Piccolo’s Spider-Man pop-up book (1980)

Spider-Man Piccolo pop-up book, front cover

Time for another vintage curiosity from the ‘Taint the Meat vaults…

Published by Piccolo in 1980 the Spider-Man pop-up book ran to 12 pages and featured six pop-up scenarios of the popular Marvel Comics super-hero as he rescues Mary Jane Watson from arch foe The Green Goblin during a visit to the fun house at a carnival.

Spider-Man Piccolo pop-up book, pages 2-3

The book was produced by members of Marvel’s bullpen: editor Jim Salicrup and artists Bob Budiansky, Herb Trimpe and Mike Esposito. Salicrup and Esposito were a natural choice to work on the children’s book as they were both veterans of Spidey Super Stories, a comic aimed at younger readers produced in association with The Electric Company TV show.

Spider-Man Piccolo pop-up book, pages 4-5

The paper engineering for the book was created by Tor Lokvig, who worked on several other pop-up books in the 1980’s, many of them for Disney.

Spider-Man Piccolo pop-up book, pages 6-7

Each spread features some sort of pop-up element while many also include pull-tabs which add simple motion to the illustration. Pulling the yellow tab in the pop-up above, for example, makes Spider-Man swing towards The Green Goblin.

Spider-Man Piccolo pop-up book, pages 8-9

The best pop-up in the book is the one above with the Goblin flying high above the page while the explosion fans out. Sadly this spread also originally featured Spider-Man but unfortunately he fell off years ago.

Spider-Man Piccolo pop-up book, pages 10-11

Pulling the blue tab on the far right makes Spider-Man ‘push’ the Goblin down a chute.

Spider-Man Piccolo pop-up book, pages 12-13

The back cover artwork features a reprinted image of Spider-Man taken from the back cover of the Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man special originally published in 1976, drawn by Ross Andru and inked by Dick Giordano. Keen eyed fans will also spot a couple of other re-used bits of artwork.

Spider-Man Piccolo pop-up book, back cover

Compared to the sophisticated pop-ups being created today this book is quite crude while the artwork and story are pretty basic too. But the book was aimed at kids and is not without its charm – the tin tunnels from the second pop-up have a chaotic Kirby-esque appeal to them.

Piccolo went on to release five more pop-up books featuring Marvel characters (that I know of): two more with Spider-Man (‘Attack of The Tarantula!” and “The Schemer Strikes!”) and three with The Hulk (The Incredible Hulk, “Trapped!” and “Circus of Crime!”). They’re quite rare and for die-hard collectors only as they sell on ebay for between £30–£100 each.