Sure, you’re thinking you know this guy already – his name anyway if not his face – but long before he became the cooking pot-helmeted hero of Marvel’s humor comics, he was the star of 1955’s SNAFU.
That’s right, Irving Forbush, the amazing nothing who fought side-by-side with the Mighty Sore, the Echh Men and Knock Furious, got his start in a little known Mad Magazine knock-off written (mostly) by Stan Lee and drawn by a series of amazing artists.
The series only lasted three issues, but they offer the only glimpses of the mysterious Forbush-Man’s true face and a tantalizing glimpse of his strange (and estranged) family.
Forbush was just one of those names Stan Lee loved, along with Lumpkin, so in just about anything he wrote the name would pop up at some point. The Forbush family’s time to shine was in this short lived (but very funny) humor magazine. Yeah, it used a lot of the same jokes Mad made famous, but Stan made no secret of this, even including a letter from “Karvey Hurtzman” with only one word: “potrzebie.” It also included a lot of risqué material that could never be found in traditional Marvel comics, like scantily clad women, wife-beating jokes and boss-chasing-secretary-jokes (hmm… a lot of misogynistic humor there).
Irving Forbush was the magazine’s mascot, and his family members comprised much of the staff.
Years later Stan would bring Irving Fobush back in a new parody magazine called Not Brand Echh (as in, better than the other guys, or Brand X). In that series the pencil-necked hero took on his most famous role, his super-hero identity, the eponymously named Forbush Man!
In subsequent Forbush-Man stories his family changed depending on the gag, and he was never given a full origin in SNAFU, so here’s an extrapolation of events, based on available material.
Update: Just to be clear, the subsequent “family tree” is all speculation. The names, places and occupations are all straight out of SNAFU, but the connections between them are not made perfectly clear. The “Oct. 13, 1939” (actually June 17, 2009) issue of the Daily Bugle confirmed Irving Forbush’s birthday as Friday, Oct. 13, 1939 to parents Stan and Jacqueline Forbush (“They wanted a girl.”). Of course, that would make him 16 when he founded SNAFU, but what the hey.
Irving Forbush was raised in the sleepy hamlet of Forbush Village (only 10 minutes from Times Square by radio!) where he attended Flatbush Primary School. He played with his cousins Quinten and Joe (the latter of whom preferred the Italian form of the family name, DiForbushio), and often quarreled with his brother Marvin.
He was often under the watchful eye of Methusaluh Fobush, a veteran believed to be over a hundred (claiming to be an 18-year-old in a 40-year-old body). His uncles were often too busy to look after him, but homeless real estate expert Clapboard Q. Forbush, psychic Drew “True Blue” Forbush and fashion designer Shmedrick Forbush helped shape his formative years.
Irving grew into a fine straping young man, and toyed with becoming an artist before joining the military. Joining between wars, Irving fought most of his battles at home. It was as a private that he learned the true meaning of the acronym SNAFU.
Later at Heckwith U. where Irving was earning his higher education credentials he met his future co-workers, Gerald Bongo, Godfrey Dwindle, Valerie Voom and Fefferson Flurg.
In the company of such great writers, Irving came up with the idea for SNAFU magazine, only to have his brother Melvin Forbush lose it shortly afterwards. Found again by Irving Forbush, a magazine legacy was born!
Originally Irving had no talent other than a sardonic wit (despite his quiet demeanor). Later he developed the power to wear a costume in public without being seen as a madman, and further developed this power (as we’ll see in a bit) into a powerful psychic ability (the kind Drew Forbush, at left, would’ve been jealous of).
Why hasn’t the character shown up again?
Well, obviously he has shown up, but his face hasn’t been shown since SNAFU ceased publication.
It doesn’t help that he was purely a humor character in what would become a mostly super-hero comic book company.
How could the character be brought back?
He was recently brought back in the pages of Nextwave as a psychic (possibly psychotic) anti-hero, but the dubious continuity of this series keeps him on the fringes of the Marvel Universe.
Irving and his family deserve a new shot at comic book stardom, if for no other reason than to honor the legacy he tried to create.