Steve Ditko

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Steve Ditko
Steveditko office.jpg
Ditko photographed at his studio in 1959.
Born (1927-11-02) November 2, 1927 (age 86)
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Area(s) Writer, Penciller, Inker
Notable works
The Amazing Spider-Man
Creeper
Doctor Strange
Hawk and Dove
Mr. A
Question

Stephen J. "Steve" Ditko[1] (born November 2, 1927) is an American comic book artist and writer best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of the Marvel Comics heroes Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.

Ditko studied under 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 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.

During the 1950s, Ditko also drew for Atlas Comics, a forerunner of Marvel Comics. He went on to contribute much significant work to Marvel, including co-creating Spider-Man, who would become the company's flagship character. Additionally, he created the supernatural hero Doctor Strange and made important contributions to the Hulk and Iron Man. In 1966, after being the exclusive artist on The Amazing Spider-Man and the "Doctor Strange" feature in Strange Tales, Ditko left Marvel for reasons never specified.

Ditko continued to work for Charlton and also DC Comics, making major contributions, including a revamp of the long-running character Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating the Question, the Creeper, Shade, the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove. Ditko also 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 1960s, Ditko has declined most interviews, stating that it is his work he offers readers, and not his personality.

Ditko was inducted into the comics industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990, and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994.

Early life[edit]

Ditko as a senior in high school, 1945.

Stephen J. Ditko was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on November 2, 1927,[2] the son of first-generation Americans of Slovak[3] descent: Stephen Ditko, an artistically talented master carpenter at a steel mill, and Anna, a homemaker. The second-eldest child in a working-class family, he was preceded by sister Anna Marie[3] and followed in uncertain order by sister Betty and brother Patrick.[1] Inspired by his father's love of newspaper comic strips, particularly Hal Foster's Prince Valiant, Ditko found his interest in comics accelerated by the introduction of superhero Batman in 1940, and by Will Eisner's The Spirit, which appeared in a tabloid-sized comic-book insert in Sunday newspapers.[4]

Good with his hands, Ditko in junior high school was part of a group of students who crafted wooden models of German airplanes to aid civilian World War II aircraft-spotters.[4] Upon graduating from Johnstown High School in 1945,[4] he enlisted in the U.S. Army on October 26, 1945,[3] and did military service in postwar Germany, where he drew comics for an Army newspaper.[4]

Following his discharge, Ditko learned that his idol, Batman artist Jerry Robinson, was teaching at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School (later the School of Visual Arts) in New York City. Moving there in 1950, he enrolled in the art school under the G.I. Bill.[5] Robinson found the young student "a very hard worker who really focused on his drawing"[6] and someone who "could work well with other writers as well as write his own stories and create his own characters",[6] and he helped Ditko acquire a scholarship for the following year.[7] "He was in my class for two years, four or five days a week, five hours a night. It was very intense."[8] Robinson, who invited artists and editors to speak with his class, once brought in Stan Lee, then editor of Marvel Comics' 1950s precursor, Atlas Comics, and, "I think that was when Stan first saw Steve's work."[8]

Career[edit]

The Thing #12 (Feb. 1954), Ditko's first published comic-book cover

Ditko began professionally illustrating comic books in early 1953, drawing writer Bruce Hamilton's science-fiction story "Stretching Things" for the Key Publications imprint Stanmor Publications, which sold the story to Ajax/Farrell, where it finally found publication in Fantastic Fears #5 (cover-dated Feb. 1954).[9][10] Ditko's first published work was his second professional story, the six-page "Paper Romance" in Daring Love #1 (Oct. 1953),[9] published by the Key imprint Gillmor Magazines.[11]

Shortly afterward, Ditko found work at the studio of celebrated writer-artists Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who had created Captain America and other characters and had instituted numerous industry innovations. Beginning as an inker on backgrounds, Ditko was soon working with and learning from Mort Meskin, an artist whose work he had long admired. "Meskin was fabulous," Ditko once recalled. "I couldn't believe the ease with which he drew: strong compositions, loose pencils, yet complete; detail without clutter. I loved his stuff".[12] Ditko's known assistant work includes aiding inker Meskin on the Jack Kirby pencil work of Harvey Comics' Captain 3-D #1 (Dec. 1953).[13] For his own third published story, Ditko penciled and inked the six-page "A Hole in His Head" in Black Magic vol. 4, #3 (Dec. 1953), published by Simon & Kirby's Crestwood Publications imprint Prize Comics.[14]

