Hoax Of The Year: Jack Kirby's Spiderman

Let's nip this right in the bud now and call this image bullshit (as Penn & Teller would say).  Yesterday a link was emailed to quite a few people, showing the image you see on the left, which is supposedly the Jack Kirby version of The Amazing Spider-Man.  If it the art was genuine then it'd rewrite Marvel history as we know it.  There's one slight problem though - it's a hoax, and not a very good one at that.  Someone has taken the Giant Man image from the splash page of Tales To Astonish #51 and doctored it, using a logo taken from page #183 of Joe Simon's Comic Book Makers book and parts of the design that Steve Ditko drew for one of Robin Snyder's books (in which he discussed the differences between Jack Kirby's discarded version of Spiderman and the final, Steve Ditko-Stan Lee version of Spider-Man) and mashed them all together.  As to why anyone would want to do that, or what end they hoped to achieve is beyond me.  But then that's life.  

Sadly they didn't get all of the design right, as shown to us by Steve Ditko, but what's a little enhancement when you're making a costume up?

The results aren't that good, and if the image was designed to take credit away from Steve Ditko then it failed, and miserably.  It would have been better if the artists who drew this didn't use such a recognisable image.  And just in case anyone is still wondering about it's veracity, or rather lack of, then wonder no more.  Here's all the proof you need.

Bottom of page #183 of the Comic Book Makers by Joe Simon - don't worry about the text

Steve Ditko's illustration outlining the differences between Kriby and Ditko's Spider-Man - this is the ONLY image we have showing the Kirby costume.
Splash page of Tales To Astonish #51, courtesy of Bob Bailey.
Mix it all up and you have...a fake Kirby character!


Kid said…
It doesn't even begin to compare to Ditko's costume as used in the comics. If it was genuine, all it would prove is how right Stan was to go with Steve and not Jack.
Mike D. said…
If I remember correctly…there was feature in one of the Two Morrows magazines about this subject. It mentioned the CC Beck involvement with the creation of Spiderman too. There were photo’s accompanying the article of course and there were several hazy and unclear copies of faded Photostats of CC’s Silver Spider character….I believe they wanted to go in a different direction than with “MAN”

The Kirby part of the article had Jack’s sketches and ideas along with this doctored Giant Man image just as art filler specifically for the article. Finally showing a costume idea very similar to what we know Spidey as today. Then there were Ditko drawings from the early days. Wrapping up the article with a section of paragraph where Stan Lee is given credit for choosing the name and saying “ Yeah , that has a nice ring to it , The AMAZING SPIDER MAN!!! “

Daniel Best said…
Ahhhh, I was wondering where it came from - so it's a TwoMorrows mock up? Makes sense. I know more than a few people were curious to know who did it and why.

Seriously, Stan Lee would have needed his head read if he'd gone with that character design. If he had then Spider-Man would have been nothing more than a footnote in comic book history.
Mike D. said…
Funny thing is...CC actually came up with the actual name. It was on the side of one of his drawings for his pitch. Stan turned CC down and as he walked out he got right on Spider man. NOTE: this is my perception and interpretation of the meeting not to be confused with actual factual history or events in time.
mr ed said…
The article Mikey is most likely thinking of was published by Greg Theakston in Pure Images #1 1990.
The hoax illustration based on the Giant-Man page was a gag posted at a site called "fakestanlee." Last time I looked the site was still there.
If Jim Shooter is a credible witness a Kirby Spiderman pitch page does exist. Shooter posted on his blog around a year ago that he held the Kirby Spiderman pitch page in his hands. He does not mention having seen the five page origin story described by Ditko as being nearly identical to the five page origin of the Simon and Kirby character called THE FLY. According to Joe Simon the name Spiderman predated The Fly and also the Silver Spider. Simon says touch your nose (just kidding). What he said is the logo came first. He then decided a Green Hornet style name like the Silver Spider was better than a Superman style name like Spiderman. I'm not sure if he considered Captain Spider or Doctor Spider. Simon and Kirby evolved the character into something closer to Spider-Man when they created The Fly. Unlike the Silver Spider, The Fly has insect powers similar to Spiderman. He walks on walls, has a sixth sense warning him of danger, and the proportional strength of an insect. Simon at first pitched the idea as Spiderman to Harvey but was told by the publisher "people don't like spiders." That may be true but I've met people who like spiders and have never met anyone who likes a fly. The Spider to Fly transition was so abrupt Kirby joked with Simon the story "has cobwebs all over it" and joked if the character were a fly then he should "well fly." Simon told Kirby to add a pair of wings if he liked.
Mike D. said…
After doing a bit of on-line research ( Not sure how credible that is ) I have determined that the combination of half truths, partial truths , myth and rumor is all mixed up in a bunch like a string all bunched up where inter connecting points in time are all now touching one another.
The Silver Spider....turned out to be Archie comics' The FLY...at one point Spiderman was proposed as the name...but they went with the FLY...The name SPIDERMAN came up when Jack Kirby remembered the creation process of the FLY and recalled the name as one of the possibilities. That's it....It was mentioned in passing nothing more.
Stan took the name and ran with it....not immediately after some time went by and the opportunity presented itself for Marvel to begin creating new super characters to compete with the other publishers.
Jack created some costume schemes...so did Ditko...like with all comic book characters several ideas are bandied about until they decide on one direction to run. It was a group effort. Jack even collaborated on the cover for A.F. 15.
Did he create Spidey?...Nope. He never said he did and never laid claim to having done so. But he was involved in the process and played a part in the early days of Marvel.
This Giant Man drawing was created for an article as a demonstration for the possibility for the idea of how one of Kirby's ideas would have looked. If thats the one they chose.
But bascially...thats the FLY.
Everything else is a ball of old stories people confuse with fact.
Daniel Best said…
"He never said he did and never laid claim to having done so."

