To the Editor (23-Feb-2020)

From Al

There's an interesting interview with Paty Cockrum in the latest issue of Alter Ego (#154). She was the artist for the Spidey story "Red Nine and Red Tape" and she says...

"...Jim Owlsey...was the editor of the 'Spider-Man' group, and he came to me one day and said, 'Paty, you're going to save my ass!' He said that all of his 'Spider-Man' artists were sick. He had a terrible deadline and needed me to do a fill-in story. I told him I had six merchandising projects at home on my desk....But Jim said that I had to help him out. I was not thrilled but said 'What do you need?' He tells me that he needed a fill-in story for the Peter Parker book. I asked him what the deadline was on this lovely little thing, and he said that he needed it in a week. I said 'What!?' 'I need it in a week. You can do it. Here's the synopsis. Do it!' So I did it. I gave him a full book of pencils in a week. It wasn't the best 'Spider-Man' story in the world but it wasn't the worst. I drew Spidey in his red-and-blue costume which I always loved. I hated the black costume. Shooter was always pushing the black costume because that was his design. So Jim looked over the pages and said 'Great! Only it's not going to be in Peter Parker, it's going to be in Amazing Spider-Man, because I have a tighter deadline on that book than the other one. You've gotta ink it for me in a week. I need it in a week and I don't have any inkers. You gotta ink it.' I said, 'I'm not an inker!' Jim goes 'You can do it .You do all the corrections on the merchandising. You can do it.' So I took it home and inked it, but he said I had to ink in the black costume. I said I hated the black costume! He said that Shooter was the editor-in-chief and we had to do it his way. So I took it home and I made it the black costume, and it wasn't the best 'Spider-Man' ever but it wasn't the worst, either. It was in Amazing Spider-Man #264."

And I'd like to add to that that it may not have been the worst Spider-Man story but it was the one that made me give up the book for two or three years. If I'd only known the story behind it, I probably would have stuck around but it seemed like there were far too many issues like this at that time. Maybe Owlsey was scrambling like this all the time.

Reading The Secret History of Marvel Comics and Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Marvel seems to have spent most of its pre-Disney existence in a state of panic and scrambling disorganization.

Jim Shooter is a curious character. In one sense, his reign as editor-in-chief (1976-87) was a relative period of much-needed stability after a steady churn of leaders following Stan's departure to the west coast. Now, Jim certainly did have a reputation as a man who wanted things done "his way", and many people tried to blame him for Marvel's plentiful problems at that time.

But hindsight has been kinder to Shooter, presenting him as a man who did what was needed in a difficult job. Christopher Priest (aka Jim Owlsey, Spider-Man group editor during Shooter's time) offers a great Blog Post written in 2002 which openly and honestly talks about the web of dysfunction and in-fighting of that era.

It's really quite laughable when you consider how many teenage Spider-Man readers must have dreamed of the chance to work at Marvel (I know I certainly did). The reality seems to be that Marvel was an awful mess of conflicting visions, squabbling egos, and young men in positions of responsibility for which they were completely ill-equipped.

Marvel was a brutal workplace which chewed people up and spat them out. It was poorly-structured and unprofessional. It had many people of talent, but it didn't always give them the right environment to produce their best work.

From John

I collected comics in the 1960s and 1970s and started buying merch items in the mid-70s. I have a Spider-Man Water Glove from 1975 that I haven't seen anywhere else on the internet.

Thought you might like a picture for your database.

As Harry Callahan once said – "A man's got to know his limitations."

That's a guiding principle for my collecting. I recall seeing an auction on eBay ten years ago selling a single collection of $200,000 worth of mixed Spider-Man memorabilia!

The limits of the site match the limits on my personal Spider-Man collection. I collect:

  • Spider-Man Comics, Magazines, and Books.
  • Spider-Man Trading Cards, and Trading Stickers.
  • Spider-Man Records, Tapes, and CDs.
  • Spider-Man View-Master and other toy video projectors.
  • Spider-Man Die-Cast Vehicles.
  • Spider-Man Fast Food Toys.

That's enough to keep me going for a life-time. And so when I see a Spider-Man tie, watch, pajamas, Frisbee, telephone, kite, towel, web-shooter, board-game, or slippers... I just say "Thanks but I'll have to pass!"

From Frank

I wonder if you can help me. Years ago I bought a copy of AMS #1. Unfortunately the centerfold ad page is missing. Do you have access to an AMS #1? I need a picture of the ad so I can try to find this ad page and add it back to the book.

