As the story is usually told, a Marvel comic called Amazing
Fantasy was to be cancelled as of #15. Figuring they had nothing to
lose, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko whipped up the first story of a new character
named Spider-Man for that last issue...and he caught on so big that Marvel soon
brought him back in his own comic. This story is not exactly true.
In truth, when they did that first story, Stan and Steve did not know that
Amazing Fantasy would be axed as of #15. In fact, after they finished that
story, they did Spider-Man stories intended for Amazing Fantasy #16 and
#17. It was only after #15 went to press that publisher Martin Goodman
decided to make it the final issue. He put the leftover Spider-Man
material on the shelf and when he later brought the character back, those
stories were used in the second and third issue.
Jack Kirby had been the first artist on Spiderman (no hyphen) and
had drawn the first few pages of a somewhat different character by that name.
For reasons that remain arguable, Marvel decided to scrap the Kirby version and
have Lee start over again with Ditko. Their version of Spider-Man (with a
hyphen) is the one that became famous, and among his many contributions, Ditko
designed the distinctive costume.
Ditko drew a cover for Amazing Fantasy #15 but Stan didn't
like it and had Kirby draw (and Ditko ink) the published version. Years
later, Stan would say in interviews that the original Kirby version was junked
because, "Jack made the character too muscular." Kirby disputed that,
noting that he was drawing a Spiderman who was supposed to be muscular...and
also asking, "If I drew such a bad Spider-Man, how come Stan had me doing the
covers?" It's one of those controversies that can probably never be
settled but at least now, we can see the Kirby cover and the Ditko cover on one