And now we have a one-page reprint of the last page of a six-page story published just two issues ago. So, what is that all about?
Remember the story Fame is a Cross-Eyed Blind Date With B-a-a-a-d Breath! that was published way back in Not Brand Echh #11 (Story 10), December 1968? In the story, Spidey poses for his “Awroara” model kit and has to act with the Green Goblin in a film production so Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #2, November 1968 can be made. He is pursued by public relations men and autograph hounds, yanked away from a break in a stock room amidst all sorts of Spidey-sponsored products (Spidey-Man roof maps, propeller hats, fly swatter, bottle openers) and endures nagging from Gwen Stacy, J. Jonah Jameson and Aunt May. Overwhelmed, he bolts for his dressing room, declaring, “I’m splittin’ and goin’ out in the world of real people!” Here’s the conclusion as I described it in my review: “And, in the final, full-page panel, he has become real, only the men from the ‘Nutdale Funny Farm’ aren’t buying it. They are Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis and they drag the ‘real’ Spidey away. ‘But I’m not just a comic book character, I tell you! I’m for real! Real!’ protests Spidey but Dean says, ‘Poor guy wantin’ to cut out on all his fellow comic heroes and start a new life! Doesn’t he realize he’d never make it on his own?’ and Jerry replies, ‘Yeah, but if he doesn’t, can I have his costume, can I? I like it, I like it!!’”
That full page finish shows a real photographed Spidey being dragged off by comic book drawings of Dean and Jerry in a fumetti effect which, unfortunately, left the Spidey image rather dark. Here’s how Roy described it in his NBE #11 review in Alter Ego #95, July 2010: “[O]n the final page a caricatured Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis (who had actually split up as a comedy team nearly a decade and a half earlier!) dragg[ed] off the ‘real’ Spidey-Man. Actually, the latter was Ye Present Writer in a photo especially shot for NBE in the mid ‘60s professionally-made costume I’d worn in Marvel’s 1972 Carnegie Hall show, etc. Unfortunately, the reproduction on the photo part of the page was lousy, so two issues later I had the page reprinted. I wasn’t gonna have the efforts of the photographer and myself wasted – although I greatly regret that I didn’t squeeze the shutterbug’s name in anywhere at the time and now I’ve no recollection who it was!” And here’s what he says about that one-page reprint in his review of the current issue: “This was simply a reprinting, with two new blurbs, of the final page from the last story in NBE #11. The repro of the photo of me in a Spider-Man costume had printed up so muddy the first time around that I was determined to see it come off better. This time it did.” Actually, it’s three new blurbs:
Also, a caption is cut:
“And as the door swings slowly open…”
(Hey, I only got one page to work with! I might as well be picky!)
If you place the pages side by side, you can see that Roy is certainly right when he says the “repro…[came] off better.” The original was so dark, it looked like a silhouette. This one is light enough that you can see the spider and the webs on the costume. The problem here is that the photo is in black-and-white while Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis are in color. Earlier in the story, the PR man complained that his “client is in black and white” while the Goblin is in color. But two panels later, Spidey is in color to go from the black and white Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #1, July 1968 to the full-color #2. Why then, when he tries to escape to the real world, is Spidey back to black and white; not looking real at all? Could they not afford color film for the photo shoot with Roy and the photographer whose name Roy can’t remember? Or is this a problem with comic book production of the time? Whatever it is, it’s too bad. With a color shot, this might have really worked out well.
In my original review of this story, I said, “I like the idea that Peter is so put out by his grueling comic schedule that he decides that being real would be a great escape. But that last page doesn’t do it for me. It’s more than the badly reproduced photo image, though that doesn’t help. It’s also the use of Martin and Lewis as the Funny Farm workers. As Roy notes, they hadn’t been a team in years. Couldn’t [the story’s writer] Arnold [Drake] find a more current comedy duo…Rowan and Martin, maybe?... Far better to show him out in the real world, looking silly and out of place in his costume, than to have him carted off by a defunct comedy duo… Still, I like it well enough to give it three webs.”
I have the same problems with it now. Plus the problem that, although printed lighter, the contrast between “real” and “comic” still doesn’t work. But I love that Roy wasn’t satisfied and gave it another try so I’m going to give it another three webs.
Next: I’m sorry if the review of this issue seems endless but there’s only one more story to go and then that’s it for the original run of Brand Echh! Join me for Not Brand Echh #13 (Story 12).