on November 12, 2009
Received this book today and I'm not a happy camper. As a previous reviewer mentioned, the book is printed sideways, three strips to a page with a large wasted border at top and bottom, pretty much the only colour I saw in the book. You have to hold the book sideways like a Playboy centerfold to read and the strips are about the same size as they were in the original newspaper printings. If Marvel had printed them in larger format, two strips to a page like they did the last few pages, I could live with the sideways printing but not at three to a page. At least in the DC reprints of the Superman and Batman newspaper strips the publisher had the common sense to bind the books on the short side.
In fact, now that I think of it, almost all of the strip reprints I've bought (Denis Kitchen's Little Abner, Terry & the Pirates, Gasoline Alley, Buck Rogers, the recent Hagar the Horrible, even the old Flying Buttress Captain Easy books) were bound on the short side and printed large enough to study and enjoy the artwork. I realize newspaper strips are the Incredible Shrinking Medium but...
Sorry, folks. I won't be buying any more in this series and I'm seriously considering returning it.
on November 11, 2009
My review rating is heavily weighted on book presentation and format. I feel Marvel shorted fans with the physical arrangement of the newspaper strips.
The material runs parallel to the spine - so the book must be held like a girlie mag centerfold, making it very uncomfortable to read. Additionally, the gutters near the spine are not sufficient, causing parts of some strips to "roll" into the middle.
I guess an argument can be made not to color the Sunday strips for story continuity (the dailies' plots were continued in the Sundays), but who are we kidding? Marvel went cheap. It's too bad.
The content was a great highlight of Silver/Bronze Age Spider-Man characterizations and situations. Stan Lee's cornball alliterations and snappy barbs were perfect for newspaper strips. John Romita's art served the stories well and were great examples of design, composition, and facial expressions to budding comic book artists. My only complaint on the art was the constant changing of inkers/letterers. To be fair, who knew the work was to be compiled 30 years later and invite comparison of successive strips?
I just wish Marvel would look at the great job Fantagraphics and other companies have done with comic strip reproductions. This should have been an easy production job.
on November 28, 2009
The quality of the Spider-Man comics fell sharply right around the time the 15 cent issues became large 25 centers and then immediately resumed being normal sized 20 centers in the early 1970s. When this strip started in 1977 it was a return to the incredible art and story that Lee and Romita were famous for but had been lost for years. Unfortunately, as others have stated the way this book was printed strongly diminishes the appeal of the collection.
There is no introduction as in many of the Masterworks issues, but there is yet another meaningless interview of Stan Lee balanced by a sharp and insightful interview of John Romita. One of the issues Romita talks about was that his (beautiful) artwork was being reduced in size so much in printed newspapers that it could not be properly viewed. And given that this was an important thing to Romita, why in the world did they print this book in landscape format at newspaper strip size? At least it could have been printed at a size that filled the page -- but no -- the strips are about 2/3 of a page wide. No color for the Sunday strips either. It's just sad that this material was given short shrift.
The last of the best Spider-Man material looks pretty bad. Several reprinted strips look like faint poor quality photocopies and I think there are some strips out of proper order too -- just sloppy composition all around. Romita is surely PO'd about this and with good reason.
I'm hoping a second printing or a new edition is made. There are many good examples of how this could have been done right. Kitchen Sink did a great job with the Batman and Superman daily newspaper strips and Sunday sections. Formatting Spider-Man like those would have been just fine. I think the best format for a book like this was a coffee table book of the Flash Gordon strips that was printed probably before there was a Spider-Man. I'm sure Silver-Age comics fans will remember the Flash Gordon newspaper strip collection. It was one of those expensive books behind the desk at the library they would not let you check out. How many lunch hours at school did I spend reading that one?
With the Spider-Man strips, Marvel could have completely re-created the specialness and desirability of that old Flash Gordon collection. I only wish I'd have read the previous Amazon reviews sooner because I already have all these strips from previous paperbacks that were put out some time ago. The two paperback book volumes and the "Best of Spider-Man" oversize paperback book collect the same material and then some and those books were printed in an easily readable format. I would have skipped this. It is not the proper "Masterworks" treatment.
