Into a fairly typical conversation about comics on Twitter came a surprising revelation -- and now fans and creators are scrambling to find more information about a Mexican Spider-Man comic from almost half a century ago.
It started with IDW executive Chris Ryall asking, "Just for fun: what never-before-collected comic series do you want collected?"
One response, from Twitter user ComicKeys, exploded the thread, though, as the user identified only as David revealed to a large segment of the people reading that a Mexican publisher had started creating their own Spider-Man comics in the '70s, diverging from the official Marvel timeline the same month Gwen Stacy died and keeping her around as a prominent part of the titles.
In the 1970's, publisher La Prensa did not believe Mexicans would read Spider-man after Gwen Stacy died. They created 45 original issues after Spiderman 119 where she lives, that have never been translated or reprinted. This is their marriage issue. Marvel needs to collect these! pic.twitter.com/dx2z6NO5JX— David (@comickeys) February 17, 2019
Mexican publisher La Prensa reportedly published 44 original stories (as well as several American reprints and another comic directed at younger kids), after which they lost the license and Marvel went with another publisher who solely reprinted translated versions of Marvel's own Spidey books.
As you might imagine, this was not new news to everyone -- some fans chimed in that they have been waiting for years to see the titles translated and released in the United States -- but for the vast majority of those reading, it came as a shock -- including Ryall and dozens of other comics professionals who have been tweeting about it all day.
Longtime Witchblade and Green Lantern writer Ron Marz chimed in to say that he had met the artist behind the Mexican Spider-Man comics -- José Luis Durán -- at La Mole comic convention in Mexico City.
Unless I am mistaken, this is Jose Luis Duran. pic.twitter.com/QpUbfGoLmF— Ron Marz (@ronmarz) February 17, 2019
Alberto Calvo, a writer and editor with Panini Comics Mexico who works as a translator for La Mole, joined in the conversation with a more nuanced explanation than the initial claim.
"That's mostly true," Calvo told writer Kurt Busiek, who tagged him into the conversation. "The real reason to have stories made in Mexico was that the translated comics from Marvel became so popular in the mid-sixties that they changed its periodicity to twice a month, so they were running out of material from the original series. The Mexican editor went to NY to ask Marvel for permission to create original material. He showed them samples from a handful of Mexican artists. Marvel selected one of them, José Luis Durán, and granted the permission. Durán and the writers had total creative freedom. Gwen was Durán's favorite character, so when she died he asked the writer to keep using her, and they did. Eventually the publisher ran into monetary problems and their line of comics, including Spider-Man were cancelled in 1973."
That roughly aligns with a narrative advanced by a Redditor,who also made it more complex than just "they really wanted to keep Gwen:"
Obscure Spider-Man comics made and published Mexico in the 1960 and 70s - full story & lots of covers! from r/Spiderman
Unsurprisingly, given the current context of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse being a huge hit, there have been plenty of people who were shocked to learn that these stories were not unearthed to a larger audience when writer Dan Slott did his own Spider-Verse stories in the comics.
That, it seems, is because Slott himself did not know:
This *possible* Alternate-Mexican-Comic-Continuity for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, where Gwen Stacy never died, is shaking my world to its core today. ? What? How? Huh?! REALLY?! pic.twitter.com/yTsjbhZjYV— Dan Slott (@DanSlott) February 17, 2019
Slott also retweeted a number of tweets from a different Twitter user who posted a photo of Durán with a pile of the comics in question:
La Prensa feared their Spidey readership would fall after Gwen Stacy's death. So, they created the first alternate universe, original issues where she lives and marries Peter. Sadly, they have not been translated or reprinted.
Jose Luis Duran, wrote and penciled the series pic.twitter.com/Hbr7Eekc9Z— ??Ck (@comicsforjack) February 17, 2019
Since this comes as news to almost everyone, ComicBook.com has reached out to Durán in the hopes of confirming the story or getting more details.