365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

T-shirt #105 - Ultimate Spider-Man

T-shirt #105 - Ultimate Spider-Man or "Maybe dat's your pwobwem, too."

Expecting Captain America?

It occurred to me that Captain America may have been a better choice for the blog post for July 4th.

I could have switched gears, as I may feature Cap soon (ahem, tomorrow!). But I already had much of this entry written, AND I wanted to share my first EVER YOU TUBE video. So there, you have it. My convoluted reasoning.

Today, I am featuring my first Spider-Man T-shirt on the blog. Along with Batman and Superman, Spider-Man was one of my first and favourite childhood heroes, especially since ABC ran a Spider-Man animated series from 1967 to 1970 at the beginning of my years as a comic book reader; ASIDE: my comic reading began when I was given my first comic (an issue of Detective Comics)  in 1966. A live action Spider-Man series also followed in 1977 on CBS.

The first Spider-Man comic I owned was Amazing Spider-Man #54, published in November of 1967.

I have read ASM#54 many times. I cannot say it is my favorite Spider-Man comic, but it is the one I have probably read most often and as such Doctor Octopus is the Spider-Man villain with the most resonance for me. And so, as such, the current story line in the Spider-Man comics in which Doctor Octopus has taken over Peter Parker and Spider-Man's life--Peter is essentially dead--is fascinating to me.

I posed for the picture with today's shirt and the CD set of archived Spider-Man comics to emphasize that like Batman, Superman, Aquaman, The Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Thor, and several others from my first days in comics, Spider-Man has been a part of my life for over 40 years.

ROMANCING THE SPIDER: This issue, ASM#54, was my first experience with John Romita, Senior's art. As I wrote in T-shirt #83, John Romita is one of my top-five favorite 1960s artists. Romita had a great deal of experience drawing romance comics in the 1950s and early 1960s. The issues he drew of Amazing Spider-Man were styled in many ways like romance comics, especially in the depiction of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy's relationship. I attribute Romita's romance-themed work as part of what sparked in me an affection for melodrama and soap opera.
From ASM #59

Romita's realistic style stood out among the many more fantastic or surreal comic artists of his time. His pencils were tight and sharp, unlike many others. His training in romance comics blended swipes from movie stills, which fueled the realism of his art, and from newspaper strips, such as Milton Canniff's Terry and the Pirates.

NO GWEN STACY: Though I liked the first three Spider-Man movies (2002-2007) with Tobey Magurie (I liked some more than others), I found it a bit odd that Peter's relationship with Mary Jane Watson took center stage and was characterized as the great love of his life rather than emphasizing his relationship with Gwen Stacy, which in the comics played out as the greatest love of his life and his greatest tragedy, at least until Mary Jane learned he was Spider-Man and they got married.

In the films. the central focus of Mary Jane Watson in Peter's life followed more closely the rebooted origin and early years established by the Ultimate Comics line and with Brian Michael Bendis' definitive Ultimate Spider-Man, which ran for 109 issues from the year 2000 through 2009. Though I like Kirsten Dunst as an actress, and though she did a fine job in the films, I did not feel that she was right for Mary Jane Watson, either as seen in the original Romita pencilled classic issues in the 1960s and 1970s or in the new Ultimate Spider-Man by Bendis and Mark Bagley.

The T-shirt for today depicts the version of Spider-Man from Ultimate Spider-Man.

I felt it was a mistake to feature Mary Jane in the first ever Spider-Man movies as Peter's greatest love, and so, I was much relieved and pleased to see the new film (released in 2012) establish Gwen Stacy as Peter's romantic interest. Emma Stone seems aptly cast as Gwen Stacy, and I did not mind the re-conceiving of her character as Curt Connors' assistant in the labs at Oscorp. Though this is a huge departure from the classic version of the character, it is a welcome update to bring the young woman into the 21st century and give her a brain. Though beautiful and loving, the classic version was really much like the main characters of romance comics with few characteristics other than her romantic interest in the leading man and lots of crying.

From ASM #66

I borrowed these images from a neat blog called The Spider-Man Journal, in which Sean Wilson charts the important events of Spider-Man's life as depicted in the classic issues by Stan Lee and John Romita, which he argues are the best and that the current incarnation (as of 2012) cannot live up to the Lee-Romita years.

From ASM #42

from ASM #43
MARY JANE IS COOL: Do not misunderstand. I really like Mary Jane Watson. I am not a Mary Jane hater. In fact, some of my favorite comics in recent years include an ongoing set of titles titled variations of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane.

The original "party girl" with the classic line of "face it, Tiger. You just hit the jackpot" is dear to my heart, not just for the great Romita art of MJ's introduction, but for the Sixties flair and style of the character, who later became Peter Parker's best friend and wife before the JMS run ended and Peter Parker's history was altered and re-booted.

As much as I love the original Mary Jane from the main Marvel universe, I probably have a greater fondness for the Mary Jane character from the Ultimate Spider-Man series, who is much more intelligent, thoughtful, and bookish than the actress/model/party girl of the originally introduced Mary Jane character who debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #42.

Ultimate Spider-Man #13
This is another puzzler about the casting and choices of the Raimi Spider-Man films. Though Liz Allen is Peter Parker's first "romantic interest (dating back to the origin story and page one: Amazing Fantasy #15), J.Jonah Jameson's secretary Betty Brant is Peter's first "girlfriend." And though Mary Jane debuts in ASM #25 with her face covered, her actual (and famous) introduction comes in ASM #42, which is after Gwen Stacy's introduction in ASM #31.

