Welcome to CBH, today we’re talking about Wolverine’s jelly roll hair cut and its roots in Comic History.
Read below and/or click to view the video:
We’re going to start in the year 1982 with an iconic image of Frank Miller’s cover to Wolverine Limited Series 1.
I think we can rally around this image as being fairly definitive in Wolverine’s hair style that he has carried into modern times, we have the flaired out edges, side burns and a very dominant widows peak. When wolverine appeared in Hulk 181, 1974
he was wearing a mask so we didn’t get to see his face or hair until Uncanny X-Men 98, 1976 depicted by one of my favorite creator-artists, Dave Cockrum.
Clearly he was intended to enjoy a good smoke here and there, but thats neither here nor there. At the time, X-Men 98 answered the question of who was underneath Wolverine’s mask, but where did this hairstyle come from? Where did Dave Cockrum get it from? That’s tough to definitively answer without an interview, but he’s unfortunately passed away so we have to historically follow the trail and try to find out. A year earlier in Atlas’ Destructor 3, 1975 by Steve Ditko, there is a character named Lobo (not the 1980s one) who has this same haircut, oddly enough with an X on his belt.
This appears to me to be a coincidence however, because before this issue, and before Dave Cockrum started working on the X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men 1, 1975, he worked on the Legion of Superheroes with inker Murphy Anderson for DC Comics, and one of the characters he worked on was Timber Wolf.
On the left shows Timber Wolf’s appearance in Superboy 172, 1971 without any special hairdo, and fairly generic. However, when Dave Cockrum got his hands on the character, he changed his hair into Timber Wolf’s new look in Superboy 197, 1973. So Dave Cockrum brought this hair to two characters. So if Ditko used this hair independently and Cockrum introduced this hair independently, where did that come from? Going back further, Dave Cockrum worked for Wally Wood on the newspaper comic strip, Shattuck for a military newspaper in 1972.
Cockrum portrayed the loner cowboy of Wood’s strip with flared out dark hair, sideburns, but no widow’s peak. The cowboy Shattuck was likely Wally Wood’s design, who was avisually gifted genius in his own right. Before Shattuck, Wally Wood worked on his own Wolverine type character named Ani-Man which premiered in his independent comic Witzend, in 1967.
So we have some classic Wolverine hair 9 years before X-Men 98, 1976 with the flared out hair and dominant widows peak, with no side-burns, but still a creative antecedent or ancestor to Wolverine. An interesting connection between Ani-Man and Wolverine is that they were both originally intended to be a different form of animal (other than ape) that mutated/evolved into a lethal biped humanoid.
Dave Cockrum originally wanted Wolverine initially to be a mutated Wolverine (similar to Ani-Man) but this was nixed by Marvel editorial, and Wolverine’s origin has been retconned alot of times since. Both Wally Wood’s Ani-Man and Dave Cockrum’s Wolverine also enjoyed tearing women’s dresses off.
whoah there, tigers.
As far as the 1975 Lobo character, Steve Ditko and Wally Wood worked together on alot of non-Marvel work like Thunder Agents and Jungle comics, and Ditko premiered his Mr. A in Witzend, so its possible that could have connected into Lobo, but I think this hairstyle goes before that. This becomes evident in the 1964 sitcom, The Munsters.
Eddie Munster had a very dominant widows peak as the wolf boy son in this monstrous family, which premiered 3 years before Ani-Man, so where did he get his hair from? Was it from the 1959 Jelly Roll haircut episode of Leave it to Beaver?
Considering there is no wolf discussion, and its a commentary more on Jelly Roll haircut of local greaser’s of the time, maybe they tried make fun of the greaser hair by giving it wolf features here, but where did this wolf hair come from?
Its looks like the origin is from the 1935 film, The Werewolf of London, which follows the trail of horror left by this “human beast” with a dominant widows peak, dominant side burns and flared out hair on the sides.
This has been a fun session of CBH, every time we see Wolverine’s hair we should think of the 1935 film Werewolf in London, as well as Dave Cockrum and Wally Wood’s contribution to the comic book version of characters like this. Cheers.