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Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Have You Heard About The billion-dollar Spider-Man ‘cover up’?

Most of you comickers out there probably saw this but it is interesting and some of you may NOT be aware of this. Captainstrangelife in one of his vlogs first brought it to my attention.

It's a little interesting because Ditko in his made claims to be the soul creator of Spider-man, is going to also have to admit to stealing the idea for the costume....or will he claim "That was Stan!!"?

The billion-dollar Spider-Man ‘cover up’

None of this might have happened were it not for one unfortunate Spider-Man fan whose boiler broke down.

Back in 2006, comic book and toy dealer John Cimino bought a collection from a seller who needed money for a new hot-water heater. Within the assortment of pop-culture oddities for which Cimino paid $500 was a cheap, rayon-and-cotton Halloween costume from the 1960s featuring Spider-Man.

“I didn’t think twice about it,” Cimino tells The Post. He tossed it in his basement.

But Cimino would later give that costume a closer look, and what he discovered has led to one of the more puzzling mysteries in the superhero world, and might muddy the origin story of one of the world’s most well-known — and lucrative — characters.

Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man first appeared in 1962’s “Amazing Fantasy” No. 15. He was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko. Lee has said that the hero was inspired by a 1930s pulp crime fighter called the Spider.

Ditko designed the costume to “fit in with the powers he had,” the artist wrote in a 1990 issue of Robin Snyder’s “History of the Comics.”

But could the illustrator have actually found inspiration in a child’s costume?

That Spidey suit Cimino bought was produced by Ben Cooper, Inc., a now-defunct Brooklyn company founded in 1937. The costumer originally created theatrical wardrobes but soon moved into kids’ Halloween outfits — many of them licensed, including a 1937 line based on Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
John Cimino and his daughter Bryn hold the second 1950s Spider Man costume (left) and the first licensed Spidey costume from 1963 — both were made by Brooklyn company Ben Cooper, Inc.Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki
After reading a book about mid-century collectibles, Cimino, 41, re-examined his Ben Cooper costume and quickly became obsessed with the company.

“I started digging deeper,” he says. “I dug and dug and dug.”

As he continued researching the company, he came across catalogs from the 1950s, and one particular image left him scratching his head.

There, in one 1954 circular, was an offering for a “Spider Man” costume that looked slightly different from the one he had just purchased. The get-up had a spider logo on the chest and a distinctive web pattern across the bodysuit and face mask.

In other words, it immediately called to mind Marvel’s Spider-Man, who wouldn’t be introduced for another eight years.

“I thought, hmm, that’s weird,” says Cimino, who runs Massachusetts’ Saturday Morning Collectibles, selling online and at shows.

The dealer, however, thought the costume was simply a prototype and was never produced. Until, that is, he got a call from a seller who once owned a five-and-dime store and had some leftover inventory in an old barn.

Stashed among the piles were a few old Ben Cooper Halloween costumes, including that mysterious Spider Man from 1954.

“I saw it, and I thought, Holy s–t! It does exist!” Cimino says. “I didn’t jump around, but I was s—ting my pants.”

Ben Cooper costumes were once ubiquitous. The company reportedly owned between 70 and 80 percent of the Halloween market in the ’60s. In 1963, Cooper moved some 2.5 million units.
The earliest costumes from the ’50s (left) are yellow, while the licensed ones have the now-familiar red-and-blue motif.Photo: Nicolaus Czarnecki
“Ben Cooper was 10 miles from Marvel’s offices,” Cimino says. “Ben Cooper ruled Halloween in New York City, so Ditko had to have seen this costume. When he got the assignment for Spider-Man, maybe something came back when he was designing it. It’s so much like the Ben Cooper.”

Late last year, Cimino mailed photos of the yellow 1950s costume to Ditko, 87, who still works near Times Square but shuns publicity and hasn’t done a formal interview or taken a public photo in decades. The artist sent back a terse, handwritten reply.

“The burden of proof is on the person who makes the assertion, claim, charge,” Ditko wrote. “Some clippings, etc., are not rational proof of anything but some clippings, etc.”
In response to communication from John Cimino, artist Steve Ditko (below, in a 1945 yearbook photo) replied with the above letter.
Photo: Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library
Then again, the similarities may be down to another Marvel artist. Jack Kirby, who died in 1994, claimed a few times that he created Spider-Man, and a 1975 issue of FOOM!, a Marvel-produced fan magazine, states, “It was Jack Kirby who designed Spider-Man’s costume.”

