So yesterday I posted my little gripe about The Professional Media’s laxness when it comes to correctly rendering such things as proper nouns—using as an example the frequent references to Spiderman one sees in print and online, rather than the correct trademark, Spider-Man—and what that may say about the media’s inattention to other details they place before us.
Today’s e-mail, coincidentally, brings an offer to read—for free, even—a digital copy of the inaugural issue of Spider-Man, from March 1963. I’ve got it somewhere in the archives, on paper, as a reprint in a later Spider-Man “annual” (as mentioned yesterday, I didn’t come on board till Spider-Man number 16, which I mark as the genesis of my comic-book meekness), but having not looked at it in many years I thought it’d be worth a nostalgic peek. Did I mention it was free?
Worth the download it was indeed…but I was amused to discover that, in those early—and, I suspect, hurried—days, not even Stan Lee himself seemed to have a firm grasp on the character’s name. Here’s the cover:
Plainly, the intent seems to be to call the character Spider-Man, hyphenated. The name appears three times on the cover, each time punctuated the same. Very good.
Oh, but look:
There on page one, the name appears another three times…twice as Spider-Man, but then as Spiderman. This is getting slippery.
Skipping on to page nine, we have Spidey’s name presented yet another three times (coincidence? I think not), and I’m going to say it’s given as Spiderman each time. (Bit of a coin-toss there in the second panel, but I’m guessing the hyphen is there to break Spiderman at the end of the line, not to indicate the letterer—or whoever ultimately made the decision—meant to have it Spider-Man.)
By page two of the second Great Feature-Length Spider-Man Thriller, “Spider-Man vs. The Chameleon,” which includes a completely pointless fight with the Fantastic Four, whose presence here, I imagine, was to boost sales and nothing more, things seem to have settled down a bit: Peter Parker’s alter ego is being consistently rendered as Spider-Man. Alas, young Peter Parker himself is not faring so well, in that twice on the same page his creators seem to think his name is Peter Palmer.
Alas. Even 50 years ago Spider-Man was being victimized by sloppy, hurried editing. And so was Spiderman.