In remembrance of Steve Ditko. November 2, 1927 – June 29, 2018
Here’s one of the most flawless and iconic pieces of sequential art ever produced – Spider-Man’s origin from Amazing Fantasy #15. These are the originals currently residing at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.
Time for the Wayback Machine, Mr. Peabody, to a chilly winter’s day 34 years ago…
Back in 1978 – waaaaaaay before I had the inkling that I’d eventually have a comic strip of my own in the newspaper – the Minneapolis Tribune ran the following Spider-Man cartoon of mine.
This being my first experience with newspaper reproduction, I was amazed at how the lines I had carefully rendered on Spider-Man’s costume came out as just one big black blob. Bleaahhhh…
I had been clipping the Spider-Man newspaper religiously for two years – artwork by none other than the incredible John Romita!
Then suddenly – out of NOWHERE – the Tribune decides to drop it and replace it with…
(Wait for it.)
(I repeat) ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN!!!
From Dick Cunningham’s editorial:
Wright (managing editor) and Wallace Allen, associate editor of the Tribune, think they have found a suitable replacement in “Encyclopedia Brown,” who appears for the first time in the Tribune today.
Brown is a boy detective confronted with a new crime each Sunday. He solves it by Saturday. Readers are given the same clues that Brown has and are invited to see if they reach the same solution.
“It’s kind of fun,” says Wright.
It’ll have to be to satisfy Keefe. “Woe be it to you,” he wrote. “May Dr. Doom trample your upholstery, may the Rattler bite your dog and may Mysterio make mincemeat of your hamburger.”
I must say, I was quite the master of hyperbole at age 13 – but to no avail. They ended up dropping Encyclopedia Brown years later as well, but Spider-Man was never to return.
The story does have a happy ending though. My Aunt Pat who lived in Boston got wind of this and sent me the Spider-Man strip out of her newspaper for the next two years (pretty much the rest of Romita’s run). My Aunt Pat was pretty great that way.
An added bonus was that the Boston paper printed their comic strips much bigger than the Tribune – so take THAT Mr. Wright and Allen!!!
And I still have those scrapbooks. 4 years of stellar Romita art and lots of fond memories.
I just found out that my niece Heather thought that Spider-Man’s webbing is organic (like in the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films) as opposed to a device that Peter Parker created.
For her to make this mistake is bad Uncle-ing on my part. So to rectify this I’m posting the following pages from the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man’s co-creators, and the ultimate authority on all things Spider-Man.
Back in 1992, when I was the colorist on staff at King Features Syndicate, I got the chance to color the Spider-Man newspaper strip. Usually this would be handled by someone Marvel hired, but if it was a reprint or Marvel hadn’t hired anyone yet, I would fill in.
Ron Frenz was approached to draw the strip at that time and recently posted the pencils for this Sunday page on his Facebook page.
Click on image to see larger.
The inks were done by none other than the legendary Joe Sinnott.
Here’s my color guide followed by the old color chart that the numbers correspond to.
And last but not least, how it appeared in the paper.
As I grew up with Romita’s Spider-Man newspaper strip, any chance to work on Spider-Man I deemed as quite the honor.
Speaking of John Romita – here’s a quick color guide I did when they reprinted his origin story back in March of 1992.
The numbers on this one were on a tracing paper overlay (for clarity).
And here’s how it appeared in the newspapers.
And just for fun, here’s how the strip originally was colored back in 1977.
(Pardon the rubber cement – it’s from my old scrapbook)