Friday, 16 November 2012


Images copyright MARVEL COMICS

Believe it or not, back in August, SPIDER-MAN was officially 50 years old.  I say 'officially' because, although the comic in which he made his first appearance (AMAZING FANTASY #15) was dated August, it actually came out on or around the very merry month of May, 1962.  To commemorate this landmark event, PANINI BOOKS have released a '50th Anniversary Edition Vintage Annual', containing Spidey's debut from AF #15, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #s 1 & 6, and the first U.S. ANNUAL from 1964, including various pin-ups and features.

All in all, it's a nice little package, but a tad expensive at £12.99.  Panini have added 'age' effects to the cover and interior pages which are somewhat overdone in places, but, in the instances where their application is more subtle, it actually delivers a not-unpleasing result.

One of the main problems, however, especially in the case of the origin tale, is that Panini have utilised inferior proofs which have been 'revised' in places.  Originally, these proofs were used for the early '80s MARVEL TALES reprint, and contained altered lettering and artwork.  For example, 'Spiderman' was changed to 'Spider-Man', 'costume hero' to 'costumed hero', etc., and some lettering was re-created in a couple of instances.  Also, on the last page, the final caption was omitted as it referred to the next issue of Amazing Fantasy and the dots on Spidey's eye-pieces were deleted as they were considered too 'cartoonish'.

The same proofs were again used for the first printing of the Spidey MASTERWORKS volume in the late '80s, but were revised  at a later date in an attempt to return them to their original 'unaltered' state - with rather lacklustre results it has to be said, as a couple of instances were overlooked.  Fortunately, however, with the release of the latest softcover Masterworks and OMNIBUS books, superior proofs were used, and a far more faithful presentation of this classic issue became available to collectors.  It's just a shame that Panini apparently didn't have access to these superior proofs for their own publication, as they used the ones which had been clumsily 'restored' to their pre-altered state.

Anyway, here's a few images from this (relatively) recently released 126 page, hardback tome.


Steve Does Comics said...

That's interesting. On my copy of the annual, the final Amazing Fantasy caption and Spidey's eye-dots are both included. He's also repeatedly referred to as, "Spiderman." Presumably Panini must have switched to other proofs at some point during production.

Kid said...

Sorry, Steve, I could perhaps have been clearer, but the next paragraph after the one describing the proofs explains further.

To summarize, the proofs used in the Marvel Tales and first editions of Masterworks had the differences I describe (lettering alterations and replacements, no eye dots), but then the 'original' lettering (that is, clumsy 'restoration' to its pre-altered state) and eye dots were restored for printings elsewhere. It was these 'restored' proofs that the recent annual utilised, although more accurate proofs have been available for some time, and were used in recent Masterworks and Omnibus editions.

In other words:

A) Altered proofs for Marvel Tales and Masterworks first printings. ('Spiderman' to 'Spider-Man', no eye dots.)

B) Those same proofs then 'restored' to their pre-altered state, although some changes were missed. ('Spider-Man' back to 'Spiderman', eyed dots drawn back in, etc.)

C) Discovery of ORIGINAL, unaltered, unchanged, un-'restored', as initially published proofs, which have been used in new Masterworks and Omnibus editions.

The annual used the 'type B' proofs.

Or is that just as confusing as before? Anyway, I've added a sentence to the end of the relevant paragraph to try and clarify the situation.

Steve Does Comics said...

I believe it all now makes sense to me.

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