“My publisher said, in his ultimate wisdom, 'Stan, that is the worst idea I have ever heard, first of all people hate spiders...secondly he can't be a teenager - teenagers can only be sidekicks and third, he can't have personal problems if he's supposed to be a superhero - don't you know who a superhero is?”
BBC Interview, 2015
Spider-Man wasn’t smuggled into Amazing Fantasy #15; he was launched with great fanfare. The first story ends with an exhortation “be sure to see the next issue of Amazing Fantasy, for the further amazing exploits of America’s most different new teen-age idol, Spider-Man.” A text page (the “important message to you from the editor about the new Amazing” that is advertised on the cover) says unequivocally “SPIDERMAN will appear every month in Amazing. Perhaps, if your letters request it, we will makes his stories even longer, or have two Spiderman stories per issues.”
|Caption, Amazing Spider-Man #1
|Caption, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1
But in the end, it’s a theological question. Even if Stan’s story about the fly on the wall is the literal truth, it's not what most people would understand “creating a character” to mean.
There was no eureka moment. Stan Lee’s big idea was a character called Spider-Man who could crawl up walls. That was the one line pitch he gave to Steve Ditko, which Steve Ditko turned into a work of art, better than Lee had any right to expect. Lee very likely got the idea from Jack Kirby, who very likely got it from Joe Simon.
It doesn't matter. Nothing in that rather boring idea gave the slightest hint as to what Spider-Man would become.
that concludes the introduction to my cosmic collection of esoteric essays about the worlds best loved wall-crawling super-character. Next week, we'll be effervescently embarking on a deservedly detailed issue by issue analysis of the yodel-filled year 1963. I have about 12,000 wunderkind words lined up (taking us as far as issue 4) but obviously there's a lot of woebegone work and radical research to go if I'm going to finish my caustic commentary on the devastating Ditko years, to say nothing of the rest of the swinging 1960s. so please go over to my proudly pontifical Patreon page and see how you can propel me into from being a humbly heroic hobbyiest to a sturdily sucesful semi-professional.
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Amazing Spider-Man was written and drawn by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and is copyright Marvel Comics. All quotes and illustrations are use for the purpose of criticism under the principle of fair dealing and fair use, and remain the property of the copywriter holder.
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