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AutoMatters & More: ‘Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing — The Exhibition’ debuts at Comic-Con Museum

Comic-Con Museum
Comic-Con Museum
(Jan Wagner)

It seems quite fitting that this World Premier exhibition opening at the new Comic-Con Museum, in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park, coincides not only with next week’s return to the first full-scale San Diego Comic-Con since COVID struck, but also with the publication of “AutoMatters & More” number 750!

This 7,500 square-foot, interactive, highly informative exhibit celebrates the 60th anniversary of Spider-Man with: life-size sculptures of Spider-Man in action; immersive experiences that bring to life Spider-Man’s most notorious villains; digital canvases, sound and classic comic elements in brilliant high-definition; rarely seen design materials, concept art and movie props; an original copy of 1962’s “Amazing Spider-Man” number one; behind-the-scenes looks at some of Spidey’s biggest pop-culture milestones; and, for the first time ever on display, original art from Spider-Man comic books, including works by Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr., John Romita Jr., Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Mark Bagley, Sara Pichelli and many more legendary artists. There is also a large selection of Spider-Man memorabilia available in the Spider-Man gift shop.

Part of the Spider-Man exhibit
Part of the Spider-Man exhibit
(Jan Wagner)

I spoke with Brian Crosby, director of Themed Entertainment for Marvel. He told me that this exhibit is “largely focused on the comics, predominantly, because that’s really where his story begins … but we certainly sprinkle in some of those other pop culture elements.”

“Stan (Lee) is the reason we’re all here, at least for me and Marvel. Stan and Steve Ditko, they created this character back in 1962, and really he was a character that Stan’s publisher didn’t want to do. Stan had this idea to do a younger superhero — a teenager who had problems, and that was not what his publisher thought was going to sell. And so they told Stan to kind of shelve it. But there was a book called ‘Amazing Fantasy’ that, as Stan tells the story, was going to be cancelled anyway and so he thought, ‘what the heck, I’ll throw that Spider character in there’ — and not only was he a teenager but also he was themed after a bug, and the publisher said ‘people don’t even like spiders, they hate spiders.’ Stan threw him in there anyways, the fans went nuts for it and the rest is history.”

Rare Spider-Man comic book
Rare Spider-Man comic book
(Jan Wagner)

Prior to his current position, and over a period of about 10 years, Brian was a theme park designer for Walt Disney Imagineering. He helped design theme park attractions all over the world. He worked on “STAR WARS,” Marvel, “It’s A Small World,” “Tron” and a number of other theme park attractions. “When the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel in 2009, it was kind of the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so there wasn’t a huge awareness of the characters that everybody knows now — like Thor, Loki and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Having been a huge comic books fan I knew those characters, so I kind of immediately gravitated towards all Marvel stuff when I was at Imagineering, and then getting to know the folks at Marvel — in particular Joe Quesada, who was the Chief Creative Officer at the time. We became great friends and that’s how I was offered my current job, kind of overseeing all of these attractions and experiences for Marvel, since 2015.”

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man
Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man
(Jan Wagner)

According to Rita Vandergaw, executive director of the Comic-Con Museum, the museum came to be to give visitors the opportunity to experience some of what is the Comic-Con convention, but on a daily basis.

Other exhibits currently at the Comic-Con museum — included with the purchase of admission — are: “PAC-MAN ARCADE,” a neon-lit arcade room with games, artwork and memorabilia; “Dave Stevens And The Rocketeer: Art for Arfs’ Sake” (no, that is NOT a typo), with 40 original covers and pages from “The Rocketeer,” as well as Stevens’ early works, his artwork for Comic-Con, animation storyboards, and uniquely designed props and pieces; “Eight Decades of Archie,” with vintage comic books, animation production materials, original art and pieces from the WB’s popular “Riverdale” T.V. series; and a Sneak Preview of “Hemingway in the Comics.”

The Spider-Man gift shop
The Spider-Man gift shop
(Jan Wagner)

“Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing — The Exhibition” runs through December 2022. To learn more about this and the other exhibitions at the Comic-Con Museum, to purchase tickets, and to see the museum’s events calendar, visit https://comic-con.org/museum.

To see the most photos and the latest text, and to explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, visit AutoMatters & More at AutoMatters.net. On the Home Page, search by title or topic, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes.

Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #750


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