Banking on Spider-Man …
Welcome back to The DAN SLOTT INTERVIEWS, our new series of talks with the writer of Marvel’s Spider-Man on a wide variety of whimsically webby topics.
In PART 2, we venture into the world of toys and team-ups that entranced a generation …
Slott described how seeing a spinner rack at 7-11 for the first time was like being hit by a beam from the heavens…
Dan Greenfield: It’s funny you described that “light from above,” because I’ve had those same moments. That’s always how I’ve described it. You can almost feel physically at that point where you are wired for something that is going to affect you for the rest of your life. You didn’t know it at the time but that’s the sensation that it gives. Now, for me, one of those things was being at a friend’s house and seeing his Mego Batman and Robin.
Dan Slott: Ah-HA!
Greenfield: Phillip Tagliaferri. I haven’t talked to Phillip Tagliaferri in decades but I will forever remember even what the weather was like that day because everything changed after that. Now for you, at this point you’re about 7 years old, you’ve now discovered comics, you’ve watched the Spidey cartoon… Did you get into the Megos? Was any of that stuff a part of this? I mean, did you start just accumulating stuff or were you just strictly comics?
Slott: Oh, no! Everything! The four to five quarters a month went to Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up…The other show I watched in a block with the Bakshi (’60s Spider-Man) cartoon was the Adam West Batman. And I took it seriously. I didn’t take it as camp. If Mr. Freeze trapped him in a giant snow cone, I was seriously worried how he was gonna survive!
So, yeah, I was reading Detective. I found that I liked Detective more than Batman. And Brave and the Bold. I loved Marvel Team-Up and Brave and the Bold because they introduced me to the universes. I got to see Spider-Man and somebody or I got to see Batman and somebody.
If I had a fifth book I could buy that month, it was usually Marvel Two-In-One ’cause I knew the Thing from my cousin’s FFs and I could see the Thing and somebody. My brain EXPLODED when Spider-Man and the Thing teamed up and the two issues crossed over! (Dan G. laughs) I was buying like four to five comics a month and any change left over from my lunch money or whatever went to things like Megos or buying a Spider-Man bank or…It was all Spider-Man, all Batman.
Greenfield: With Megos and stuff, what were some of the things that you had as a kid? Did you get the Spider-Man: Beyond the Grave “Rockomic”?
Slott: No, but I got like, Draco and the Dragon Men, and all the Power Records. I got all of those that came with the comics and the albums that didn’t come with the comics so I had to try to imagine what was going on.
Slott: And I got the Megos, too. Megos were usually like a rewards system. Like, if I was going to the doctor and I was going to get shots. ‘Cause I could never save up enough to buy a Mego but that was like a present that was given to me as a reward, usually at Jake’s Variety Shop, (Dan G. laughs) which was essential for different places that required me to have a reward, like dentists or whatever. And it was always who was in stock so it was very frustrating. I never had a Mego Batman but I had a Mego Robin.
Slott: No, no, no. I eventually got the Batman!
Slott: So, like, the guys I had were…It was a weird assortment. It was Spidey—I was really lucky and got a Spidey right off the bat. So it was Spidey and Goblin, Hulk, Robin — for the longest time — then Batman, and for a long time I had a Falcon but no Cap. Then I got Cap and then Joker and that was where it all kind of stopped. That was my collection. But for one gift—like for Hanukkah—my parents got me the Justice League play set from Mego.
Which was weird because almost all my guys were Marvel! (Dan G. laughs) I was aware, even as a kid, about the delineation so Batman and Robin held the meetings. (Dan G. laughs) It was their turf, y’know? Everyone was sittin’ around in those chairs. It was like Hulk and Cap and Falcon and…
Greenfield: That’s great!
Slott: One of the things that I had was these giant plastic busts that were piggy banks and I had the one for Spider-Man. I would take left-over change and put it in the back of Spider-Man’s head and fill it up. And when it was filled up, I felt like somehow magically that meant…I mean, I didn’t know how many pennies or nickels or whatever were in there but I knew that somehow magically that meant I probably had enough to buy this, uh…I don’t know if it was Corgi but it was whoever did the Batcopter with the working wings.
I knew I had enough for that and I really wanted that. My dad said, “We’ll take your bank.” We brought my giant Spider-Man bust head to that hobby shop and it was a moment of pure horror when I realized it was all this one molded piece of plastic. There was no hole to get the money out! You were gonna have to destroy the bank! (Dan G laughs) It was this moment of pure horror. I knew the bank would be destroyed to get the money out! Would I rather have this giant—now super-heavy, filled with pennies and nickels—Spider-Man bust, or the Batcopter?
And my dad, I think, convinced me that it was silly to leave the money inside and then we destroyed the Spider-Man bank. It was a pretty terrible loss. (Both laugh) But the nice thing is I was telling it to Tom Brevoort a couple of years ago and then he surprised me with one at Christmas. He found one on e-Bay.
So it looks down at me every day from the top of my bookshelf when I’m writing Spidey.
NOTE: Because Slott’s original toys have been lost to the ages, I’ve (mostly) used stock images found across the web, mostly eBay.