AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #28 September 1965
When I first glommed onto this cover, I'm not sure what stunned me more: Ditko's innovative design, or the blurb announcing Peter Parker's graduation from high school!?! I mean, back in those days, characters had a milieu they existed in, and that's pretty much where they'd stay. Clark Kent was a reporter for the Daily Planet. Hal Jordan was a test pilot. Casper was dead and seemed to have a really good attitude about it. And Peter Parker was Midtown High's nerdy Science whiz. Only, suddenly he wasn't anymore. Suddenly he was making the transition to college student, and the way it was presented at the end of this issue, with the inherent gravity clearly delineated, you knew it wasn't just going to be a cosmetic change.
There are tremendous differences between the two institutions, as I was later to find out first hand. This story, and the ones that followed directly after it, provided me with a much needed diversion years on, as I myself entered the hallowed halls of higher learning. Now, y'see, I'd grown up associating with pretty much the same group of friends up through and including my 18th summer, but come September, a new world beckoned as we all went our separate ways. Left living at home as my buddies took off for various points across the globe (okay, okay--mostly New York state--but it's BIG state!!) I found myself burdened with a 60-mile round-trip commute. All to attend an art program at the State University of New York at Farmingdale in the fall of 1971, and lemme tell ya, those first few months were a lonely go. Thrown into a totally foreign environment, I desperately needed something familiar to cling to in what little free time I could squeeze out of my uncomfortably busy day. So, I chose to reread what are, in my opinion, the best super-hero comics ever published, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's magnificent run on the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN series. Happily, they proved to be a welcome respite from the newfound pressure of college, and when I finally reached the sequence that kicked off in this issues conclusion, I found Peter's subsequent adventures at Empire University to have taken on an entirely new, yet surprisingly, relevant resonance to my own then-current situation. The good news is, although it prove to be a bit more difficult making friends as a commuter, by late October, I had found a steadfast pair of fellas every bit as reliable as my Longwood High compadres, and, brother, after THAT, the sailing was far smoother!! I put down my Spideys shortly thereafter--only got a little ways into the Romita issues--and fully threw myself into life after high school. But they'd more than served their purpose. Y'see, for a short period there, when I literally didn't have a friend in the world (at least one that wasn't, oh, 500 or so miles away) I had my Spider-Man comics. Goofy as it may sound, especially to you non-fan types, they sustained me during a dark period. And when I got to the part where the hero goes off to college, well gee, his confusion somehow empathically echoed a lot of what I myself was feeling!?! Is it any wonder then that I have such a warm spot in my heart for these silly little pulp paper pamphlets? After all, the GREEN LANTERN comics were no help--I wasn't majoring in test pilot, y'dig!?!...

Purely on an artistic basis, this cover would stand out like the Hope Diamond even amongst Liz Taylor's gem collection!! Which is why I asked Lynn to have a go at utilizing Photoshop to mimic the hues of the original piece. I felt it was simple enough so as not to overwork my lovely bride, while obviously being striking enough to warrant the special treatment. We hope you like it, and promise to bring you the occasional color redo to spice things up a bit. And remember--all kudos to Lynn. She did the heavy lifting on this one!! (Oh, and for you traditionalists, the black and white version of this tweaked Ditko masterpiece can be seen by scrolling downwards, so, commence scrolling!!)