Thursday, February 4, 2016

Would You Rather...? Spider-Man's Webs

Doug: I have three questions today about your preferences toward the fashions of everyone's favorite Wall-Crawler. Over the years several artists have exerted their influences on Spider-Man and his sartorial splendor. Of note today are Steve Ditko, John Romita, and Todd McFarlane.

Doug: So here's what I'd like to know -- in regard to the web design on Spider-Man's costume, the underarm webbing, and the style of the webs emanating from his web shooters, what's the look you favor? And of course you don't have to stick to one artist as any sort of a package deal -- you can mix-and-match 'em if you prefer.


Anonymous said...

I hate the underarm webbing - okay, okay you're like a don't need underarm webs to hammer home the point.

William said...

Personally through the years I've gone back and forth on the web-pits. When I was a kid I didn't really like them, but when I saw my first Steve Ditko reprint, I thought they looked pretty cool. In the earliest issues Ditko would draw Spidey with these huge underarm webs that almost looked like glider wings. And for some reason I kind of dug those. Maybe because they were just so outrageous.

But as a general rule, I prefer Spidey with no web-pits. Partly because it's impossible to replicate the underarm webs in action figure form. It's been tried many times, with less than satisfactory results.

As for the web-shooter webbing, I actually kind of like Todd McFarlane's crazy spaghetti webbing. When I draw Spidey's webbing myself, I always go with that style. It has a lot of kinetic energy and it just looks like it's shooting out of a compressed canister.

Redartz said...

I really like all three versions here. Romita's version is my sentimental favorite, the one I grew up with and think of when the web-slinger is mentioned. But Ditko's lean, quirky pioneering version is just as appealing. It inspired the Ron Frenz look in the 80's, and also Ed Hannigan's work in PPTSM. Romita's costume version is so clean and clear, it's almost geometric. Ditko's webs are more scattershot; a bit rougher. Love them both; perhaps Ditko's version depicted the youthful hero so well, and Romita's version worked great for the more experienced Spider-man with a few more years under the web-belt.

McFarlane's Spidey also ranks high to me. I do like the way he portrays the webshooters. His MJ is a bit too 'supermodel-ish' for my tastes, but definitely liked his Spidey.

Oh, and those underarm webs are fine in my book...

Edo Bosnar said...

Much as I like the original Ditko-drawn stories, I have to admit, I'm not a fan of the underarm webbing and the way he drew it so prominently. I prefer him without that.

And while I haven't actually read any of the actual Spidey comics drawn by McFarlane (a little after my time with the character), based on images like these and others I've seen posted on the web (ha! See what I did there?), I have to agree with William that he have a cool way of rendering the webbing.

J.A. Morris said...

I'm going with Romita. When I was a kid, Romita's Spider-Man was on every piece of Spider-merch you can imagine. T-shirts, stickers,Shrinky Dinks, etc. So that's the first Spider-Man I ever saw and will always be the best, definitive version.

But I love Ditko's version too, I just didn't see many Ditko reprints until several years into my comic fandom. I like the look of the web-pits, but they're just not practical for swinging around New York. Too likely to get caught on something.

I like McFarlane's Spider-Man okay and at the time I loved his art in general. But it hasn't aged well. Too 80s.

JJ said...

Romita's version for me as well. It speaks superhero excitement. Even to this day I don't think his renditon has been surpassed. Although I admire Ditko greatly I don't care for the pit webs. They're just overkill. I'm not into McFarlane's style at all, let alone the Spider-webs he drew. Again, unnecessary. If memory serves it was Michael Golden who originated that look for the webs. I much prefer a thin strand. When the webs are drawn like that they demonstrate great strength and versatility despite looking slight and fragile. It's a more interesting juxtaposition.

Anonymous said...

I love Ditko's Spidey, but I always thought the underarm webbing would tear as soon as he exerted himself. McFarlane's webbing is probably more "realistic", but I kinda prefer the classic look.

