‘Amazing Spider-Man’ Artists John Romita, Jr., Joe Quesada and Humberto Ramos Discuss the Evolution of Spider-Man and More
In celebration of Spider-Man’s 60th anniversary, iconic Spider-Man artists John Romita Jr, Joe Quesada and Humberto Ramos joined in for a talk on the web-slinger, from what it takes to lure him in to the evolution of his gaze on his characteristic appearance.
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Quesada spoke first about Spider-Man’s eyes. “For me, it’s always the eyes. It’s always Spider-Man’s eyes“, said. “They are so incredibly expressive. I think, considering if you put Spider-Man in a historical context, the characters that were popular at the time, it was an incredibly unique aspect of his costume, his look, because he could get emotional through the mask. I think that was the most revolutionary”.
The suit, the business card
For Romita, it wasn’t just the wardrobe, but the awkwardness of the character, which both Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr. captured effortlessly. “It was the awkwardness and the way Steve Ditko and later John Romita Sr. According to Stan Lee, this is a different kind of cat. He is not as elegant as other characters. He is awkward. And maybe the conversation about him being an awkward teenager might have played a role. But the bent legs and clumsiness compared to a Daredevil, per se”.
Quesada also discussed Ditko’s drawing style, which has been central since Spider-Man’s initial design, and also drew a comparison to Daredevil and his evolution. “Well, I think his drawing style, there’s something creepy about it that’s cool, right?” he pointed. “There’s a… big distinction between those two characters, even though they both jump off rooftops and do pretty much the same thing, with the exception of sticking to walls and nets.“.
“But Daredevil is more of a gymnast”, he continued. “Spider-Man is just this kind of lanky, clumsy, flexible figure that’s so much fun to draw. But they both have different aspects, and that’s what’s fun about the Marvel Universe, right, is the fact that all these characters have very different attributes if you pay attention and do it right, which Johnny did“.
“I will admit that every time I have to draw Spider-Man in the traditional costume, which is also my favorite, I curse Steve Ditko for that damn web”, he added. “That tape is so hard to draw, especially around the mask and neck area. You know what I’m talking about, right, when the mask has to meet the costume and the back of the mask?”.
The hardest thing about drawing Spider-Man
After commiserating over their shared difficulty drawing webs, they discussed whether in this evolution, Spider-Man was difficult to draw. Quesada said that Iron Man, or anyone metallic, is tough, while Romita joked that Aunt May was actually a pain in the ass for him personally.
Romita’s Marvel career, spanning the past 40 years, often returns to Spider-Man, most recently with Amazing Spider-Man (2022) #1. Romita revealed that he made him go back to a Spidey title.
After joking about his age, he shared that he started drawing when he was 2 years old and offered an intimate look at his life and experience with the character, saying that Spider-Man reminded him of family: “From the moment my father walked my brother and me past a building and pointed and said, ‘That’s where Peter Parker lives.’ We were young enough not to understand, but the fact that Spider-Man lived near us, he felt like a member of the family.”.
“And then my father would discuss stories with us and tell us what Stan was doing this morning in the office to describe the plot because there was no plot. It was a descriptive plot that my father would take notes on.”he explained. “It was so immersive that there was more to the character than just the physical artwork of the character.“.
The redesigns that make history
Being named in the same sentence as these two giants make me think I might did something right #LuckiestFanEver Beyond Amazing: Romita, Quesada, & Ramos on What It Takes to Draw Spider-Man | Marvel https://t.co/V0eP1s549q
– humberto ramos (@humberto_ramos) August 31, 2022
Humberto Ramos has a 20-year career drawing Spider-Man, and specifically about his time creating Doc Ock’s Superior Spider-Man. When asked what goes into designing a really great Spider-Man costume other than the original, he said: “Well, it’s hard. When I was asked to redesign the Spider-Man costumes, from time to time, I would do the blue Spider-Man, and then I would do the sneaky Spider-Man, the black, and the green. But I also have to remember that there is a legacy that I have to respect. I can go a little further or figure out a little bit of the original suit, but… I don’t want to get too far away from it”.
When asked about his favorite Spider-Man costumes, Quesada mentioned Ditko’s original black and red version, but ultimately settled on the iconic red and blue, saying: “The original is still the best“. Romita couldn’t disagree and Ramos agreed that the red and blue suit was the best, and she pointed out that she grew up with it.
He went on to say: “When I was a kid, when you were growing up reading these books, the thing about this guy is you can’t see any of his body under the costume. You can relate to that because it can be you, as they say in the books and the movies now. It creates a link, and it’s so well designed that, like Joe said, you can try to improve something from time to time, but still, you go back to the original design because it’s so good. It is perfect. It is perfect“.
Tips for drawing Spider-Man
They then discussed tips for drawing Spider-Man or Spider-Man characters. Ramos’ advice was to have fun and enjoy the ride, while Romita was “be different and make it different because that is the character and incorporate the familiar into the fantasy”.
Quesada’s advice for those who want to draw Spider-Man? “Do not use reference photos”, and also that it was important to understand the anatomy. “When you look at a drawing of Spider-Man the way Johnny or Humberto draws Spider-Man, I mean, the joints are dislocated, but they still look like they’re connected. They still seem plausible. You’re catching it in motion.”. He recalled how he took an animation class in college and that all the great Disney animators had an athletic streak, which helped them “understand fluidity of movement and how characters moved in space”.
“I realized that was also true in the comics”, he explained. “I remember reading Johnny’s stuff and I was like, ‘I bet this guy played baseball.’ One could say. I could tell by the way Spider-Man moved, the way Daredevil moved. They ran. When they ran across the rooftop, you could feel the athletics”. “Then later we became friends, and we discussed this, and it turned out to be true.”, he continued. “And by that, I mean, you don’t have to be a great athlete. It just means you have to understand physicality. I think when you don’t, Spider-Man comes out stiff and can look dislocated at times“.
The best of all time
Cink closed with quick questions about the best supporting Spider-Man character to draw and his most influential Spider-Man artist. Humberto mentioned that he had a long list for the latter, but for him they were Quesada and Romita. Quesada and Romita agreed that for them it was Romita Sr. Quesada pointed out how Romita Sr. took the Web-Slinger and turned it into a visual icon, saying that he was “hands down the best Spider-Man artist in Spider-Man history“.
Romita said that her father influenced her Spider-Man and his evolution, but also that it was more than that. Romita’s Daredevil inspired his attachment to comics; he studied his father’s romance comics, which were influenced by Leonard Starr’s artwork, noting: “But when he did Spider-Man, he sang to me“.
“He is the best of all timeQuesada agreed wholeheartedly.
You can also read: The best Spider-Man origin stories
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