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C’mon, Spidey. Sit like a lady. – FOOM #3

May 20, 2011

It’s always nice to have Spider-Man’s batch right in your face. Excelsior!

Marvel’s in-house fanzine for the Friends Of Ol’ Marvel, FOOM was a thin, eclectic little mix with features of varying quality. This Spider-Man themed edition (published in 1973) is a typical blending of the interesting and irrelevant. There’s dullsville material like a checklist of Amazing Spider-Man comics, superficial “news” about goings on in the Marvel world, and a look at the history of the web-slinger’s title.

But oh, there’s some good stuff.

The winners of a character design contest were announced in this issue (other entries had been shown in #2), and the grand champion looks like he could have leapt right off Kirby’s easel:

Now, the prize for winning this contest was to have your character appear in a Marvel comic book and interact with that stable of icons. Sounds pretty great, right? A kid’s dream. And here’s where this gets a little bit interesting, in an episode that merits its own Wikipedia page. Humus Sapiens, the winning character, wasn’t used. Can you imagine being little Michael A. Barreiro (who grew up to be a part-time artist) and opening each and every comic that came out to see if your creation, the fruit of your youthful toil, would finally get his moment in the sun? You know, the prize that you were promised right there in black and white? And not finding him there among your favorite comic book stars? How hard would it have been to stick this guy in one of the (many) books from that era that nobody cared a lick about?


I’m not saying that this is a great crime against humanity, or one that requires a DeNiro in Cape Fear level of retribution, but it is douchebaggery to the nth power to leave this kid hanging like that. Fuck you, 1970s Marvel! Fuck you, I say!

There is, thankfully, a semi-happy ending to this. Humus Sapien (minus the “s” at the end of his name) eventually appeared in a 2001 issue of Thunderbolts, and his powers, which were generated by all of humanity but claimed human life whenever they were used, were a rather creative add-on. Grownup Barreiro even got the chance to ink a bit of his character’s appearance. Better late than never, I guess, like a lost love letter delivered fifty years after it was written. (For some further reading about this sordid affair, click here.)

Anyway, there were some other interesting honorable mention entrants in this contest that got shown on a smaller scale (including one from noted artist Steve Rude in issue #2). Here’s this issue’s two-page spread displaying them:

If had to make a pick of which one of these I like the best, I’d probably choose Sulfuros (second row from the top, first one). Like Humus, he has a nice Kirby feel. And for a dishonorable mention, there’s “Black Savage.” Really? All I see are bell bottoms and an afro, so I’m assuming it’s the “black” that makes him “savage.” Oy.

Enough of that. There are also plenty of games here for young and old alike, including these, which contain a half-finished effort from (I imagine) this mag’s original owner:

There’s also this whimsical little John Romita self-portrait accompanying one of the Spidey articles (I want to say that I’ve seen this before someplace else, but I’m not sure where) — the magazine image itself is a little blurry, so don’t blame my scanner or your eyes for any fuzziness:

I don’t mean to break the whimsy, but it looks to me that Spidey is straining to drop a deuce on Romita’s head. And on that note…

I’ve always had a deeper connection with the DC stable of characters, but there’s little doubt that it was more fun to be a Marvel guy (or gal) back in this ’60s/early ’70s timeframe. Things like FOOM, Marvelmania and, of course, the Merry Marvel Marching Society must have made people feel like they were part of an experience, not just a consumer base. Good marketing, and good times all around.

Unless you’re little Mikey Barreiro.

I’ll leave you with this FOOM parody strip from some rather big names — have a good one:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2011 8:32 pm

    I notice there are also character submissions by Grant Miehm, who went on to illustrate The Fly and other stuff for DC (and now does cartoons for Boys’ Life magazine) and Tom Lyle, whom I remember from the Robin title.

    I’m guessing “Black Savage” is supposed to be an “urban” take on Doc Savage (which is actually kind of intriguing), but yes, it’s an unfortunate choice of name to say the least.

    • May 22, 2011 7:28 pm

      Thanks for pointing those out. I’m afraid I didn’t scan the names too closely. Lyle I might have picked up, but I never would have noticed Miehm in a thousand years.

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