Ditko then began a long association with the Derby, Connecticut publisher Charlton Comics, a low-budget division of a company best known for song-lyric magazines. Beginning with the cover of The Thing #12 (Feb. 1954) and the eight-page vampire story "Cinderella" in that issue, Ditko would continue to work intermittently for Charlton until the company's demise in 1986, producing science fiction, horror and mystery stories, as well as co-creating Captain Atom, with writer Joe Gill, in Space Adventures #33 (March 1960).[15] He first went on hiatus from the company, and comics altogether, in mid-1954, when he contracted tuberculosis and returned to his parents' home in Johnstown to recuperate.[16]

Marvel Comics[edit]

After he recovered and moved back to New York City in late 1955,[16] Ditko began drawing for Atlas Comics, the 1950s precursor of Marvel Comics, beginning with the four-page "There'll Be Some Changes Made" in Journey into Mystery #33 (April 1956); this debut tale would be reprinted in Marvel's Curse of the Weird #4 (March 1994). Ditko would go on to contribute a large number of stories, many considered classic, to Atlas/Marvel's Strange Tales and the newly launched Amazing Adventures, Strange Worlds, Tales of Suspense and Tales to Astonish, issues of which would typically open with a Kirby-drawn monster story, followed by one or two twist-ending thrillers or sci-fi tales drawn by Don Heck, Paul Reinman, or Joe Sinnott, all capped by an often-surreal, sometimes self-reflexive short by Ditko and writer-editor Stan Lee.[17]

These Lee-Ditko bagatelles proved so popular that Amazing Adventures was reformatted to feature such stories exclusively beginning with issue #7 (Dec. 1961), when the comic was rechristened Amazing Adult Fantasy — a name intended to reflect its more "sophisticated" nature, as likewise the new tagline "The magazine that respects your intelligence". Lee in 2009 described these "short, five-page filler strips that Steve and I did together", originally "placed in any of our comics that had a few extra pages to fill", as "odd fantasy tales that I'd dream up with O. Henry-type endings." Giving an early example of what would later be known as the "Marvel Method" of writer-artist collaboration, Lee said, "All I had to do was give Steve a one-line description of the plot and he'd be off and running. He'd take those skeleton outlines I had given him and turn them into classic little works of art that ended up being far cooler than I had any right to expect."[18]

Creation of Spider-Man[edit]

The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964). Cover art by Ditko, featuring a rogue's gallery of supervillains he co-created.

After Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee obtained permission from publisher Martin Goodman to create a new "ordinary teen" superhero named "Spider-Man",[19] Lee originally approached his leading artist, Jack Kirby. Kirby told Lee about his own 1950s character conception, variously called the Silver Spider and Spiderman, in which an orphaned boy finds a magic ring that gives him superpowers. Comics historian Greg Theakston says Lee and Kirby "immediately sat down for a story conference" and Lee afterward directed Kirby to flesh out the character and draw some pages. "A day or two later", Kirby showed Lee the first six pages, and, as Lee recalled, "I hated the way he was doing it. Not that he did it badly — it just wasn't the character I wanted; it was too heroic".[20]

Lee turned to Ditko, who developed a visual motif Lee found satisfactory,[21] although Lee would later replace Ditko's original cover with one penciled by Kirby. Ditko said, "The Spider-Man pages Stan showed me were nothing like the (eventually) published character. In fact, the only drawings of Spider-Man were on the splash [i.e., page 1] and at the end [where] Kirby had the guy leaping at you with a web gun... Anyway, the first five pages took place in the home, and the kid finds a ring and turns into Spider-Man."[22]

Ditko also recalled that, "One of the first things I did was to work up a costume. A vital, visual part of the character. I had to know how he looked ... before I did any breakdowns. For example: A clinging power so he wouldn't have hard shoes or boots, a hidden wrist-shooter versus a web gun and holster, etc. ... I wasn't sure Stan would like the idea of covering the character's face but I did it because it hid an obviously boyish face. It would also add mystery to the character...."[23]

Much earlier, in a rare contemporaneous account, Ditko described his and Lee's contributions in a mail interview with Gary Martin published in Comic Fan #2 (Summer 1965): "Stan Lee thought the name up. I did costume, web gimmick on wrist & spider signal". He added he would continue drawing Spider-Man "[i]f nothing better comes along."[24] That same year, he expressed to the fanzine Voice of Comicdom, regarding a poll of "Best Liked" fan-created comics, "It seems a shame, since comics themselves have so little variety of stories and styles that you would deliberately restrict your own creative efforts to professional comics['] shallow range. What is 'Best Liked' by most readers is what they are most familiar in seeing and any policy based on readers likes has to end up with a lot of look-a-like strips. You have a great opportunity to show everyone a whole new range of ideas, unlimited types of stories and styles—why FLUB it!"[25]

