The Color That Scares Spider-Man

Illustration for article titled The Color That Scares Spider-Man

Are you an obsessive compulsive Spider-Man fan who's read every Spider-comic ten times — even the gothy MacFarlane issues? Rest assured that Victor Cook, producer of the Spectacular Spider-Man Saturday morning cartoon, has still obsessed about Spider-Man more than you have. In a new interview, he shows off a detail-oriented focus on the art and mythos of the classic Spidey comics that will either make you excited to view his handiwork — or flee in terror.

Illustration for article titled The Color That Scares Spider-Man

First of all, Cook drops a few spoilers for the Spectacles to come. For one thing, we'll see two different versions of Spidey's notorious black costume — the version with webs on it, and a smoother version. Does that mean we'll get to see Venom? Cook isn't saying. Meanwhile, the cartoon's makers haven't ruled out doing the Clone Saga, but they haven't talked about it recently.


Cook promises more nods to the old comics and cartoons, with things like the half-Peter, half-Spidey face, and a sky full of webs. Also, you can definitely tell Cook has pored over the early Spider-Man characters for clues to the characters development. He says:

If you look back at the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko years, Peter is just a geek, but then when John Romita Sr. comes onto the book, Peter grows up suddenly and becomes this handsome young guy. We're trying to straddle the two a little bit.

In particular, the cartoon takes place after Peter's been Spider-Man for a summer, and is getting a bit more confident and wearing sharper clothes — but he still always has his tag sticking up in back.

Spider-Man is a more fun superhero than Batman, despite the fact that they both have tragedy in their pasts. And you'll see more wise-cracking banter from Spidey than you see in the Sam Raimi movies — but mostly only when he's fighting "the non-threatening guys."

Illustration for article titled The Color That Scares Spider-Man

The other moment of extreme art obsession comes when Cook suddenly starts discussing the color green in Spider-Man comics:

In the 1960's it seems like the majority of Spider-man's rogues gallery had green as part of their costumes and I have never gotten a complete answer as to whether that was a conscious decision or whether it was because of the printing process or if they just looked good in contrast to red. On film you have to make these choices and I decided to pick up on that and make green the color of evil or oppression on Spider-man.


When you see uber-crimelord The Big Man in the shadows, he has a green lamp. The threatening hallways of Peter Parker's high school are painted green. Even bullying jock Flash Thompson wears a lot of green. I love that Spider-Man has a "color of evil." (Sort of like old-school Green Lantern's trouble with yellow, actually.) [IFMagazine]

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Green is an easy color to print consistently, generally stays bright (especially on cheap paper) because yellow and cyan pigments are brighter than the other two process colors (magenta, black). Back then, Cyan varied wildly depending on the quality of the ink you bought. The ultra-bright process inks in use today didn't really show up until the 1990's. paper quality has improved as well. But the old rules still apply: Mix two process colors, and they will get darker than you would expect. Mix three and they get muddy and ugly real fast. It's just pigment theory, not light theory. There are definitely technical reasons to stay with light yellowish greens (which showed off the blank ink work very dramatically, too).

The other reason I would guess is that the majority of 50's and 60's comic book heroes were deliberately designed to incorporate Red, White and Blue. Gold trim (like on flags) also came with the territory. Green, gray and purple were contrasts to most heroes, not just Spidey.