When Spider-Man first appeared in 1962, he immediately became a symbol for young outsiders around the world. Peter Parker was brilliant but socially awkward, and he loved his Aunt May and Uncle Ben and his hometown: Queens, NY. Most importantly, he was still figuring out his place in the world, unlike many of his fellow heroes.
Hannah Blumenreich, a comic creator in Minneapolis, amassed a large fandom by capturing this original Peter Parker lightning in a bottle, in her Spidey fanzine. Marvel snapped Blumenreich up for Amazing Spider-Man #25, so her infectious version of Spidey is about to be canon. Who exactly is her Spidey? “He’s sort of a snarky nerd,” Blumenreich tells Inverse, “but he also cares very deeply for everyone around him.”
Blumenreich’s fanzine, available on her website and her Gumroad account, is a love letter to a character whose attitude she says she greatly admires. Her art style, inspired heavily by the “expression” of Brad Bird’s Iron Giant and Family Dog, is perfect for the project.
“I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil — that kind of thing,” Blumenreich tells Inverse. “And I’ve been writing for super long as well. “Eventually I figured out comics could make use of both those things.” She received her undergraduate degree in Comic Art from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
The Peter Parker Blumenreich presents in her fanzine has no idea how to interact with girls, and he listens to “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” as he swings above the streets. In one vignette, he escorts a young woman all the way back to her house, talking her ear off with inane chatter the whole time before actually fighting the creeps who had been giving her trouble. In another scene, he’s eager to accept an invitation to play basketball, but admits that he’s “not actually that great at sports” while twiddling his fingers.
“He’s got a lot of tragic stuff in his background, and he’s got this really extraordinary situation thrown at him that he isn’t prepared for in any way and he sort of has to deal with that,” Blumenreich says. “Taking into account all this tragic stuff and also spider powers, he has this ability to use one situation to cope with another, and I think that’s really interesting.”
But, much like in the canonized Spider-Man comics by Marvel, things aren’t always perfect. One of Blumenreich’s longer pieces shows Peter with Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and the tragedy of Ben’s death. It’s Peter that makes May laugh again for the first time after losing her husband.
“I tend to not read a whole bunch of Spider-Man comics,” she says. The idea of Spider-Man appeals more to her than what’s currently on the pages. This apathy lends to her stories about Peter feeling wholly original — she’s not sourcing directly from anything within the character’s 54 years on the page.
Blumenreich’s debut in Marvel comics, the giant blowout issue Amazing Spider-Man #25, will be available for purchase in March 2017.