From 1958 to either 1966 or 1968 (accounts differ),[citation needed] Ditko shared a Manhattan studio at 43rd Street and Eighth Avenue with noted fetish artist Eric Stanton, an art-school classmate. When either artist was under deadline pressure, it was not uncommon for them to pitch in and help the other with his assignment.[26][27] Ditko biographer Blake Bell, without citing sources, said, "At one time in history, Ditko denied ever touching Stanton's work, even though Stanton himself said they would each dabble in each other's art; mainly spot-inking",[26] and the introduction to one book of Stanton's work says, "Eric Stanton drew his pictures in India ink, and they were then hand-coloured by Ditko".[28] In a 1988 interview with Theakston, Stanton recalled that although his contribution to Spider-Man was "almost nil", he and Ditko had "worked on storyboards together and I added a few ideas. But the whole thing was created by Steve on his own... I think I added the business about the webs coming out of his hands".[29]

Spider-Man debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962), the final issue of that science-fiction/fantasy anthology series. When the issue proved to be a top seller, Spider-Man was given his own series, The Amazing Spider-Man.[30][31] Lee and Ditko's collaboration on the series saw the creation of many of the character's best known antagonists including Doctor Octopus in issue #3 (July 1963);[32] the Sandman in #4 (Sept. 1963);[33] the Lizard in #6 (Nov. 1963);[34] Electro in #9 (March 1964);[35] and the Green Goblin in #14 (July 1964).[36] Ditko eventually demanded credit for the plotting he was contributing under the Marvel Method. Lee concurred, and starting with #25 (June 1965), Ditko received plot credit for the stories.[37]

One of the most celebrated issues of the Lee-Ditko run is #33 (Feb. 1966), the third part of the story arc "If This Be My Destiny...!", and featuring the dramatic scene of Spider-Man, through force of will and thoughts of family, escaping from being pinned by heavy machinery. Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "Steve Ditko squeezes every ounce of anguish out of Spider-Man's predicament, complete with visions of the uncle he failed and the aunt he has sworn to save."[38] Peter David observed that "After his origin, this two-page sequence from Amazing Spider-Man #33 is perhaps the best-loved sequence from the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko era."[39] Steve Saffel stated the "full page Ditko image from The Amazing Spider-Man #33 is one of the most powerful ever to appear in the series and influenced writers and artists for many years to come."[40] Matthew K. Manning wrote that "Ditko's illustrations for the first few pages of this Lee story included what would become one of the most iconic scenes in Spider-Man's history."[41] The story was chosen as #15 in the 100 Greatest Marvels of All Time poll of Marvel's readers in 2001. Editor Robert Greenberger wrote in his introduction to the story that "These first five pages are a modern-day equivalent to Shakespeare as Parker's soliloquy sets the stage for his next action. And with dramatic pacing and storytelling, Ditko delivers one of the great sequences in all comics."[42]

Doctor Strange and other characters[edit]

Dormammu attacks Eternity in a Ditko "Dr. Strange" panel from Strange Tales #146 (July 1966).

After drawing the final issue of The Incredible Hulk (#6, March 1963), Ditko created the supernatural hero Doctor Strange, in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963).[43] Ditko and Lee shortly thereafter relaunched a Hulk series as a short feature in the anthology Tales to Astonish, beginning with issue #60 (Oct. 1964). Ditko, inked by George Roussos, penciled the feature through #67 (May 1965). Ditko designed the Hulk's primary antagonist, the Leader, in #62 (Dec. 1964).

Ditko also penciled the Iron Man feature in Tales of Suspense #47–49 (Nov. 1963 – Jan. 1964), with various inkers. The first of these debuted the initial version of Iron Man's modern red-and-golden armor, though whether Ditko or cover-penciler and principal character designer Jack Kirby designed the costume is uncertain.

Though often overshadowed by his Amazing Spider-Man work, Ditko's "Doctor Strange" stories have been equally acclaimed, for their surrealistic mystical landscapes and increasingly psychedelic visuals that helped make the feature a favorite of college students. "People who read 'Doctor Strange' thought people at Marvel must be heads [i.e. drug users]," recalled then-associate editor and former Doctor Strange writer Roy Thomas in 1971, "because they had had similar experiences high on mushrooms. But ... I don't use hallucinogens, nor do I think any artists do."[44]

Eventually, as co-plotter and later sole plotter, in the "Marvel Method", Ditko would take Strange into ever-more-abstract realms. In an epic 17-issue story arc in Strange Tales #130–146 (March 1965 – July 1966), Ditko introduced the cosmic character Eternity, who personified the universe and was depicted as a silhouette whose outlines are filled with the cosmos.[45] As historian Bradford W. Wright describes,

