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Thwip! Sunset Park resident Matt Singer writes definitive history of Spider-Man

SUNSET PARK — Call him amazing. Call him spectacular. Either way, Spider-Man finally has a book worthy of his rich history.

After extensive research, Brooklynite Matt Singer has released a book that includes interviews with the artists and writers who have helped bring the beloved character to life, as well as a compilation of some of the most iconic images from the web-head’s lengthy catalog in a volume entitled, “Spider-Man: From Amazing to Spectacular: The Definitive Comic Art Collection.”

Singer, a life-long fan of the superhero who made his debut in 1962, and editor-in-chief of the popular film website ScreenCrush, will be discussing the book, which is already a huge hit with fans of Peter Parker, during an event at WORD, 126 Franklin Street, in Greenpoint on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

“I’ve loved Spider-Man since I was very, very young,” the Sunset Park resident said. “As a baby, maybe after ‘mama’ or ‘dada,’ one of my first words was ‘me-me,’ which for some reason meant Spider-Man when I was a year old.”

Photos courtesy of Insight Editions
Matt Singer

That was just the beginning for Singer, who, as a youngster, watched “Super Spidey Stories” on the children’s television series “The Electric Company” and who, as a teen, collected hundreds of comics in the early 1990s, all of which proved to be beneficial once publisher Insight Editions, for which he had previously done some work, asked him if he liked Spider-Man.

he landed a project to write his first book.

“That was the easiest question to answer and the fastest response to an email that I ever sent,” he said.

His vision was to create a book akin to the ones he grew up loving in the early ‘90s.

As a teenager, he said, “One of my favorite gifts every year for my birthday was one of these big illustrated history books about comics.” At the time, the internet was considerably more rudimentary than it is today. “You can’t go to Wikipedia. There’s no Marvel Unlimited app to read the old comics. You had to either have enough money to find the original issues,” he said, or read them via collections and trade paperbacks.

“There were a lot of those books, but if there was a Spider-Man one, I never had it,” he said. “So when I talked to the publisher, in my mind I wanted to create the book that I never had as a kid.”

Photos courtesy of Insight Editions

That he did while holding down a full-time job plus fulfilling his role as a husband and father. But, while putting together a book featuring arguably the most beloved superhero of all time took hard work, for the 38-year-old Singer, the work was hardly laborious 

“It was probably the easiest hard job ever,” he said. “At night, I put the kids to bed. My wife tends to go to bed pretty early anyway, so every night I would spend a couple of hours [on the book].”

Putting the book together, Singer had the opportunity to interview some of the most iconic writers and artists in comic book history.

“The geek-out moments were internalized but they’re there,” he admitted. “As someone who’s been reading these books for decades, getting to talk to all of these writers and artists about their work was pretty surreal.”

They were all, Singer said, generous with their time. “It wasn’t just like, ‘Oh. I’ll talk to you for five minutes. I’ve got to go.,’” he said. “I talked to [comic book artists and writers] Brian Bendis and Dan Slott for around three hours.”

Talking to them, Singer said, made him realize that the masters behind the panels geek out about the hero from Queens just as much as he does. 

“Once you got them talking about it, you got the sense that they love the character as much as you do,” he said. “People have very intense feelings about Spider-Man and it filters all the way up to the people that were making [the comics]. Almost all of them can tell you their own story about discovering the character, falling in love with him and reading the comics all through their teenage years.”

Photos courtesy of Insight Editions

Singer’s book features some of the most iconic art in Marvel history, such as that depicting Parker’s encounter with a radioactive spider, the death of Gwen Stacy, “Spider-Man No More,” the Green Goblin reveal and the introduction of Miles Morales in “Ultimate Spider-Man.”

The book was released this October, and so far the reception has been extremely positive.

According to Singer, topping the list of reader comments is “that they can’t believe how big the book is.”

In addition, he said, he really enjoys the impact he’s having on kids.

“I was hoping to write this book for that 12-year-old who wants to dive into that history, maybe loves the movies and sampled a little of the comics, but really wants to learn and just get to know the character better,” he said. “Some people have sent me pictures of their kids reading the book and that’s amazing. It makes my heart explode with joy. That’s the best feedback I’ve gotten so far. It’s pretty awesome.”

Whether you’re a fan of Steve Ditko’s interpretation of the hero or Sara Pichielli’s, there’s something here for fans who are young or young at heart. Afterver 50 years, the character still thrives.

“There’s something about that amazing costume,”Singer said. “I see it with my children now. They can’t read yet and we read comics and picture book,s and there’s something about that design by Steve Ditko that’s very appealing.”

The character’s morals also continue to resonate

There’s really something powerful about the character of Peter Parker,” he added. “It’s very sincere. It’s like an ethos you can live by. He’s kind of a great role model. He has these good values and he’s also funny, which doesn’t hurt.” 

Admission to the event at Word, which includes writer and Spidey fan Alex Segura, is $5 or the purchase of the book. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3494zxC. To buy the book, visit https://bit.ly/2onehNs.

Photos courtesy of Insight Editions

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