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Sunday, March 12, 2017

THE ROY THOMAS SPIDER-MAN COSTUME


THE ROY THOMAS SPIDER-MAN COSTUME

The legend and lore of Marvel's very first in-house promo costume


BY
"RASCALLY" ROY THOMAS
AND
JOHN "THE MEGO STRETCH HULK" CIMINO

Sometime in the last months of 1965, or in early 1966, in the Marvel offices, production manager Sol Brodsky showed me several folded-up costumes which, he said, had been sewn for Marvel by a "professional seamstress" -- or some phrase to that effect. They were costumes for Spider-Man, Fantastic Four (a uniform that could be worn by either sex), and two others, which I believe were the Wasp and Medusa. He told me the costumes had been made for the company specifically so that they could be worn in a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade... that would've had to be the 1964 one, or (less likely) the 1965 one. Sol told me that the "actors" hired to wear the costumes had gotten paid in advance and hadn't marched in the parade; I believe he said or implied that they'd gotten drunk and never showed up. He told me I could have the costumes if I wanted them, as they were just cluttering up the office. I knew Sol well enough by then to know that, if he was giving me the costumes, it had to be with the permission (if not by the direction) of editor Stan Lee, since Sol would never have given away such company property on his own. I took the costumes, not certain what I would do with them.


Sol Brodsky was the guy that gave Roy Thomas the Spider-man costume (with Stan Lee's permission of course).

Over the years, I've worn the Spider-Man costume on several occasions. I'm not sure what year I first wore it to one of the annual Halloween parades in Rutland, Vermont, which I'd been attending since 1965. I could have worn the Spidey costume in Rutland as early as '66. In 1969, my first wife Jeanie and I attended the Rutland parade and parties in costume as Invisible Girl and Spider-Man. There is a published photo of the two of us in those costumes in Rutland in a 1970 issue of the comics fanzine COMIC CRUSADER #8. We may have worn those costumes more than once, but not very often. In THE AVENGERS #83, a 1970 comic book I wrote, I had the artist draw Jeanie and me wearing those costumes as we attended a Rutland party held in conjunction with the parade. Though that story supposedly "took place" in 1970, it surely reflected events of the previous year's events.


Photo of Roy Thomas and his first wife Jeanie Thomas at the Rutland, VT. Halloween parade in 1969 from the comic fanzine COMIC CRUSADER #8.

COMIC CRUSADER #8 (1970)

Roy Thomas wearing his Spider-man costume at the Rutland, VT. Halloween party in THE AVENGERS #83.

 Jeanie Thomas with Roy (now unmasked) from THE AVENGERS #83. And you'll notice in the second panel that Roy is talking to his very own character -- the Vision! How cool is that?

THE AVENGERS #83 (1970)

I also wore the Spidey costume for a couple of events covered in Marvel Comics themselves. I wore it for a photo that was made a part of a page in NOT BRAND ECHH #11, which went on sale in autumn of 1968. But the resolution of that photo wasn’t very good, so it was reprinted in NOT BRAND ECHH #13, four months later, with better quality.


Splash page of Roy Thomas in Spider-man costume from NOT BRAND ECHH #11.

NOT BRAND ECHH #11 (1968)

Reprinted splash page of Roy Thomas in Spider-man costume (with much better quality) from NOT BRAND ECHH #13.

NOT BRAND ECHH #13 (1969)

For the 1969 FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL, which came out in the summer of that year, I donned the Spidey costume again and posed for a photo in Stan Lee's office with Stan and artists John Romita and Marie Severin. That photo has been reprinted numerous times since, including in Marvel's self-published fanzine FOOM #16 in 1976.


The last page of the 4-page back-up feature on the Marvel Bullpen from FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #7 (1969) with Roy Thomas in the Spider-man costume with Stan Lee, Marie Severin and John Romita. Pictures of Roy and his first wife Jean are also on the page.

FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #7 (1969)

The picture with Roy in costume with Stan Lee, Johnny Romita and Marie Severin was reprinted in FOOM magazine #16 (1976)

On the evening of January 5, 1972, I wore the costume for a short time in the legendary Stan Lee/Marvel Carnegie Hall show, running up and down the aisles and probably onstage. It’s unfortunate that the promoter did not allow photos to be taken at that event.


The Stan Lee Carnegie Hall poster by artist George Delmercio (1972)

Outside shot of fans waiting to get into the "STAN LEE AT CARNEGIE HALL" show in 1972. Roy Thomas would be seen running up and down the aisles in his Spider-man costume.

There also exists one lone photo (so far as I know) of me in the Spidey costume at a New York Comics Convention -- probably in 1966 -- framed between a couple of young X-Men. This is most likely the only time I ever wore the Spidey costume to a con of any kind.

Roy Thomas sporting the Spider-man costume at a 1966 NY Comic Convention.

