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  1. #1
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    Default When Words Collide - Jun 24, 2013

    This week, Tim presents a special installment of his popular AFTER THEY WERE FAMOUS pieces with a look at the post-Steve Ditko "Amazing Spider-Man" featuring John Romiata and the return of Stan Lee.


    Full article here.

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    Guru of ... um ... MRMIRACLE's Avatar
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    This was really interesting.You present Spider-Man as a 2-Level character; Ditko to Romita. Are there other characters like this? Batman as Kane/Finger to O'Neil/Adams, for example?

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    The writer gets one major issue wrong though. He writes, that the Romita Spider-Man was the one that went on to public recognition in shows such as Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Yet it was the Ditko based 1960's animated series Spider-Man where the character first got huge national recognition. It's not like the Ramones ever covered the theme for Amazing Friends.

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    What an interesting view if the early runs of spider-man. I agree there was a shift in series style however I feel the author is wrong in implying that nothing from the Ditko run has survived to modern day. I fondly remember reading marvel masterworks and being blown away as a kid at the stories an DO remember them. Maybe I'm just a special case though, others are missing out :/

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    X-Gene Positive cookepuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denver View Post
    The writer gets one major issue wrong though. He writes, that the Romita Spider-Man was the one that went on to public recognition in shows such as Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Yet it was the Ditko based 1960's animated series Spider-Man where the character first got huge national recognition. It's not like the Ramones ever covered the theme for Amazing Friends.
    I think that it's fair to note that both you and the author, Timothy Callahan, are right.

    You're right because, yes, the 60s theme song did ingrain itself into the public consciousness and raise awareness of the then new character. HOWEVER, visually speaking, the author here is also right to cite "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends". The 60s show is, more than anything else, remembered for its song and shoddy animation. It's the 80s show that's far more memorable and physically recognizable.



    As you can see from the above image, this is thanks in large part to Romita himself, who did some pre-production concept art for the show. Rick Hoberg was really following Romita inspired design. That's why Firestar, originally known as Heatwave, looked identical to Mary Jane. Ditko may have originated Spider-Man, but Romita's refinement is the one that set the bar for future series. (Although the new series skews more Bagley-like.) Romita's more hip "beautiful people" designs are the ones that define TV Spidey, not Ditko's more nebbish and awkward original.
    Last edited by cookepuss; 06-24-2013 at 07:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cookepuss View Post
    I think that it's fair to note that both you and the author, Timothy Callahan, are right.

    You're right because, yes, the 60s theme song did ingrain itself into the public consciousness and raise awareness of the then new character. HOWEVER, visually speaking, the author here is also right to cite "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends". The 60s show is, more than anything else, remembered for its song and shoddy animation. It's the 80s show that's far more memorable and physically recognizable.

    .

    The original Spider-Man is remembered for both the theme song, but also the (for the 60's) excellent use of limited animation by Ralph Bashki based on those early Ditko issues. And I've got to point out the nobody put together a best selling collection of Amazing Friends cartoons in it's own special tin, unlike the huge selling collection of the original cartoon.

    Also, and no disrespect, but while Friends had some fun stories the animation was simply terrible, even by 80's standards.
    Last edited by Denver; 06-24-2013 at 07:58 PM.

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    X-Gene Positive cookepuss's Avatar
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    The original 60s cartoon was terrible. Really. Go back and watch it. It's damn near unwatchable by the second season. Tin or not, the show was a travesty. The tin just makes it a polished turd.

    I'm not saying that Amazing Friends was any great feat of animation, but it was certainly better crafted than Spidey `67. Plus, both visually and creatively, it had a whole lot more from which to draw upon. Spidey `67 had only 5 years of Marvel continuity behind it whereas Amazing friends had nearly 20. Spider-Man `67 is classic because it's old, not because it's good. The song's good, but the show itself was a giant deuce. Marvel wasn't really doing great stuff on TV at the time so that's really no surprise.

    Amazing Friends, however, as very 80s as it was, took it to the next level. As goofy as it was at times, it was very Marvel and fairly well textured - especially when they dealt with the non-Spidey side of the 616. It might have been fluff, but it really did pave the way for X-Men Animated in the 90s. Spidey `67 was more of an introductory course instead of the meat & potatoes. Comparing Spidey `67 to Amazing Friends might as well have been like comparing 60s Adam West Batman to Batman TAS. The older entries of said series are good, but for the wrong reasons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cookepuss View Post
    The original 60s cartoon was terrible. Really. Go back and watch it. It's damn near unwatchable by the second season. Tin or not, the show was a travesty. The tin just makes it a polished turd.
    Looks like we will need to agree to disagree over the quality of the original animated series compared to Amazing Friends. I am of the opinion it was far superior story wise and at least on par animation wise with any later series. On top of that while there was only a few years of continuity to draw on in the original, that continuity was the entire Ditko era and all the classic Spider-Man villains that came out from it. Whereupon the most famous episode of the Amazing Friends series, wasn't the team-up's with Captain America, it wasn't the X-Cameo, it was a villain from a Atari era video game.

    I'll admit to a certain shadowing of nostalgia here since I am old enough to remember when the original aired. But hey, I was 19 or so when Amazing Friends came out and I truly enjoyed it too. But with both on Netflixs I've seen both shows fairly recently, and it's those original cartoons adapting stories stright from the comics that hold up best for me.

