Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and thirty-fifth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
Stan Lee wanted the Vulture to be fat.
I'm Going With True
In Part 2 of this week's Comic Book Legends Revealed, I discussed an interesting piece of comic book history surrounding Amazing Spider-Man #2 that was based on an essay that Steve Ditko wrote that my pal Mark Ginocchio (author of the new book, 100 Things Spider-Man Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die and co-host of the All-New Amazing Spider Talk podcast!) let me know about that explained how Amazing Spider-Man was a major part of Marvel Comics design history.
By the way, reader Kate Willært wrote to me on Twitter to note that the piece of history that Ditko claimed to have introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #2 actually was confirmed as being his idea by Stan Lee in a letter column. Thanks a lot, Kate!
So anyhow, that very same essay by Ditko that Mark sent my way also had ANOTHER fascinating piece of Marvel history in it!
Steve Ditko and Stan Lee had a fascinating relationship making Amazing Spider-Man. Initially, they would confer a bit and then Ditko would go out and come up with the issue and then Stan Lee would add dialogue and also make changes where he felt that changes were necessary. Eventually, Ditko grew disgusted with Lee and the two stopped talking, with Ditko instead just going off and creating the plot of the issues by himself and then Lee would just dialogue whatever Ditko sent in to Marvel (along with notes to let Lee know what was going on on any given page). Lee would still occasionally make changes (working through Marvel's production manager, Sol Brodsky, as an intermediary), but interestingly enough, it was Marvel Comics publisher, Martin Goodman, who made the most changes to the comic at this point. Goodman would often tell Ditko things that he wanted Ditko to do with the series. You know, typical, "More action!" Stuff like that.
When Lee and Ditko differed on issues, though, Lee would very often just defer to Ditko. However, Lee had an interesting way about him where if he deferred to a creator at one point on an idea, he would make sure to then bring that idea back later on, either re-presenting it to the original creator or getting it through when the original creator was now gone. Like how Lee's vision of how Peter Parker and his friends would act was allowed to come to a fruition when John Romita took over the series from Ditko.
An interesting example of this conflict happened early on in the series, in Amazing Spider-Man #2, when Lee and Ditko were still collaborating with each other directly.
Lee told Ditko that he wanted to introduce a villain called the Vulture.
Ditko heard the name and came up with a lean, angular and ugly look for the character, to make him look like an actual vulture.
Lee, on the other hand, had a different idea for what the Vulture would look like. Ditko recalled, "He once mentioned the movie villain, Sydney Greenstreet, as a villain model. So Stan didn’t like my thin, gaunt Vulture.” Ditko explained that he felt that large villain would seem almost passive, since they can't actively attack like a lean villain. He further explained, "An elephant’s bulk can be frightening and destructive, but it is easier to escape from than the lean, fast cheetah." He had other problems with the idea, as well, noting: “The bulkier anything is, the more panel space it has to take up, thereby shrinking panel space for other characters and story panel elements.”
Obviously, Ditko won this particular argument.
Now, here's Sidney Greenstreet from the classic film, The Maltese Falcon.
And in Amazing Spider-Man #51, a year after Ditko left the series, wouldn't you know who showed up as a new Spider-Man villain...
Thanks to Mark Ginocchio and Steve Ditko for the information! Go buy both of their books (click here to get Ditko's current creator-owned titles that are available from Robin Snyder).
Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed at CBR: Was The Amazing World of Gumball originally intended to be about a bunch of rejected cartoons going to school together?
OK, that's it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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See you all next week!