We’ll return to our Jack Kirby love-fest this evening, but in the meantime… I just ran across this seldom-seen unused Steve Ditko cover for Amazing Fantasy 15 (the first appearance of Spider-Man), and thought I’d share:
If you’re not familiar with the story, Stan Lee had initially gone to Jack Kirby to develop his Spider-Man idea. But Ditko told Stan that Kirby’s version was essentially just the Fly character he’d developed with Joe Simon over at Archie Comics (which was more or less true), and so Stan gave Ditko the job instead, and we got a much better character out of the deal. But Stan didn’t like Ditko’s cover, and got Jack to draw a replacement, which is the cover we all know:
It’s a tough call for me which one’s better. The bright primary colors of the Ditko version are certainly appealing, as is the shocked expression of that guy looking out the window. The whole cover’s teeming with excitement and movement, too. Even the logo is telling me that I should be super-hyped to read about this new Spider-Man character.
The Kirby version is (unusually for Kirby) a bit static by comparison. But the darkness and grey mist of his cover fit the tone of the story a bit better, I think. Even the under-stated Spider-Man logo (or anti-logo) speaks well to the nerdy bookworm hero we’re introduced to inside. Kirby puts Spidey front and center on his piece, as well; moving the hapless thug to his other arm puts the costume on display in a way that Ditko’s version can’t match. And I love the perspective Kirby used on the mask webbing. As a huge Ditko Spidey fan I hate to admit this, but… I think maybe Kirby drew the character better in this instance.
Nice work for what I’ve always heard was kind of a last-minute rush job. I dunno; maybe Jack was still smarting over the office politics, and wanted to show Ditko up a little.
Anyway. Enough Spidey. Later on tonight… More cosmic grandeur from Kirby in the 70s!