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Matt D. Wilson

The Artist’s Spider-Man: The Longevity and Adaptability of John Romita Jr.


With the exception of his father, who still occasionally picks up a pencil or inking brush, nobody has been drawing Spider-Man longer than John Romita Jr.

Over the course of nearly 40 years with the character (longer if you count that he came up with the idea for The Prowler for 1969's Amazing Spider-Man #78), Romita has penciled somewhere in the range of 140 Spider-Man comics. Of course, longevity and productivity aren't the only hallmarks of a great artist, and Romita Jr. has done far more than simply pump out issues. He has changed with the times, adapted his style, and co-created some cornerstone Spider-Man characters.

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Comics Bogeyman: A Look Back At ‘Seduction of the Innocent’


April 19, 1954 is a date that has lived in infamy for comics fans.

That's the day psychiatrist Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, a book that changed the comics landscape for decades to come, was first published. Wertham's book led to a moral panic over the content of comic books that ultimately resulted in the founding of the Comics Code Authority and the eventual folding of one of the major publishers of the era, EC Comics.

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His Name Is… Kane: A Birthday Tribute to Gil Kane

John Severin for The Comics Journal
John Severin for The Comics Journal

Name a big-two superhero comic besides X-Men, and odds are Gil Kane worked on it.

And he didn't just work on superhero comics. He left his mark on them. After all, he drew one of the (if not the) most famous Spider-Man story of all time, "The Night Gwen Stacy Died." He co-created the Silver Age Green Lantern and Atom. He co-created Iron Fist. And that's just scratching the surface. Kane's bibliography runs as deep as any of his contemporaries. His birthday would have been this week.

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Filed Under: Category: Anniversaries, Art, DC, Marvel

The Artist’s Spider-Man: Todd McFarlane’s Transformative Dynamism


Ask anyone who was alive and reading comics in the late 1980s and early 1990s to name a Spider-Man artist, and nine times out of 10, you'll always get the same name: Todd McFarlane.

Plenty of artists in the 1970s and '80s did great work on the character, and the black costume put a new coat of paint on him, but nobody since John Romita transformed the character like McFarlane did. The character was still instantly recognizable as Spider-Man, but lots of the details changed to pull the character into the 1990s, and all the while, there was an undeniable, unmistakable energy to the art.

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The Artist’s Spider-Man: The Moody Atmosphere of Mike Zeck


Like many other superheroes, the 1980s were the decade when Spider-Man went dark. In Spidey's case, it was a literal shift into darkness, as the new black costume, which Peter Parker got in 1984's Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8, by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck, signaled a tone change in a character known for bright colors, soap opera drama and clever quips.

Zeck is among the artists spotlighted in this series who drew the fewest total Spider-Man comics, yet his work on the definitive dark 1980s story, "Kraven's Last Hunt," marks him as Spider-Man artist of note. Much of the imagery from that story shaped Spider-Man stories for much of the next three decades.

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‘Investigating Lois Lane’ Digs Into Her History And The People Who Brought Her To Life [Review]


In the conclusion of comics historian and author Tim Hanley's new book Investigating Lois Lane, he puts the character's nearly 80-year history into stark relief with this line: "Superman is the worst thing to ever happen to Lois Lane."

Hanley, whose previous work was 2014's Wonder Woman Unbound, offers a rundown of Lane's many incarnations and appearances in comics and other media since her 1938 debut in Investigating Lois Lane, but he doesn't simply focus on the character's fictional world. He digs into the stories of the real people who shaped the character. It's the stories of the editors, writers, actresses and fans who made Lois who she is that truly bring the book to life.

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The Artist’s Spider-Man: Ross Andru’s Kinetic Consistency


Ross Andru didn't draw the most iconic Spider-Man story of the 1970s --- Gil Kane was the artist of 1973's "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" --- but in his five-year run as artist on The Amazing Spider-Man from 1973 to 1978, Andru served as an artistic foundation during a time when Marvel lost some footing with its flagship character.

In addition to co-creating The Punisher, Andru (born Rossolav Andruskevitch) brought many of the (admittedly uneven) ideas of the era to life in a way that has enabled many of the characters and concepts to endure, if even only as punchlines. Say what you will about Rocket Racer and Big Wheel --- two of Andru's other co-creations --- but you know them when you see them.

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The Artist’s Spider-Man: John Romita Sr.’s Muscular Melodrama


Over the past half a century, many artists have put their own spin on the hero who came to be Marvel’s best known and best-loved character, Spider-Man. With this series, The Artist's Spider-Man, ComicsAlliance takes a look at the artists who made the character their own, and had the biggest influence on those that followed.

Steve Ditko co-created Spider-Man, but the artist who arguably made him a mainstream superhero was his successor, John Romita Sr. Working with writer Stan Lee, Romita polished many of the rough edges that Ditko intentionally made part of the Spider-Man's DNA, and in the process made him the highly adaptable character he is today.

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Until the End of the World: Celebrating The Beautiful Blasphemy of ‘Preacher’


In a 2011 interview with The Irish Times, writer Garth Ennis described Preacher, his acclaimed Vertigo series with artist Steve Dillon, in two words: "It's blasphemy."

It's hard to find a more succinct summary of the series, which ran for 66 regular issues, plus a few specials and a Saint of Killers mini-series, all starting with the first issue on February 28, 1995. Yet there was a lot more to it: an enduring love story, a handful of shocking twists, John Wayne's words of wisdom, a takedown of entrenched power structures, and a very dark sense of humor.

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The Artist’s Spider-Man: The Foundational Weirdness of Steve Ditko


Over the past half a century, many artists have put their own spin on the hero who came to be Marvel's best known and best-loved character, Spider-Man. With this series, ComicsAlliance takes a look at the artists who made the character their own, and had the biggest influence on those that followed.
It's not that hard to define co-creator Steve Ditko's contribution to the design of Spider-Man. Just look at any drawing of the character. Ditko is responsible for basically all of the basics: The luchador mask, the big eyes, the webbing motif in the red areas, the contortions, the webs under his arms, the movement within a panel, the whole deal.

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