The Ditko era comes to a close in the issues that Kurtis and Franck discuss on this week’s episode. How do the early issues compare to the later ones once Steve gets more creative freedom, and how does that present itself in the Master Planner Saga? Plus, the introduction to many new characters and the departure of others! This is a fascinating look at the end of Spider-Man’s first classic era.
Issues discussed: Amazing Spider-Man #29-38, Annual #2
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Thank you for a very lively and thorough look at some of my favorite comics. I’ve written quite a bit about Marvel/Steve and related comics issues over the years and, while I don’t agree with all your observations (then, neither did both of you always agree) I admired the seriousness and depth you achieved in the discussion.
I certainly agree (and have written as much) that Ditko would have left after # 33 since it was so beautifully, plotted, paced and realized. The later issues have their moments, and I’m not quite sure that Ditko was gearing up to leave (his return to Charlton on Capt Atom was around the time ASM # 30 was on stands) but in an essay he explained that at one point he received a call from Sol Brodsky telling him to prepare to work on the 3rd Annual. As he was thinking of what to do, he concluded that working in this manner, with no interaction with Stan, where he could be dropped from the strip at anytime, and on Dr. Strange as well, he felt it was time to move on. Ditko has maintained, especially in his many essays, that Stan stopped speaking to him, not the other way around. I don’t know why Larry was told otherwise by Stan, perhaps Stan didn’t want to acknowledge that he initiated the change. My theory is this: Ditko was a meticulous worked, and, even in later decades when coming into the office, he described going over every page/panel with the editor to discuss and changes/problems. With Stan I suspect he did the same, which I’m sure took some time – time Stan needed to handle other freelancers/titles. He probably thought it would be best for Steve to drop the work off and just have him dialogue the story. This is probably exactly what Steve didn’t want, and according to him, one day he walked in with pages. spoke to Flo, and instead of waiting for Stan to come out and go into his office, Sol came out and took the pages. Steve said there was no explanation. Of course you could say why didn’t he ask Sol or Flo, or get in contact with Stan, but this cold-shoulder routine didn’t appeal to him, and, knowing that as editor, Stan had the final word, it must have jarred him. In regard to Gwen Stacey and the Goblin. We can’t know for sure Ditko’s intentions on Gwen, but I’m betting that it would have been quite different from Betty or Liz. My guess is that Gwen would have been a strong, independent woman that would have discovered Pete’s identity and been a confidant and love in his life. One reason I think this is possible is that Ditko, as you noted, plotted stories in advance. If his long-term plans for Spider-Man had to be abandoned when he quit, would he use some of those ideas elsewhere? Not long afterwards Ditko was plotting the Blue Beetle for Charlton, the heroes assistant became his lover and Kord revealed his id to her. Plans for Pete/Gwen perhaps? With the Goblin, Ditko has detailed how he intended for the unnamed Osborn to be the Goblin from the start. He notes that in practically every GG story he planted a character in Jameson’s club that was to be the Goblin. He also noted the introduction of his son (“same distinctive hair style”) Since he detailed it so thoroughly (always noting that Stan came up with all the names, not him) I believe this was his intention from the start.
Sorry for being so long-winded. If you haven’t read any of my posts, I’d point you out to two that are specific to these stories. One on ASM Annual # 2
The other appeared in the fanzine Ditkomania # 76. It was published online for another blogger but that site has mysteriously vanished, so I’ll have to republish it on my blog one day soon..
Looking forward to listening to more episodes and catching up on earlier ones.