Was Spider-Man created 10 years before he first appeared in comics?
Saw an interesting story in the New York Post this morning:
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
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,
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.
Source: New York Post
Commentary: Unlike the New York Post, I am not going to sensationalize the story. I don't believe that there is a "billion dollar Spider-Man coverup" as their headline declares. But I still think this is an interesting story. Especially since Jack Kirby created the original Spider-Man costume (which was scrapped in favor of Steve Ditko's design), and New York Posts suggests that Jack Kirby did some work for Ben Cooper costumes back in the day. Interestingly enough, Ben Cooper costumes would go on to doing several Marvel costumes, including Marvel's Spider-Man. So I don't think there was any animosity or believe on their end that Marvel stole their design.
Granted, that might not stop unscrupulous family members from trying to sue Marvel to get a piece of that sweet Spider-Man pie.
In my personal opinion, it is very possible that Ditko was inspired by this costume when he designed Spider-Man. I end up writing things all the time only to find later on they were inspired by something I didn't even remember reading or seeing. I think it would be very difficult to argue that the success of Spider-Man owes all that much to that Ben Cooper costume. Honestly, as much as I love Spider-Man, I've never really liked his costume (though I admire the artist work that goes into the webbing). For my money, I have always been a far bigger fan of the black costume:
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