Strange Tales Annual # 1, 1963. Kirby pencils; Sol Brodsky inks?; Artie Simek lettering; Stan Goldberg colors.
I started out with the above cover since I noticed the circular webbing motif in the background is similar to the design on Avengers # 11. Stan Lee often designed covers with the artists, so this may be an instance where he decided to use the same idea on the Avengers cover a year or so later. As we can see, there are a number of instances where Kirby differentiated from Ditko in his interpretation of Spider-Man. Spidey's webbing is drawn in the standard manner, notably on the belt and feet; the left foot in particular has lines that are completely wrong. The boots are smaller than Ditko's version and the spider on the chest is noticeably absent. Kirby does include the underarm webbing and presents an overall acceptable rendition, although devoid of the unique characteristics Ditko brought to the character.
Ditko's original cover to Amazing Spider-Man # 10 was rejected, probably by editor Stan Lee, although publisher Martin Goodman may have made the call. I would speculate that perhaps the Big Man being positioned in the foreground was thought to be too prominent, with Spider-Man a smaller figure. Also the previous cover had Spider-Man in a defeated position and it may have been thought to look too similar. The unpublished cover would surface on various foreign reprints and Marvel eventually showcased it in Marvel Tales and other publications. The above image is from the back cover of The Official Marvel Index to the Amazing Spider-Man # 2, May 1985.
The published cover to Amazing Spider-Man # 10, March 1964. Ditko-drawn Enforcers; Kirby pencils (and possible inks) on Spider-Man; Artie Simek lettering; Stan Goldberg colors.
Ditko's second take on the cover was also partially rejected. This Kirby drawing of Spider-Man which appeared a few months after the Strange Tales Annual, is interesting, since it has Spidey in a side view. On the published cover Ditko's Enforcers remain, closing in on a Jack Kirby Spider-Man. You'll notice that Kirby's Spidey face mask is flat, with no definition of a nose. Ditko's S-M mask is more realistically rendered and outlines the facial structure underneath. Kirby remembers to draw the spider on the chest here (unless someone else added it) but makes the ankles very thin, and the webbing on the glove pointing to the Enforcers has lines going all the way to the fingers. The glove holding the webbing has lines drawn in the correct manner, so it may be that whatever Ditko originally drew was finished by Kirby from that point. Thus far, Ditko's S-M figure has not surfaced, and remains a mystery.
A close-up of the corrected hand. You can see a difference in the more fluid line on the fingers.
Ditko's Spidey - close-up from the cover to Amazing Spider-Man # 21, Feb 1965.
I thought it would be interesting to compare a Ditko Spider-Man figure/pose with Kirby's. As mentioned, Ditko's mask looks like it has a nose whenever there is a side view. Ditko's musculature is more realistic, and his webbing design is fluid. His Spider-Man looks thinner and younger, while Kirby's is bulky and stiff. There is quite a difference between the two interpretations.
Tales To Astonish # 57, July 1964. Kirby pencils; Sol Brodsky inks; Sam Rosen letters; Stan Goldberg colors.
On the cover to Astonish Spidey is swinging through the air on his web, which looks more like a net or rope than Ditko's slinkier version. In every drawing, including the interior stories Kirby penciled, Spidey never shoots his webbing with his index fingers like Ditko's; Kirby has the hero making a fist instead. Once again, the webbing design on Spidey's costume is off-kilter, looking like a series of U's on his arm (and it covers his entire arm). The spider design on his back is also missing.
Kirby's Dr. Strange image from the cover of Strange Tales # 126, November 1964, undoubtedly based on Ditko's interior story pages. Inks by the great Chic Stone; Sam Rosen lettering; Stan Goldberg colors.
Noting the differences between Kirby and Ditko's versions of Spider-Man is in no way meant to denigrate Kirby - only to illustrate how diametrically opposed they were stylistically. Ditko, for instance, had a very hard time drawing the Thing; his rocky brick-like exterior appeared to confuse Ditko's design sensibilities . Nevertheless, there were occasions where both men were able to do acceptable work on each other's characters. I always thought Ditko did a fine job on the Human Torch, while Kirby's Dr. Strange cover vignettes in Strange Tales (which were often based on a Ditko interior story/scene) and guest appearances, while not perfect costume-wise, had a charm of their own. The individual imprints of Kirby and Ditko are unmistakable; a testament to their artistry and a constant source of delight and fascination.