Check out one of the sites I list below as one author catalogued all of Peter's love interests, including the Black Cat, Debra Whitman, Glory Grant, Gwen Stacy's cousin Jill, Michelle Gonzales, Carlie Cooper, and even Cissy Ironwood, featured in issues of Marvel Team Up.

Though I love Mary Jane, and I really liked seeing Peter marry her, I still feel the movies should have followed the original comic book chronology rather than some inaccurate pastiche of original material and the Ultimate stories. So far, the new set of movies seem more promising as MJ will not appear at all in the next film: The Amazing Spider-Man 2.


There are many wonderful Internet sites dedicated to Spider-Man and his cast of characters with commentary and/or fan appreciation, such as this one dedicated to Peter Parker's many loves (via Comic Book Resources):


Or this one that seems to have links to the daily newspaper strip:

Spider-Man Crawl Space

Or the related to the whole Mary Jane vs. Gwen Stacy thing, see

THE MANY LIVES OF GWEN STACY - part one - The Girl Next Door has a bit of a mean streak

  MANY LIVES OF GWEN STACY part two: The Mary Jane Factor

Also, a great tribute to John Romita, Sr.

I cannot sign off of today's Spider-Man festival without giving a shout out to the current Ultimate Spider-Man comic, in which Spidey has been re-envisioned as a young, African-American boy named Miles Morales. I am not such a purist that I cannot enjoy a good re-imagining, and this book is not just good, it's FABULOUS (see cover pics above)!

MJ may be cool, but Gwen was a classic 1960s chick...

From Amazing Spider-Man #47


As I began two weeks ago, I continue my weekly comic book stack feature. These are the ranked comics.

GREEN ARROW: I do read the deep stacks. I caught up on Green Arrow, and I love the new creative team and the book's direction, so this jumps to the top of the stack.

DC: Yes, nearly all the deep stack comics are DC comics. But I do have DC comics each week ranked highly if not number one, so I don't think I can be called a "Marvel Zombie."


  • Green Arrow #22 
  • Iron Man #12 
  • Avengers A.1 #001 
  • Avengers #15 (Prelude to Infinity) 
  • Daredevil: Dark Knights #2 
  • Thunderbolts #12 
  • Ten Grand #3 
  • Sattelite Sam #1 
DEEP STACK (the list of comics that are added to other unread issues in the series awaiting the time when I "catch up." Some of the catching up stretches back over ten years. Batman Incorporated #12, Detective Comics #22, Earth 2 #14, Fairest #17, Green Lantern #22, Action Comics #22, Uber #3.

EXTRA BUY: Avengers: Season One (hardcover)


From 1993-2001, I participated in the Creative Writers in the Schools program. CWIS was a grant funded Michigan arts program in which schools brought in creative writers for one or two week residencies. On average, I would visit 3-4 schools a year in April, May, and June.

At each school, I performed what I called "The Spider-Man poem" but what is really a poem called "Maybe Dats your Pwobwem, too" by Jim Hall. I am sharing both the text of the poem (from the mini-comic I made to give to students, which is why I am called "your writer pal") and my FIRST EVER YOU TUBE video. I thought I had video of myself performing the poem in one of my final women's studies classes in 2008, but I cannot seem to find it. I recreated it here in the video, wearing today's shirt, for your edification and amusement.

(And, yes, you may note that I have a bleach stain on my Ultimate Spider-Man shirt. Sadness.)

Chris Tower

The Spider-Man Poem

--The Spider-Man poem BY JIM HALL
--As performed and made famous by your writer pal Chris Tower

All my pwobwems
who knows?
Maybe evewybody’s pwobwems
is due to duh fact
due to duh awful twuth
dat I am Spider-Man.

I know, I know.
All da dumb jokes.
No flies on you.
Or duh one about what I do wit awl dose extwa legs in bed.

Well, dat’s funny, yeah.
But you twy bein Spider-Man
for a month or two.
Go ahead.

You git dose cwazy calls from duh gubbener
asking you to twap sum buwgewar
whose only twyin to wip off color TV sets.
Now, what do I care ‘bout color TV sets?
But I pull on duh suit
dah stinkin’ suit
wit duh suckkah cups on dah fingas
an den get my wopes
an wittle bundle of equipment.
And den I go fwying like cwazy
acwoss duh town
from wooftop to wooftop
‘til der he is
sum poor dumb color TV slob
and I fall on him
and we westle a widdle
until I get him all woped.

So big deal?

You tink when you Spider-Man
sumtin big gonna happen to you.
Well, it don’t happen dat way.
Nuttin happens.
Gubbener calls.
I go.
Bring him to Polwice.
Gubbener calls again.
Like dat.
Over and Over.

Sometimes I tink I twy sumetin diffunt
sumetin excitin’ like wacing caws.
Sumetin’ to make my heart beat at a diffunt wate.

But den, you can’t quit bein’ sumetin’ like Spider-Man.
You Spider-Man fo’ life.

I can’t even buin by suit.
It woin’t buin.
It’s fwame wesistant!

So maybe dat’s your pwobwem, too.
So maybe dat’s duh whole pwobwen wit everyting.

Nobody can buin dey suits.
Dey all fwame wesistant.

Who knows?

- chris tower - 1307.04 - 13:13