Steve Ditko, Auteur By Matthew Rizzuto

Within the realm of my personal opinion, the legendary Steve Ditko was one of the greatest mainstream comic book artists in the history of the medium.
The co-creator of Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Captain Atom, the creator of The Creeper, Hawk and Dove, The Question and the Ted Kord Blue Beetle. He was also a master of mystery and horror comics and great Ditko-drawn comics over the years. His Gorgo and Konga issues remain among many as their favorite comics. The 5-page surprise ending tales he did with Stan Lee delighted me then and even today. His stuff for Warren Magazines, like Creepy and Eerie, was outstanding…and no one ever did better art for Charlton Comics.
Absolutely no one.
I must admit that lot of artists are favorites of mine, but Mr. Ditko is near the very top of the list and with good reason for that. I first became familiar with his work toward the end of his run on Spider-Man. I vividly recall having my young mind blown by a 1965 copy of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2 where Spidey teamed up with Dr. Strange in an adventure of cosmic proportions. It was AWESOME!!! I read that issue over and over again.
Mr. Ditko left Marvel and went on to work for Charlton, DC Comics and Warren Publications among others as well as a number of independent publishers doing his own original creations, such as Mr. A and Static.
When someone as impressive and as magnanimous as Mr. Ditko leaves our beloved world, it is essential to do something monumental about it.
All the accolades and awards and the greatness that has made Marvel Comics what it is currently, it’s not because of Stan Lee. It’s the people who worked under Stan Lee. It is they, who should be regarded and adored and completely respected as much as possible, like Stan himself.
Despite his many personal issues, Mr. Ditko was a legendary force within the beautiful realm of the medium of comics.
Just like the gentleman’s work, he will be admired for the decades to come.
Whether anyone wants to hear it or not, 90 years is a damn good life and so is being able to make a living at what you love to do for most of that life.
The 90-year-old Steve Ditko never stopped creating comics. He continued to work because that’s what he’d loved to do.
We’ve lost not just a member of our community, an incredible mentor and an important ambassador for the medium’s history, but we also lost a gentleman and more importantly, our world lost a legendary force that was often copied, but never equaled, nor will ever will be duplicated.
It’s no secret that the comics industry has denied many creators ownership and the subsequent financial rewards of their famous characters. From Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, to Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson, to Joe Simon, Jack Kirby and Mr. Ditko himself, the dustbin of history of filled and is completely loaded with broken promises and shady dealings by the men who owned companies built on the backs of men like these.
I believe Mr. Ditko saw that and wanted no part of it. It’s clear that Mr. Ditko wanted his work published HIS way and no other and you gotta respect that. For what it’s worth, he gave us something that no graphic novel or collection of comics could behold.
So many people spend their whole life chasing after happiness, when happiness should be chasing after them.
Stephen J. Ditko was best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of Marvel Comics superheroes Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, was born on November 2, 1927 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania from a Slavic family.
Later on, Mr. Ditko’s high school would one day serve as the architectural model for Peter Parker’s high school. Mr. Ditko, like Parker, was a nerd and as a boy, he had to endure the constant needling of a bully, similar to abusive jock, Flash Thompson.
Young Steve Ditko reached manhood just as Ayn Rand began unleashing a series of novels that would inspire a generation by decimating the forces of collectivism with a new and totally uncompromising philosophy that would come to be known as Objectivism.
Mr. Ditko studied under noted Batman artist Jerry Robinson at The Cartoonist and Illustrators School in New York City. He began his professional career in 1953, working in the studio of the creators of Captain America, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, beginning as an inker and coming under the influence of artist Mort Meskin.
During this time, he then began his long association with Charlton Comics, where he did work in the genres of science fiction, horror and mystery. He also co-created the superhero Captain Atom in 1960 with writer Joe Gill for Charlton Comics (later DC Comics) in Space Adventures #33 (March 1960).
During the 1950’s, Mr. Ditko also drew for Atlas Comics, a forerunner of Marvel Comics. He went on to contribute much significant work to Marvel. In 1966, after being the exclusive artist on The Amazing Spider-Man and the “Doctor Strange” feature in Strange Tales. Shortly after that, Mr. Ditko left Marvel Comics for reasons never specified, even as of this printing.
Mr. Ditko continued to work for Charlton and also DC Comics, making major contributions, including a revamp of the long-running character the Blue Beetle and creating or co-creating brilliant characters like The Question, The Creeper, Shade The Changing Man and the dynamic team of Hawk and Dove.
