'Spidey and Me': Johnstown man shares personal connection with Marvel character at pop-culture conventions

·3 min read

May 29—JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Bruce Wechtenhiser is taking his story of Spider-Man on the road to local, regional and eventually national pop-culture conventions to share the meaningful tale with others.

"I think that there's something in my stories that will somehow be a blessing to other people," he said. "I just really feel like with how much joy I'm getting out of it and how much satisfaction I'm getting out of it, my stories will touch someone else."

Wechtenhiser has been an avid fan of the web-head since childhood and throughout the decades collected merchandise connected to the wise-cracking Marvel Comics hero.

"I've lived through basically every different media Spider-Man has crossed through," he said.

After doing a few interviews last year about his connection to the web slinger — he was featured on the YouTube show "Spider-Collector," an offshoot of the Spider-Man Crawlspace website and interviewed by site creator Brad Douglas — the Geistown resident decided to keep telling his story.

Wechtenhiser said he naturally thought of comic and pop-culture conventions.

That's why he condensed the tale into the presentation, "Spidey and Me: 50+ years of connecting and collecting."

"I'm like, 'Why did it take me so long to think this idea up?' " Wechtenhiser said.

Through this presentation, he provides a "chronological story-telling" of his life and "how it connected to the Spider-Man character."

He'll use pieces of his expansive collection from action figures, costumes and watches to lunch boxes and puzzles to support the tale — items that can be transported easily.

Wechtenhiser's long-time friend, K. Brandon Wilt, is impressed with his dedication and passion for the character.

"It's truly amazing," Wilt said.

The two have known each other for more than two decades and Wechtenhiser is a regular at Wilt's shop, Bent Wookee Comix, 127 Fairfield Ave.

Throughout that time the friends have shared many a conversation on the topic of Spider-Man.

Wilt said when Wechtenhiser mentioned turning his tale into a presentation, he considered it a natural progression from passionate collector to storyteller.

He added that when a person has amassed a collection such as his friend, they want to share that with others.

While developing "Spidey and Me," Wechtenhiser was involved in the exhibits at Bottle Works celebrating the life and art of Spider-Man co-creator and Johnstown native Steve Ditko last year.

That gave him the idea to create a second presentation, "Steve Ditko, Spider-Man, and Me: Johnstown, PA connections," in which the fan talks about the man behind his legendary Marvel comic hero and their shared hometown.

Wechtenhiser debuted the two presentations — "Spidey and Me" and "Steve Ditko, Spider-Man, and Me" — at Saturday's Johnstown Pop and Comic-con hosted by Weebs in the Woods, 225 Franklin St., in downtown Johnstown.

Wechtenhiser's next showing will be at the Sci-Fi Valley Con June 17 through June 19 at the Blair County Convention Center in Altoona.

He's also applying to conventions throughout the country to share his love for the web-head and eventually wants to write a book about his story and connection to Spider-Man.

"I'm kind of being bold about it, but whatever happens, happens," Wechtenhiser said.

For more information, visit spideyandme.com.