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Obama, Merrick Garland and Their Shared Comic Book Fascination

By DNAinfo Staff | March 16, 2016 12:32pm | Updated on March 16, 2016 12:33pm
 President Obama as seen on a
President Obama as seen on a "Spider-Man" cover
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Marvel Comics

CHICAGO - In introducing his pick for U.S. Supreme Court justice, President Barack Obama said Merrick Garland put himself through Harvard Law School in a number of ways, including selling his comic book collection.

"A painful moment for any young man, selling his comic book collection,” Obama said. “It’s tough. Been there.”

Turns out Obama really is a comic book fan (as well as appearing in a number of them, including Marvel's "The Amazing Spider-Man.")

There have been media mentions of Obama's comic book fascination at least as far back as 2008.

In 2015, in a recruiting email for Organizing for Action, a nonprofit he controls, the president said,  “I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spider-Man.” 

"Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story — the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are. The same goes for grass-roots organizers,” Obama said.

Later, in an interview with Popular Science, Obama said, “What’s remarkable is the way ‘nerd’ is such a badge of honor now. Growing up, I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who read 'Spider-Man' comics and learned how to do the Vulcan salute, but it wasn’t like it is today.”

Obama added, “I get the sense that today’s young people are proud to be smart and curious. … I think America’s a nerdier country than it was when I was a kid — and that’s a good thing!”

Obama also mentions comic books in his autobiography, "Dreams From My Father." As a child, he said he bought comics from a blind man who ran a newsstand. Other biographies mention him drawing comic book figures.

Once during a news conference he even quoted, sort of, from the comics, telling reporters that "with greater power comes greater responsibility."

Asked about the quote, comic book pioneer Stan Lee told reason.com: "It should be 'with great power,' not 'greater power.' I thought about writing to tell him about the mistake. If you’re going to quote Spider-Man, at least get the adjectives right. But I figured he’s busy."


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