After all, Stan Lee did originally tap Kirby to draw Spider-Man, and the artist reportedly created five pages before Lee changed his mind and gave the assignment to Ditko. (According to Ditko, Kirby’s version of Spider-Man looked nothing like the hero we know today — though everyone involved has a different recollection. Marvel declined comment through a representative.)

Ben Cooper’s records were destroyed in a 1989 fire, and the company was sold in 1992, but rumor has it that in the 1950s, Kirby worked briefly for the company. Could he have designed that 1950s Spider Man costume before repurposing it for Marvel a few years later?

Where the story gets even stranger is when Cimino went back to that original licensed Spider-Man costume he’d bought from the man who needed a new boiler. He realized the copyright on the packaging and costume said it was produced in 1963, a few months after Spider-Man’s first appearance. Turns out it was actually Marvel’s very first piece of licensed merchandise, hitting shelves a year earlier than anything previously known. Just three costumes are now known to exist, and Cimino has been offered $30,000 for his.

The licensed costume has a red mask — not yellow, as the 1954 Ben Cooper did — though both have the big spider eyes with black outlines. The licensed jumpsuit is partially yellow on the chest, with blue pants and sleeves.

So why would Ben Cooper, a company that was already producing a Spider Man costume, be interested in licensing Marvel’s Spider-Man long before the comic character achieved mainstream popularity?
Stan LeePhoto: Reed Saxon/AP
“When Spider-Man hit the newsstands in 1962, I think Ben Cooper saw it and thought it looked like his costume,” Cimino says. “Then he went to [Marvel head] Martin Goodman, and I think they came to a deal where Cooper said, ‘Listen, this looks a bit like mine.’ I don’t think it was a big deal.”

As for Stan Lee, Cimino once met the Marvel honcho at an event and asked him about the mysterious licensing deal. Lee had no recollection of the costume.

“No one is going to talk about this, because there are billions of dollars at stake,” Cimino says. “You don’t know if the Ben Cooper heirs are going to come out of the woodwork and sue or something.”
If they do, expect to find them hanging from a lamppost, tangled in webbing.

The amazing origins of Spider-Man

1954: New York costume company Ben Cooper, Inc., sells outfit called “Spider Man.” Marvel Comics artist Jack Kirby is rumored to have worked briefly for the company, perhaps designing costumes.
Late 1950s: Ben Cooper alters its “Spider Man” costume design, swapping the bag-like mask for a yellow, plastic spider’s web. The new design is sold until 1962.

1962: Writer-editor Stan Lee assigns Kirby to produce Marvel’s new comic, “Spider-Man.” The artist draws a few pages, but Lee deems them not right and hires Steve Ditko instead. Ditko claims to design costume.

August 1962 (cover date): Spider-Man debuts in “Amazing Fantasy” No. 15.

March 1963 (cover date): The hero’s solo title, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” hits shelves.

October 1963: Ben Cooper strikes deal with Marvel — terms unknown — and begins selling a licensed Spider-Man costume, making it the comic company’s first piece of merchandise.


If you get to see this, pal, hope the books turned up and you are doing okay?

Comic Albums, Graphic Novels And Stuff

Black Tower Adventure 4

To contact me please check out "About" thanks!


Black Tower Comics began in 1984 as a Small Press publisher of A5 (US -Digest size) titles such as Adventure,Presents,Windows and Hanley's Garage.  Then came the news, reviews, previews and interviews publication backed up by the mart and mail order service -Zine Zone (later Zine Zone International).

In 2009, with the innovation in publishing of Print On Demand (POD), Black Tower jumped in head first!

One of the first titles to see print in the new comic album format (A4) was The Bat Triumphant! This saw the complete story, begun in Black Tower Adventure vol. 1.  William A. Ward's long lost 1940s character once again saw print as he fought a host of  enemies in an attempt to reclaim his homeland.


And while The Bat may have fought fist and nail to reclaim his homeland, another 1940s Ward creation, Krakos the Egyptian, seemed far from willing to claim a new Egyptian Empire as promised to him by the Gods.  Tackling a number of foes and even encountering the Many-Eyed One, Krakos turned his back on the gods and the final panel of Krakos -Sands Of Terror, delivered a true twist!

