In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Spider-Man, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Spider-Man, culminating with the release of the Amazing Spider-Man film in July. The last installment will deal with Spider-Man stories, but this month will be about Spider-Man’s writers and artists.
You all voted, now here are the results! Here is a master list of all the creators listed so far. We continue with Spider-Man artists 3-1…
3. John Romita Jr.
Amazing Spider-Man #208-218 (two fill-ins during this stint), 224-249 (two fill-ins during this stint), 290-291 (brought in to draw the proposal of Peter and Mary Jane)
Spider-Man/Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Volume 1) #64-91 (two fill-ins during this stint), 96, 98
Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Volume 2) #1-19 (four fill-ins during this stint)
Amazing Spider-Man (Volume 2) #22-27, 30-58
Amazing Spider-Man (return to original numbering) #500-508, 568-573 (New Ways to Die), 584-585/587-588 (Character Assassination – #586 was an interlude by another artist), 600 (a sixty-one page story!!)
Plus a handful of fill-in issues here and there (four fill-ins on Spectacular Spider-Man alone) and the occasional mini-series and Annual.
As you can see, John Romita Jr. has been one of the main artists on Spider-Man since the early 1980s, a remarkable achievement. Especially when you consider in that time span, he has also had signficant runs on about 653 other comic books from Marvel, including Uncanny X-Men, Dardevil, Iron Man, Punisher and Avengers.
Romita Jr. is known for two distinct styles. The one he used during his first run on Amazing (even then, you could see his current style peeking out – I think his inkers had more to do with the style looking different back then) and the one he has used for the past twenty years or so.
He was a great action artist then as he is now. Here is an example of a JRjr action sequence from the 1980s…
and one from the 2000s….
But Romita is also great with character work.
Here, from the 1980s…
And again, here from the 2000s….
I can’t wait to see what John Romita Jr. has planned for the Spider-Man titles in 2042!
2. Steve Ditko
As you get to the top of these lists, it gets somewhat difficult to talk about these guys, only in the sense that, do I really need to explain why the guy who CREATED Spider-Man’s look is important?
Steve Ditko is one of the all-time great superhero/supervillain designers, coming up with a variety of costumes that are basically used today to the TEE. Spider-Man has had another costume, but really, the blue and the red costume is what he wears in the comics today and in all of the media adaptations (although the new movie is slightly different). And 50 years later, it is still that same Ditko design. Characters like Elektro, Vulture and Mysterio have gone through various looks but they always return to that awesome Ditko design.
Green Goblin, Kraven, Fancy Dan, the list goes on of iconic character looks that Ditko created.
But not only that, Ditko is a brilliant sequential storyteller, able to pack in SO much story into every issue of Amazing Spider-Man. These things are like freaking TOMES! The origin of Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy is, like, a page and a half (okay, 11 pages) and Ditko makes it feel like it is seven issues long. The same continued in his run on Amazing Spider-Man. He packed SO much story into every issue while never making the panels boring.
Also, he could tell so much just by his art. The classic “lifting machinery” scene from Amazing #33 was used in the writers section for Ditko/Lee, but I think the following sequence is underrated. Check out Ditko’s art here and see how you barely need Lee’s dialogue to get all the emotion Ditko pours into this sequence…
1. John Romita Sr.
While Ditko created Spider-Man’s look, it was Romita’s slight re-designs that made Spider-Man the global icon that he remains to this day.
Ditko’s Peter Parker was a thin, frail fellow. Romita Sr. turned Peter into a heartthrob. Ditko’s girls…well…they weren’t exactly gorgeous. Romita’s girls? Well, as we see in a moment you all voted the most iconic panel in Marvel Comics history (from Amazing Spider-Man #42)…
It was Romita’s designs that inspired Stan Lee to give the youth of the book center stage. In addition, Romita’s Spider-Man went from being the lithe, angular guy that he was during Ditko’s time to being a full, powerful superhero in the Jack Kirby mold.
This take on Spider-Man is the one that was marketed to the moon by Marvel in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Romita’s Spider-Man was THE face of Spider-Man in licensed products until pretty much the last decade or so (when Mark Bagley’s Spider-Man became the licensed version of Spider-Man – and Bagley’s Spider-Man owes a lot to Romita’s. Bagley’s Spidey is sort of a cross between Romita’s and McFarlane’s).
Romita’s run went from #39-88, 93-95, 106-119 plus a number of fill-ins since then and his presence as an inker was on pretty much all of Gil Kane’s issues, so Romita was there even when he was not penciling). And when Romita left the book an an INTERIOR artist, he remained as the cover artist for years to come.
Basically, Romita’s Spider-Man was THE Spider-Man.
Romita knew how to design pages in a way to get the most powerful imagery imaginable. This led to a number of iconic sequences in his issues. Here is one of his most famous ones, from Amazing Spider-Man #50…
One of the most iconic images in comic book history (I think the Romita cover to Amazing Spider-Man #50 is one of the most iconic comic book covers EVER. I’d put it just behind Action #1 and Crisis on Infinite Earths #7).