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CSBG Archive

John Romita Jr.’s Back Pages

Every day this month I will share with you the first (at least as far as I know) U.S. professional work by a notable comic book creator. Here is an archive of the creators who have been featured so far.

Today’s featured creator is John Romita Jr.!


John Romtia Jr. has been a star artist for Marvel Comics for over three decades now! You name the comic, he’s almost certainly drawn at least an issue of it! He’s had runs on Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man, Uncanny X-Men, Daredevil, Punisher, Incredible Hulk, Avengers, Wolverine, Starbrand, Black Panther, Eternals, Kick-Ass. He’s remarkably worked steadily for Marvel since his first run on Iron Man began in 1978!

His debut, though, came when he was 21 years old, in 1977’s Amazing Spider-Man Annual, in a little story called “Chaos at the Coffee Bean!” Here it is!

He was great from the get-go!


It’s amazing how dominated by Milgrom’s inks those pencils are. You could have told me that it was solely done by Milgrom and I’d not have questioned it. I’m guessing maybe Romita was so green and his pencils so rough at the time that Milgrom felt he needed to use a heavy hand with the inks. Because normally (or at least later in his career), I don’t remember Milgrom being such a dominating inker.

Also, a lot of those panels give me a sense of deja vu, like either they have a lot of swipes or they were swiped a lot by later pencillers.

Wow, think Jr was influenced by Sr a little when he first started?

nice was hoping the series would get around to john romita jr first work. for still love the expression on peter face when Mary jane leaves him in a huff over him running off to be spider-man

Wow, think Jr was influenced by Sr a little when he first started?

Honestly, in this work Romita doesn’t seem anymore influenced by Romita Sr. than the usual Spider-Man artists of that era. That was the House Spidey style back then. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t a strong Romita Sr. influence there, just that it was the normal amount of Romita Sr. influence I see in all Spidey books of that era.

To me it was later on in his proper ASM run that Romita Jr really started aping his father strongly.

This story was reprinted in the JRJR 30th Anniversary Special several years back. It’s a nice special that’s an overview of JRJR’s career, plus a tribute story from Neil Gaiman and Hilary Barta.

Considering that JRJR could have coasted on his early style, it’s nice that he has changed up his style quite a bit since. Even if you’re not a fan of his new style, you should at least appreciate that his being willing to change and grow as an artist.

“Wow, think Jr was influenced by Sr a little when he first started?”

I always thought JR Jr.’s early stuff looked more like John Buscema, especially in his action scenes.

In fact, in his Visionaries book, Romita Sr. in the foreword points out that JR Jr. “really was a John Buscema fan, which shows [in his early work]”.

Ed (A Different One)

March 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Yeah – I see the John Buscema more in early JRjr than JRsr – though he’s certainly there too. The inks are a little heavy here, but i can definitely see the style that blossomed on Iron Man under Michilinie and blossomed even more on ASM under Stern. Damn I loved the look of those issues. He was able to capture the “heroic” look that Buscema did so well, and I always thought his action scene were much more “fluid” than his father’s. On JRjr’s early ASM work I remember actually feeling in awe of how Spider-Man moved. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way reading an issue of ASM since everything is so “cartoony” or heavily stylized now. Back then, it actually looked like a real human being in a Spider-Man outfit doing these incredible movements, which added to the “wow” factor for me. Ever since McFarlane, Spidey’s always looked vaguely “inhuman” while in costume and that just takes away from the amazement for me. To me, it’s always more amazing to see a “human” move the way Spidey does as opposed to some vaguely “humanoid” figure that Spidey always looks like these days.

And yes, yes, comics were always better in my youth, blah, blah, blah . . .

David Unlikely

March 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm

There were 1-page pin-ups by Romita Jr. drawn about the same time in Marvel Classics Comics Series #24 (inked by Romita, Jr., himself) and Kid Colt Outlaw #218, inked by John Tartaglione, and in FOOM Magazine, that give a sense of what his art looked like at the time, without the heavy Milgrom inks. I wish I had access to them, right now, so Brian could share more early JRjr.

Loving this series.

another to add to the list of “art spoiled by Milgrom inks”.

Pete Woodhouse

March 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm

I’ve got a UK Marvel Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1978 (the hardback reprints ‘The Parents of Peter Parker’ from tyhe late 60s annual series – the one drawn by Larry Lieber and co-starring the Red Skull IIRC).
What’s interesting is JR Jnr. does the cover, inked by Esposito – – and it’s very much of his father’s style than the Buscema influences. It also must be a very early work by JR Jr., too.

When reading JR JR’s early ASM, I definitely saw a lot of Buscema in the storytelling, especially how dynamic the movement was and the angles, etc, but as far as the actual Spider-Man cast, including Spider-Man and his poses, I saw pure Romita Sr.

I also second everything Ed says above, Jr Jr’s Spider-Man is the first time someone’s artwork moved me so much as a kid that I actually realized that these books were all drawn by different people and that some of them are much better than others. And then I started paying attention to the names in the credit boxes.

As I recall JRjr has told (not in those words) that Layton has “saved his ass” during Iron Man, and it really looks more like Kayton than Romita, and I think he has also said the same about this, that he was too green and Milgrom came to the rescue.

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