Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Spider-Man: a 43-year love story

A couple of days ago, my pal Brian commemorated the opening of Spider-Man 3 with both a terrific review and a reminiscence of his introduction to Spidey 44 years ago — Amazing Spider-Man #4, featuring the Sandman. I’ve already reviewed the new movie here, but following Brian’s lead, I thought I’d share my first encounter with the ol’ webslinger. Here’s the very first Spidey comic that ever fell into my hands...

It was given to me by Randy Weiner, a neighbor kid two years older who was cleaning out his comics collection. This was sometime in the fall of 1964, so Amazing Spider-Man #3 was “old,” and the series was already a good 17 issues further along by that time. But what I remember is this: I read and re-read this already tattered book until its cover had to be scotchtaped, then stapled back on. I adored this book. In those days, when I was a dumb 10-year-old who didn’t know any better, I threw away comic books as fast as I could read ’em. I never even thought to collect them. But I hung onto this debut of Doc Ock. I adored it.

Curiously, though, I didn’t purchase an issue of Amazing Spider-Man on my own until, oh, a year and a half later. I think it was June 1965. At the Thrifty Drug on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. Now, that was a red-letter day. My pals and I had just seen Goldfinger at the La Reina Theater, so I was just launching into my 007 phase (which continues to this day). Mom picked us up after the show, as promised, and we stopped at the drugstore for ice cream. That’s when I spotted this on a twirling rack of comics...

Whew. Classic Steve Ditko. I’d never seen anything like it before. Mom gave me 12¢ and I at once began collecting new books and digging through thrift stores for old ones. Today, when confronted with the old desert island question, I always say I’d be content with just the first 38 issues of Amazing Spider-Man (the Ditko issues) for entertainment.

Oh, OK...and maybe a couple of Milla Jovovich DVDs.


At 5:18 AM, Blogger B.W. Richardson said...

I was hooked immediately and trekked downtown monthly to pick up #5-10 - Dr. Doom, The Lizard, The Vulture, J.J.'s robot, Elektro and the Enforcers - and then Mom and Dad moved the family to a rural town with no comic store! (yes, Virginia, there were rural towns in Jersey in '63)

That was the last I knew of Spidey until more than a year later, when I found #25 (I have a fondness for Fantastic Four #39 for the same reason) and started bugging Dad for monthly visits to the town 15 miles away that had a comic store.

I agree that Spidey 28 has one of the coolest covers ever devised. Ditko was/is a genius!


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