Also, Mr. Ditko began contributing to small independent publishers, where he created Mr. A, a hero reflecting the influence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Since the 1960’s, Mr. Ditko has declined most interviews, stating that it is his work he offers readers, not his personality.
He continued to work, self-publishing comic books from small offices in New York City until his death.
In many respects, he was a very odd man, but I respect him for living his life and staying completely true to his principles in a way practically no one else who ever claimed to share such views ever manages to.
Many would claim that the problem with Mr. Ditko’s refusal to do interviews is that there are stories behind the stories and interviews reveal untold history. Alter Ego Magazine has had many interviews with creators who have since departed and their recollections are important. The same with the lengthy interviews in back issues of The Comics Journal and other publications. Mr. Ditko has been steadfast in turning down interviews. The legendary Will Eisner did a series of interviews with his contemporaries. A few years before he died, Eisner was at San Diego Comic-Con promoting and when asked if he would interview Mr. Ditko, Eisner revealed that he had asked, but Mr. Ditko had turned him down, stating, “Nobody is interested in what I have to say.”
If that was true then, Mr. Ditko wouldn’t have put so much of his philosophy in his work.
In Robin Snyder’s comics, Mr. Ditko actually started a series on Spider-Man, discussing behind-the-scenes details on each issue beginning with Amazing Adult Fantasy #15. Unfortunately, it was unusual because he would write about the story in an issue and then suddenly launch into a Randian lecture which had nothing to do with that issue of Spider-Man.
With Robin Snyder, Mr. Ditko’s imagination exploded to a brand new generation of fans that were hungry to read what he had to say. Snyder obviously knew how to take care of a genius and he did and beautifully well.
It was clear that the whole reason he was writing these was to push his philosophy. It was so ridiculous that when he wrote about The Amazing Spider-Man #3, he gave no information on the creation of Doctor Octopus, but just skipped ahead to his lecture of the issue. Fans did complain about this approach and rather than change, Mr. Ditko just stopped doing them because “what he was doing wasn’t appreciated.”
The work that Steve Ditko and Robin Snyder were putting out is interesting, smart and engaging, otherwise others wouldn’t bother to buy it. I enjoy the stories and will continue to support. Their purpose is to inform, educate and enrich the readers. I believe that they have accomplished that.
Of course, there was another side of Mr. Ditko that few people couldn’t understand or comprehend and that was part of the mystery of Mr. Ditko and how he was.
We can’t forget the time that Blake Bell announced that he was doing his book “The World of Steve Ditko”. Mr. Ditko attacked the book sight unseen (twice) more than a year and a half before it was even published because he “knew” what it would be like. Mr. Ditko was wrong, but he never apologized for the attacks on Bell and the false accusations. Was it personal politics over creativity? Who knows? Only Mr. Ditko himself could choose to answer that.
Everyone must remember that Mr. Ditko was true to his own ideas. They weren’t anyone else’s ideas. Only Mr. Ditko’s. In many respects, that made them special. You don’t have to agree with his ideas and you wouldn’t want to. Again, they’re only Mr. Ditko’s.
He avoided publicity for most of his life and refused to appear on air for the 2007 BBC film “In Search of Steve Ditko”, but British TV presenter Jonathan Ross, who met Mr. Ditko while making the documentary, described Mr. Ditko as “the single greatest comic book artist and creator who ever lived”.
Mr. Ditko, along with Jack Kirby, is responsible for a lifetime of reading Marvel Comics and The Mighty World Of Marvel #1 is worth anyone’s complete and undivided attention. If you find it, get it. I will not be held responsible if your life magically changes overnight from reading it.
Sadly, Mr. Ditko passed away in his apartment in New York City on June 29, 2018. The reports claimed Ditko died alone and that he wasn’t found for a couple of days. That’s desperately sad, but it’s also strangely appropriate, a fact I’m by no means making light of. Police said he had died within the previous two days. He was pronounced dead at age 90, with the cause of death initially deemed as a result of a myocardial infarction, brought on by arteriosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
In the end, after all the conjecture, Mr. Ditko owed us nothing, other than the work he gave us. I’d still like to think that whenever he walked the downtown New York streets and saw a little kid in a Spidey outfit, he at the very least, raised the glimmer of a smile.
I’d like to think he knew that what he did was important and outstanding and he knew how much he mattered to everyone.
In the end, we’re not gonna know. We’ll never know.
If anything, he’ll be missed incredibly, just like his stunning work that Mr. Ditko shared with the world.
Thank You.

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