We all have loves and fandoms that we cherish. Those things we hold sacred and protect unfathomably. If we were to really look at those fandoms and those loves and to pick them apart, questioning why this or that, what does it mean to me, I promise you you will be surprised by what you will learn. Not only of yourself but how those fandoms have guided and shaped you into the person you are today.
Before we go any further it goes with out saying that I am a big nerd and in tandem with that anyone who knows me also knows how much of a web-head I am (a Spider-Man fan). It was only when I began to introspectively look back on my fandoms that I realised how important and prominent the friendly neighbourhood Avenger has been to me. My dad made sure I was raised right and raised on Batman, seriously cut me open and I’ll bleed for Gotham. My father had at his disposal a wealth of resources to ensure both I and my two brothers would unconditionally love the Dark Knight. There was Burtons 1980’s blockbusters, Dini and Timm’s pseudo follow up animated series, action figures galore, the classic West and Ward series and colourful epic, BATMAN The Movie! Even the ill fated punk-neon soaked Schumacher films were weapons in the arsenal. All of which I lapped up with greedy eyes. My education in the ways of the caped crusader could not have failed. Yet then why do I find the weedy Peter Parker at nearly every turn of my journey thus far?
It begins with a hatred. Back in Middle school we used to have to do mandatory silent reading and I loathed it to be fair I loathed school in general. So in order to get through the hours of mind numbing reading, I say ‘hours’ but it was likely thirty minutes or something mere like that, trust me though it felt like hours. Anyway to get through it I would grab the book with the most colourful, action packed looking cover and spend the time staring at it until my teacher would inevitably tell me to “read it”. At which point I would open the book roughly ten pages from the beginning (it’s far more convincing then turning straight to the centre) before proceeding to stare back off into space. Until the good graces of the bell would toll the end of the mundanity and that we could proceed to the next form of torture before the next and then the next till I could escape home to throw myself in front of the TV gobbling up biscuits and tea. I told you I hated school of course now I realise the foolishness of my attitude. That hatred was only to be abated by the day my dad handed me a plastic wrapped library copy of Marvel’s Pocket Collection of ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’. A collection of his famed stories beautifully reprinted but in miniature so that it could pass for any one of your average best-selling looking paperbacks. And so I would sit there smugly flicking through pages of Romita’s fabulous artwork, as everyone struggled with their pictureless books filled with tiny writing. I became completely engrossed by it, silent reading time had become a blessing, it was a chance to escape to New York City and sling between the skyscrapers battling evil doers. I was so in love with it all that I had to know what was going on, I couldn’t ignore those word balloons any longer I had to know why MJ was so upset, why Doc Ock was back on the prowl and so I began to read and read and read. These books would accompany me all the way through High School all the way up until College when I would take my first steps into the musky wonders of a comic shop.
In my formative years long before that first venture into a comic shop I had about 12 comics to my name. Ones that had been found at car boots or at the bottom of bargain bins. They were tattered and dog eared but absolutely loved. Not to mention it was the oddest collection of tales from the adventures of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider to the Planet of the Apes to the Bruise Crew to Azrael (yay the 90’s) to an X-men Movie card game tie-in comic from Wizard. Amongst them however were 4 issues of Spider-Man, the Spectacular. Of those four two issues are burnt into my memory with such a loving ferocity I don’t think I’ll ever forget them, Spectacular Spider-Man #186 and #187; Funeral Arrangements. It told the story of Vulture ridden with cancer deciding to tie up all the loose ends in his life before his impending death, in particular he’s unfinished business with the Web-head and Aunt May. To say it was these two stories that hooked me into the world of comics is an understatement. For when I took those first tentative steps into a comic shop at 16 I knew where to go, straight to the racks and racks of back issues of Spectacular Spider-Man.
Then of course there was the animated series, I lived for those Saturday mornings. Then came Rami’s live-action interpretation of the wall crawler which was big and bombastic and serious. It was also my first taste of a more mature take on Spider-Man and something of a more adult nature that my parents were happy for me to watch and watch on repeat. Here lies the third twist in the path that Spidey would guide me through. I have always been an ardent film fan but not until Rami’s Spider-Man had I ever considered the cross-pollination of my two worlds. It also sparked inside me the beginnings of my own take on the web-slingers time on the big screen. At this time I wanted nothing more than to be a film director but my Spidey story persisted and persisted in my mind to the point that I couldn’t help but put pen to paper. It told the story of a newly formed teenage Spider-Man fresh on the streets of New York taking on the career criminal Vulture. Who had been long in the game but was now suffering the effects of cancer, yes I was heavily influenced by Funeral Arrangements, and so had decided to make one last play for one last big score. The script played on the themes of wisdom and naivety, of having coming to the realisation that not everything is black and white in the world, dealing with mortality, of becoming stuck in a way of life. I really wanted to juxtapose the two ends of the spectrum, good and evil, old and new, etc. Most importantly of all I wanted to play on learning the meaning of With great power comes great responsibility and how that responsibility falls on all of our shoulders and we may not all interpret it the same way. Of course in today’s world not such a film could be made, thanks Homecoming but also thank-you Homecoming. I don’t think even such drastic of a film would have been made to the screen 10 years ago. Yet it was this first idea of mine that bounced around my head so much that I had to take to writing it, I had to and through which I discovered my love of the form. Taking me on an entire new path in life, the desire to be a screenwriter which has now manifested itself to being a writer of all sorts of things as my passions, loves and interests have grown.
Looking back over my short time lived it seems Spider-Man has always been there in one shape or another and leading me, hopefully, down the correct path. Spider-Man has always seemed to and continues to inspire and guide me, the mark of a true hero. For which I will forever be thankful to him for. Of course it all began with my dad trying to inspire me to read with a copy of Spideys adventures in that dog-eared plastic wrapped library copy of Marvel Pocket Collections. Although I know for sure he wished it could have been Batman starring in those adventures. Though to both Peter and one of the true heroes in my life, who doesn’t wear a mask or have an alter ego, my dad, all I can say is; Thank you.