“Seeing a spider isn’t a problem. It becomes a problem when it disappears.”
— via Twitter.
While Peter Parker had to face problems such as when to be in the right place at the right time to fight crime and whether he should give up his hero status to have a normal life with the girl he has been longing to be with, I on the other hand has begun thinking when the character who I’ve used to know as just Spiderman became to be Spider-Man. Thanks to the grammar OC in me, I made an extra effort to actually send an email to the folks of www.grammarphobia.com, an email which I never expected would be taken seriously but I was wrong; A couple of days after, I received an interesting answer.
Here’s what I wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Good day! This latest Amazing Spider-Man movie made me realize that I have been spelling Spider-Man wrong but I am wondering if there’s any difference between Spiderman and Spider-Man (while I’m typing this letter, the red wriggly line of spell check tells me that the non-hyphenated word is incorrect).”
And here’s the answer: Hi, Cris,
Spider-Man’s name has a hyphen because Stan Lee, who created the comic character with Steve Ditko, apparently wanted to distinguish him from Su- perman.
In a Feb. 24, 2010, comment on Twitter, Lee wrote: “Spidey’s official name has a hyphen—’Spider-Man.’ Know why? When I first dreamed him up I didn’t want anyone confusing him with Superman!”
However, Lee’s memory may have been playing tricks. His superhero’s name appeared as two words, “SPIDER MAN,” when it first showed up in 1962 on the cover of the final issue of Amazing Fantasy (a magazine previously known as Amazing Adult Fantasy).
We’ve also read online that Lee, a former president of Marvel Comics, may have wanted to avoid infringing on the DC Comics trademarks for the un- hyphenated “Superman.”
(“Stan Lee,” by the way, is the pen name of Stanley Martin Lieber.)
Interestingly, the word “spider-man” had been around (with and without a hyphen) before the Stan Lee character showed up.
The first published reference in the Oxford English Dictionary is from the Britannica Book of the Year (1955): “Spiderman, an erector of building structures.”
The OED‘s entry for “spider-man” (Oxford uses a hyphen) defines the term as “one employed to work on high structures; a steeple-jack.”
We’ll end with a 1958 citation from the Radio Times, a British magazine that features broadcast program listings:
“These spider-men and steel-erectors work at great heights, often where there are no means of protection. They walk along girders at dizzy heights as though they were strolling along Piccadilly.”
And by the way, be skeptical of those red, wriggly lines. There are lots of words that spell-checkers don’t know.
Thanks for a great question, and all the best, Pat O’Conner & Stewart Kellerman”
To learn more about these guys, follow @grammarphobia on Twitter.
In the real world, Spidey is a Krispy Kreme donut. He did not survive Marcus.
This past weekend, Marcus finally got to watch his first Spidey movie on the big screen though he has been watching over and over and over and over again the Tobey Maguire-starred Spider-Man DVD we have at home.
The Amazing Spider-Man is rated PG13 and not surprisingly it shows sev- eral scenes when we had to cover our son’s eyes to keep him from watching Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy make out. We realized though that he has had enough of seeing hands and jacket in front of his face when he protested and exclaimed, “Not Again!”
There was also another moment when almost every moviegoer was holding their breath as Spider-Man starts swinging from one crane boom to another, on his way to save the city from having more freaky lizards, when our son’s recent fascination with video games got obvious after Spidey disappeared from the frame and an immediate “Game Over!” from Marcus filled the dark cinema. Ti abi.
Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Under a nipa waiting shed, waiting for Spidey, I mean Marcus who is currently in the classroom.)