In 1968, the year Mingering Mike released his first imaginary soul album, he was just a shy kid living on Barnaby Terrace SE—but he would go on to become D.C.’s greatest imaginary soul sensation, with dozens of beautiful albums, 45s, and movie soundtracks conjured up out of hand-painted cardboard. Mike’s outsider art, made for himself, corresponded to an elaborate mythology he dreamt up—and then it was lost. His discography has come a long way since: It was rediscovered by a record collector in 2003 at a flea market, and eventually inspired a book, a gallery show, wide media exposure, and, for Mike, some much-delayed recognition. But was any year his like 2013? The Smithsonian American Art Museum announced it had acquired his collection and planned to mount a survey of his work in 2015—the D.C. fake soul artist equivalent of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Then, after Mike created eccentric portraits of the entire D.C. Council for a show at Hemphill Fine Arts (Ward 7’s Yvette Alexander threatened to buy her portrait “before someone else does”), our elected leaders decided to honor Mike with a ceremonial resolution. Mike, charming and mysterious as ever, graciously received the flattery, but showed up, awesomely, as Spider-Man. From soul sensation to superhero—not bad for a shy kid from D.C.