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    X-Gene Positive cookepuss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denver View Post
    Whereupon the most famous episode of the Amazing Friends series, wasn't the team-up's with Captain America, it wasn't the X-Cameo, it was a villain from a Atari era video game.
    Ah! Video Man. Yeah. Not the most original. I agree. However, you have to consider the fact that it WAS a product of its time and video games were a big, new thing. That's like trying to criticize the animated Disney originals for simply capitalizing on the musical traditions of Vaudeville or even silent films.

    If Pixar makes it hip and profitable to anthropomorphize animals or inanimate objects then other studios follow. Similarly, if video games and music videos become a huge part of pop culture, it's hard to be surprised when characters like Video Man or shows like Kidd Video get created. Even the comics themselves are guilty of this. I point you to the comic appearances of Obama, Letterman, the old school SNL cast, Marvel capitalizing on the Zombie fad, Marvel Mangaverse, and so on.

    Also, I think that this same team-up aspect you criticize was a major selling point of the show. I know, for me, it really acted like a gateway drug into the larger Marvel Universe. Til that point, Spider-Man had largely been a loner and in his own corner of the universe. This show really brought the idea of a shared universe to the fore.

    I won't deny that some of the "original" episodes like "Spidey Meets the Girl from Tomorrow" were dodgy. They never really delved into the social issues prevalent in the comics, but the show did make an effort to do what was, in 1981/1982, a fairly genuine attempts at genre animation. It could've all gone tits up like "Fantastic Four" or "Fred and Barney Meet the Thing". Really.

    I'll admit to a certain shadowing of nostalgia here since I am old enough to remember when the original aired.
    I guess that'd have made you 5 or 6 at the time. I wasn't born til `74 and was myself 7 when Amazing Friends debuted in `81. I get your point.

    Still it's really hard to argue that the `67 series was as well animated. It was barely a step up from the previous year's "The Marvel Super Heroes". To call either one of them "animation" was a fairly generous description at times. Amazing Friends was certainly budget oriented when compared to Japanese imports of the time. However, in context, it was actually a fairly well animated show. Place it alongside some of the Ruby Spears or Hanna-Barbera productions of the day. The Marvel Productions stuff wasn't terrible and only got better with time. (The later "Pryde of the X-Men" pilot was particularly beautifully animated for the day.)

    and it's those original cartoons adapting stories stright from the comics that hold up best for me.
    Yeah, but then you get to second and third season and then quality goes down the toilet. They go from adapting stories to recycling animation from other shows. It's just painful. It invokes, imo, the same WTF feeling you experience when watching Heroes in season one and then immediately jumping to the final season.

    Also adapting stories straight from the comics themselves doesn't always work well. What's great in print doesn't necessarily translate to the screen. I think that they proved this when they adapted stuff for "The Marvel Super Heroes" show. TV is a bigger canvas, if you compare a single episode to a single comic issue. You might be faithful to the source by sampling the original comic, but you miss an opportunity to expand on it. That, imo, has been one of the key failings to Marvel's forays into motion comics.
    Last edited by cookepuss; 06-24-2013 at 10:12 PM.

  10. #10
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    I read the small paperback novel collections of the Lee/Ditko era of Spider-Man. I wore them out reading and re-reading them. I think the origins of The Vulture, Dr. Octopus, Rhino, Kraven and early appearances of a "rogues gallery" - cemented by that awful '60's cartoon - make the Lee/Ditko era memorable.

    I didn't actually pick up an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man until 1974. That's when I started reading comics. I think I found more DC at the newsstand than Spider-Man...

  11. #11
    Kirby is still king ColonelLee's Avatar
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    Timothy Callahan .. I do not agree. Ditko created Spiderman, all his main villains .. all the lasting concepts. Whereas Romita drew Spiderman .. and without Ditko, there would be nothing to draw.

    What's happening now .. both in the comics and the movies .. all began with Ditko. Admittedly, other have played around in Ditko's world, once Ditko got fed up with his treatment by MARVEL .. and have done all kinds of takes on it.

    But it all began with Ditko .. and also .. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (who had the idea of a character named Spiderman first)

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    Regarding people being " hard pressed to name any single plot point from a Spider-Man story from Ditko's run, other than what appeared in "Amazing Fantasy" #15;"

    I'd like to say that one stands out in my mind and that would be J. Jonah Jameson, as Spider-Man's original foil.

    JJJ initiated the "contempt for the hero." Spidey was a popular celebrity before Uncle Ben died and before Jonah muckraked him all the time as a "masked menace."

    He was also Peter's boss! So Peter had to swallow his pride and deal with Jonah's bluster, occasionally getting mild revenge by webbing JJJ to the ceiling or webbing his mouth shut. But he was one foe that Spider-Man really couldn't fight.

    And during the 25 years Norman Osborne was "dead", and before Norman was ridiculously retconned into being the Lex Luthor of the Marvel Universe, JJJ was still busy shaking Spidey's cage.

    So score one for Ditko!

    All in all a nice article, though!

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    You present Spider-Man as a 2-Level character; Ditko to Romita. Are there other characters like this? Batman as Kane/Finger to O'Neil/Adams, for example?

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