Electric Timing

By | Monday, April 12, 2021 Leave a Comment
I expect many comic fans, if they're familiar with The Electric Company, are most familiar with the regular appearances of Spider-Man. As a Gen Xer, I grew up on the show and watched it regularly; while I still recall bits besides the Spider-Man sequences, those are definitely the ones that are most prominent in my memories.

Amazing Spider-Man #132
I happened across the first episode where Spider-Man appears (full video here) and I was surprised to see it wasn't actually until Season 4, meaning he appeared in at most half of the shows. And, if you watch that clip I just linked to, you'll see that it's actually a Spider-Man comic that actually appears before Spidey himself. Unlike the custom-made comics often used for the Spidey intros, this was a published issue -- Amazing Spider-Man #132. The specific comic has nothing to do with the episode, so they probably just grabbed the latest one off the newsstand shortly before filming.

Which got me to thinking about timing.

Amazing Spider-Man #132 has a cover date of May 1974, and was on the stands a few months before that, as was the standard practice at the time. In fact, the Library of Congress has record of the issue shipping out on January 8, 1974 and Comic Reader #103 lists an on-sale date of February 8. So the opening sequence was likely filmed in February/March of that year. The episode then aired later in the year -- specifically on October 21. No major surprises there.

Spidey Super Stories #1
But here's the interesting bit. As you might know, Marvel published a Spidey Super Stories comic to coordinate with the show. You'll note The Electric Company logo featured prominently in the upper right corner of every cover. Spidey Super Stories #1 has a cover date of October 1974 and was so successful in its own right that it continued to be published for several years after the show itself was canceled!

But recall what I said about cover dates tending to be a couple months after the issue was actually available? Again, we can look at Library of Congress records to see the issue was shipped on June 18 and Comic Reader #108 lists a July 16 on-sale date. By the time Spider-Man was actually appearing on The Electric Company, there were already three issues of Spidey Super Stories out, with a fourth coming out literally days later.

So from an audience's perspective, J. Arthur Crank's disbelief at Spidey's appearance on The Electric Company is three months out of date! He'd already been seen in conjunction with the show -- via the brand new comic -- since the summer!
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