Let's get this out of the way really quick... it's not Todd McFarlane. I love and appreciate Todd's work but as far as Spider-Man goes, he really did not capture the essence of "Your Friendly Neighbordhood Spider-Man."
Todd's Spider-Man had webs and spiders everywhere with a mean menacing look. Looks cool for a pin-up but if this was your introduction to Spider-Man then you probably didn't get a true sense of just who the character really is.
So what exactly should Spider-Man look like? Well, Spider-Man usually has an upbeat personality. He isn't always the happiest to do his job but he realizes just how important his role is due to his tragic origin story. "With great power comes great responsibility." There's also a great deal of keeping up with day to day tasks that Peter struggles to come to terms with. Most importantly, Spidey is one of the greatest trash talkers in comics.
Does this sound like a character who should be creeping out of the shadows or hunkering down on you like a savage monster? Alright, enough harping on how Todd got Spidey wrong. Let's shift our focus towards those who got him right.
First up is legendary artist Steve Ditko. He's the guy who created Peter Parker alongside Stan "The Man" Lee. Of course he gets a nod. How can anybody have a better sense of a character over the creator? Just look at that cover. After all this time it stands up as one of the most iconic covers ever created. What words spring to mind when you see it? Responsible, free, wild, daring... all in one package. THIS is Spider-Man.
As much as I love Romita, he always drew Spider-Man a bit too bulky for my taste so I can't really give him the crown. Many may disagree but I feel Spidey should be lean as he zips through the city not looking like he's been hitting the gym with Batman.
Through the years several spectacular artists came along to draw Spidey rivaling the two celebrated artists mentioned above.
All of these gentlemen are deserving of their own praise but as far as the BEST Spider-Man artist of all time... there can only be one in my mind and his name is Mr. Erik Larsen...
Let's take a look at Erik's art and note just what he does to give Spider-Man the energy, sizzle, and pop that he deserves. The image above is one of the best ever at capturing exactly who Spider-Man is. You can feel the power from Spidey's fist that knocks the Vulture back as he glides through the splash page to deliver a swift kick to Electro. Erik also wrote the issue so you can observe just how methodical Spidey is while giving the classic one liners all at once. All of this in one single panel! I challenge you to find anything close to the genius exploding from this page.
Oh, but one single page doesn't make you the greatest Spider-Man artist of all time. A picture is worth a thousand words and my words can never do Erik's art justice so I'll leave you with thousands upon thousands of words below...
Think I'm wrong? Let me know who you think the greatest Spider-Man artist of all time is in the comments below...