Steve Ditko contributed some of his most surrealistic work to the comic book and gave it a disorienting, hallucinogenic quality. Dr. Strange's adventures take place in bizarre worlds and twisting dimensions that resembled Salvador Dalí paintings. ... Inspired by the pulp-fiction magicians of Stan Lee's childhood as well as by contemporary Beat culture. Dr. Strange remarkably predicted the youth counterculture's fascination with Eastern mysticism and psychedelia. Never among Marvel's more popular or accessible characters, Dr. Strange still found a niche among an audience seeking a challenging alternative to more conventional superhero fare.[46]

The cartoonist and fine artist Seth in 2003 described Ditko's style as "oddball for mainstream comics. Whereas Kirby's stuff clearly appealed to a boy's sensibility because there was so much raw power, Ditko's work was really delicate and cartoony. There was a sense of design to it. You can always recognize anything that Ditko designed because it's always flowery. There is a lot of embroidered detail in the art, which is almost psychedelic."[47]

Whichever feature he drew, Ditko's idiosyncratic, cleanly detailed, instantly recognizable art style, emphasizing mood and anxiety, found great favor with readers. The character of Spider-Man and his troubled personal life meshed well with Ditko's own interests, which Lee eventually acknowledged by giving the artist plotting credits on the latter part of their 38-issue run. But after four years on the title, Ditko left Marvel;[48] he and Lee had not been on speaking terms for some time, with art and editorial changes handled through intermediaries.[49] The details of the rift remain uncertain, even to Lee, who confessed in 2003, "I never really knew Steve on a personal level."[49] Ditko later claimed it was Lee who broke off contact and disputed the long-held belief[50] that the disagreement was over the true identity of the Green Goblin: "Stan never knew what he was getting in my Spider-Man stories and covers until after [production manager] Sol Brodsky took the material from me ... so there couldn't have been any disagreement or agreement, no exchanges ... no problems between us concerning the Green Goblin or anything else from before issue #25 to my final issues".[51] Spider-Man successor artist John Romita, in a 2010 deposition, recalled that Lee and Ditko "ended up not being able to work together because they disagreed on almost everything, cultural, social, historically, everything, they disagreed on characters...."[52] A friendly farewell was given to Ditko in the Bullpen Bulletins of Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966): "Steve recently told us he was leaving for personal reasons. After all these years, we're sorry to see him go, and we wish the talented guy success with his future endeavors."[53]

Regardless, said Lee in 2007, "Quite a few years ago I met him up at the Marvel offices when I was last in New York. And we spoke; he's a hell of a nice guy and it was very pleasant. ... I haven't heard from him since that meeting."[54]

Charlton and DC Comics[edit]

Back at Charlton — where the page rate was low but creators were allowed greater freedom — Ditko worked on such characters as Blue Beetle (1967–1968),[55] the Question (1967–1968), Captain Atom (1965–1967), returning to the character he'd co-created in 1960. In addition, in 1966–1967, he drew 16 stories, most of them written by Archie Goodwin for Warren Publishing's horror comic magazines Creepy and Eerie, most of which were done using ink-wash.[56]

In 1967, Ditko gave his Objectivist ideas ultimate expression in the form of Mr. A, published in Wally Wood's independent title witzend # 3. Ditko's hard line against criminals was controversial[citation needed] and he continued to produce Mr. A stories and one-pagers until the end of the 1970s.[citation needed] Ditko returned to Mr. A in 2000 and in 2009.[citation needed]

A panoply of Ditko DC Comics characters, from "DC Profiles" biographical page appearing in comics cover-dated April 1980, including Batman #322 and The Legion of Super-Heroes #262. From left: the Creeper; Hawk and Dove; Stalker; the Odd Man; Shade, the Changing Man; Starman.

Ditko moved to DC Comics in 1968, where he created the Creeper in Showcase #73 (April 1968) with scripter Don Segall, under editor Murray Boltinoff.[57] DC Comics writer and executive Paul Levitz observed that Ditko's art on the Creeper stories made "them look unlike anything else being published by DC at the time."[58] Ditko created the quirky team Hawk and Dove in Showcase #75 (June 1968), with writer Steve Skeates.[59] Around this time, he penciled the lead story, written and inked by Wally Wood, in Wood's early mature-audience, independent-comics publication Heroes, Inc. Presents Cannon (1969).[60]

Ditko's stay at DC was short — he would work on all six issues of the Creeper's own title, Beware the Creeper (June 1968 – April 1969), though leaving midway through the final one — and the reasons for his departure uncertain. But while at DC, Ditko recommended Charlton staffer Dick Giordano to the company,[61] who would go on to become a top DC penciller, inker, editor, and ultimately, in 1981, the managing editor.

