In June, 1978, I went to Collector’s Comics in New Jersey and bought a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #181. On that day, I promised myself that I would buy every issue of this comic for the rest of my life. (Taking an oath at 11 years old is a quaint notion, but bear with me, this story goes somewhere.)
Flash forward to 2009, when I recently bought a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #600.
Let’s consider a few things about the comic series Amazing Spider-Man, which was originally launched March, 1963.
- The original comic (cover price 12 cents – March, 1963) is now worth an estimated $40,000.
- Issue #600 was cover price $4.99 (in 2009) and can probably be purchased for about $4.99 today.
- Both Stan Lee (writer) and Steve Ditko (interior artist) of Amazing Spider-Man #1 are still alive today. (In fact, I recently saw Stan Lee at the Long Beach Comicon.)
- Despite a few starts and stops, Amazing Spider-Man has been running one consecutive story line about the same cast of characters. Amazing Spider-Man #600 featured characters and situations that were originally started in the 1960s.
And here’s the point I have been working toward. For the most part, Amazing Spider-Man was published as a monthly print magazine. Recently, Marvel Comics has accelerated that schedule, but the majority of the issues in this series were monthly.
From the year of my personal oath to buy every issue of Amazing Spider-Man (starting with #181) until roughly now (#600), approximately 31 years have passed. On a monthly schedule, it takes Marvel Comics around 8 years to reach a 100th issue milestone. Looking forward, it would take Marvel Comics until around 2017 to release Amazing Spider-Man #700.
And that makes me wonder…
- In what format will I buy Amazing Spider-Man #700? Will it be a print publication? Or will it be an eBook? An eComic? Or something else entirely new and unique?
- Considering the ages of Stan Lee (born 1922) and Steve Ditko (1927), is it possible they will be alive to celebrate issue #700 in 2017? With modern medicine, this is no longer unimaginable, right?
- If the first issue was 12 cents and the 600th issue was $4.99, how much will I pay for the 700th?
- If it’s an eBook, will it be less expensive, since there’s no printing and distribution cost?
- Will Marvel Comics print an electronic version and a print version for nostalgic purposes? Certain musicians still release vinyl albums, despite the fact that most people buy CDs or just downloads of their music.
When you consider this accomplishment, it’s amazing (pun intended) that the mainstream media didn’t make a bigger deal about issue #600.There were a few news stories and articles, but not much, considering how much impact the Spider-Man character has had on popular culture.
From a pop culture perspective, Amazing Spider-Man #600 was a pretty impressive milestone that probably should have made the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Speaking of Entertainment Weekly, the July 24, 2009 cover featured the cast of the Iron Man 2 movie. Iron Man is yet another Stan Lee creation that was published by Marvel Comics. Also published in March 1963, the same month as Amazing Spider-Man #1.
To make it even more significant (and newsworthy), Stan Lee even wrote a short Spider-Man story for the 600th anniversary issue. Not bad for an 87-year-old guy.
If you’ve made it this far in this post, you may be wondering if I kept my personal promise to buy every issue. The short answer is “no,” I did not. I stopped reading comics for many, many years and rediscovered them in college. I’d missed a lot of those comics when they first came out, but went back and bought them as back issues.
It would be silly of me to try to estimate the impact Stan Lee’s Spider-Man has had on pop culture, and what sort of significance the character will have in coming years. From comics to movies to television to toys, Spider-Man is just about everywhere in pop culture.
Flash forward. And in 8 years, I’ll be buying a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #700. The issue will probably be an eBook. Hopefully there’s a print version for nostalgia buffs like me. But either way, no matter what it costs, no matter how it’s delivered, no matter how it’s written, I’ll buy it.