Spider-Man: John Romita Sr. Tribute
Since his creation Spider-Man has had many artists that have helped give him a different visual feel over the decades. However, only a select few have given Peter Parker and his world a look that defines him in the best of ways, and the now late John Romita Sr. is one of them.
For someone who had to follow in the footsteps of Steve Ditko - who was a bit of a tough act to follow, according to Romita himself - one would think this new artist would be intimidated. But John Romita rose to the occasion despite his own doubts, and his art style turned out to be exactly what the wall-crawler needed at that time.
But just who is John Romita Sr.?
John was born in Brooklyn in 1930 as the oldest of five kids. Even at a young age Romita Sr. was attracted to drawing - something his family surprisingly encouraged. And in 1938 he purchased not one but two copies of Action Comics #1, one of which he used as a drawing guide.
After graduating in 1947 Romita began working as a commercial artist and a chance encounter with an old friend from school would lead to his big break, for said friend had been working for Stan Lee, and when Romita had a chance to talk to Stan the latter offered him a part-time job doing what he loved to do - draw.
Eventually Romita would go on to draw all kinds of books - westerns, science fiction, romance comics - but then he would transition to books like Daredevil, which would soon land him as the new artist on The Amazing Spider-Man after Steve Ditko left the book.
Succeeding someone who wasn't just a great artist but also someone who had a very distinct style was a challenge for Romita, but he knew he had a job to do and stepped up, at first trying to add elements of Ditko's idiosyncratic style to his own but then Stan eventually came to John and told him to do it the way Romita felt was best.
And so for the next five years John Romita carved out a very impressive run on the Amazing Spider-Man comic, helping to refine the look of Peter Parker's entire world, starting with the supporting cast and their personalities, as well as finally giving then-mysterious Mary-Jane Watson the look fans all know her as.
A classic scene has been emulated and referenced in every medium featuring the wall-crawler.
In addition, Spider-Man's rogues gallery also got a great visual makeover. And when Spider-Man faced off against them the action was just as incredible if not more so.
Though he would go on to do other projects after his five-year run, Romita Sr. would return to the Spidey books once again, and this time with a much clearer approach to the character which fans loved.
Along with being an incredible artist on many books (even helping in the creation of Wolverine alongside Roy Thomas and Len Wein) Romita Sr. would also become an art director at Marvel until his retirement in 1996. Of course, this didn't stop him from helping out on some projects for he would occasionally do some things on the books, namely the final pages of ASM issue 500.
Of course, there's not really enough words to convey just how much John Romita Sr. impacted comics, most notably Spider-Man. And having been a fan of the character since I was a kid his style was exactly what came to mind when I would see anything regarding Spider-Man. More so than Todd McFarland, Mark Bagley, Humberto Ramos and even John Romita Jr. Plus I found that according to those who were fortunate to meet him or even work with him over the years, Romita Sr. wasn't just a talented artist but an incredibly kind and unpretentious person as well.
How many people in the comics industry - or in any entertainment industry - can you say have both talent and a kind heart?
So to John Romita Sr., Thank you for helping bring to life many of the characters from the Marvel Universe, especially Spider-Man. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko did create the character, but you helped elevate Peter Parker and his world to a degree that went beyond just the usual audience, as later issues showed. So you played as big a part as they did.
Rest well Jazzy John!
Also, check these out!
And let's not forget his work on Daredevil!