From this time up through the mid-1970s, Ditko worked exclusively for Charlton and various small press/independent publishers. Frank McLaughlin, Charlton's art director during this period, describes Ditko as living "in a local hotel in Derby for a while. He was a very happy-go-lucky guy with a great sense of humor at that time, and always supplied the [female] color separators with candy and other little gifts".[62]

For Charlton in 1974 he did Liberty Belle backup stories in E-Man and conceived Killjoy. Ditko produced much work for Charlton's science-fiction and horror titles, as well as for former Marvel publisher Martin Goodman's start-up line Atlas/Seaboard Comics, where he co-created the superhero the Destructor with writer Archie Goodwin, and penciled all four issues of the namesake series (Feb.–Aug. 1975), the first two of which were inked by fellow comics legend Wally Wood. Ditko worked on the second and third issues of Tiger-Man and the third issue of Morlock 2001, with Bernie Wrightson inking.[60]

Latter-day Ditko[edit]

Ditko returned to DC Comics in 1975, creating a short-lived title, Shade, the Changing Man (1977–1978).[60][63] Shade was later revived, without Ditko's involvement, in DC's mature-audience imprint Vertigo. With writer Paul Levitz, he co-created the four issue sword and sorcery series Stalker (1975–1976).[64][65] Ditko and writer Gerry Conway produced the first issue of a short-lived Man-Bat series.[66] He also revived the Creeper and did such various other jobs as a short Demon backup series in 1979 and stories in DC's horror and science-fiction anthologies. Editor Jack C. Harris hired Ditko as guest artist on several issues of The Legion of Super-Heroes, a decision which garnered a mixed reaction from the title's readership.[67] Ditko also drew the Prince Gavyn version of Starman in Adventure Comics #467–478 (1980).[60][68] He then decamped to do work for a variety of publishers, briefly contributing to DC again in the mid-1980s, with four pinups of his characters for Who's Who in the DC Universe and a pinup for Superman #400 (Oct. 1984)[69][70] and its companion portfolio.[71]

Ditko returned to Marvel in 1979, taking over Jack Kirby's Machine Man,[72] drawing The Micronauts and Captain Universe, and continuing to freelance for the company into the late 1990s. A Godzilla story by Ditko and Marv Wolfman was changed into a Dragon Lord story published in Marvel Spotlight.[73][74] Ditko and writer Tom DeFalco introduced the Speedball character in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1988)[75] and Ditko drew a ten-issue series based on the character.

In 1982, he also began freelancing for the early independent comics label Pacific Comics, beginning with Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #6 (Sept. 1982), in which he introduced the superhero Missing Man, with Mark Evanier scripting to Ditko's plot and art. Subsequent Missing Man stories appeared in Pacific Presents #1–3 (Oct. 1982 – March 1984), with Ditko scripting the former and collaborating with longtime friend Robin Snyder on the script for the latter two. Ditko also created The Mocker for Pacific, in Silver Star #2 (April 1983).[60]

For Eclipse Comics, he contributed a story featuring his character Static (no relation to the later Milestone Comics character) in Eclipse Monthly #1–3 (Aug.–Oct. 1983), introducing supervillain the Exploder in #2. With writer Jack C. Harris, Ditko drew the backup feature "The Faceless Ones" in First Comics' Warp #2–4 (April–June 1983). Working with that same writer and others, Ditko drew a handful of the Fly, Fly-Girl and Jaguar stories for The Fly #2–8 (July 1983 – Aug. 1984), for Archie Comics' short-lived 1980s superhero line; in a rare latter-day instance of Ditko inking another artist, he inked penciler Dick Ayers on the Jaguar story in The Fly #9 (Oct. 1984).[60] Western Publishing in 1982 announced a series by Ditko and Harris would appear in a new science-fiction comic, Astral Frontiers, but that title never materialized.[76]

In 1992 Ditko worked with writer Will Murray to produce one of his last original characters for Marvel Comics, the satirical superheroine Squirrel Girl, who debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes vol. 2, #8, a.k.a. Marvel Super-Heroes Winter Special (Jan. 1992).[77]

In 1993, he did the Dark Horse Comics one-shot The Safest Place in the World. For the Defiant Comics series Dark Dominion, he drew issue #0, which was released as a set of trading cards. In 1995, he pencilled a four-issue series for Marvel based on the Phantom 2040 animated TV series. This included a poster that was inked by John Romita Sr. Steve Ditko's Strange Avenging Tales was announced as a quarterly series from Fantagraphics Books, although it only ran one issue (Feb. 1997) due to publicly unspecified disagreements between Ditko and the publisher.[citation needed]

