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60’s Spider-Man, also known as “Retro Spider-Man”, refers to an image macro series based on still shots from the original Spider-Man cartoon series, typically featuring an absurd internal monologue that correspond with the actions depicted in the images.
The base still shots are from a Spider-Man animated television series that ran from September 9th, 1967 to June 14th, 1970. It was jointly produced in Canada (for voice talent) and the United States (for animation) and was the first animated adaptation of the Spider-Man comic book series, created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko.
Sometimes referred to as “Spider-Man ’67,” the series was notorious for its bad art and often over-the-top script as early as 2004. The show reached a newfound audience in 2009 after Marvel officially began streaming the episodes via its website on April 2nd, 2009. The episodes were subsequently reviewed on geek culture blogs like Topless Robot and Daily Pop.
The Image Macro
The image macro originated on 4chan some time in 2009 after users of the board /co/ (cartoon) began threads inviting fellow users to watch original episodes of the show together via streaming services. The overuse of stock animation like images of Spider-Man swinging across skylines was representative of the show’s low-budget production, leading to plenty of funny, awkward or odd moments throughout the series.
After the viewing of each episode, users would post screenshots in the thread with summaries of episode highlights. One of the earliest instances of such threads on 4chan dates back to July 19th, 2009 titled “Spider-man on his day off.” The discussion thread contained 153 posts featuring images of Spider-Man with humorous titles that are very similar to the overlaid text found in the image macros like LOLcat. As time went on, these screenshots were saved for further circulation and evolved into reaction faces or captioned image macros.
60’s Spider-Man’s popularity grew on blog sites such as Tumblr over the next year. One of the earliest Tumblrs to organize live streams of the original show was Wallopin Websnappers, launched by a user named Hobbo who started the blog in November 2010 as a place to organize livestream viewings and collect the 700 screencaps he had collected from the show.
Tumblr blogs exclusively dedicated to collecting captioned instances of 60s Spider-Man did not appear until February 1st, 2011, with the creation of You’re a horrible man, Spiderman Brown. More single-topic Tumblrs were started later that year, in addition to an active Tumblr tag.
Between April and July of 2011, compilations of captioned Spider-Man images were also shared on Reddit, FunnyJunk, Uproxx, humor blog Pleated Jeans, #1 Meme, and geek culture blog The Uniblog. Several generators exist on MemeGenerator with different still images from the series.
On August 14th, 2012, Redditor yakkers09 submitted a post titled “This is how I feel when ever I scroll down my newsfeed,” which featured an image of Spider-Man seated a a desk with the caption “Wow people have such interesting social lives / And I’m just sitting here masturbating” (shown below). Within one month, the post received over 12,800 up votes and 215 comments.
The same day, other Redditors began creating image macros with the bottom caption reading “And I’m just sitting here masturbating” on the “Spiderman Desk” Quickmeme page. On August 31st, Redditor goodbyegun submitted a post to the /r/SpideyMeme subreddit titled “Obama’s AMA”, including an image macro with the caption ""Everyone is very interested in Obama’s AMA / and I’m just sat there masturbating" (shown below).
On September 3rd, a Quickmeme page titled “Masturbating Spiderman” was created, which featured the same image of Spider-Man desk image. On the following day, Redditor xwing11 submitted an image macro to the /r/SpideyMeme subreddit with the caption “Everyone is asleep / and I’m still awake masturbating” (shown below, top, left). On September 14th, Redditor lewk-07 submitted an image macro to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit with the caption “I broke both my wrists / and I’m just sitting here” (shown below, top, middle), to which Redditor SnowingSwede replied “Ask your mom for help, I’m sure she’s willing.” The SnowingSwede comment was made in reference to a controversial AMA thread created by a man who reportedly had a sexual relationship with his mother after injuring his arms. The image macros continued to spread on Reddit and the “Masturbating spiderman” Quickmeme page accumulated over 600 submissions within two weeks of creation.
Search traffic for “spiderman meme” picked up in January 2011 and has been climbing steadily since.