As I chug along on my thesis and manuscript-writing, I’m often reminded what it means to “see your name in print.” There’s something about that feeling of being responsible, in front of the world, for your words and thoughts. However, not all first publications are of strictly scientific merit, as a friend of mine recently relayed to me:
As a neuroscientist in grad school finishing up my dissertation, my
mind drifted recently one night to thinking of the first time my name
was in print. Circa 1992, I was pretty nerdy as a youth (still nerdy
now but proud of it), and I was “that kid” who would go to the local
comic book store every week to buy the newest comics with the money I
made on my paper route. I really liked spiderman then, because, as I
am sure many other nerdy youths thought, “Here’s a nerd by day, but by
night he is the most awesome superhero ever, and to boot, he has a
super hot redhead girlfriend!” (Maybe I didn’t think much of the
redhead girlfriend Mary Jane, I sure do now, but I was 12 at the time
and my memory is foggy as to whether I was into girls at that age).
I’ve since sold most of my comic books, but I have kept a special one
sealed in plastic on my bookshelf. See, one day back then I hand-wrote
a letter to the “Amazing Spiderman” editorial office. A couple months
passed, and with every new issue I would check the fan-mail section,
but nothing. Rejected! It held the same emotional impact then as it
does now with my scientific manuscripts.
But the 30th issue anniversary issue came out a couple months later,
with a hologram on the cover and over 50 pages of spiderman action. As
an afterthought I looked at the fan-mail section, and “huzzah!!!” Look
whose letter shows up! And in the 30th anniversary issue! I am a part
of that! That’s a hologram, yes, a hologram on the cover!! I spent
days bragging about it to my two friends (OK I had more friends than
So today I pulled the comic book off the shelf, looked at it, and
smiled at how ridiculous I sounded at 12 years old. Pensive in my
thoughts though, will I read my current scientific manuscripts in 16
years and think the same thing, how ridiculous I sounded as a graduate
But blogs be damned. Part of me still thinks seeing my name there on
cheap newsprint in a spiderman comic in the early 90′s beats any web/
scientific presence any day.
Check under the fold for the hologram cover of the 30th anniversary edition!