Spider-Man 30th Anniversary Promotion

“Twenty Years Ago—Spider-Man’s 30th,  Seemed Bigger than the 50th” – ICV2, Industry Trade Website

Spectacular Spider-Man #189 Featuring Spider-Man Hologram Cover.

Marvel needed a big promotion to reach the ambitious 1992 volume plan goals.  It would have to be something huge, and even if it wasn’t huge in it’s concept, the plan was to make it huge.  We had already planned to squeeze every ounce of juice out of every editorial event possible (new releases, company crossover, anniversary issues), but we were still short the volume plan numbers.

One of the ideas centered on the fact that 1992 was the 30th anniversary of the creation of Spider-Man.  Ordinarily not a major anniversary or birthday such as 25yh or 5oth.  However, out of necessity it was going to be treated like it was the Diamond Jubilee.  It would be a year long celebration at every retailer trade show, comic convention, comic industry trade publication and comic shops worldwide.

Plans for the year were summarized in the December 1991 issues of distributor trade publications (Diamond Dialogue, Diamond.  Internal Correspondence, Capital City. etc.)

A Spider-Man event was planned for every month of 1992, including a traveling Spider-Man museum display, Spider-Man character appearances around the country, a nationwide Spider-Man party in retail stores, Spider-Man party kits and spider-man co-op advertising offers.  Editorial material included a special edition of Marvel Age featuring the celebration coverage, Amazing Fantasy #15, the first Marvel Masterworks for Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man bookshelf format book releases, and special edition comics, with eye-catching covers featuring “Webbing Trade Dress” & Spider-Man holograms on the family of Spider-Man Books. (John would utilize holograms to spike sales again, the following year  for the X-Men 30th Anniversary Promotion whiich featured fully 3-D rendered Polaroid Holograms.)

“There was also an article in that issue of Internal Correspondence about a James Cameron Spider-Man movie planned for 1993, so not all the plans came to pass, but there was a lot of promotional activity and a substantial publishing program supporting the anniversary.” – ICV2, Industry Trade Website

In addition to creating huge excitement, and Marvel Buzz in comic shops, the program drove sales of nearly over two million additional units of Amazing Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man.

Issue Regular Sales Special Event Issue Regular Cover Price Special Edition  Cover Price % Increase Units Dollars Increase
Spectacular Spider-Man #189 85,000 190,000 1.25 2.95 124% 136%
Web of Spider-Man # 90 90,000 305,000 1.25 2.95 239% 136%
Amazing Spider-Man #365 385,000 865,000 1.25 3.5 151% 180%
Spider-Man 450,000 1,600,000 1.5 3.95 256% 164%

The Four Hologram Covers Celebrating the Spider-Man 30th Anniversary.

Among the events for retailers was a 30th birthday party for Spider-Man held in conjunction with the Capital City Distribution Sales Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.

Below is the coverage from the June 1992 issue of Internal Correspondence reporting on the event, courtesy of industry trade site icv2.com

The long-awaited Spider-Man 30th Anniversary Testimonial Dinner took place Monday evening, and no one was disappointed.  The room was beautifully set, including a Spider-Man cake, Spider-Man bisque, and Spider-Man wine glasses on each table.  On the way into the room retailers were presented with Marvel tins with a Stan Lee autographed Spider-Man hologram, courtesy of SkyBox International.

Following dinner, remarks were made by [Capital City Distribution Co-Founder] John Davis, Peter David, Spider-Man, Tom DeFalco, John Romita, [Marvel CEO] Terry Stewart, and Stan Lee.  Capital and Marvel had purposely kept Stan somewhat in the dark as to what was planned for the evening.  He was quite surprised when Spider-Man dragged him up to the stage where he was praised and lampooned by each speaker in a sort of combined testimonial and roast.  David, as we’ve come to expect, was hilarious, and the exchange between Romita and Lee over whether Lee was a picky editor or Romita a perfectionist was especially touching.  To say a good time was had by all would be an understatement, as it was, without a doubt, the best event ever held at the Sales Conference.

To cap off the program, Davis presented Lee with a lead crystal engraved plaque that reads, “To Stan Lee on the Thirtieth Anniversary of his greatest creation, Spider-Man. On behalf of comics retailers everywhere, thanks for making it all possible.”  Davis revealed that the cover of the dinner program retailers had found at their plates was an exact duplicate of Lee’s plaque. Upon receiving the plaque Lee said a few final words.  “This has been one of the best nights of my life.  Thank you all.  Excelsior!”

The Marvel editorial presentation followed dinner.  Marvel had set up a special sound and visual system featuring four slide projectors, two video projectors, and Skip Dietz.  The four screens illuminated with slides showed different images, making for an exciting presentation.  Dietz talked about editorial projects that we can expect from Marvel for the balance of the year.  One announcement that brought applause from the crowd was the revelation that Marvel will be doing a Ren and Stimpy comic book.  Then the crowd got really loud when Dietz announced that his presentation would be followed by a showing of four complete episodes of the popular cartoon.  Retailers who attended the presentation were given a Spider-Man 30th Anniversary print featuring the artwork of John Romita.