XIn The Comic Book Makers, Writer/artist Joe Simon recalls:

"In 1953 I created a superhero, a young man with spider-like qualities. I put the character in a presentation for a publisher and entitled it Spiderman. I had Clarence Beck do the penciled sketches. He was the predominant artist for Captain Marvel, the man who gave Captain Marvel its special comic style, and I believe he came out of semi-retirement to work with me on this. At the last minute, I changed the name from Spiderman to the Silver Spider. I thought at the time there were just too many 'man' titles around -- Superman, Batman, that stuff. I took the presentation up to Harvey Comics, where it languished."

BELOW: Simon's "Silver Spider," originally published in Greg Theakston's PURE IMAGE #1.
Charles Clarence ("CC") Beck had previously created Captain Marvel aka Billy Batson, a young boy who says SHAZAM to turn into an adult superhero with superpowers. The Silver Spider, created by Joe Simon and Beck, was a young boy who used a magic ring to turn into an adult superhero with insect-like powers...


"In the late 1950s," Simon once wrote, "Archie Comics asked me to create a new line of superheroes. I gave the Silver Spider sketches to Jack Kirby and I changed the name again, this time to THE FLY."
The Fly was a boy named Tommy with a magic ring that gave him super powers...
The panel BELOW, from THE FLY #4 (1960), shows Tommy using his magic ring to transform into the Fly. It was drawn by a young Neal Adams!
The Fly had a BUZZ GUN...

Before the Fly and his "buzz gun," as pictured below in two panels from DC's Star Spangled Comics (1943), THE TARANTULA fired "steel silken strands" from a web pistol.

And before the Tarantula came THE SPIDER QUEEN, originator of wrist-mounted web shooters. She made her debut in EAGLE COMICS (1941)...

Another Golden Age superhero prefigured Spidey's gadgets, as well as his profession. In Blue Ribbon Comics #4, June 1940, MLJ Comics (which would become ARCHIE COMICS) introduced a man named Paul Patton who used an automatic camera to photograph his exploits as a superhero named THE FOX.

As pictured below in panels by Dondi creator Irwin Hasen, Paul strapped the camera to his waist, just like Spidey "strapped" the Spider-Signal to his waist (in his belt). Paul activated the camera by using a cable that ran from his sleeve to his hand, just like Spidey activates his web shooter.

XThank the lord for the wrist-mounted web-shooter! Can you imagine Spidey swinging around town using a web GUN? Guess what -- you don't have to imagine. Steve Ditko once had "Spidey" (actually a villain impersonating Spidey) use a web gun, probably as an in-joke/nod to the original Spider-Man concept.

Pictured right, a panel from from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 where the Chameleon, dressed as Spider-Man, fires off a web gun!

The Chameleon knows his webbing isn't as strong as the real thing, but he seems quite confident that no one will notice the difference. He's also assuming that the man he robbed won't remember that "Spider-Man" used a web GUN instead of shooting webs from his wrists.


Spider-Man also owes a small debt to Captain America, another character created by Joe Simon (and Jack Kirby). BELOW: Comparing the covers of Captain America #7 and The Fly #2, it becomes obvious that sometimes Simon and Kirby "referenced" their own work!
XIn previous parts of this series, we covered how Stan Lee, inspired by pulp mystery man THE SPIDER, came up with the name Spiderman, and asked Jack Kirby to illustrate his first adventure.

Stan Lee recalls, "Jack [Kirby] glamorizes everything. Even though he tried to nerd him up, the guy looked still a little bit too heroic for me. He didn't make the teenager look as wimpy or as nerdy as I thought he should. And I realize that really isn't Jack's style. Jack mostly draws glamorous heroic Captain America types. Not that he couldn't have drawn it, but he would have had to force himself."

"So I figured," Stan continues, "I will get somebody that it comes easy to. And nobody, Jack nor I nor anybody, thought that Spider-Man was going to be a big strip, so it didn't matter. So I said, 'Forget it, Jack. I'll give it to someone else.' Jack didn't care. He had so much to do. He said okay and he went back to Fantastic Four or Thor or whatever he was drawing, and I gave it to Steve Ditko."

According to Steve Ditko, "Kirby penciled a five-page story starring a Captain-America like hero who used a web gun."

Joe Simon called Kirby's version of the character "Captain America with cobwebs."
VIDEO CLIP: Stan Lee in "Comix." (One minute, 20 seconds)


Jack Kirby on his relationship with Ditko: "I never worked with Steve Ditko. He’s kind of a shy fellow, and I saw him very rarely. He’s very likable and very intelligent, and I’m a real admirer of his work. He’s a very creative man."

Kirby sometimes claimed he created Spider-Man, and since he did draw the "original" Spiderman story I believe that there is some validity to this claim, depending on how one defines "created." But Kirby never claimed to have influenced the character beyond providing the initial spark.

And Kirby was adamant about one thing: "Steve Ditko did Spider-Man by himself. He built Spider-Man. He's the one that refined the character. He's a thorough professional and he's an intellect. He's a little withdrawn, but he has a fine mind. Stan Lee didn't even have to bother with it. Steve developed Spider-Man -- I just did one cover. In Steve's hands, I felt that Spider-Man would be a great book, and it was. I have a high regard for Steve Ditko."

BELOW: A "recent" drawing of Spider-Man -- pencils, inks and colors by Jack Kirby.


What happened in Jack Kirby's original five-page Spider-Man story? Steve Ditko described it as, "a teenager living with his aunt and uncle. The aunt was a kindly old woman, the uncle was a retired police captain. Next door, or somewhere in the neighborhood, there was a whiskered scientist-type involved in some kind of experiment."

In Greg Theakston's introduction to The Steve Ditko Reader v.1 (2002), Theakston quotes Ditko as saying, "The only drawings of Spider-Man were on the splash and at the end. At the end, Kirby had the guy leaping at you with a web gun. Aunt May was there, and Uncle Ben was a retired policeman. He looked a lot like General Thunderbolt Ross. Anyway, the first five pages took place in the home, and the kid finds a ring and turns into Spider-Man. I said it sounded like 'The Fly,' which Joe Simon had done for Archie publications. The end of [Kirby's] five pages depicted the kid going toward the scientists darkened house. That was the Spider-Man 'given' to me."

A journey of sight and sound
as well as mind!