- First Spider-Man comic published by Marvel is from August 1962
- But comic book fan John Cimino found 'Spiderman' costume from 1954
- Item is yellow, but has familiar web designs and resembles later Spidey
- Was produced by Ben Cooper Inc, a defunct New York costume company
- Cimino confronted creator Stan Lee and illustrator Steve Ditko over suit
- Lee said he knew nothing about it, Ditko gave cryptic response
- Raises the question of whether old costume was the real origin
By Kieran Corcoran For Dailymail.com
Published: 21:57 GMT, 15 July 2015 | Updated: 07:10 GMT, 16 July 2015
Questions have been raised about the origins of Spider-Man after a costume bearing striking resemblances to the famed web-slinger was unearthed that predates his first comic book by eight years.
The hero made his first appearance on the cover of the Amazing Fantasy comic book in in 1962, and later went on to be one of Marvel's most famous - and lucrative - creations of all time.
But, it has emerged, years before his first print appearance, a strikingly similar character could be seen stalking the streets of New York City, in the form of an old Hallowe'en costume.
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Proto-Spidey? Comic enthusiast John Cimino found a 'Spiderman' costume produced in 1954 - eight years before his first spin in a Marvel comic. The yellow but still-distinctive costume is pictured to the left, while alter incarnations, licensed by Marvel, are shown to the and right
The item, unearthed by superhero enthusiast John Cimino, was a best-seller from local costumer dealer Ben Cooper Inc., for years before the web-slinger became a household name.
The color scheme of the yellow costume was far removed from the hero's later blue and red hallmarks, but its webbed design is unmistakable.
A hero is born: Spider-Man is pictured above on the cover of Amazing Fantasy 15 - his first comic book
Its packaging was even marked Spiderman, with only a hyphen differentiating it from the name Marvel would eventually give to Peter Parker's alter-ego.
The item was one of many made by Cooper, including licensed Superman suits and Disney character costumes. Cimino found one in a bundle of memorabilia he bought from a down-on-his-luck friend in 2006.
It raises the question of whether Spider-Man's inspiration came from somewhere other than the mind of writer Stan Lee and illustrator Steve Ditko.
Cimino detailed in his blog how the hunt for the truth led him to confront both men with his discoveries, leading to a denial from Lee and a cryptic response from Ditko, who was in charge of the actual appearance of the character.
According to Cimino, Lee told him he had never heard of a Spider-Man before. He said: 'I was in a little room writing the stories and nobody told me what was going on in the real world'.
Ditko, on the other hand, said: 'The burden of proof is on the person who makes the assertion, claim, charge.'
He added that Cimino's research was not 'rational proof' of a connection, though stopped short of denying anything.
Speaking to the New York Post about his discovery, Cimino speculated that so much money was tied up in the Spider-Man universe that the truth would never come out.
He said: 'No one is going to talk about this, because there are billions of dollars at stake.'
However, speculation has been fueled by the businesses' close proximity - only a few miles apart in New York City, and the ubiquity of Cooper products.
Inspired? Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man, said that he didn't know anything about the costume, which was apparently widespread in '50s New York City
Old court documents state once controlled a majority of the Hallowe'en costume market, increasing the likelihood of a Marvel high-up coming into contact with someone dressed as Spidey lookalike.
In a confusing twist, after Spider-Man became popular enough in the comic book canon to get his own series, Ben Cooper Inc struck a deal with Marvel and produced official Spider-Man gear for decades.
The company folded in the 1990s, according to Cimino, and most of its records were lost. Ben Cooper himself has also died, leaving no obvious sources to tell the costume company's side of the story.
DailyMail.com has contacted Marvel for comment.
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