Before he was one of the founders of Image Comics and the creator of the demonic warrior Spawn, Todd McFarlane had a long and storied career as an artist with Marvel Comics, illustrating “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Today, McFarlane revealed how a priceless piece of his past -- his original Spidey corner box art -- showed up in the mail a few years ago.
McFarlane recounted the story on a Facebook live-stream. McFarlane’s tale began with his hiring on “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Fresh to the series, McFarlane said he wanted to add his own artistic flair to the cover’s corner box; the little illustrated panel that adorned the top-left portion of comic book covers back in the day. Most corner boxes included the price of a given issue and the Comics Code Authority logo, as well as a small illustration of the respective series’ hero.
The miniature illustration of Spider-Man had depicted the hero running for many years. It was this illustration McFarlane wanted to change, reasoning that the bread and butter of Spider-Man’s appeal (and his primary mode of transportation) is his web-slinging. McFarlane got the okay, and the artist came up with an image of Spider-Man hanging upside down, suspended by his webbing. The illustration was used as the series’ corner box art for quite some time, but eventually the entire tradition of the corner box went the way of the dodo. McFarlane thought the image lost, until six years ago.
After twenty years, McFarlane got a letter in 2011 from former Marvel Comics Operations Assistant Michael Christatos. The letter included a surprise: the original artwork for McFarlane’s corner box art illustration of the web-slinger himself. The illustration even included some of McFarlane’s notes from when he first drew the character, and then had to pass it on down the line to the editorial department. Right above the illustration, scrawled in blue pencil, are the words “New corner symbol for Amazing Spidey. This side up.” On the right side of the image is the addendum “Art by: Todd McFarlane,” likely added long after the artist was finished with the piece.
McFarlane is certainly happy to have that piece of original artwork back after 20 years, but it wasn’t his last go at drawing the corner box for “The Amazing Spider-Man.” The artist went on to explain that he iterated on the drawing over time, and pointed out how the art he received in the mail differed from later illustrations in which Spider-Man’s costume has more decorative webbing lines than the original piece.