The modern comics industry sucks. If this is how they treat some of the highest quality work that Lee and Romita ever produced I just have to shake my head in despair. How could they not get this important stuff printed in a proper format?
on November 7, 2009
Ah, the 70's. Spider-Man made a few appearances in various different media in the 1970s. Some good, (Spider-Man Rockcomix),some not so, (the terrible TV show). These Newspaper strips were one of the high points. Written by Stan Lee, drawn by John Romita. Although it followed a different continuity than the books, it felt like an continuation of Lee/Romita run from the 60, prior Spider-man 100.
Romita was at the top of his game, and the art was fantastic. The Sunday strips were half pages in full bright color. The New York Daily News at the time had a great Sunday Funnies color section, with bright pages.
Here my problem with this collection. NO Color. The Sunday strips should have been represented in the original Sunday size and Color. With this collection, all the strips are formatted as daily black and white strips. Bummer. Come on Marvel. My review, poor presentation-though great content.
on February 12, 2013
The previous negatives written about this book are pretty much on target. And one of the problems about checking out this book (in a comic book shop or a bookstore) is that the book as new comes shrinkwrapped, so unless there's an "opened" copy to preview, you're out of luck in terms of knowing exactly what you're purchasing.
Unfortunately, I was one of those unable to view the innards of the book before purchasing it. If I had, I might have bypassed it. Fortunately I paid a pretty low price for it, much lower than you're currently seeing here on Amazon. But with the production values (or, rather, lack thereof) on this book, the MSRP of $39.99 is a joke.
The main problem, as mentioned elsewhere, is that the Marvel production folks decided it would be a neat idea to squeeze three daily Spider-Man strips per page in this volume. The image area of each strip is approximately 7" x 2" and the strips are printed sideways in the volume (another problem). Each page measures roughly 7" x 10.75". When reading the strips (and you have to hold the book sideways to do that) this results in about 3.5" of wasted margin space horizontally, and there is also a "gutter problem" of reading the bottom of the preceding strip and the top of the following strip. WHY the Marvel production folks would have ever designed a book in this fashion is the $64,000 question! It's as if everyone, from the bottom on up, was asleep at the wheel, because even a village idiot should have known that this format was patently unacceptable.
There's also a problem with the clarity of reproduction in this volume, with details dropped from John Romita's fine art. Part of that is undoubtedly due to the miniscule reproduction, but I'd wager that Marvel was working at least in part from actual printings of the strips in newspapers, or from proofs that were somehow deficient in quality. Since this material is not ancient, either the syndicate or Marvel should have had access to nice proofs, but I'd also wager they didn't, and certainly not for the entire book.
Near the end of the book there are six pages reprinted from the "Original Proposal for a Spider-Man newspaper strip by Stan Lee & John Romita." And THOSE strips are printed only TWO PER PAGE, measuring about 8.75" x 2.75" in image area per daily strip, and those strips look pretty good! So Marvel should have reprinted the entire book in something approximating that fashion, or even preferably with a larger image area on larger pages (and perhaps eschewing the hardcover binding for a TPB version as a cost offset). That would be if they had been actually thinking during the production process, that is.
Further lack of production attention to this volume includes a totally unnecessary and annoying beige "webbing design" as background on the pages, which are colored a lighter beige (strange indeed). And the page numbers are enclosed in a fairly large and annoying red "pow design" that is at the bottom of the book pages (but in the left margin as you read the book).
Since this production is such a travesty, it is only appropriate that those responsible for this mess stand up and hang their heads, and apologize to the Marvel fans and readers at large. Those folks are credited as follows:
MARK D. BEAZLEY: Collection Editor
JOHN DENNING & ALEX STARBUCK: Assistant Editors
JENNIFER GRUNWALD: Editor, Special Projects
JEFF YOUNGQUIST: Senior Editor, Special Projects
SPRING HOTELING: Book Designer
JOE QUESADA: Editor in Chief
DAN BUCKLEY: Publisher
ALAN FINE: Executive Producer
Is this book totally worthless? Well, no, and Amazon will only allow you to "rate down" an item to one star anyway, which in the abstract assumes some minimum value. I think the book deserves some recognition of value, that one star, if only for the great John Romita art, however small and ineffectively reproduced that art may be. Some people may like the Stan Lee scripts, which I feel are average, and I do admit that this strip is deserving of reprinting, however inadequately, just for historical purposes. And the dustjacket presents a classic Romita image of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. But the reprinting should have been accomplished in a far better, larger and more detailed format.
