Fought in Maryland's Colonial capital...

NOW BEING

August 08, 1992

NOW BEING fought in Maryland's Colonial capital: "Spiderman vs. the Historic Preservationists," a battle of comic proportions.

Fighting alongside Spiderman are the owners of "The Twilite Zone," a comic book shop tucked into a narrow street a block from City Dock. Roger "Bumper" Moyer and Scott Hanna wanted to make their shop more visible. So they put a life-sized poster of the webhead super-hero on the storefront. Spiderman appears to be climbing right up the side of the Victorian building.

Alas, he's breaking the law and must go, say the Office of Planning and Zoning and the Annapolis Historic District Commission.

City zoning officials said the poster, showing Spiderman hanging from a web against a yellow brick background, violates the zoning code, which prohibits permanent banners. They've threatened The Twilite Zone with $400 in fines.

The historic preservationists, who must approve all signs and construction in downtown Annapolis, said Spiderman just doesn't belong. He just doesn't go with a Victorian house and cobblestone streets.

They even nixed a tiny Spidey. In 1990, Mr. Hanna and Mr. Moyer suggested adding a small Spiderman character to their approved sign hanging over the door. But the historic commission said it was "unsuitable." Later, a panel member complained about a stand-up Spiderman outside the store, after which the cardboard super-hero "mysteriously disappeared," Mr. Hanna says.

A stand-up Michael Jordan cardboard poster also got the preservationists' thumbs-down. Apparently he didn't go with the cobblestone streets, either.

Now, after impassioned pleas from the store owners and much publicity, Spiderman's epic struggle may be nearing an end. Recently, the commission relented, giving tentative approval to a wooden sign with a small logo of the webbed slinger, much like the one it rejected two years ago.

Maybe preservationists are right; maybe Spiderman shouldn't be climbing the walls. But let's hope they make room for a miniature version. Annapolis, after all, could use a super-hero or two.

* * *

MOST COMPUTER users learn the hard way not to rely too heavily on the spell-checking functions included in many word processing packages. A ditty currently circulating at a Texas corporation illustrates the pitfalls lying in wait for the unwary hack:

I have a spelling checker,

It came with my PC.

It plainly marks four my revue,

Mistake I cannot see.

I've run this poem threw it,

I'm sure your please too no.

It's letter perfect in it's weigh,

My checker tolled me sew.

For the record, our own computerized spelling check tells us: "No spelling errors detected." Aha, there's the hedge! None detected.

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