Comics : Spider-Man Magic Pen Painting Book 1 (Lee)

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: The Magic of Color

This review was first published on: May 2010.


If you're as old as I am, you might remember when "Yes & Know" game books were the pinnacle of child entertainment. It was the Nintendo DS of the seventies. Well, perhaps not quite, but pretty damn close.

The "Yes & Know" books (if I recall correctly) featured quizzes where you chose your answer, then revealed the correct answer by using your pen to show the hidden text. Well, Lee Publications are still alive and kicking, and now their range also includes these full color "Invisible Ink & Magic Pen" Painting books.

There are 48 pages in these 8" x 5.5" top-stapled cardboard bound books. However there is art only on one side of each page, making 23 actual pictures to color.

There are books "1" and "2" in this series, which are dizygotic twins (i.e. non-identical). The pictures in the two books aren't identical. But for all intents and purposes, they might as well be. Sure, the poses are different, but the subject matter is interchangeable.

In Detail...

Spider-Man Magic Pen Painting Book 1 (Lee)
Year 2007 : SM Title
Find ISBN 1562975323
Summary: Blue background. Includes green pen.
Publisher:  Lee Publications
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Spider-Man Magic Pen Painting Book 2 (Lee)
Year 2007 : SM Title
Find ISBN 1562975331
Summary: Yellow background. Includes green pen.
Publisher:  Lee Publications
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I've included a scan of a couple random pages. The art isn't exactly "classic Spidey", but it generally seems to do the trick.

Some pages are black and white with dots shading. Others have color on some parts of the image, with blank white where the remainder will be revealed on application of the GREEN pen.

Also note that each page is perforated so it can be tidily removed and displayed.

In General...

All that I need to do now then is to test the quality of the color. I'll just grab that pen and rub over one of the images. Well, one tiny corner of the images. Just one test image. I can do that. I'll just...

...*sniff*. I can't do it. Don't make me do it! Oh, the HUMANITY!

Fine here I go. I've despoiled and ruined an otherwise mint condition coloring book. Are you happy now?! What? Oh yeah. The results.

Well, the black and white dots turned into a slightly washed-out sort of water-color result. But the plain blank areas, after much rubbing and a little waiting, turned into some grayish sort of outline. No color in the plain white areas.

Overall Rating...

After all the hype, the colors were a little disappointing. Was I really so easily amused all those decades ago? Even so, these books are a living legend so I can't give them anything less than a solid three webs.


I have a couple of other books by the same publisher that come with a distinctly ORANGE pen. But this book is quite clear that it needs the GREEN pen that is supplied with this book. I'm guessing the GREEN one is for color and the ORANGE for just black and white.

No, wait. That can't be right. Both books contain color. But why would they use two different technologies to do the same thing? That makes no sense. Sorry, but I have no idea what's different about the colors. To complicate things further, some of the later books feature a purple pen.