John Romita Senior was born on January 24, 1930, Brooklyn New York City and graduated from the Manhattan School of Industrial Art in 1947.
In 1949, he received his first taste of the comic book industry. During this time he worked on a series called Famous Funnies. In that same year, Romita went on to work for Forbes Lithograph. Eventually, John would run into his high school friend Lester Zakarin who offered him an opportunity at more money. Given the chance to work alongside his friend and for more money, he took it.
The majority of the 1950’s saw John Romita Sr. spend his time with DC Comics working on their romance line. Unfortunately for him, as time went on, the romance genre began to fall off. Luckily, big things were in store for him.
John Romita Senior joins Marvel
As soon as Stan Lee learned that Romita was leaving DC, he quickly offered him a spot at Marvel. Working at Marvel was more to Romita’s liking. While there, he was permitted to work freely from home or he could spend the day in his office. Due to his obvious talents, he was assigned my second favorite character, Daredevil. Impressed by his work, Lee issued a challenge to John Romita Senior. He challenged him to do a two-part story that included Spider-Man. What Romita didn’t realize was that the challenge was issued to see if he could handle the web-slinging character.
Along came a spider
Stan Lee challenged him because he and Steve Ditko were in the middle of a fallout. He let him do Amazing Spider-Man #38 but the problem was that he was having success on Daredevil. Initially, he was against taking on Spider-Man as Romita felt that Ditko might eventually return to the character that he made famous.
As history has shown, this wasn’t the case. Now with uncertainty at Marvel, Lee asked Romita to permanently take the Spider-Man title. Because the request came from Lee, Romita accepted.
Romita took the character to heights he had not seen before. During the run, Romita introduced what would become mainstays in the Spider-Man title.
- Mary Jane Watson
Romita’s Spider-Man influence reached long and far. In fact, in one of the most seminal issues of the run, it was he that put the idea in the head of Gerry Conway to kill off fan-favorite Gwen Stacey. This issue has become one of the most influential issues in comic history and it is aptly called, “The Night Gwen Stacy Died”.
After Stan Lee took the title of President of Marvel Comics, Romita was promoted to Art Director. While the Art Director, Romita’s influence was far-reaching. During this time, the world was introduced to characters such as The Punisher, Luke Cage, Bullseye, and Tigra.
Later in his career
Into the 2000’s and even as much as the present day, John Romita Senior remains active in the comic book industry. In fact, he currently is a part of a project called The Hero Initiative. For this, he serves on the Disbursement Committee.