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PANELS ABOVE FROM AMAZING FANTASY #12 by LEE and DITKO (Dialogue altered, duh.)
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CHAPTER SIX - PART FIVE
"STAN and STEVE"

Steve Ditko arrived at the Marvel offices at 655 Madison Avenue, and went down the hall to Stan Lee's tiny office. He handed Stan his twelve penciled Spider-Man pages, fresh out of the "oven."
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Stan, who had been dissatisfied with Jack Kirby's first try at the character, and "The Man" was anxious to see what Ditko had come up with. When he laid his eyes on Ditko's the penciled pages, he was thrilled!

Stan recalls, "Steve's illustrated version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and his coterie of supporting characters was more compelling and dramatic than I dared hope it would be. Also, it goes without saying that Steve's costume design was an actual masterpiece of imagination."

Stan recognized that the story contained many ground-breaking new elements -- and he feared that perhaps it contained TOO many.

According to Steve Ditko, "Stan wanted me to take Peter Parker off the wire, ceiling, etc., to change the spider-like poses, action. Why? Stan was afraid the Comics Code 'judges' might or would reject Spider-Man because Peter Parker, the teenager would be seen by young buyers as something non-human, a freak, a spider-like creature..."

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"...I said something to the effect that we should wait until the Code complains or demands the spider-like poses be changed or removed. The code didn't complain." (Steve Ditko, The Comics v. 12 No. 10, October 2001)
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As we all know, the very first Spidey story ends tragically, and poor Peter's tearful reaction to the death of his Uncle Ben summoned up memories of a scene in Henry Valleley's GANGBUSTERS IN ACTION that Bob Kane swiped for BATMAN's origin. But where Kane swiped outright; Ditko merely invoked. Steve Ditko does not swipe! When one is capable of opening portals to other dimensions with one's mind alone, one does not need to swipe.
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The next step in the process was for Stan to write the dialogue and captions, so Artie Simek could hand-letter them onto Ditko's pages. Once this was done, the pages were returned to Ditko for inking. After the inks were completed, Ditko once again brought the pages to Marvel. There, a colorist created color guides for each page, which, along with the art, were sent to the printer. (Sorry comic fans, I'm explaining this for novices.)

Then -- something unexpected happened. Sales figures for AMAZING FANTASY #15 came in, and they showed that the book had been Marvel's top seller for the entire month! Spidey was promoted to his own title almost immediately, with the team of Stan and Steve at the helm.

Now, for the first time ever, Ditko signed on to chronicle the continuing adventures of a single character -- a character with a MONTHLY comic book. Spider-Man stories ran 20 pages plus pin-ups, etc. Ditko's Dr. Strange feature in STRANGE TALES added another five pages or so a month, for a total of around 30 penciled and inked pages every month. This was right at the limit of what Ditko was comfortable with producing. In addition, he somehow squeezed in time to do annuals and other work, such as assisting with the production of DAREDEVIL #1.

This arrangement with Marvel meant Ditko would be doing what he loved, drawing comic books, for a regular salary, for the foreseeable future -- for as long as the new Spider-Man character remained popular.

The "Marvel Method" of working, where the artist created everything but the dialogue, suited Ditko just fine. As we discussed in Chapter Two of this DBB Secret Origins of Spider-Man series, the "Marvel Method" did NOT "FREE" Ditko artistically. The artist did not alter his style the slightest bit as a result of the Marvel Method. What the Marvel Method DID do was allow Ditko to, in effect, PLOT his own stories, to shape them and direct their flow.

Ditko's vision of the new character did not always mesh with Stan Lee's -- even at the very beginning. The conflict surfaced as early as AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1
What was Steve Ditko's role in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1?

According to Ditko, "The book contains two independent stories. They were both credited as Script: Stan XLee/Art: Steve Ditko. There was no Stan Lee script. I worked from two synopsis. And I provided rough panel script -- dialogue -- for the penciled story panels, plus whatever clarification needed when we went over the penciled panels." (The Comics V. 12 No. 11, November 2001)

The first issue of AMAZING had Spidey rescuing an astronaut by riding a jet plane to outer space, using his webbing (shown below). Ditko felt this type of thing was completely out of place in the everyday realty of a teenager. And that's true -- it's not the kind of thing you'd ever see ARCHIE doing!
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"I preferred," Ditko wrote about ideas such as the spaceship sequence, "That we have Peter Parker/Spider-Man ideas grounded in the real world. The story idea undercut the teenage context. It's like having a high school football player playing the superbowl."

Ditko said in THE COMICS, v.12 #11, "Spider-Man's cool blue was removed because the color blue was "owned" by the guest stars costume color." In other words, Spidey couldn't have a "cool blue" uniform because the Fantastic Four had cool blue uniforms.
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STEVE DITKO: "That idea [for 'Spider-Senses'] came after Stan and I were going over the penciled Chameleon story/art pages. Stan asked me a very good question: "How, in a darkened room, does Spider-Man know where Chameleon is?"

"At some point, I took a pencil and drew squiggly lines radiating from Spider-Man's head, and said, 'Spider-Man has Spider-Senses, the way bats can detect, sense insects, objects at night.' Stan accepted the idea as valid. We went over the earlier pages, and wherever we thought appropriate, I added the squiggly lines denoting spider-senses around Peter Parker/Spider-Man heads."