Probably the last time I wore it was when my future wife Dann and I went as Invisible Girl and Spider-Man to some Halloween event in the Los Angeles area, and a photo of us in the costumes exists. This was probably in the late 1970s.


Roy and Dann Thomas both in costume at a Halloween event in Los Angeles during the late '70s.

From the day I was handed the Spider-Man costume by Sol Brodsky in 1965-66, until January 2017, it has never been out of my possession. It has never been loaned to (or worn by) anyone else. There have been one or two attempts in the past to market a Spider-Man costume which, it was claimed, was the one worn in the 1972 Carnegie Hall show. However, these claims were erroneous (...) as I still have that costume in my possession and never relinquished it at any time -- and, at my insistence, the dealer who first advertised the bogus costume deleted any future mention of a supposed "Carnegie Hall" provenance, since that was not correct.

Best Wishes,
Roy Thomas


BRING ON SPIDEY'S MERRY MARVELOUS 55th BIRTHDAY BASH AND SO MUCH MORE!
 


Notice that my buddy Roy Thomas said he had the Spider-man costume until January 2017? That's because in January he relinquished his mighty grip on the costume and put it into my puny mere mortal hands. I have now officially become the living and breathing representative/spokesperson/overseer for the Roy Thomas Spider-man costume. This, I must say, is truly an honor especially for a fanboy like me. To understand how lucky I am to care for such an unbelievably rare and sacred piece one must understand that it was the very first in-house promotional costume ever made by Marvel Comics themselves and the first live-action Spider-man costume used in their comic-books. Sure, the 1954, 1958 and 1963 Ben Cooper Spider-man Halloween costumes predate this one but those were mass produced and made for the public. Roy's Spider-man costume is the only one of its kind and the only one that was ever made. How AMAZING is that?? Now before I get into what Roy Thomas, his beautiful wife Dann Thomas and I have planned for this grail piece and Spider-man's 55th anniversary celebration in August, let's take a closer look at his SPECTACULAR costume shall we...


Roy and Dann Thomas bring me the Spider-man costume that has been buried away for over 40 years. And yes, I almost passed out (not because I got to see the costume in person, but because it was so crunched up).

Me and Roy displaying his Spider-man costume.

Here we are comparing the earliest Spider-man costumes in the world. To read about the legend of the Ben Cooper Spider-man costumes click this link: "The 1963 Ben Cooper Spider-man Costume."

A historical picture of the world's greatest Spider-man costumes! From left to right: 1964 Roy Thomas Spider-man costume, 1963 Ben Cooper Spider-man costume, 1958 Ben Cooper Spider-man costume and 1954 Ben Cooper Spider-man costume. Have you ever seen anything this amazing?? THWIPP!!!

So who's the real Peter Parker behind those Spider-man masks?

When I had Roy bring me his costume I wanted to know more about its history. You'll notice from reading Roy's introduction on this blog that not much was known other than what he was told by Sol Brodsky. So Roy did some detective work on his own and asked Stan Lee if he had any recollection of who made the Spider-man costume, what its purpose was and any details in general about it. This was Stan's response to Roy on February 4, 2017:

Roy, you're incredible!

You not only remember the events but the dates as well! 

I remember the events you mentioned only vaguely. Hell, people sometimes ask me when I moved to L.A. and I can't even answer that!

Wish I could help you but I don't even recall some of the stuff you mention.

Your memory is absolutely a national treasure -- should be donated to the Smithsonian!

Excelsior!

Stan

So sadly, the true history of this Spider-man costume will forever be a mystery and lost to the ages. But at least we can all still appreciate it's everlasting glory and grandeur because after giving it a professional steam press and cleaning the costume was ready for it's big reveal!! I present to you exclusive photos of a true piece of Marvel history -- the one and only Roy Thomas Spider-man costume!! What do you think fanboys?


Walloping web-snappers -- it's a thing of beauty from the front...

...and the back.

The first thing you will notice about the Spider-man costume is that the leggings are purple and the upper torso is blue. You might be scratching your head and wondering why that is. First off, you have to remember that the costume was made in 1964 and Spider-man was only about 2 years old. When the seamstress was hired by Marvel to make the costumes she (I'm just assuming the seamstress was a "she" for the sake of the story since Roy never knew who made the costume) used early Spider-man comics as reference. While the outer part of Spider-man's costume was colored blue on the covers of the comics, a warm purple was used on the interior pages. This might've caused some confusion on what Spider-man's costume was supposed to be -- blue or purple? The seamstress probably assumed it could've been either color and just made the costume with both (I mean, who would really care about the color accuracy of a comic-book character at this time). This shows just how early the costume was made and it truly represents the innocence and magic during those early days of Marvel. And to be honest, the colors give Roy's costume such uniqueness and charm that it totally differentiates itself from any other Spider-man costume made since.

Check it out for yourself by looking at these original interior pages from early AMAZING SPIDER-MAN comics colored by the late Stan Goldberg (and possibly a few uncredited others) down below. Is the outer part of Spidey's costume purple or blue -- you decide?