The New York Times assessed in 2008 that, "By the '70s he was regarded as a slightly old-fashioned odd-ball; by the '80s he was a commercial has-been, picking up wretched work-for-hire gigs. ...following the example of [Ayn] Rand's John Galt, Ditko hacked out moneymaking work, saving his care for the crabbed Objectivist screeds he published with tiny presses. And boy, could Ditko hack: seeing samples of his Transformers coloring book and his Big Boy comic is like hearing Orson Welles sell frozen peas."[78]

Self-portrait of Steve Ditko, from The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1964)

Ditko retired from mainstream comics in 1998.[79] His later work for Marvel and DC included such established superheroes as the Sub-Mariner (in Marvel Comics Presents) and newer, licensed characters such as the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The last mainstream character he created was Marvel's Longarm in Shadows & Light #1 (Feb. 1998), in a self-inked, 12-page Iron Man story "A Man's Reach....", scripted by Len Wein. His final mainstream work was a five-page New Gods story for DC Comics, "Infinitely Gentle Infinitely Suffering", inked by Mick Gray and believed to be intended for the 2000–2002 Orion series[80] but not published until the 2008 trade paperback Tales of the New Gods.[80]

Since then, Ditko's solo work has been published intermittently by Robin Snyder, who was his editor at Charlton, Archie Comics, and Renegade Press in the 1980s. The Snyder publications have included a number of original books as well as reprints such as Static, The Missing Man, The Mocker and, in 2002, Avenging World, a collection of stories and essays spanning 30 years.[60]

In 2008, Ditko and Snyder released The Avenging Mind, a 32-page essay publication featuring several pages of new artwork; and Ditko, Etc..., a 32-page comic book composed of brief vignettes and editorial cartoons. Releases have continued in that format, with stories introducing such new characters as The Hero, Miss Eerie, The Cape, The Madman, The Grey Negotiator, The !? and The Outline. The most recent release is Ate Tea N, #18 in the series.

In addition to the new material, Ditko and Snyder have reprinted earlier Ditko material. In 2010 they published a new edition of the 1973 Mr. A comic and a selection of Ditko covers in The Cover Series. In 2011 they published a new edition of the 1975 comic ...Wha...!? Ditko's H. Series. In March 2013, Snyder launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance a new edition of the 1991 book The Ditko Public Service Package.[60]

Two "lost" stories drawn by Ditko in 1978 have been published by DC in hardcover collections of the artist's work. A Creeper story scheduled for the never published Showcase #106 appears in The Creeper by Steve Ditko (2010)[81] and an unpublished Shade, the Changing Man story appears in The Steve Ditko Omnibus Vol. 1 (2011).[82] A Hulk and the Human Torch story written by Jack C. Harris and drawn by Ditko in the 1980s was published by Marvel as Incredible Hulk and the Human Torch: From the Marvel Vault #1 in August 2011.[83]

Personal life[edit]

As of mid-2012, Ditko continues to work at a studio in Manhattan's Midtown West neighborhood.[84][85] He has refused to give interviews or make public appearances since the 1960s, explaining in 1969 that, "When I do a job, it's not my personality that I'm offering the readers but my artwork. It's not what I'm like that counts; it's what I did and how well it was done.... I produce a product, a comic art story. Steve Ditko is the brand name".[86] He has, however, contributed numerous essays to Snyder's fanzine The Comics.[citation needed]

Ditko is an ardent supporter and advocate of the philosophy of Objectivism.[87][88]

He has an artist nephew also named Steve Ditko.[49] According to Will Eisner, Ditko has one son.[89]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 1962 Alley Award for Best Short Story: "Origin of Spider-Man" by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Amazing Fantasy #15 (Marvel Comics).
  • 1963 Alley Award for Best Adventure Hero Comic Book: The Amazing Spider-Man
  • 1963 Alley Award for Top Hero: Spider-Man
  • 1964 Alley Award for Best Adventure Hero Comic Book: The Amazing Spider-Man
  • 1964 Alley Award for Best Giant Comic: The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1
  • 1964 Alley Award for Best Hero: Spider-Man
  • 1965 Alley Award for Best Adventure Hero Comic Book: The Amazing Spider-Man
  • 1965 Alley Award for Best Hero: Spider-Man
  • 1985 Eagle Award: Roll of Honour[90]
  • In 1987, Ditko was presented a Comic-Con International Inkpot Award in absentia, accepted on his behalf by Renegade Press publisher Deni Loubert, who had published Ditko's World the previous year. Ditko refused the award, and returned it to Loubert after having phoned her to say, "Awards bleed the artist and make us compete against each other. They are the most horrible things in the world. How dare you accept this on my behalf". At his behest, Loubert returned the award to the convention organizers.[91]