Here's the advertisement from the centre of the book. It is a screenshot from the 40 Years of the Amazing Spider-Man CD-ROM.

However, you're also going to need to story page that goes on the back of it as well, I suspect. That's kind of how pages work, hence the saying "There are two sides to every story."

From Polingeddy

I am looking for an expert on Soider-man. I have a friend that says Spidey was mostly a team guy, and I don't agree. My collection leads me to believe most of his work was solo. In the complete history of Spider-man comics, would the Spidey-fans experts say he was a mostly team guy or mostly a solo character?

Solo? Serial Team-Up Buddy? Team Member?

In the early days, Spider-Man was the quintessential solo character. A loner by nature, he was sad-lad-bad-luck-Parker who struggled to maintain even a few close friends. He declined early on in his career to join the Fantastic Four, and was rejected for membership by the Avengers. Even the X-Men (the experts in sad, lonely, and shunned) commented on Spidey's troubling isolation.

Over time, Spidey grew more confident and outwards. He had a series of girlfriends. He built a friendship with Daredevil, and the Human Torch, and became a reserve Avenger. He built a solid circle of close friends at college and at The Coffee Bean. But he never joined a super-team, and when Peter married Mary-Jane, that personal commitment made it even more difficult to be part of a full-time hero group.

On the other hand, as soon as he was established as a popular character, Spider-Man was continually in demand for team-ups. In fact there was a dedicated title Marvel Team-Up which featured Spider-Man on a new team-up every month for 12 years running. Even when that original title ended, the team-ups, crossovers, and limited series continued relentlessly – I'm confident in saying that Spider-Man has almost certainly has had more team-up adventures than any other Marvel super-hero.

Spider-Man as a member of a super-team is a far more recent event. It began after Mary-Jane was removed from the scene in 2007. Marvel became far more aggressive in the use of Spider-Man, and somewhat more cynical in their desire to leverage his popularity to boost other titles. He joined the New Avengers (Vol. 1) and then criss-crossed into other Avengers-related groups.

So... Single? Partnered? Spider-Man really is a "serial monogamist."

From hbkj

This was released in 2008 and my son when he was only 14 weeks old is pictured in the back of the magazine. It is something that was very, very tresured to me and something I was saving to give to him when he got old enough to appreciate it. He is 11 now and a big spidey fan so when he was 18, 21 or whatever I am sure he would of got a real kick out of being in a Spider-Man magaizine when he was so young.

Since the magazine was released way back in 2008, I had one saved in my attic, unfortunatly we had very, very bad rain here in the UK and my attic leaked and the box this was in got very wet. the first 3/4 of the magazine are ok, but the bottom of it got very badly watered damaged, including the photo of my son.

I know it says not to contact you asking to buy stuff, but as you can see this is not just a normal Spidey fan looking for an issue, if my son was not in this magazine in all honesty I would have less than zero interest in it lol.

Any chance you could help me out and sell me your copy? It would be going to a very good home and it would be someting that I would cherish passing onto my son.

That's a real piece of bad fortune.

I truly wish I could help you out. But I'm just not that nice of a person. Honestly, I'm a selfish jerk. More to the point, you have no idea how much effort it took to get my hands on these UK-only magazines, and how much I desire them.

Since I don't actually live in the UK, I have to prevail upon friends to go to the newsagent for me from time to time. Then I have to prevail upon them again to box them up and ship them too me in New Zealand. Or sometimes if I'm travelling, I'll stop by and fill my suitcases. It often takes two or three years before I actually get my hands on the magazine.

Inevitably, there are gaps. Trying to find these magazines second-hand in any condition is really tough. Trying to find them in collectible grades is nearly impossible!

As the only collector in the world who seems to be reviewing these magazines, I really do need to keep my copies. All I can suggest is that you do what I do, and check eBay UK every week and hope that something turns up.

From Scotty

Nice Comic Book Site! It looks like your team has done a great job growing the site. That's actually why I am here.

I noticed that you're not using Adsense to monetize the site. I work for Ezoic a Google Certified Partner. We've developed a machine learning platform that automatically adjusts your site's ads to suit each users' browsing behavior. This means they view more pages/bounce less, and typically our publishers see a 70% increase in ad revenue.

Oooh? Wow, a 70% increase in ad revenue?

Let me do the maths on that...

Zero Dollars plus 70% = still no advertisements on SpiderFan, you steaming nincompoop.