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.
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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