Friday, January 16, 2015

Making a Splash: Ross Andru's Amazing Spider-Man, Part One

Check it out, Groove-ophiles! While the honor-roll of Amazing Spider-Man artists is filled with an astonishing array of big-name talent (Ditko, Romita, Gil Kane and even...McFarlane...just to name names). Those of us who grew up during the Groovy Age have an abiding love for the underrated Ross Andru.

Andru was mostly a DC guy during the Silver Age (Metal Men, Superman, Flash, World's Finest just to name a few), but during the Groovy Age, Ross made his Marvel doing a bit of work here and there before getting regular gigs on mags like Shanna the She-Devil, Doc Savage, guessed it...Amazing Spider-Man. Ross's tenure lasted almost 60 issues--that's FIVE YEARS, baby--from ASM 125-185 (with a very few fill-ins). He outlasted two regular writers--Gerry Conway and Len Wein, then was called back to DC during Marv Wolfman's run. 

Today we're gonna feature The Boss' work with Gerry Conway--a very, very important run, baby. After all, it was during the Conway/Andru spell we got The Punisher, Tarantula, Harry Osborne as the Green Goblin, the Jackal, Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker clones--okay, mebbe that's a good place to stop! Dig Andru's splashes from issues 125-149 (July 1973-July 1975), baby! Was he ever a master of dizzying, sky-high perspective!!

(And yeah, Eagle-eyed ones, some of these scans are from Marvel Tales--close 'nuff, will serve...)


  1. I wasn't crazy about Andrews Spidey at first. But it grew on me after a few issues. I loved his earlier Metal Men at DC. Hard to top Ditko, Romita, John Buscema, Mooney & Gil Kane! Ross did do some great art though. This was the end of the Spidey era for me. By the 160's & Ron Frenz too short run on Spidey.

    1. Likewise.. but I opted out of Spidey when he got the spidey mobile. I was about 13 - 14 at the time and it seemed "childish,"

  2. I always loved Andru's pencils on ASM, with one exception. His depictions of Mary Jane and (clone) Gwen couldn't hold a candle to Romita's versions. Thanks for sharing these, they reminded me of a time my uncle sent me a present that consisted of back-issues of ASM #126 and 132-134. I was an Andru fan for life.

  3. Hey Dude,
    You've inspired me! Two questions...

    1) Do u remember around ASM 104 when Stan the Man asked the readers if we preferred the Conway/Andru team or the Lee/Kane team? I was torn b/c I kind of preferred Lee's stories but Andru's art.

    2) MOre importantly... Do you recommend getting Marvel Tales to reread the first 150 issues or so of ASM? I hate reading hard-back archive reprints (too small, no ads or letter pages or soap boxes,...) and don't want to invest in originals (I still cry thinking about how that piece of tape on the comic bag snagged my Avengers #2). My only concern is somewhere I read that Marvel would abridge the reprints in Marvel Tales, Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel's Greatest.

    3) I feel kind of sick. Walked into a comic book store and Fantastic Four is like dead.

    1. There's a little editing voodoo that goes on with the Marvel Tales reprints, usually a page is cut, but it's edited in such a way you won't miss it (unless you've read the originals) but it's rarely anything major. For the price of just wanting good reading copies, Marvel Tales isn't a bad alternative at all.

  4. Ross Andru is the very definition of "underrated". He was a blockbuster talent able to tell exciting and clear stories with regularity. His Spider-Man is distinctive in that under Ditko Spidey had a dark somewhat claustrophobic look (great in its own right) and under Romita Spidey had a bright open action-filled sheen (also great), but it took Andru's tenure to really put web-slinging into its own with wild vistas of NYC which made the reader share the glory of Spidey's power.

    Way to go Groove! Sing the praises of one of Spidey's great talents.

    Rip Off

  5. As a comics fan who got started in the '70s, I also associate Andru with Spidey first and foremost. And don't worry about the Marvel Tales scans - I first encountered every single one of these splash pages in that title.

  6. The Punisher Strikes Twice was the very first Spider-Man story I read (in a UK annual which I still own). My appreciation of what makes 'good' comic art will never dim my affection for Ross Andru's work.

    One thing though, Groove - what happened to 'My Uncle, My Enemy'?

    1. It's up there now, thanks to you, Dubblejay! Great catch! Dunno how I missed that one!

  7. What a wonderful gallery. Thanks for the effort.

    I have to say, I read Andru's Spidey run off the racks as a kid. Alongside reprints of the Ditko and Romita runs in reprints and book collections. I have to rank Andru's work just behind Ditko in terms of 'best Spidey' artist. I know my fellow Romita fans will kill me, and it's no disrespect to Johnny's exquisite draftsmanship, but with Ross Andru we have a Spider-Man who moves through New York in every imaginable way possible!

    You mentioned Andru's dizzying arial perspectives. He also did such innovative things like having Spidey run across the sides of buildings and contort with rubbery dexterity. There's also a sharp sense of humor in the drawings, and he excelled at JJJ's explosive tirades! His run with Gerry Conway was flawless in execution, they were expertly paired.

    Anyway, Glad to see Ross Andru get the spotlight he deserves here. Thanks!



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