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 (1963)

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2 (1963)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #3 (1963)

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4 (1963)



On March 11th, 2017 the NY POST put out an article that Roy and I were first revealing the costume at the BIG APPLE CON in New York City. The article tells the fun tale of the history of the costume but HERITAGE AUCTIONS pop culture expert Greg Holman estimated the value of the costume at only 2,000 to 3,000 dollars (????), which is completely false! Roy and I already had offers considerably higher so that claim is downright nonsense and tells nothing of the true value of this incredible piece. But the article did its job to give the costume some good national exposure. So much in fact that Jeanie Thomas (Roy's ex-wife and the woman who wore the Invisible Girl costume with Roy in the comics and at Carnegie Hall) whom Roy hasn't seen in over 30 years came by to visit us at the BIG APPLE CON and see the costume. It was an incredible moment that hundreds of comic fans and I managed to capture on film and video. Now that was something really special!


Article in the NY POST 3/11/2017 that showcased the costume (which made the bogus claim that it was only worth 2,000 to 3,000 dollars) and made a historical reunion occur.

Roy and I with his ex-wife Jeanie get together again for the first time in 30 years to pose with the Spider-man costume. Simply amazing!

Okay, now that we know all about the hokey coloring of the costume let's get back to the original question. With Roy's Spider-man costume hidden from the world for over 40 years, why are we revealing it to the world now in 2017? Well, as I said earlier, it's Spider-man's 55th anniversary this August plus Marvel Studios/Sony is releasing the movie SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING in July to theaters which is likely going to be a huge blockbuster hit. And to celebrate these major events in the Merry Marvel tradition, we are not only showing the world the rarest and most valuable piece of vintage Spider-man memorabilia to exist -- we are also going to auction it off!!! That's right true believers, at the end of the year the Thomas family and my company SATURDAY MORNING COLLECTIBLES are planning on going to a major auction house and giving the biggest Spider-man fans in the world a chance to win this incredible piece of Marvel history (only serious inquiries please). But before we give you those details I will be personally taking the costume and displaying it at a few comic cons around the East Coast so comic fans of all ages can enjoy seeing it. How awesome is that?

If you want more details about the costume, upcoming events and auction, contact me at johnstretch@live.com. Please understand that when the costume goes on auction it will be reserved at a price the Thomas family and myself feel it's worth and they will absolutely not sell for anything less. But to be honest, in my expert opinion, I expect the costume to go for a lot more -- so stick that in your web-shooter... THWIPP!!!


 THE ROY THOMAS SPIDER-MAN COSTUME MOVIE!



Spider-man and his amazing friends!


AND ONE MORE THING...

Roy stated above that he was the one and only person to ever wear the costume. Well, that's not entirely true anymore. Since receiving it I just had to dress my baby girl up in this thing just so she could become a part of Marvel Comics history and feel the magic herself -- so don't be mad Roy because you've got company! Ladies and gents, the only other person to wear the Roy Thomas Spider-man costume, my daughter Bryn Isabella Cimino!!!!!


Thwipp!
 
THE POWER COSMIC PODCAST EPISODE 34
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/thepowercosmic/episodes/2017-03-08T18_21_25-08_00

THE POWER COSMIC PODCAST EPISODE 35
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/thepowercosmic/episodes/2017-03-15T11_00_45-07_00 

THIS RARE SPIDER-MAN COSTUME WAS HIDDEN IN A CLOSET FOR 50 YEARS
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cncYertVEA 

THE METRO DAILY WEST NEWS
http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/news/20170625/first-spider-man-costume-makes-appearance-in-weston  

THE 1963 BEN COOPER SPIDER-MAN COSTUME
http://hero-envy.blogspot.com/2012/10/1963-ben-cooper-spider-man-halloween.html 
 


Roy William Thomas, Jr.
Roy Thomas is a legendary comic-book writer and editor, who was Stan Lee's first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. He is known for co-creating some of comics' greatest heroes and villains including Wolverine, Iron Fist and Ghost Rider and introducing the pulp magazine hero Conan the Barbarian and sci-fi fantasy Star Wars to Marvel Comics. He's also known for his championing of Golden Age comic-book heroes -- particularly the 1940s superhero team the Justice Society of America. He has had lengthy writing stints on Marvel's X-Men and Avengers, and DC Comics' All-Star Squadron, among many other titles, movies and books. Roy was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2011 and knows more comic-book history than just about anyone.

John Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing, runs the Roy Thomas Appreciation Boards on Facebook and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. He also represents some of comicdoms biggest stars and brings them to a Comic Con near you. John still thinks he's really Captain Marvel, people just don't have the heart to tell him he's just an obsessed fanboy that loves to play superheroes with his daughter Bryn. Contact him at johnstretch@live.com or follow on twitter at @Elastic_Hulk.

www.heroenvy.com