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Deconstructing Spider-Man: Stan Lee’s Balancing Act

Comic book legend Stan Lee’s original 100 consecutive issue run on The Amazing Spider-man from 1964 to 1971 is widely considered one of the greatest spans of writing in comic book history.

In the 1960s, The Amazing Spider-Man was a refreshing take on the increasingly predictable superhero genre, as it featured a young hero dealing with the real-life problems that come with keeping a secret identity. One of the most innovative aspects of the comic is the way that Lee expertly weaves together the threads of Spider-man’s heroics and Peter Parker’s hapless social life.

Due to my love for these comics, I was eager to deconstruct just how Lee managed to create such a seamless and compelling story.  Particularly, I was interested in visually understanding how the narrative of the story balanced Spider-man’s adventures with Peter Parker’s adolescence. I mapped out the narratives of two issues, #45 and #46, to better understand the way that Lee worked his magic and spun a web into the heads of readers worldwide.


When viewing these images, something to note is that Stan (and the artist, John Romita) usually transitions from Spidey to Peter mid-page, most likely to continue the flow for the reader and maintain interest.

Ultimately, this design decision is distinctive to the comics medium, as the page itself plays a role in shaping the narrative.

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