On August 10, 1962, Herbert Hoover celebrated his 88th birthday by attending the dedication and opening of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library -Museum in West Branch, Iowa. Accompanied by friend and former president Harry S. Truman, Hoover fondly reminisced about growing up in West Branch and celebrating the Fourth of July with firecrackers purchased by money earned from picking potato bugs off plants. While Hoover’s attention was focused on the opening of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum, another event occurred that was noticed by many of the young people in attendance. Marvel Comics came out with issue 15 of “Amazing Fantasy” premiering a new character – Spider-Man. Some may think the two events are mere coincidence. But evidence suggests a strong connection between the former president and the web-slinging superhero.
Herbert Hoover is among America’s greatest doodling presidents. He loved to doodle while at his desk and during meetings. During Hoover’s lifetime, a lot of people were interested in the doodles, including “experts” who thought they could psychoanalyze people’s mental state from their doodles. Certainly Hoover’s doodles were cherished keepsakes for many people, friends and curiosity seekers alike. However as far as he was concerned they were not worthy of saving.
Some of Hoover’s doodles have been donated to us over the years, and examples continue
to turn up in his papers on occasion. Typically, his doodles were geometric patterns and shapes rather than people, animals, or things. Designers discovered some of Hoover’s doodles and used them in fabric patterns. In the 1930’s several pieces of children’s clothing were created using the doodles in the fabric design.
Upon closer examination, one might also discern these geometric patterns as fanciful spider webs. Could it be that Herbert Hoover and his doodles were the inspiration for Spider-Man? A brief review of Hoover’s extraordinary career could easily support a superhero connection.