Although it may not initially occur to you, LeBron James and Spider-Man have a lot in common.
One rises above the crowd to get the job done, inspiring many, moving with almost supernatural ease and grace.
The other we know as Spider-Man.
This month, however, Spidey and King James come together for the second time in the pages of “ESPN The Magazine.”
Inspired by James’ triumphant return to his hometown of Cleveland and his first team, the Cavaliers, ESPN decided to revisit a 2010 cover homage to “Spider-Man No More!” that coincided to his moving to the Miami Heat.
While merging comics and sports might not seem the most natural of fits at first blush, Marvel Custom Solutions Creative Director Bill Rosemann points out just how easy it can be:
“Since we are all part of ‘Team Disney,’ Marvel and ESPN have been working closely over the past few years on a number of projects,” he explains. “We’ve created everything from single pin-ups to full comics together. They reach out, we discuss the overall goals of the assignment, we brainstorm talent, they share references and—BAM!—cool, sports-related art for ESPN and Marvel fans alike is born.”
When it came time to decide on how to trumpet the return of King James to Ohio, the image referenced actually came from a suggestion by the sports side of the equation.
“We had LeBron leaving Cleveland in a rather spectacular fashion, and, in fairness, the return was just as incredible for Cavs fans,” says “ESPN The Magazine” Deputy Editor Otto Strong. “The most recent image gave us an opportunity to close the loop on LeBron’s time away.”
“Otto suggested starting with the cover art from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1, an image that would echo Peter Parker’s big return,” recalls Rosemann. “Then [artist] Miguel [Sepulveda] tried some different positions to echo the one-handed dunk pose that LeBron is known around the world for breaking out as he sails to the rim.”
For Rosemann, tapping Sepulveda as the cover artist made sense immediately.
“LeBron is an impressive, muscular player,” he argues. “So even though we were starting from a Spider-Man-ish pose, I wanted an artist who excels at establishing the size and mass of his figures. Miguel showed how well he could do that when we worked together on THE THANOS IMPERATIVE, so he was my #1 choice to deliver the power of the returning King.”
Fans of comics and sports—or both—alike can pick up the latest issue of “ESPN The Magazine,” featuring the homage cover, in stores now.