If Peter Parker was a real man, he'd live at 219 W. Chestnut St., Ephrata, drive a 2003 silver Mitsubishi Eclipse and be identified by a spider tattooed on his arm. He'd also go by the name Stephan Morris.
Morris, 49, is Ephrata's very own Spiderman. Two of the three rooms in his house boast Marvel Comics memorabilia, and he even drives a "Spidey" car adorned with Spiderman decals and a license plate that reads "1SPIDEY."
"The thing about Spiderman that's so important is that he was the first comic who was a teenager, with all the problems and insecurities of adolescence," said Morris, "and that's what makes him so unique."
After the July 3 release of the fourth Spiderman film, which grossed $65 million in its opening weekend in the U.S., the unique comic celebrates its 50th birthday this month, and that's one of the ways Morris identifies with Spiderman: they share a birthday. Spiderman's character made its debut in Stan Lee's Amazing Fantasy #15, published Aug. 10, 1962.
"Amazing Fantasy #15 is the holy grail of the silver age," said Morris. Only 1,400 copies of this comic book are known to exist, and he bought one for $2,800, selling it sometime later for $3,250.
In addition to sharing a birthday, Morris and Spiderman share certain traits that contribute to his interest in the comic character. Morris describes himself as having been a shy, timid teenager, just like Peter Parker. He also spent years mastering martial arts, earning a black belt in World Tang Soo Do and a red belt in Tai Kwan Do.
"I used to give it everything I had," he said. "In my studio I was known as one of the best kickers there." Morris earned bragging rights after meeting Chuck Norris -- a picture of the two hangs on the wall in his home.
Although Morris sold his Amazing Fantasy #15, he holds onto a collection of other comic books and Marvel action figures.
"I thought, this comic stuff is just so cool. The artwork and the nostalgia," he said.
"Apparently I have a collector gene," he added. His step-dad, the late Marlyn Fahs, was a coin collector who had a stand at Green Dragon for 20 years.
Comics and characters aren't the only collectibles decorating the walls and shelves of his home. He has a cardboard cut-out of Spiderman as well as a Spiderman photo autographed by Stan Lee, the famous editor he hopes to meet at the Baltimore Comic-Con next month.
"Stan Lee is a famous man mostly because of Spiderman," said Morris. The teenager-turned-arachnid character is considered the third most important comic hero in the history of comics, he said. Superman is first, followed by Batman.
"(Spiderman's) even in the Macy's Day Parade," said Morris. "Not too many get that privilege."
Keep an eye out for Ephrata's friendly neighborhood Spiderman.
"Spidey may show up uptown," said Morris. "Spidey may climb a wall."
Morris currently entertains at birthday parties and other events and is a former employee of Armstrong's IT department where he worked as a network and help desk analyst. More SPIDERMAN, page A16