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Welcome to the four hundred and seventy-fifth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and seventy-four. This week, did Todd McFarlane used to hide spiders on the cover of Spider-Man? Was Charlie Brown ever going to kick that football? And was Professor X originally in Age of Ultron?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Todd McFarlane used to hide spiders on the covers of Amazing Spider-Man
STATUS: Basically True
A number of years ago (four, to be precise), I did a Comic Book Legends Revealed about how Todd McFarlane would hide Felix the Cat in all of his comics as a cute reference to a guy he knew (read the column to find out the amusing reason WHY McFarlane began putting Felix into his comics). Recently, though, reader Dave L. asked me about that column, specifically about whether it was true that McFarlane ALSO used to hide spiders on the cover of his Spider-Man issues.
The answer is basically true.
Basically because McFarlane did not START doing it until he was on Amazing Spider-Man for a few issues. Amazing Spider-Man #303 was the debut of the hidden spider, as you can see in the upper left of the Sandman’s extended arm…
As you can see, McFarlane was also using the Direct Market corner box (the box that comic book covers had to always have for newstand comics to put UPC codes in them, so comic book companies would typically just put a brief ad, like “The New DC! There’s No Stopping Us Now!” or just a generic picture of Spider-Man or whatever) to do a doodle containing the issue’s number.
Here’s where I am a bit confused, though. I don’t know for sure whether McFarlane began doing the hidden spiders as soon as he did the first one in Amazing Spider-Man #303 (McFarlane has confirmed that he was, in fact, hiding spiders, but I’ve never heard him go into specifics about it). What I mean is that it might have been meant as a one-off gag for #303 that he then decided to do on a regular basis later on, or #303 might have been the start of it all. I guess that’s just another way of saying that I can’t seem to locate the hidden spider on the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #304…
However, soon it was CLEARLY a recurring gag on the covers, as seen on the covers to #307-309…
McFarlane added an extra touch, though, as his signature box soon became a sign to how many spiders were hidden on the cover. If there was no number, then it was just one. If it had a number, though, that’s how many spiders were hidden on the cover. See Amazing Spider-Man #311, for example…
This came to a hilarious head with the cover to McFarlane’s Spider-Man #1 (where he wrote and drew the comic), where it has so many spiders on it that McFarlane just threw up a question mark…
Very cute stuff.
So there ya go, Dave!
Check out the latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Did Mr. T seriously never say “I pity the fool” in any episode of The A-Team?
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