Krakos -Sands Of Terror!

Of course, the flag-ship title had to return!  And so Black Tower Adventure -eventually reaching new heights when the legendary Ben Dilworth jumped on board!  Volume 2 consisted of  ten issues. Just look at these covers....

Black Tower Adventure 1Black Tower Adventure 2BLACK TOWER ADVENTURE 3Black Tower Adventure 4Black Tower Adventure 5Black Tower Adventure 6ADVENTURE 7Black Tower Adventure 8BLACK TOWER ADVENTURE 9Black Tower Adventure 10


The Independents!

Jemma Webster, Ben R. Dilworth, Paul Ashley Brown and Terry Hooper-Scharf
Black & White
98 Pages
Price: £8.00
Collected together a selection of the best Independent comics from Black Tower -
Jemma Webster's AUTOPSIA 
Small Press Guru Uhuru Paul Ashley Brown's now out of print big seller THE TALL TREES 
A selection from the legend that is Ben R. Dilworth 
Oh, and Terry Hooper-Scharfs "Go Bo Explains Einstein." 
And, with something like 40 years worth of files and investigation reports could all that much delving into UFOs, lake and sea creatures and many other mysteries not result in a book or two...or three? Some Things Strange & Sinister, Some More Things Strange & Sinister as well as Pursuing The Strange and Weird: A Naturalist's Viewpoint set a precedence.

Whereas for decades those involved in "UFOlogy", "Cryptozoology" and "Forteana" declared many mysteries, that photographs were lost "to history" and so on, these three books swiped away the false claims.  Alleged lost photographs -found.  'Mysteries' solved by doing actual research work and reading the sources -something others had never done.
Some Things Strange & SinisterSome More Things Strange & SinisterPursuing The Strange & Weird:A Naturalists Viewpoint

And, of course, mention natural history and Black Tower Books broke new ground with that in The Red Paper: Canids.

The Red Paper: CANIDS

But not all the prose books covered mysteries and wildlife.

And if there is one thing "Herr Professor" loves it is discovering and presenting long lost UK Golden Age (1939-1951) comic strips and characters from publishers such as Gerald Swan, Foldes, Denis M. Reader, Cartoon Art Productions and others.

Scanned and restored as best as can be considering the poor print quality of the rationing years -especially red, orange, yellow, blue and purple ink printing!

Ace Hart The Atomic Man!  The Tornado!  TNT Tom!  Dene Vernon!  Acromaid!  Cat-Girl! Bring 'Em Back Hank! Robert Lovett:Back From The Dead and so many other action heroes and humour strip characters -William A. Ward, Jock McCaill and a host of known and unknown creators contribute -either in single volume " Black Tower Gold" albums or all six collected into the 400+ pager -The Ultimate British Golden Age Collection!

The Ultimate British Comics Gold CollectionBlack Tower British Gold Collection 1Black Tower British Gold Collection 2Black Tower British Gold Collection 3UK GOLD COLLECTION 4Black Tower Gold 5:Back From The Deadblack tower gold 6

Another great love is Centaur Comics from the United States.  Right at the very start of the American Golden Age of Comics Centaur had creators who were ahead of the others!  Before Plastic Man there was Plymo!  Before The Human Bomb there was TNT Todd!  Before Green Arrow and waaaaaaay before Hawkeye there was the mysterious red hooded archer called The Arrow!  And, to just break your comic mind world there was even a Black Panther -decades before Kirby came up with his character of the same name.

The Eye Sees All.  The Owl. The Iron Skull.  Amazing Man. The King of Darkness.  The Invisible Terror. The Blue Lady. The Shark. Mini Midget & Kitty.  Mighty Man. Super Anne.  The company may have been short-lived but it's characters -oh boy!

The two volume Centaur Heroes Collection has been compiled into one sweet 140 page comic collection!
The Ultimate Centaur Collection 2011

Horror. Ghost stories.  The twist-in-the tale.  Did you think that a publisher who is a big horror comic/film fan would ignore these?

Nope.  Each year since 2010, BTCG has published a Tales Of Terror anthology album and 2014s included some fun and spooky lost Swan Comic strips.  I mean how can you go wrong -even Ben Dilworth is in these!