BBC documentary[edit]

In September 2007, Jonathan Ross hosted a one-hour documentary for BBC Four titled In Search of Steve Ditko. The program covers Ditko's work at Marvel, DC, and Charlton Comics and at Wally Wood's witzend, as well as his following of Objectivism. It includes testimonials by Alan Moore, Mark Millar, Jerry Robinson and Stan Lee, among others. Ross, accompanied by Neil Gaiman, met Ditko briefly at his New York office but he declined to be filmed, interviewed or photographed for the show. He did however, give the two a selection of some comic books. At the end of the show, Ross said he has since spoken to Ditko on the telephone and continued to say, as a joke, that he was now on first name terms with him.[50]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Strange Suspense Stories #75 (June 1965), reprinting Captain Atom stories from Space Adventures #33, 34, and 36. Cover art by Ditko.

As penciler (generally but not exclusively self-inked), unless otherwise noted

Marvel

Amazing Adult Fantasy #7–14 (1961–62); becomes
Amazing Fantasy #15 (debut Spider-Man) (1962)

DC

Charlton

Warren

Independent

  • Witzend #3, 4, 6 (Wallace Wood) (1967–69)
  • Mr. A. (Comic Art Publishers) (1973)
  • Avenging World (Bruce Hershenson) (1973) (Note that the 2002 Avenging World is a collection of Ditko works including the 1973 comic)
  • ...Wha..!? (Bruce Hershenson) (1975)
  • Mr. A. (Bruce Hershenson) (1975)

Atlas/Seaboard

Renegade Press

  • Revolver #1–5 (1985–86)
  • Ditko's World featuring...Static #1–3 (1986)
  • Murder #1–3 (1986)

Dark Horse

  • The Safest Place... (1993)

Fantagraphics

  • Steve Ditko's Strange Avenging Tales #1 (1997)

