I must confess to having been a mite apprehensive upon hearing
the news that a Spider-Man book was on its way for
review. As an avid reader of the comics as a kid and an admirer
of the character concept in general, I was cringing at the
thought of yet another movie tie-in with big glossy pictures
of nothing in particular as a cheap and exploitative gimmick.
Boy, was I wrong!
is an attractive-looking trade paperback-size book crammed
with interesting and informative interviews in small but comfortably
readable print. The idea is that Tom DeFalco, himself an integral
cog in this constantly turning industry wheel, has interviewed
many of the big names who have been involved in the writing
and artwork of this much-loved Marvel hero. Among these names
are Stan Lee, the creator, John Romita, Mark Bagley, Gerry
Conway, J.M. De Matteis and many more.
from Stan the Man, for me the person who had the most dramatic
influence on the story development and particularly the artwork
was Todd McFarlane, who went on to create Spawn and
now runs a handful of media and toy companies of which the
Movie Maniacs line is most impressive. He changed the
look of the character by enhancing the spider side of his
nature and redesigning the webbing so that it could be fired
dramatically toward the reader. You could say that this was
the point when superhero comics grew up and began to aim for
a more mature young market and older collectors.
you're looking for a "How To..." book, forget it; this is
more about how each individual stamped his mark on Spider-Man
and made the comic series his own. They do talk about
some of their techniques, and also their friendships or conflicts
with each other, but this more closely explores how they got
into their profession and what point of the character continuity
amongst the text at random intervals are the histories and
origins of the family, friends and villains of Peter Parker,
landmark Spider-Man publications and popular storylines.
There are some nice design sketches and unused covers, but
with no colour photos taking up room this book can concentrate
more on the people behind Spider-Man, rather than the
appeal for me here is the discussion of plotlines and layout.
You get the feeling this is the type of book Tom DeFalco himself
wanted to read, but the truth is Comics Creators on Spider-Man
from Titan Books will appeal to those interested in graphic
design, the multi-layered character of Spider-Man or fans
of comics in general. Highly recommended.
In the Introduction DeFalco apologises for the exclusion of
Babylon 5 writer/creator J. Michael Straczynski who
was too busy to meet the deadline, and artist John Romita
who is interviewed extensively in Artists on Comic Art,
also published by Titan. Perhaps these minor oversights can
be rectified in a future follow-up to this book. I recently
bought two Spider-Man graphic novels simply because
Straczynski had scripted them. It was simply the greatest
pairing of storyteller and artist I have seen in a long time.
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