shift occurred and mankind was granted access to higher realms of consciousness. Remember the bad old days before August 16th, 1987 when we still had things like war, crime, poverty, and bad sitcoms?