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It Ain’t Me Babe – Albert Schweitzer

albertscheitzer

This is the first of a new series based on a running gag Stan Lee used to do in Amazing Spider-Man where Spider-Man would burst into a room, someone would say something like “Spider-Man!” and he would say some variation of “Well, it isn’t _____ ____.” So in this feature (which will go in chronological order), I’ll explain who Spider-Man is saying he WASN’T back during the 1960s.

We begin with Amazing Spider-Man #3 and Albert Schweitzer.

As shown before, when Spider-Man first meets Doctor Octopus, it is with a joke about Albert Schweitzer.

albertscheitzer

Albert Schweitzer was a French/German theologian, philosopher and a doctor who became famous for his missionary work in Africa and his ethical philosophy, which he summed up as “Reverence for Life.”

albertscheitzer1

By the time Amazing Spider-Man #3 came out, Schweitzer was already 87 years old (he would pass away in 1965) but he was still an active force in the world, protesting nuclear weapons.

Schweitzer was a religious scholar in the late 19th and early 20th Century and after receiving a theology degree in 1899 he became well-known for his work involving the examination of the historical depiction of Jesus, spotlighted by his 1906 book, translated to English in 1910 as The Quest of the Historical Jesus.

In 1905, Schweitzer decided to become a doctor and after achieving his medical degree he, his wife and his son went to Africa to establish a hospital in the city of Lambaréné in what is now the country of Gabon. His hospital soon became world famous and Schweitzer would spend much of the next four decades working in Africa. IN the years since, he has garnered some criticism over his views of Africans (he tended to be on the paternalistic side of things) but at the time he was practically considered a saint. This followed is over-arching personal philosophy, which he dubbed “Reverence for Life,” which was the backbone behind his missionary work – he felt that people should strive to serve their fellow men.

In 1952, Schweitzer, already in his late 70s, won the Nobel Peace Prize.

As noted earlier, at the time Schweitzer’s name was essentially synonymous with “really good person,” and a reader of 1963 would be well-acquainted with him and the reference.

21 Comments

Is this only limited to Spiderman appearances? Because I feel like there are a few other versions of this joke involving other characters as well. (I’m particularly thinking of Adventure Comics 452 where Black Manta pulls a similar joke.)

Yes, that became a common thing for the more sarcastic characters to say. But it could be Spider-Man started the trend.

I do think that bit should recognized for poking fun at the older comics at the time. Of course, the villains always shout a superhero’s name when they show up. In reality, wouldn’t they just, “Agh, dammit!”

I wonder, if these villains always seem so surprised to see the superhero show up, how many crimes are they getting away with when no one intervenes?

Other early Marvelisms could include “That and a dime will get me a cup of coffee” and variations on “Mister (blank) of 196_,” which Roy Thomas seemed to like a lot.

Hoo-Boy!

given how other characters have said some varient of its not so and so. besides stan lee doing it in the early spider man days. can see this colum maybe branching out later

Ha, Thok! The first thing I thought of when I saw this feature was Black Manta, too. It was such a strikingly weird moment, considering what that story turned out to be.

Yes, that became a common thing for the more sarcastic characters to say. But it could be Spider-Man started the trend.

The funny thing is, I could totally see 1930s-40s Superman saying this kind of thing. I’m not saying he ever did, just that it would have been in character. Golden Age Supes was a sassypants.

This gag is much older than Spider-Man. It has an antecedent in Allen’s Alley, a 1940s radio series in which comedian Fred Allen would “interview” various comedy characters with their own famous catchphrases. (Warner Bros.’ Foghorn Leghorn was a direct imitation of one of these characters, Senator Claghorn, played by Kenny Delmar.) The character Mrs. Nussbaum (played by Minerva Pious) was a stereotypical Jewish housewife, and when Allen greeted her with “Mrs. Nussbaum?” she would always answer “You were expecting maybe” and then mispronounce the name of a celebrity, e.g. “You were expecting maybe Weinstein Churchill?”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minerva_Pious

Along similar lines, maybe someone here can explain to me why there were several different occasions back in the 1960s and 70s where someone would describe Steve Rogers (Captain America) as “Joe College.” What is that supposed to be a reference to?

He rewrote Jesus’ statements for clarity.
He called Africa his little brother, then gave it a wedgie.
He cured tropical dysentery with schnitzel.
He named French Equatorial Africa after liberally inserting his tongue into it.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize moments after cold cocking a coolie.

He is… the most interesting man in the world.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

On the following page Doc Ock calls Spidey “Super-man” (at least in the original printing). Unfortunately Spidey didn’t have a witty comeback this time as he was too busy getting his butt kicked

Along similar lines, maybe someone here can explain to me why there were several different occasions back in the 1960s and 70s where someone would describe Steve Rogers (Captain America) as “Joe College.” What is that supposed to be a reference to?

“Joe X” was sort of an old memetic way to label the “archtypal” person in a particular setting. “Joe Cool” was another. “Joe,” like “John,” has long been a slang term for “anybody.” For example, the typicval soldier is a “G.I. Joe.” The term may have been popularized by the Peanuts strip, where Snoopy often went by “Joe Cool” when in his “hip” persona, but I thinkt hat dates to the later 60s or early 1970s.

Hah, this is a great idea for a recurring feature. There are so many of these to choose from.

Omar, I keep wanting to see a Batman story starting with Snoopy-style narration: “Here’s Joe Chill hanging out in Crime Alley, waiting for something to happen.”

Great new feature.

The first thing that popped into my head after reading this was an Archie story I read in a digest once. Veronica had a dream about Archie kissing some girl named Sylvia (I think– it’s been a long time so I can’t be certain, but that’s the name that’s stuck in my mind). She was quite furious about it the whole day, and Archie had a hard time convincing her that there was no Sylvia and that she’d dreamed the whole thing.

Later, just as you probably expected to happen, Archie bumps into a girl who’d just moved to Riverdale, and Veronica (who’d met the girl a short time before) discovers them together. Upon seeing the look of intense rage on Ronnie’s face, Archie turns to the girl and asks nervously..

‘Sylvia?’

‘It isn’t de Gaulle’.

In the final panel, having been beaten severely by Veronica (Ah! The Good Old Days when domestic violence was funny), he asks ‘Why couldn’t it have been de Gaulle?’

‘Mainly because I don’t speak French.’

On an episode of Fawlty Towers, Basil makes a reference like that about Denis Compton. I had absolutely no idea who that was for many years until the fabulous internet came along, using it to discover he was a famous cricket player. How playing cricket could make somebody famous was puzzling, but, hey, it’s England.

How about the once-famous “Would-you-believe” gag of the same era (maybe 2 or 3 years later)?

I think the only way for this feature to be perfect is if Spidey’s retort is that he ain’t Bob Dylan.

Spidey would never say that, he’d say “Dylan Thomas.” The man ain’t got no culture.

Well, there was that awkward time recently going after the Lizard in Florida, when everyone in the room Spidey burst into had ducked, and Spidey said, “hey, I ain’t Robert Zimmerman!” Then everyone got up to stand their ground.

Oh, I feel terrible.

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