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A Brief History of The Spider VII
Reprints and Beyond

In 1964, on the heels of James Bond's screen success, Bantam editor Mark Jaffe had the brilliant idea of reprinting the adventures of his boyhood hero, Doc Savage, as a numbered series of paperback books, with distinctive covers by James Bama.

History has a way of repeating itself. Soon other publishers were jumping on the single-character formula, reprinting old Pulps. In 1968, Berkley Publishing put The Spider back in print. On the covers he even got the photo-realistic Bama treatment. But for only four books.

In 1973, Pocket Books tried to relaunch The Spider as, simply, SPIDER, a mens-adventure title in the Executioner or Destroyer vein. The old stories were modernized, with vintage references updated.

Spider purists blanched, but they got their revenge in the Eighties and Nineties when Spider paperbacks celebrated the hero's Pulp roots and unequalled retro thrills.

Today, Pulp reprints are mostly the domain of smaller publishers that cater to die-hard fans. As such, as much of the look and feel of the original is preserved. Bold Venture Press, which currently reprints Spider stories, typesets the novels in the original two column format, at the original magazine size, with all the original artwork.

Thanks to a Pulp resurgence, The Spider finally spun out into his own comic book in 1990 in a three-issue miniseries by Tim Truman for Eclipse. This take on the Master of Men seems to be inspired -- ironically -- by contemporary takes on Batman, a character that owes much to The Spider. Since then, other great comic book talents have been drawn into The Spider's web as well, but Richard Wentworth has never returned to the newsstands on a regular monthly basis.

Much of Pulp history is sadly forgotten. But not The Spider. Perhaps his will power is too strong. He continues to find a life in reprints and new media as well.