Comic Legends: The Secret Origin of Spider-Man's Spaghetti Webbing!

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and seventh week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Just like the last few weeks, one legend today, one tomorrow and one Sunday.

Let's begin!


Todd McFarlane based his so-called "spaghetti webbing" during his "Spider-Man" run on the webbing from a popular Michael Golden poster.


Technically False, but Golden WAS the inspiration.

Todd McFarlane is clearly one of the most influential "Spider-Man" artists of all-time. Up until McFarlane, there were basically two ways for the artists on the main "Spider-Man" titles to draw Spider-Man, either like Steve Ditko or like John Romita, and really, "like Romita" was the only true option in the late 1980s.

Todd McFarlane, though, put his own spin on the character that many artists followed him in using after McFarlane left the title, with Spider-Man's body doing all sorts of contortions in the air or when crouching...

and the eyes on his facemask becoming bigger and bigger...

and, of course, his webbing starting to look bolder and fuller...

As McFarlane has explained a number of times over the years, by doing this to the webbing, it gave the webbing more of a 3-D quality, so you could actually show the webbing coming right at you, like it is on McFarlane's famous covers to "Amazing Spider-Man" #300 and #301...

Here he is discussing how important it was to have the ability as an artist to have the webs shoot towards the reader...

McFarlane was clearly correct on this and this new design for the webbing was picked up by all other "Spider-Man" artists of the time and since then, as well.

Okay, so reader Pierre N. wrote in to ask if it was true that McFarlane was inspired to do "spaghetti webbing" by similar webbing done by Michael Golden, the famous star artist of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The answer to that, Pierre, is a definitive yes.

However, what I found interesting is that everyone was getting it wrong as to WHERE McFarlane was getting the inspiration from.

Comic readers of the 1980s (or comic readers of the 1990s who just read a lot of 1980s back issues) are quite familiar with Michael Golden's famous 1982 Marvel Universe poster...

(Click here to see the full-sized image)

Here's a detail of the Spider-Man part of the drawing...

And sure enough, Golden drew "spaghetti webbing" there.

Art Adams also drew that style of webbing when he did a "Web of Spider-Man Annual" in 1986...

In any event, yes, McFarlane was specifically influenced by Michael Golden's depiction of Spider-Man's webs, but NOT from that poster. No, it came from something ELSE that same year, 1982. S.Q. Productions had released a portfolio in 1981 of black and white prints by Marvel artists of team-ups between Marvel characters and one of them was of the Defenders and Spider-Man teaming up and it was drawn by Michael Golden...

(Click here to enlarge the drawing).

In "Comics Interview" #81, in 1990, so this is very early and very fresh in McFarlane's memory, he gave an interview with the great Jim Salicrup and McFarlane discusses the webbing:

Salicrup: What made you come up with that crazy webbing?

McFarlane: That crazy webbing? I actually can't take credit for that. The webbing idea came from an old black-and-white piece. Years ago you guys used to put out these black and white portfolios around 1980 or something like that, and there was one piece that was the Defenders by Michael Golden, and for whatever reason he had Spider-Man in it. He did this great Spider-Man with this funky webbing, and I kept that piece out of all the pieces. And I go, "If I ever turn into a comics-pro, and if I ever work for Marvel Comics, and if I ever get to do Spider-Man, I'm going to do webbing like that."

So there ya go!

Thanks to Pierre for the question and thanks to Jim Salicrup and Todd McFarlane for the information!

Check out some Christmas-related legends from Legends Revealed:

Check back tomorrow for part 2 of this week's legends!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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