By Gerry Conway
It’s hard to remember these days, with our friendly neighborhood wall crawler seemingly omnipresent in the pop culture Zeitgeist, but there was a time when Spider-Man existed solely in the pages of a single bi-monthly comic book, published by a small, sec-ond-class comic-book house.
That’s when I fell in love with him.
I started reading Spider-Man when I was eleven years old, sometime around issue seven or eight, long after I’d become a fan of his predecessors, the Fantastic Four. (I began reading their adventures in The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine with issue four.) To say I was swept away by this new hero, whose inner life seemed so much like my own, would be more than an understatement. I was hooked from the very first page. Peter Parker, Liz Allan, Flash Thompson, Aunt May–they were immediately as real to me as the members of my own family and the kids I went to school with. As someone who’d always felt like a bit of an outsider, and who’d recently moved into a new neighborhood where I was still trying to find my way, I identified totally with Peter Parker–the eternal outsider, the ultimate alienated superhero. I didn’t just want to read about him, I wanted to be him. In some ways, I thought I was him. (Without the webslinging, wall-crawling, super-strength and spider-sense, of course.)
Less than eight years later, I got the chance to fulfill that preadolescent dream.
I became Spider-Man.
Okay, not exactly. I became the writer …