 Tower Tales Of TerrorTales Of Terror 2TALES OF TERROR IIITales Of Terror 4

The Church Of England has it's own basher of dark forces in the Reverend Merriwether -"God's Demon0-Thumper" as the press billed him.  From an ancient Egyptian demon to a village of the damned and Varney the Vampyre, werwolves and a final confrontation with Satan himself -Merriwether pulls no punches and offers no compromise.  And in those last few seconds between life and death, Merriwether's mind recalls past cases -thanks to Ben Dilworththe Tall Man of Osaka.

Merriwether: God's Demon Thumper and Merriwether: The Test Of Satan are available as individual comic albums or in one swanky book The Collected Merriwether: God's Demon Thumper.

 Merriwether:God's Demon-ThumperMerriwether:The Test Of SatanMerriwether: Gods Demon Thumper

Oh, did I forget to mention Dene Vernon -British comics' first investigator of the supernatural and strange mysteries?  I did? Unbelievable since Gavin Stuart Ross drew the 1948 based Dene Vernon: The Thing Below!

 Dene Vernon:The Thing Below

 And did you know Ross also drew the two adventures of Victorian mystery man Chung Ling Soo? Chung Ling Soo: The Curse Of The Jade Dragon and Chung Ling Soo: The Case Of The Thames Serpent were two cracking tales of magic, adventure, murder and deception -still available as single comic albums or collected together to form The Adventures Of Chung Ling Soo!

Chung Ling Soo 1Chung Ling Soo Man Of Mystery


Ben Dilworth is no slouch either!  Chung Ling Soo's police "counter-foil" isnone other than old London "Jack" (police man) Inspector Wilberforce and when Dilworth says "Here's a Wilberforce one-off: PUBLISH IT!" you do not argue!


And did you know you can be a Gold Master of Japanese Haiku?  Well, neither did I -but guess what?  Ben Dilworth is such a master and his Osaka Brutal features his Haiku in English!

 Osaka Brutal

Old saleman that he is, Dilworth just keeps on going.  He produced Aesop's Fables -a darker version of the childrens tales and then went on to write two well illustrated prose albums looking at spirits and demons -Dilworth's Japanese Yokai and Dilworth's Western YokaiOsaka and the Yokai books were combined with Aesop's Fables into the one volume The Collected Ben R. Dilworth -though the single volumes are also still available.

The Collected Ben R. DilworthDilworth's Japanese YokaiDILWORTH WESTERN YOKAIDilworths Aesop's Fables

Horror comics yes but also some nice illustrated prose from Dilworth in...Dilworth's Horror & Ghost Stories but for the connoisseur those stories were collected together with the Phantom Detective comic strips into The Complete Phantom Detective!
Dilworth's Horror & Ghost StoriesTHE COMPLETE PHANTOM DETECTIVE

And could anyone forget the sensational Iron Warrior Versus Big Bong:When Giants Fought? But add to that the various Iron Warrior strips from Adventure and you get The Iron Warrior Collection -When Giants Fought!  In the 1940s, William A. Ward's creation was to be the most graphically violent comic strip seen until the 1970s.  That is some legacy. It continues....with a touch of fun!


In case you are wondering, yes, obviously there are super heroes.  Mix in ancient pantheons of gods, giant robot, alien invasion, Lovecraftian dark ones and so much more that the book runs to over 320 pages then you have part 1 of Terry Hooper-Scharf's Invasion Earth Trilogy" or as it is titled Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes!  And epic ending with the words: "Dr Morg has killed us all" -and if you have never read the mind altering counter actuality that is The Dr Morg Trilogy you may be saying "What? Who-?"

And part 2 of the trilogy The Cross Earths Caper ought to get you in the mood for 2015s big 31st Anniversary third part of the trilogy The Green Skies.

 The Return Of The Gods:Twilight of the Super HeroesTHE CROSS EARTHS CAPERJourney Of The ID:The Dr Morg Trilogy

If you pass the ESTC (Epileptic Seizure Test Cover) on Dr Morg well, you are fit and healthy enough to read it and to check out all the Black Tower Comics and Books at the online store -see why we are the UKs largest publisher of  Independent Comics!