Wrong. In the now infamous Comic Journal interview he did indeed claim that he created Spider-Man and then handed it off to Steve Ditko.
Mike D. said…
ahh...Hopefully...this may help.
I gotta find me that Comics Journal. What number was it? Maybe I can find on on Ebay...I love all this filler stuff.
mr ed said…
The Tim Skelly interview with KIrby was published in TCJ (NJ) #27.
I notice that some of the answers were edited slightly when the interview was reprinted in TCJ Jack Kirby Library.
One example:
When Kirby is asked about Ditko he says in-part:

"Actually Steve created Spider-Man, and got him on a roll"
When the interview was reprinted it reads:
"Actually Steve got Spider-Man on a roll."

Kind of a big difference.
The reprint book was edited by Milo George.

Of course Kirby did create a knock off Fly which he called Spiderman, but aside from that Kirby is routinely ridiculed for not crediting Ditko, which simply isn't the case.
Daniel Best said…
The CJ interview I was referring to appeared in TCJ #134, and has this exchange:
TCJ: Can I ask what your involvement in Spider-Man was?
KIRBY: I created Spider-Man. We decided to give it to Steve Ditko. I drew the first Spider-Man cover. I created the costume. I created all those books, but I couldn't do them all.

And there you have it - Kirby stated, quite categorically, that he DID create the Amazing Spider-Man.
mr ed said…
Well he did create Spiderman. Shooter held the pitch page in his hands. Marvel and Stan Lee don't even dispute the Kirby Spiderman, in fact Lee testified Marvel paid for the rejected pages. Kirby presented a character named Spiderman, with spider powers, and a web shooting device. Those elements were retained and while differences between the Kirby version and the published version were great, that doesn't discount some very basic similarities. Kirby is talking about what he did, not what Ditko did, he always is complimentary of Ditko. The interview you're mentioning has Kirby saying Ditko was, "the right man for the job. He did a wonderful job on that. He was a wonderful artist, a wonderful conceptualist. It was Steve Ditko that made Spider-Man the well known character that he is."
Daniel Best said…
The Jack Kirby 'created' Spiderman was actually a collaboration between several people, including Jack Oleck, Joe Simon and C.C. Beck - if you believe the words of those involved. However the Spiderman that Kirby presented to Marvel is not the Amazing Spider-Man that we all know and love, in the same way that G.B. Shaw is not credited with creating Superman, even though he used the title well before Siegel & Shuster.
Mike D. said…
Dan - You just said it all.
Unknown said…
@mr ed

No, he didn't create Spider-Man.

1. If Kirby is to be believed, he stole the concept from Simon/Beck to begin with.

2. Joe Simon himself disputes Kirby's version and recounts Kirby acknowledging cooking up the story years after the fact as a cash-grab.

3. Kirby claimed to come up with/'borrow' the spider symbol as the first element, but didn't even use it in his design (accodrding to Ditko)? Hmmm.

4. Kirby's design sheet was created per Stan's request and was rejected- nothing from Kirby's designs was retained.

5. Ditko's belief, from casual/non-specific discussions with Stan beforehand, is that Stan came up with the name

6. At times Kirby took FULL credit for Ditko's designs (much like he did with Captain America, a character he also contributed nothing to the creation of but has often taken 100% credit).

7. Per Kirby's own daughter, Kirby never privately or publically claimed he created Spider-Man:

"Neither one of my parents ever mentioned that my father created him, in fact I have heard my mother correcting people if they alluded to that fact."

Until the lawyers got involved and realized Spidey was Marvel's biggest money-maker. All of the sudden, after a decade, Jack 'realized' he created Spider-Man...?

Around this time, Kirby also claimed to have created Superman, the Punisher, Iron Man, Daredevil...
T.L. Cain said…
This doesn't take anything away from Steve Ditko. He created the published costume. That's a given. He did not, however, create the idea of the character. Lee went to Kirby. Lee didn't like Kirby's design. Lee then went to Ditko. Lee liked what Ditko had done. From that point on Lee pretty much gave Ditko free reign to create. What Ditko wants is sole creation for the creation of Spider-Man, and that, to me, is just wrong. The only character Ditko solely created for Marvel was Dr. Strange.
Anonymous said…
I remember Kirby always acknowledge that Ditko created Spiderman, although Stan had a concept..Kirby was to busy on doing other projects, so Stan gave the idea to Steve, but Steve created the character costume and all!
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
It's funny how Ditko himself gets Spider-Man's webbing wrong in his own drawing of Spidey, where he's claiming to be the originator of the costume. Kirby said that he (Kirby) came up with the famous costume (as we see on the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15) but gave the series to Ditko as Kirby was already drawing multiple monthly titles. Pete M

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