Art For Art’s Sake #154: John Romita – The Master Of The Spider, Man
by Richard Bruton
Art For Art’s Sake – Of comics and art, trying to make the week that little bit better with some beauty for your eyes. And this week, we end with a selection of masterpieces from a master – John Romita Sr.
The great John Romita Sr. – preliminary sketch and final cover – The Amazing Spider-Man #80 (1970) – more on Romita in a bit…
And one from John Romita Jr – Silver Surfer from Daredevil #281
Shawn McManus – Pog commission – hopefully you know the story from Swamp Thing #32 – the Alan Moore tribute to Walt Kelly’s Pogo:
Mike McKone – Robin
Roger Langridge – The Muppets
Ron Salas – the Doctor…
Elsa Charretier – Silk & Spider-Man
Boba Fett by Skottie Young
Gabriel Walta – Spidey
Black Widow – Stephanie Hans
Marie Severin – from Howard the Duck Magazine #7 (1980) The Cheap Ducktective
Declan Shalvey – Hulk
Jeff Dekal – X-23
Chester Gould – Dick Tracy promo image from 1967
Pascal Campion – a few heroes…
Animal Man & The Demon – Patrick Zircher
Power Girl & Huntress by Jae Lee
John Romita Sr. turned 92 in January 2022 and has a glorious history of comic art to his name. For me though, and I reckon for many, he’s the first Spidey artist I ever knew. Too late to get into the equally brilliant Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr. drew the Spidey I saw in comics through my childhood.
Co-creator of Punisher and Wolverine, amongst so many others, he’s also, as you know, the father to John Romita Jr and husband to Virginia Romita, former traffic manager at Marvel.
Romita’s been in comics since 1949, starting out on Famous Funnies, moving through Timely Comics (which later became Marvel). That led to Stan Lee hiring him in the early ’50s and a prolific run on Atlas Comics (yet another Marvel forerunner) began with Romita working through war comics, romance comics, horror comics and more. A move to DC in the ’60s saw Romita becoming their romance comics guy before moving back to Marvel in the mid ’60s.
And that was where Romita really hit his stride. With the relationship between Stan Lee and Steve Ditko breaking down, Romita came onboard as the new Spider-Man artist on Amazing Spider-Man 39 in August 1966. And that was it, Romita’s Spidey became THE look for the character, for Marvel and for the world.
Peter Parker got a beefier look under Romita, moving away from Ditko’s scrawny, bespectacled look to something that looked a lot more like the many cover stars of Romita’s romance comics.
Working at Marvel through the ’70s, Romita’s style became the Marvel style, particularly once Romita became the company’s art director. Countless characters sprung from Romita’s fertile imagination to glorious life on his magnificent pages. He retired from full-time comics work in the early ’90s, but there’s no shortage of beautiful Romita art out there, often teaming up with John Romita Jr. Quite rightly, Romita was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall Of Fame in 2002.
So, thank you Mr Romita. For myself and for many others, seeing your work on Spidey made me a fan for life.
Let’s begin with Romita’s first Spidey… from Daredevil #16 in 1964 –
And of course, Romita’s also responsible for one of the most iconic moments… “Face it Tiger”:
Okay then, now for more of that glorious John Romita Sr artwork –
And finally, just a few of those father & son collaborations between John Romita Sr & Jr…