Real Name: "Lance Curtiss" (see comments)
Identity/Class: Normal human
Occupation: Artist (?) (see comments)
Group Membership: None
Enemies: Unidentified alien
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: "King of all Earth"
Base of Operations: Unidentified American city
First Appearance: Tales to Astonish I#31/3 (May, 1962)
Powers/Abilities: A normal human being, "Lance Curtiss" was an imaginative artist who enjoyed drawing in his sketch pad. For a brief time, "Curtiss" possessed an alien pencil that could alter reality to become whatever he drew on paper.
(Tales to Astonish I#31/2) - One sunny day, "Lance Curtiss" was sitting on a park bench, drawing in his sketch pad, when he glimpsed what appeared to be a flying saucer streaking overhead. He was the only one who saw it (everyone else in the park was watching a circus parade as it passed by), but he noticed something that fell from the saucer and landed right by his feet--it looked like some kind of pencil. "Curtiss" picked it up and tried drawing with it in his sketch pad--the pencil made a smooth, clear line and it was a better drawing pencil than those he'd been using. He drew a sketch of a bowl of fruit, and to his amazement, he noticed an actual bowl of fruit had appeared by his feet, exactly like the one he drew! On a whim, he drew a rain cloud above the bowl in his drawing, and was stunned when a tiny cloud formed over the bowl at his feet. "Curtiss" figured the pencil to be the answer to these miraculous materializations ("We on Earth would say it has magic powers, but there's probably a scientific explanation behind it--too advanced for us to understand!").
Wanting to test the limits to the pencil's power, "Curtiss" drew a picture of Mount Rushmore, with his own face added to the national monument. A short time later, he heard a news report on a transistor radio (also created by him from a drawing) that told of the new unknown fifth face that had inexplicably appeared on Mount Rushmore. "Curtiss" concluded that by drawing the impossible, he could make it happen. He began further tests with more sketches--he added wings to an ocean liner and made it fly; he brought drawings of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Davy Crockett to life; he added a face to the moon. It seemed everything he drew with the pencil became reality. But "Curtiss" thought he was only wasting the amazing power and decided to use it for his own advantage, so he sketched stacks of money and gave himself enough cash to live in comfort for the rest of his life. He now had enough wealth, and next he wanted fame, so he drew another picture to become President of the United States...but why settle for the presidency of a nation when he could rule the world? "Curtiss" drew a picture of himself adorned in royal regalia, and a split second later he became king of all Earth, with a fantastic palace and an entire planet full of loyal subjects. He told some of his lackeys that he had more wealth and power than anyone who ever lived, and it was all because of the pencil that fell from the flying saucer; but they doubted his story, because flying saucers didn't exist. To prove he was telling the truth, "King Curtiss" grabbed his sketch pad and drew a picture of the saucer he saw. The flying saucer appeared, and his lackeys were convinced. But then the unexpected occurred--a small portal on the saucer slid open and a long, green tentacle reached out. An unearthly voice expressed relief at finding the pencil again, then the tentacle seized the stylus from "King Curtiss". Despite his plea to the pencil's owner not to take it back, the voice told "Curtiss" that he was given unlimited power but wasted it, and he deserved no more. As the saucer flew off, the world of "King Curtiss" faded into nothingness, and reality returned to normal, back to the world as it was before the coming of the saucer.
One sunny day, "Lance Curtiss" was sitting on a park bench, drawing in his sketch pad, when he glimpsed what appeared to be a flying saucer streaking overhead. But since he was the only one who saw it (everyone else in the park was watching a circus parade as it passed by), "Curtiss" figured it was just his imagination ("Fantastic things never happen to ordinary guys like me!").
Comments: Created by an uncredited writer and Jack Kirby (art).
In regards to "Lance Curtiss": This character was never named in the story, so I took the liberty of naming him, with a tip-of-the-hat to artist Jack Kirby. Born Jacob Kurtzberg, he used a variety of pen names when he first began his artistic career, until eventually he combined two of his favorite pen names--Jack Curtiss & Lance Kirby--and adopted it as his legal name; I just went in the opposite direction to come up with this name. And in regards to his occupation: it was never elaborated exactly what his livelihood was, and he was only referred to as "an artist" in a caption--the sketching may have just been his hobby.
The theory "Curtiss" had about the "magic" pencil reminds me of a quote from science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
That pencil's power reminded me of the reality-altering Cosmic Cube. It's been established that both the Skrulls and the Kree have attempted to create their own Cubes in the past (@ Captain America Annual I#7), so maybe another alien race made their "Cube" in the form of this pencil. Considering its power to change reality, perhaps the pencil has some connection to the paints used by the Painter of 1000 Perils or the magic paint used to create Zzutak.
The pencil was only used to bring illustrations into reality, but I wonder: Could a writer maybe use it to bring his written stories to life?
This story was reprinted in Fantasy Masterpieces#5 (October, 1966), Monsters on the Prowl#13 (October, 1971), Weird Wonder Tales#16 (June, 1976) and the British publication Secrets of the Unknown#36 (Alan Class, 1962 series).
The alien pencil has a prototype in the magic pen in Strange Tales I#60 (December, 1957) "With Just One Stroke"--1st story (magic pen that causes what it writes to come true).
And a BIG Thank You to Grendel Prime for the scans!
Profile by John Kaminski.
"Lance Curtiss" has no known connections to:
The original owner of the reality-altering pencil, its presence was only seen as a long, green tentacle. While it soared over Earth in its flying saucer, it dropped the pencil, which fell to the ground and was found by "Lance Curtiss". It later returned when "Curtiss" drew a sketch of its saucer, and it reached out its limb to retrieve the pencil, then flew off.
--Tales to Astonish I#31/3
The product of alien science, the stylus seemed to have unlimited power to alter reality in accordance to whatever illustrations the user drew; its only limitation seemed to be the imagination of its user. It was lost by an unidentified alien and found by artist "Lance Curtiss"; "Curtiss" used its power to briefly become ruler of the world until the alien retrieved it and flew away, and reality shifted back to normal.
--Tales to Astonish I#31/3
Tales to Astonish I#31/3, p1, pan1 (main image)
Tales to Astonish I#31/3 (May, 1962) - Jack Kirby (pencils), Dick Ayers (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Last updated: 03/09/16
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