Presumably some of those at Marvel in charge of producing this volume were once fans themselves, and as fans AND professionals, what they've delivered to the market is way below what normal fans, readers and professionals would expect. That is sad, and, frankly, unacceptable. By way of this review I invite Marvel to respond to the inadequacies of this volume, which should have presented top-notch production values. Someone at Marvel owes an apology and explanation to everyone.
on November 23, 2009
Living in the golden age of reprints as we are today, I can think of no valid excuse on Marvel's part to have released this book as is. Strip size is fine, but forcing the reader to rotate the book in order read the strips is nothing short of ridiculous. And while I have no problem with b&w Sunday pages, at this price point there's absolutely no reason they couldn't have reprinted them in full color. There are many other strip reprint projects doing it right; this is a prime example of how to do it wrong.
I purchased this volume without pausing to read the reviews first. I dimly remembered the originlal comic strips from my earliest days of newspaper reading (at the age of six). Complemented with reruns of the '60s Spider-Man cartoon, these strips helped turn Spidey into my favorite superhero, a position he's held with little interruption for the past 30 years. So why wouldn't I have bought these?
These strips remain sparkling well over 30 years after their original newspaper run. The first week's worth of strips, for example, show Spider-Man slinging into action when J. Jonah Jameson helps Doctor Doom secure an invite to lecture the United Nations. Of all things, Doom has been honored for successfully defending his Eastern European nation against the Communists. "That terrorist!", Spider-Man thinks. It's hard to go wrong with material like this. Jazzy Johnny Romita's art remains richly detailed with excellent consistency from day to day (check out the edition of the Daily Bugle trumpeting Doom's invite to New York in the first week of the collection).
Offset against the excellent material is the lackadaisical effort involved in assembly. The biggest problem is the arrangement of the strips. The volume is basically a standard-sized hardcover, 7 1/2 inches wide, which means the strips have to run parallel to the spine rather than left to right across the page. Considering how many other newspaper reprint collections get it right, it's an odd editorial choice for Marvel to go this way. The Sunday strips aren't in color, either.
Looking at the supplemental material to this book, it's easy to piece together what went wrong. There is no preface or introduction, which is unusual -- doesn't Stan Lee get to write essays for everything these days? Adding a further clue is the Lee interview offered at the back of the volume. The interviewer informs Lee that his newspaper strips are going to be reprinted "in 2007" and that he should prepare to be asked to write the intro. It would appear this project got shelved, and then after years of neglect got rushed out into the holiday market without any additional preparation. Or something like that.
Anyway, the material printed in the volume is a must-own. The shame is that it could have been so much better.
on July 11, 2014
This is a collection of the first Spider-Man newspaper comic strips. While there is some merit to the complaints about the books format, especially the layout of the hardcover edition, the strips themselves are very enjoyable and bring back some fond memories. To me, Romita is the definitive Spider-Man artist. His artwork is clear and crisp and the storylines are good considering they were done for newspaper strips. The book includes both dailies and Sunday strips. The strips are black and white, except in the paperback version where the Sunday strips are in color.
As I mentioned, the layout for the hardcover edition is a little awkward. When you compare it to the paperback, it appears that the strips were formated for the paperback edition. The hardcover may have been an afterthought. But that does not detract from the enjoyability of the strips to me.
If you are a Spider-Man fan, you should enjoy this collection.
on June 2, 2014
I just received the paperback version of this, and I'm very happy. It brings back lots of memories of reading these strips as a child in the late 70s and early 80s. On the paperback the strips are printed in the normal reading way so you hold the book like any other book. They also print the Sunday strips in color, so this is an improvement and takes care of some of the issues that have been mentioned. However, this also means the size is somewhat reduced to allow for the horizontal printing, so that's definitely an issue for hardcore fans of the strips, but I'm happy to have these for the price and with a little color.
on April 24, 2012
As others have noted, I'm dropping my rating one full star due to the presentation format making the entire collection very awkward and uncomfortable to read. With that out of the way, the strips themselves are wonderful! Romita and Lee were firing on all cylinders with these stories! I think it's so interesting to see how artists are able to tell stories and develop characters in the limited daily strip format. Romita's art is excellent. I was consistently amazed at what he fit into those small panels in terms of detail, background and action! The stories feature many legendary villains such as Doctor Doom, The Kingpin, Kraven the Hunter and Doctor Octopus as well as Spider-Man's all-time great supporting cast members such as Aunt May, Mary Jane, J. Jonah Jameson, Flash Thompson and Robbie Robertson! Any fan of Spider-Man comics needs to treat themselves to this collection!