As for artists in general, I can't pick just one; Ditko, Romita, Kane, Andru, Romita Jr., Frenz, Saviuk, Bagley...they all drew Spidey (and his accessories) in a way that I liked. He's been blessed with good artists over the years.

Mike Wilson

Redartz said...

Another big factor to the overall appearance of our spidery friend is the look of the eyes. They often seem to change size and shape, especially depending on who is drawing them. Ditko's were expressive, even humorous. Sal Buscema seemed to draw them smaller. McFarlane's are rather large. But somehow Romita's were just right (no porridge jokes, please). Balanced, and giving Spidey a conistent look of determination...

Anonymous said...

I'm a Romita guy all around. That having been said, I don't dislike the Ditko or McFarlane versions. But I prefer no underarm webbing and agree with Redartz that McFarlane's eyes are quite large.

And J.A., thanks for reminding me of Shrinky Dinks. I loved those things.


Martinex1 said...

Like many others I like the Romita version. It seemed so crisp and slick. On the other hand, I do like the pit webs; but they don't always work. I like when the pit webs are a little smaller and less intrusive. They must have been a pain to draw in every panel. I'm probably more in favor of the classic web shooter webs, but when I first saw McFarlane's webs I thought they were very cool.

I know it is off the radar of the offered choices, but can I say that I liked the black costume. For reimagining a character, I thought that was a nice design that started a whole trend of iconic characters getting new costumes (it was by far the best of the new threads). It would have been perfect with some pit webs!

And again, off the choices I think Spider-Man 2099 has a nice costume as well. I like the battered webby cape on Spider-Man 2099.

Anonymous said...

I really like the black costume, too provided the artist doesn't over-render Spider-Man's musculature. The more detail, the less effective it is. Mike Zeck drew it best.

I'm a Ditko man, first & foremost. Romita's great but I like Ditko's more askew, spookier Spidey. The underarm webbing works fine for me,nut it's inessential and I don't miss it when it's gone. McFarlane's spaghetti webbing is my preferred webbing.

- Mike Loughlin

Anonymous said...

Now we're talkin'!

OK now, I love both Romita's and Ditko's versions of Spidey's costume. I dug Ditko's pit webs, and heck I think even Romita drew them on Spidey (apologies if I'm wrong on this - I'm working from my hazy memory) occasionally. However, I also like the costume without the webbing. Like Martinex1 said, if it's small and unobtrusive then it works for me. If it's drawn really big like web wings then it loses its appeal.

However, I'm gonna go against the grain and voice my displeasure at Todd McFarlane's 'rope' webbing. For some reason I've never liked how he drew those crazy web strands. It always looked more like rope than webbing, if you get my drift.

- Mike 'what about the lion on Kraven's costume?' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Garett said...

Did you see that a McFarlane Spidey cover (with underarm webbing on display) sold in 2012 for $650 000?
McFarlane has another top page at that link, as does Frank Miller.

A Neal Adams cover just sold a month ago for $440 000:

JJ said...

Having just finished reading The Untold History of Marvel Comics I'm still agog at the impact McFarlane and company had on comics back in the 90s. Unbelievable that Spider-Man cover would fetch that kind of money. His work really resonates with people, even to this day. I missed it all, although I did check out Lee's WildCATS. I didn't hang around long. Nothing tops the Bronze Age guys for me, so even though McFarlane et al were exactly my age as their work appeared I just wasn't that interested. For me, you have to have stories to go along with the art. None of those guys really generated great stories, at least that I'm aware of.

I'm not sure I can even wrap my head around $650,000 being paid for one page of comic art. That's an obscene sum.

Edo Bosnar said...

JJ, totally agree with you about the sums some of this comic art apparently fetches (on a connected note, I think the sometimes millions of dollars sought and paid for works by 'real' artists are similarly excessive). I particularly fail to understand why McFarlane's art in particular is deemed so valuable. Seriously, someone paid more for that than for that iconic image by Neal Adams? Really?

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