03/18/23: 'SCEMI SENSE...
With all the Spider-men I’ve been posting, I’d be remiss not to share these drawings I did of the Big 3: Maguire, Garfield, and Buscemi.
Apologies to Tom, Shameik, and Jake.
Also today— a natural segue from my look at the collaboration between Steve Ditko and Stan Lee and into the sticky topic of who actually created Spider-man?
If you’ve already seen this elsewhere, I appreciate you. Hang around for LINER NOTES and some SPIDEY ART I’ve never posted anywhere else.
WHO REALLY CREATED SPIDER-MAN?
As the mouth of early Marvel Comics— Stan Lee receives the lion’s share of notoriety for the creation of Spider-man.
Having long taken conceptual authorship, Lee also claims to have singly produced a script—which he first offered to collaborator and artist Jack Kirby. But when Lee didn’t like the look of Kirby’s initial rendition, he then offered it to artist Steve Ditko.
Kirby however, claims that he and Joe Simon first devised the initial concepts for Spider-man with a pair of unpublished characters—The latter was reworked into 1959’s The Adventures of the Fly, the lead of which possessed insect derived powers and sixth sense exactly like Spidey’s. Kirby further asserts that he reworked and presented these core ideas to Lee as Spider-man.
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Cartoonist Steve Ditko says Stan gave him a script based on a Kirby character that he then changed after noticing the strong visual and conceptual resemblance to The Fly.
Presumably, in the layout stage, Ditko moved Peter Parker’s origin away from a power transformation ring and towards the familiar spider bite. And re-worked Kirby’s initial costume design, most notably adding the mask to cover Peter’s face.
And all that sounds nice and neat but— Yoooooo— what’s this Ben Cooper Halloween Costume from the early 60s?
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(Above: Top- Ben Cooper Spider-man costume. Bottom left- Second generation Ben Cooper Spider-man mask. Bottom Right- Steve Ditko/Stan Lee era Spider-man branding)
The truth it seems is indeed a tangled web— but then again does it really matter who Spidey’s dad is?
Aunt May and Uncle Ben did all the work.
-To keep these Drawl episodes spider-bite-sized— I cut the mention of the Jacobson memo, which… seems to sort of simultaneously back Kirby’s claims and paint his own view of history as selectively revisionist.
Basically, after Kirby and Simon submitted their Silver Spider proposal to Harvey Publications in 1954, a young editor by the name of Sid Jacobson provided some very INFLUENTIAL notes:
EDITORIAL MEMORANDUM #2
TO: LEON HARVEY
February 23, 1954
FROM: SID JACOBSON
RE: SILVER SPIDER
Conclusions on character:
Physical appearance- The Silver Spider should be thought of as a human spider. All conclusions on his appearance should stem from the attributes of the spider. My first thought of the appearance of a human spider is a tall thin wiry person with long legs and arms. He should have a long bony face, being more sinister then handsome. The face of the Submariner comes to mind.
Powers: The powers of the human spider should pretty much correspond to the power of a spider. He therefore wouldn’t have the power of flight (author’s note: something hinted at in Simon’s proposal) but could accomplish great acrobatical tricks, an almost flight, by use of silken ropes that would enable him to swing ala Tarzan, or a Batman. The silken threads that the spider would use might come from a special liquid, from some part of his costume that would become silken threads in much the same way as the spider insect. These threads would also be used in making of a web, which could also be used as a net. The human spider might also have a “poison” to be used as a paralyzing agent.
-end of memo-
- According to the Kirby Collector: you can find copies of those memos in Greg Theakston’s Pure Images #1 (Pure Imagination,1990).
Okay, that’s that. I think we’ve had enough Spidey around here…
At least until THIS SUMMER.
Hope y’all are doing well. More soon…