Spidey does a "Selfie"

Category: Techtoday

I was having breakfast at a hotel's restaurant a few months back when I spotted an attractive lady sitting by her lonesome having her eggs and bacon. There was nothing odd about the scene until she whipped out her iPhone 5 and started taking several photos of herself. The tableau, which consisted of her alternating between fixing her hair and makeup, and positioning her face, was enough to distract me from the Bloomberg special I was watching. Perhaps I'm a bit old-fashioned, but for me the scene was terribly ridiculous. Sadly, it occurs all too often in public and in private by both celebrities and the girl/guy-on-the-street.

As a technical writer, I was thoroughly befuddled and equally horrified when the research and development staff told me to use the term "selfie" on the interface of one of the apps they were developing.  Digital mobile devices and social networking gave birth to many amazing terms like "emo" and "BRB" but there are others that strike me as just plain off - and that includes "selfie". I can't imagine the younger crowd saying to each other "She did several selfie's while she was in Italy." It just doesn't sound right at all.

Now, I myself have never needed to take a "selfie" save for that one time when I had to make an impromptu photo for setting up my Linux login (Lubuntu's setup includes the option to take a photo using the portable's webcam and use the photo as a login icon). Having no social networking account to speak of and lacking any photogenic skills (my efforts to look demure always end up with a picture of Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura), I abhor taking photos which include me. Personally, I don't know why people would even post their photos online unless the photo was encrypted and was secured by several FreeBSD and Linux firewalls and servers.

The ever-amazing Spider-Man was probably the first guy who took a "selfie" but it wasn't for vanity purposes. Way back in 1963, good old Peter Parker needed to sell photographs to support his aunt and himself and knew that Spidey would make a great subject. So in one of history's first recorded selfie's Peter used his automated, motor-driven Leica camera to take shots of himself fighting a bucket of sand in Amazing Spider-Man #4 (1963). Yeah, yeah, he "technically" faked it but back then he hadn't planned on making a living off of his photos and had just fought the extremely powerful Sandman (who by the way didn't have a high school degree back then and attacked a school for one).

Peter takes his first "selfie" fighting a bucket of sand in Amazing Spider-Man #4 (1963)

Most people know that Peter Parker used to take photos of himself as the webbed wonder to make ends meet. What most people don't know is that back in the late 80s, he published a book of photographs called "Webs" and traveled around the United States endorsing the book (Marvel even released a sticker book which was entitled "Webs" - I have a mint copy). Peter made some money out of this little commercial endeavor and even had a few adventures with guys like Hank Pym (who went by the super hero name "Hank Pym" at the time). The book was successful enough that J. Jonah Jameson, who had grown to be a mature and beloved character in the books until Marvel's bankruptcy in the mid 90s (and the subsequent regression of Marvel history as the real fans know it), proudly kept a cabinet full of copies of "Webs".

J.J.J. proudly looks at his personal copies of Peter's "Webs" in Amazing Spider-Man #377 (1993)

Spidey visits New England during his tour for "Webs" and teams up with Hank Pym
Cover scan from Web of Spider-Man #46 (1989)

Today's largely ignorant and inept Spider-Man writers have ignored this in current continuity, preferring to pretend the 70s and 80s adventures of Peter never happened. The truth is that Peter was actually fairly successful as a photographer despite his lack of skills with a camera (Felicia Hardy aka the Black Cat was purportedly the better photographer). Loyal readers of Spidey back then could conjecture it was through Peter's freelance work and the royalties he received from "Webs" that he was able to purchase expensive chemicals for producing web fluid during his 19 years of being Spidey (he was bitten when he was around 16 years old). Peter's use of film over digital cameras was even referenced in 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man (the camera was promptly crushed by Lizard).

Peter paid for his share of his impulsive wedding to MJ with hundreds of photographs in one day in the classic Spider-Man wedding issue!
Art from
Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987)

Indiana Jones probably should have taken a "selfie" when he found the Shankara stones, Ark of the Covenant and Holy Grail in Temple of Doom, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and The Last Crusade respectively. I don't think, however, you'd ever see James Bond take a "selfie" while visiting exotic locales like Russia or Hungary (though his sexy Bond girls probably would).

Like Peter, I'd only take a "selfie" if a) it would make me money and b) I'm wearing a full-faced mask.


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