Spider-Man at 50: Darwyn Cooke found a career in 1973 issue

March 06, 2012 | 10:15 a.m.

SPIDER-MAN at 50: This is the 50th anniversary of the Marvel icon and all year Hero Complex will be talking to notable names about the character’s success and singular appeal. Today: Darwyn Cooke explains how he found a connection — and a career — in early Spider-Man comics.

amazingspider manannual 9 Spider Man at 50: Darwyn Cooke found a career in 1973 issue

The 1973 issue that seized the imagination of young Darwyn Cooke (Marvel Comics)

If you look his audacious career, you might think Darwyn Cooke doesn’t believe in the concept of sacred ground — this is, after all, the writer-artist behind an upcoming prequel to “Watchmen,” an acclaimed revival of Will Eisner’s “The Spirit”  and IDW’s ambitious, ongoing adapations of Donald Westlake’s Parker novels — but the Nova Scotian said that in his youth there was a holy text that arrived and inspired his entire artistic life: “The Amazing Spider-Man” King Size Special No. 9 back in 1973.

“For me, the greatest Spidey story I ever read was the first. It was the magazine-sized comic they did with the Green Goblin. The one where Osborn invites the kids over for a dinner party and starts losing his mind in front of them. That story was a monster and it was the moment when I was able to put my love of drawing and comics together. I remember the next day I took every penny I had and went to the drugstore. I bought four sheets of bristol board and three big fat markers — a black, a red and a blue. I went home and drew posters of my favorite Spidey drawings in the comic.”

It was the vivid visuals that first grabbed the future Eisner Award-winner but it was the themes and messages of the Spider-Man stories that kept him coming back.

“Spider-Man was a wonderful comic when I was a kid. I was overweight when I was young, and that really led me to identify with the social outcast aspect of both “bookworm” Peter Parker and Spidey himself. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko — and later John Romita — were so adept at weaving Peter’s stressed-out life through the –literally — fantastic adventures that there is a wonderfully stylized reality to the cast and the way things play out for our hero.”

— Geoff Boucher


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4 Responses to Spider-Man at 50: Darwyn Cooke found a career in 1973 issue

  1. chrsitianisabelle says:

    Ho wonderful article thank you so much I took great pleasure in reading

  2. D. West Davies says:

    My son is huuuuuuge Spiday fan.

  3. Chris says:

    Fun story. If we're talking about favorite Spideys over 50 years, you have to go back to the Lee-Ditko classics of the 1960s and look at Amazing Spider-Man #27 (Crime Master, Goblin and assorted cheap hoods and punks) and of course the Spidey #31-33 trilogy a few months later, when Spidey took on Doc Ock and Peter/Spidey overcomes impossible odds to obtain the serum that saves Aunt May. And then there is the Romita high point — #50 with the classic "Spider-Man No More" cover that inspired Sam Raimi's second Spidey movie. They had all the great characters — Peter, Harry, JJJ, Fred Foswell, Liz Allen in the early Ditko issues and Gwen and MJ in the later issues — with that snappy Stan Lee banter that still holds up after so many years. My hope is that the 50th celebration of Spidey gives Ditko the credit he richly deserves while he is still alive to experience it.

  4. Tim Markin says:

    Two of my favorite Spideys are the first three that I ever read: Amazing #30, the classic Ditko issue my dad bought for me at a garage sale in the mid-70s. I must have been 6 or 7 and had never seen anything like it. The creepy mask hiding his face and the moody nighttime scenes. I later got Marvel Tales #63 (an Electro tale) and Amazing #151 (a Shocker story and the end of the Clone saga) new off the rack and I never looked back.

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