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Analyzing Rarely Seen McFarlane Spider-Man Pencils

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Analyzing Rarely Seen McFarlane Spider-Man Pencils


Bob McLeod came up in the ranks of inking at a time when inkers were closer to what “finishers” are considered today. His inking skills are top notch, but he’s also an experienced artist in his own right, and strong storyteller.

When Todd McFarlane came to “The Amazing Spider-Man,” he was also still drawing “The Incredible Hulk.” For his first two issues, Marvel paired him off with McLeod to produce the finished artwork. McFarlane would assume the solo inking duties with issue #300, and only give it up on rare occasions when deadline battles loomed, usually due to the summer bi-weekly schedule that Marvel put the title on.

With a fresh, new artist coming on board the title, Marvel sent copies of “The Amazing Spider-Man” #298 to retailers as a preview, so they’d better know what they were ordering. They were un-inked and un-lettered. This was pure McFarlane pencils, complete with margin notes to the inker.

I was lucky enough to grab a copy of that handout from my local retailer a few years back at Dewey’s Comic City in Madison, NJ. (Thanks, Dan!) I’ve been looking for where I had them since I started The McSpidey Chronicles last year (I reviewed this issue on March 11, 2014), and only recently tripped over them.

Let’s compare and contrast some panels and pages to see the decisions McLeod was faced with when he saw these original pencil pages. Along the way, you’ll see some McFarlane art that you’ve likely never seen before, as panels were redrawn before the final issue.

We’ll cover the first half of the issue this week, and come back for the second half next week.

Page One – In the Beginning


  • Run, don’t walk, to the latest edition of the “Stuff Said” podcast from Gregg Schigiel. It’s a two hour chat with Robert Kirkman that’s filled with great stories and what might be some controversial opinions on creator ownership stemming back to his manifesto and follow-up debate with Brian Bendis. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to take Kirkman up on his challenge to fact check some things. A rollicking good time!
  • When you’re done listening to that, check out CBR’s interview with Ed Brubaker, who drops tidbits like this:

    But I’ll tell you — working in Hollywood has made me appreciate my comics job a lot. No one gives me notes, I don’t have to involve a lot of people in the process. I love the hours of my day when I get to sit and write my comics. I think I appreciate them more now than I did when it was my full-time job.

    — and —

    The Image deal is so fantastic. This year, already, has been my best year financially in comics, ever. And it’s only three months in. I’ve made more money from Image than I made last year when the “Winter Soldier” movie was out, on “Captain America” books. Image is doing amazingly right now. The first issue of “The Fade Out,” we ended up selling over 60,000 copies…

    — and —

    But I never buy anything that’s tied into a crossover. […] And those are always the worst stories. Even the best crossover’s still not as good as anything else that the people who did it did. As big as “Civil War” was, it’s still not as good as “Starlight.” It’s not as good as “Wanted,” where [Mark] Millar could just do his own thing. Even the best crossovers are still not as good as what their creators do on their own stuff. Like [Brian Michael] Bendis has done a ton of crossovers, and none of them are as good as “Ultimate Spider-Man.” Even though they sell way better. It’s just an odd thing.

    The fun goes on and on. Such a great interview…

  • Speaking of Image, best of luck to departing Image Biz Dev guy and friend of Pipeline, Ron Richards. I hope he gets a few nights of extra sleep before embarking on whatever he does next, in whatever industry he chooses. He did a lot of great things at Image, from DRM-free comics to the Image Expo. The next person to fulfill that role has some big shoes to step into.
  • If you’re feeling slightly nostalgic, check out Ron’s recent public appearance grilling Darwyn Cooke in an iFanboy reunion at WonderCon. Cooke is great in answering the questions, starting with a monologue in which he suggests burning everything down at Marvel and DC and starting over.
  • Former Disney animator Chris Oatley lists the common flaws of a comic sales pitch, along with four tips for finding the heart of your story, which is something you should be pitching.
  • Back in 1980, Brad “The Iron Giant” Bird did a pencil test for an animated movie based on Will Eisner’s “The Spirit.” It recently resurfaced, and you can see it at the link.
  • The ultimate bad comic book lettering generator. This open source project can draw handwritten-looking letters on a web page with minimal guidance. Seriously, don’t use this for your comic’s lettering, although the technology used for it is interesting.
  • Watch a ten minute video of Boulet drawing and Photoshop coloring a piece of art. Mesmerizing.
  • Greg Pak discusses the problem with Breaking In.
  • I’m binging on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” right now, to catch up before the Avengers movie. So word of a possible Mockingbird spin-off is very promising to me.
  • Tweet of the week, from Dan Slott to Kevin Maguire:


    The latest “Fantastic Four” trailer is almost enough to give one hope for the movie. The one thing that sticks out, though, is The Thing. Might it not be possible to do a live action Thing? Maybe he should just be a CGI creature? Otherwise, it always looks like a dude in a big rubber rock suit that looks silly.

    Other than that, it looks like it might be a decent retelling of the Ultimate Fantastic Four. We’ll see.

    The trailer benefits from being released right after Warner Bros dropped the “Batman vs. Superman” teaser trailer that was so quickly reviled by so many on-line. I’m not scared off from the movie by that trailer, but it’s done nothing to make me want to see it. That’s the real shame, because I was genuinely excited by the possibility of such a movie when it was originally announced.

    And that “Batman vs. Superman” trailer fell even flatter by being release right after the new “Star Wars” trailer, which accomplished two impossible things. One, it united the internet in mass agreement. Second, that agreement was that we all loved something, not that we were angered or mad at something. Miracles, both.

    I love ending the column on a happy note.

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