Monday 10 May 2021


No Amazing Fantasy #15, alas, but here's the first issue of
Spidey's own mag.  Copyright MARVEL COMICS

Hi, Stan Lee here again with the lowdown (from my perspective) on who created Spider-ManJack Kirby claimed he did, but then again, Jolly Jack once claimed to have created Superman and The Punisher (the Frank Castle version, not Galactus's servitor), so his memory really wasn't any better than mine.  To be fair to him, according to Mark Evanier, he probably didn't mean to claim he was responsible for Superman, and maybe his hearing let him down when he was asked to clarify which of the two Punishers he'd created, but Jack wasn't always the most reliable witness in how things happened years after the fact.

(Incidentally, it was me who christened the character when the creators - Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr., and Ross Andru - were trying to figure out what to call him.  "What does he do?" I asked them.  "He punishes criminals" was their answer.  "Then call him The Punisher" I said.)

Another example of Jack's poor memory is that for many years he believed he'd designed Spidey's costume, probably because he drew the published cover of Amazing Fantasy #15, the comic in which the web-slinger made his debut.  It was eventually pointed out to him that his cover was based on Steve Ditko's original version, which didn't see print until quite a few years afterwards.  No, don't ask - I just can't remember why I nixed Steve's cover and asked Jack to draw a replacement (which Ditko inked), but that's exactly how it happened.  And if Jack could make that kind of mistake with Spidey, he may have done the same thing with Iron Man, who we looked at in the previous post.

Jack wasn't even correct when he later claimed he'd suggested to me doing a Spiderman character (no hyphen) he'd created, which had morphed into The Silver Spider (drawn by C.C. Beck) and then The Fly, because it was Joe Simon and Jack Oleck (his brother-in-law) who came up with that idea.  At one time, when Joe was still considering doing a Spiderman strip (prior to the name being changed to The Silver Spider, remember), he lettered a logo for the purpose, and it was this discarded logo that Jack later said he'd shown to me when touting the character as a possible feature for Marvel.  (And it's not impossible that Jack was simply responding to my idea about doing a spider-powered character, and he merely recycled Silver Spider/The Fly.)

I've no memory of ever having seen the logo, much less one of Jack suggesting the strip, but even if he had, it was Simon and Oleck's baby he was nursing, not his own.  Joe Simon later said that he'd expressed surprise to Jack about his claim, and Kirby's response was something along the lines of "Hey, what can I say, Joe, I needed the work."  Is it possible though, that Jack approached me with the idea of doing a strip by that name?  Anything's possible, but the concept of Spider-Man that Marvel published was mainly down to me, with the assistance of the incredibly talented Mr. Ditko, who designed the costume and the web-shooters.  (Though Eric Stanton, who shared a studio with Steve at the time, claims that it was he who suggested the latter to his artistic companion.)

See how confusing things can be when trying to decipher the facts so long after the events?  Steve, of course, brought a lot to the table, but I still maintain that I dreamed up the concept, and that's why I consider myself the creator of the idea.  Of course, whether it would have been as successful if handled by anyone other than Ditko is certainly debatable and maybe even doubtful.  So I'd go as far as to say that yours truly and Steve can rightly be regarded as co-creators as far as the finished published character goes, but Steve didn't come up with the concept and that's why I regard myself as sole creator in that department.

That's my take on the matter, but you may disagree.  And you're allowed to - just as I'm allowed to see things my way.  However, infamous faulty memory or not, I was there at the birth so I'd say my account of events has the edge on the way you might prefer to see things any day of the week.  Anyway, that's it for now - see you next time, true believers, when we'll be taking a look at Doctor Strange!


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