Comics : Spider-Man Coloring Book (China) A-Series

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This review was first published on: Jan 2011.

Background...

This is another set of super-cheap Chinese no-name brand Spider-Man coloring books similar to the Decals & Fill The Color Originally pair of books. They may be from the same company, or they may not. Since clearly none of these guys are paying licencing fees to Marvel, they tend to be rather shy about adding any identifying marks such as ISBN, company identification or even year of manufacture. I've recorded the date as 2011 since that's when I first saw them at my local supermarket.

This is the very definition of "low-cost generic alternative".

In Detail...

Spider-Man Coloring Book (China) A-Series
Year 2011 : SM Title
Country of Origin:  China
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There are four nearly-identical books in this set. All are 8.25" x 11" soft card cover. In each version there are 16 cheap newsprint B&W pages to color, plus an insert centerfold spread of full-color stickers. The stickers contain rework official artwork from the Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 movies, so I've used that to allocate the nominal year 2007 to these books despite there being no actual date printed anywhere inside the books.

The paper and artwork is different from the Decals & Fill The Color Originally books, but the overall production quality is equally low. The books are haphazardly cut and stapled. The thin plastic gloss-lamination on several of the copies I looked at in the store were badly applied. There's clearly nobody checking quality control here... just slam 'em out cheap and let the customer pick out the good ones.

By Chinese standards the artwork is not as bad as some that I've seen. It looks as though there's a couple of pages of Bagley art from Ultimate Spider-Man, but the rest appears to be original work done by presumably Chinese artists. The sense of proportion is generally adequate going on mediocre, but far from the worst I've seen. Silver Sable and Lizard appear, along with a couple of characters I don't recognize - an Electro-style super-type named "Maximum Shock" plus a generic female action hero named "Talon". Both are presumably original creations.

All four comics have the same 16 pieces of artwork, but the sequence of the images is shuffled around in each to fool you into thinking that they're different so that you'll buy them all. Of course, collectors like me would buy 'em all anyhow! The sets of stickers are sort of different in each book, but sort of not. The same artwork features, but the background and sticker outlines are changed.

In General...

Despite the sub-standard production quality and the shoddy artwork, I suspect a budget-conscious mom could find it hard to argue with a sticker and coloring book that sells for NZ$2 (which is about US$1.50 at the time of writing). However, as a Spider-Man fan, I find it equally hard to forgive the epic fail on the cover of the A-092 variant which proudly proclaims itself to be a SUPIDER-MAN Coloring Book.

Again, it's clear that quality control isn't a key aspect in Chinese manufacture.

Overall Rating...

With better artwork than many of its fellow Chinese knock-off efforts, this set of "Supider-Man" coloring books manages to perhaps rise a little above the rest. That's not to say that it's any good, mind you. Even at those discount prices, I can't offer more than one-and-a-half webs.