"I had first used the idea of a radiating effect in a Charlton Press story (and cover panel) in Space adventures v3, #36, Oct. 1960. I showed a split face and upper chest of Captain Atom, U.S. Air Force officer, and Captain Atom, his super-hero identity. I made the electron lines and star effects radiating from the split half of Capt. Atom."
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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2
Starting with AMAZING SPIDERMAN #2, every issue of the comic featured a box in the upper left corner with a head shot of the book's star over the words MARVEL COMICS GROUP. This trademark box became an iconic standard throughout Marvel's entire line, appearing on every issue of every Marvel title for decades...
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Whose idea was this little box? From the letters page of FANTASTIC FOUR #18...
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Where did Ditko get his inspiration for Spider-Man's supporting cast? To me, J. Jonah Jameson seems an awful lot like Stan Lee. And when Peter starts selling his work to Jameson, isn't that a lot like Ditko selling his work to Lee, and hating being asked questions (getting interference)? Below, panels from ASM #2. The woman at the front desk is not identified. (By the way, in case you didn't know, ASM = AMAZING SPIDER-MAN).
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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4
Ditko was known to be quite friendly with the women working at Marvel. He'd always bring them little presents -- and sometimes very BIG presents. More on that later. Anyway, the point is this: Jonah Jameson's secretary, Betty Brant, is a dead ringer for Stan Lee's real-life secretary, sweetie Flo Steinberg! Flo started working at Marvel in March 1963, Betty Brant was introduced in ASM #4, Sept. 1963.

So Peter dropping off photos to nasty Jameson and chatting with homespun Betty is actually a lot like Ditko dropping off artwork to "nasty" Stan and chatting with homespun Flo! It looks like this...
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Stan Lee admitted to Kevin Smith that J.J.J. was based on himself. Lee said, "He was me! He was irrascible, he was bad tempered, he was dumb, he thought he was better than he was. He was the version that so many people had of me! And I always wanted to play him in the movie. I was so sorry that by the time the movie was made, I was too old to play the role. Well, I don't think I'm too old, but obviously they did."

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #6
By the way, "Fabulous" Flo Steinberg used to answer fan mail, and in ASM #6, so did Betty...
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J. Jonah Jameson and Stan Lee obviously have a lot in common. The panel below, drawn by Ditko, shows the artist having a "typical" phone conversation with Stan Lee...
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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #8
ASM #8 featured a rarity -- a "Surprise Extra" Spidey tale penciled by Jack Kirby and inked by Ditko. Jack always had a hard time drawing Spidey, but in this back-up story, Ditko smoothed over the rough spots.

P.S. To be fair, Ditko could never quite successfully emulate Jack's Ben Grimm. (I was going to write "Thing," but "emulate Jack's Thing" sounds like something that would happen in a STANTOON!)
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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #10
When Stan saw Ditko's cover for ASM #10, he rejected it entirely, and had Jack Kirby redraw it. Personally, I can't see what's so bad about Ditko's original cover.

So what if it shows Spidey taking a punch? I think it's better than the sparse, anatomically-bizarre Kirby cover, with Spidey and the Big Man reproducing the "God touches Adam's finger" scene from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling. And the Enforcers (a bunch of no-account losers I never liked), are just standing there, posing for statues or something.

Did Stan inform Ditko in advance that his cover would not be published? Did its rejection cause any hard feelings? Read on...
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In ASM #10, we found out "Why J. Jonah Jameson really hates Spider-Man!" The reason is revealed in the two panels seen BELOW. Reader, Stan Lee has admitted that Jameson was based on himself. If we assume that Spider-Man represents Ditko, what are these two panels, with dialogue written by Stan Lee himself, really saying? I find them quite revealing!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #11
The cover for ASM was also slightly revised. Compare the published version (ASM #11, below right) with the flopped original version used for a reprint (in MARVEL TALES #148, below right), and you can see that Spidey's legs were given added definition, and Doc Ock's head was completely redrawn. Did this revision increase tension between Stan and Steve?
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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #12
Dear Stan, No hard feelings about the recent cover revisions, Love, Steve!

In ASM #12, Doc Ock and Spidey have a fight, near a very large red sign. The letters on the sign spell out "LEEDIT(inc)O." In other words, using letters and onomatopoeia, the sign spells out Lee Ditko. Ditko drew it, and he put Stan's name above his own.

To me, this indicates that, at the close of Spider-Man's very first year, "Stan and Steve" were still going strong.
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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #13
BELOW: Original artwork by Steve Ditko from Amazing Spider-Man #13, page 11, with Spidey battling Mysterio's smoke. Thanks to Ditko, it's a sheer delight to look at, no matter WHAT'S happening...
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Still, when you come down to it, it's really just Spidey punching smoke for eight panels. It must be admitted that Stan's WORDS add a whole 'nother layer of depth to the action, increasing the tension and heightening the drama while moving the narrative along. Stan's words give Spidey -- and everyone else he writes -- a complex inner life that could never be communicated by images alone. Putting aside all other issues, one thing is certain: Stan wrote the dialogue!
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And YES -- it must also be admitted that it MAY be (for some) "easier" to think up and type out the contents of eight word balloons (and one caption) than it is to draw the finely-detailed original artwork surrounding those balloons!

By the way... who OWNS original artwork? Perhaps surprisingly, in Steve Ditko's view, it's the COMPANY that paid to make it all happen -- a viewpoint that would come to play a tremendous role in Ditko's career at Marvel.

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ASM ANNUAL #1
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ASM ANNUAL #1 (which we'll discuss at length later) contained a story called, "How Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Create Spider-Man." This three-page short, shown in full in DBB #685, intended to be humorous, gives us a comical peek at the relationship between Stan and "Stevey Boy." Check out the panels shown BELOW, a sign of things to come.
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