It seems Todd McFarlane has been doing some spring cleaning in his studio and, in the process, rediscovered many of his preliminary sketches from his work at Marvel in the late '80s. His latest find? A sketch for his iconic Amazing Spider-Man #300 and #301 covers.
Apparently, Amazing Spider-Man editor Jim Salicrup often requested that McFarlane and other artists sketch out their cover designs for approval before producing the final art. While McFarlane doesn't own that art, he does still have the approved cover sketch, as he demonstrated in a recent video on his Facebook page.
The sketch was done on the back of a Xerox of his interior penciling work -- a good example of not wasting paper.
However, the really interesting part are the cover notes McFarlane found attached to the sketch. The notes include the suggestion that "because this is the last time Spidey uses the two costumes in one issue MAYBE we can do two covers: direct sales with black costume + newsstand with blue + red?"
As McFarlane himself emphasizes, this was back in the days before the speculator boom and before variant covers were a thing. Marvel's marketing department at the time wasn't keen on the idea and couldn't see why anyone would buy the same comic twice just because it had different covers.
But they did like the idea of having the same pose for the two different costumes and ended up using the blue and red costume cover for Amazing Spider-Man #301.
The same sketch also has a suggestion from McFarlane that, outside of the central circle of art, the cover should feature "the number 300 done over and over etc. again with 20% magenta." This too made it into the final printed cover.
It will certainly be interesting to see what other early material McFarlane turns up as he continues to go through his archives.