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Kirby Art Inside Amazing Fantasy #15

Of course, everyone knows that Jack Kirby designed the original version of Spider-Man, which never got used. We know, also, that Kirby pencilled the cover to Spidey’s first appearance, in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)—because the original cover Ditko drew was rejected by Stan Lee.

But how about Kirby artwork inside this landmark comic? Well, surely, the iconic origin story is fully-pencilled & inked by Mr Ditko. But there’s one aspect I never paid much attention to before—the teeny-tiny Spidey figure at the top right of the opening splash page…

AF15 pg1

Not only is this drawing not very good, it’s also not by Ditko. As we know, the original hyphen-free logo was pasted over when Lee decided the name needed a hyphen (but for much of the actual story, the hyphen is absent). It was looking at the photo below of the original artwork (as held by the Library of Congress) that got me thinking.

AF15 pg1 logo

In additon to the logo being replaced, a pattern of radiating webbing has been erased at some point during production. My guess is, before Ditko inked it… further, that the webbing pattern around Peter’s heroic shadow on the main artwork was added by Ditko due to the webbing around the logo being taken out. It would’ve been dumb to have this pattern repeated so close together, but maybe it was a visual effect he really wanted to use on this page. So, perhaps, what was sitting amidst the webbing up top originally was that big spider now placed above Peter’s shadow—not a little Spidey figure.

The original logo looks to me like something Ditko might have pencilled in himself. The webbing effect was obviously inked in (along with that logo), then whited-out when Stan changed his mind… there’s no white-out on the Spidey figure, so that clearly was done before the final logo changes. Let’s enlarge the figure as much as we can…

AF15 pg1 detail

Ditko didn’t draw this, and if he had inked it (as he did Kirby’s cover on this issue), he’d have fixed the funky problems with the costume. Ditko never would’ve messed-up his own design in this manner.

These problems—the way the webbing is drawn, either radiating in the wrong direction or simply drawn as straight crossed lines—are typically seen on one particular artist’s version of Spidey… Mr Kirby. Add to it the angular anatomy & posing, and this looks like a “fix” done in the office by Kirby. Probably his own rushed inking too. Lee generally seemed to use whoever was on hand to make panel fixes, although he often tried to use Kirby if he had figures that needed extra dynamics (such as some of Don Heck’s early Avengers work, which is peppered with Kirby revisions). In this case, I imagine Kirby just happened to be there.

Agree? Disagree? Don’t care?!

3 thoughts on “Kirby Art Inside Amazing Fantasy #15”

  1. Thanks for pointing this out, Chrissie. Jean Depelley speculated in a Kirby Collector 66 article that Kirby was assigned one of the first four 14-page Spider-Man stories slated for Amazing Fantasy, the one that eventually saw print in Fantastic Four Annual #1.

  2. Something I never noticed until you pointed it out, but indeed, the figure does look wrong. Even the face webbing has that particular Kirby look when he was trying to draw Spider-Man. I suspect you (excuse the pun) uncovered something!

  3. I think you’re on to something and you’re right, it doesn’t look like Ditko’s work. I’m no expert, but to me, the Spider-man figure doesn’t seem to have Kirby’s trademark feet or hands. I could be wrong, but I think it was definitely a last minute fix up before publication.

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