PORTLAND (AP) – Frank Springer dabbles in oil paintings at his home in Damariscotta in midcoast Maine.

But when he was younger, he was drawing Spider-Man and other comic superheroes for Marvel Comics. It was a way to make a living.

Now the opening of the third Spider-Man movie brings back memories of when Springer, 77, drew the likes of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Punisher, Captain Marvel and Powerman. The blockbuster “Spider-Man 3” opened in theaters Friday.

“I wish I had a piece of the action, but I don’t,” Springer said. “Unfortunately, none of us get a piece of the movie.”

While living in New York in the 1950s after college an a stint in the Army, Springer began drawing comics on a freelance basis. He drew Spider-Man comics from the mid-1970s into the ’80s.

Living on Long Island, Springer would be mailed a script or travel to Marvel Comics’ Madison Avenue offices to meet with Marvel’s comic guru, Stan Lee, to talk about the upcoming issue.

Springer stuck to the formula of drawing Spider-Man “like a middleweight high school wrestler, 5-foot-9-inches and 150 to 160 pounds – not like Batman or Superman, 6-foot-5-inches with deltoids like basketballs.

“Spider-Man was a typical high school kid with all the problems and hang-ups teenage kids had,” Springer said. “He had trouble with girls and trouble with acne.”

As a kid, Springer was a big fan of comic books and remembers when Superman and Batman characters first appeared.

“When I was a kid I read the comics, and as an adult I drew them because it paid the bills,” he said.

In his career, Springer drew countless comics as a comic strip and comic book artist. Today he’s working with oils, doing sports figures and portraits, at his home in Maine, where he moved with his wife in the mid-1990s.

Springer said he’s impressed with Spider-Man’s staying power since he was created 45 years ago.

He was at a comic convention two years ago in San Diego and stopped by a booth where an agent was selling some of Springer’s old stuff along with an original Spider-Man cover done by another artist that had a price tag of $35,000.

Springer asked him why the price was so high.

“He said, ‘Because it’s Spider-Man.”‘

Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com

AP-ES-05-05-07 1230EDT

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