Robin Snyder

  • Ditko Package (1989)
  • The Mocker (1990)
  • Ditko Public Service Package (1991)
  • The Ditko Package series:
Steve Ditko's 160-Page Package (1999)
Steve Ditko's 80-Page Package: The Missing Man (1999)
Steve Ditko's 160-Page Package: From Charlton Press (1999)
Steve Ditko's 176-Page Package: Heroes (2000)
Steve Ditko's 32-Page Package: Tsk! Tsk! (2000)
  • Steve Ditko's Static: Chapters 1 to 14 plus... (2000)
  • Avenging World (2002) (240-page expanded version of 1973 edition)
  • The 32-page series:
The Avenging Mind (2008)
Ditko, etc... (2008)
Ditko Continued... (2008)
Oh, No! Not Again, Ditko (2009)
Ditko Once More (2009)
Ditko Presents (2009)
A Ditko Act Two (2010)
A Ditko Act 3 (2010)
Act 4 (2010)
Ditko #5-Five Act (2010)
Act 6 (2011)
Act 7 Seven (2011)
Act 8 (2011)
A Ditko #14 (2011)
A Ditko #15 (2011)
#16: Sixteen (2012)
#17: Seventeen (2012)
Ate Tea N 18 (2013)
  • Mr. A. (2010) (Revised and reformatted reprint of the 1973 edition)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bell, Blake. Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko (Fantagraphics Books, Seattle, Washington, 2008), p.14. ISBN 1-56097-921-6
  2. ^ Comics Buyer's Guide #1636 (December 2007) p. 135
  3. ^ a b c Bell, Strange and Stranger, Endnotes, p.1, citing 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census data. The family lists itself as Czechoslovakian in the latter census, following the dissolution of Austro-Hungarian Empire and the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918. The surname "Ditko" itself is of Slavic origin.
  4. ^ a b c d Bell, Strange and Stranger, p. 15
  5. ^ Bell, Strange and Stranger, p. 16
  6. ^ a b Jerry Robinson interview, Alter Ego #38 (Aug. 2004), p. 9
  7. ^ Bell, Strange and Stranger, p. 19
  8. ^ a b Robinson, Jerry, "Student and Teacher", in Yoe, Craig, ed. The Art of Ditko (IDW Publishing, January 2010), ISBN 978-1-60010-542-5, p. 54
  9. ^ a b Bell, Strange and Stranger, p. 20
  10. ^ Fantastic Fears #5 at the Grand Comics Database
  11. ^ Daring Love #1 at the Grand Comics Database
  12. ^ Theakston, Steve Ditko Reader, p. 3 (unnumbered)
  13. ^ Captain 3-D #1 (Dec. 1953) at the Grand Comics Database
  14. ^ Black Magic vol. 4, #3 [27] (Dec. 1953) at the Grand Comics Database
  15. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "Captain Atom was born in a tale by artist Steve Ditko and writer Joe Gill." 
  16. ^ a b Bell, Blake, ed. Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 (Fantagraphics Books, 2009), p. 10. ISBN 978-1-60699-289-0
  17. ^ Brevoort, Tom; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1950s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. Dorling Kindersley. p. 73. ISBN 978-0756641238. 
  18. ^ Lee, Stan, "Introduction", in Yoe, p. 9
  19. ^ Lee, Stan, and Mair, George. Excelsior!: The Amazing Life of Stan Lee (Fireside, 2002), p.130. ISBN 0-684-87305-2
  20. ^ Theakston, Greg. The Steve Ditko Reader (Pure Imagination, Brooklyn, NY, 2002; ISBN 1-56685-011-8), p. 12 (unnumbered)
  21. ^ DeFalco, Tom "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 87: "Deciding that his new character would have spider-like powers, [Stan] Lee commissioned Jack Kirby to work on the first story. Unfortunately, Kirby's version of Spider-Man's alter ego Peter Parker proved too heroic, handsome, and muscular for Lee's everyman hero. Lee turned to Steve Ditko, the regular artist on Amazing Adult Fantasy, who designed a skinny, awkward teenager with glasses."
  22. ^ Theakston, Steve Ditko Reader, p. 13
  23. ^ Ditko, Steve. "Jack Kirby's Spider-Man", Robin Snyder's History of Comics #5 (May 1990). Reprinted in Thomas, Roy, ed., Alter Ego: The Comic Book Artist Collection (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2001), p. 56. ISBN 978-1-893905-06-1
  24. ^ Ditko interview (Summer 1965). "Steve Ditko – A Portrait of the Master". Comic Fan #2 (Larry Herndon, pub.) via Ditko.Comics.org (Blake Bell, ed.). Archived from the original on April 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-03.  Additional WebCitation archive, February 28, 2012.
  25. ^ Steve Ditko letter-to-the-editor (April 1965). "Editor's Mailbox". Voice of Comicdom #4 (Bob Metz, ed.) via Ditko.Comics.org (Blake Bell, ed.). Archived from the original on December 27, 2007.  Punctuation verbatim. Additional WebCitation archive, September 23, 2010.
  26. ^ a b Bell, Blake. "Ditko & Stanton". Ditko Looked Up. Archived from the original on May 1, 2008.  Additional WebCitation archive.
  27. ^ Theakston, The Steve Ditko Reader, pp. 13–15 (unnumbered, pp. 14–15 misordered as pp. 16 & 14)
  28. ^ Riemschneider, Burkhard (1997). Eric Stanton: For the Man Who Knows His Place. Benedikt Taschen Verlag. p. 4 (unnumbered). ISBN 978-3-8228-8169-9. 
  29. ^ Theakston, Steve Ditko Reader, p. 14 (unnumbered, misordered as page 16)
  30. ^ Rhoades, Shirrel (2008). A Complete History of American Comic Books. Peter Lang Publishing. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-4331-0107-6. 
  31. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 91: "Thanks to a flood of fan mail, Spider-Man was awarded his own title six months after his first appearance. Amazing Spider-Man began as a bimonthly title, but was quickly promoted to a monthly."
  32. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 93: "Dr. Octopus shared many traits with Peter Parker. They were both shy, both interested in science, and both had trouble relating to women...Otto Octavius even looked like a grown up Peter Parker. Lee and Ditko intended Otto to be the man Peter might have become if he hadn't been raised with a sense of responsiblity"
  33. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1960s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. Dorling Kindersley. p. 20. ISBN 978-0756692360. "In this installment, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko introduced Sandman - a super villain who could turn his entire body into sand with a single thought." 
  34. ^ Manning "1960s" in Gilbert (2012), p. 20: "The Amazing Spider-Mans sixth issue introduced the Lizard."
  35. ^ Manning "1960s" in Gilbert (2012), p. 24: "Electro charged into Spider-Man's life for the first time in another [Stan] Lee and [Steve] Ditko effort that saw Peter Parker using his brilliant mind to outwit a foe."
  36. ^ Manning "1960s" in Gilbert (2012), p. 26: "Spider-Man's arch nemesis, the Green Goblin, as introduced to readers as the 'most dangerous foe Spidey's ever fought.' Writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko had no way of knowing how true that statement would prove to be in the coming years."
  37. ^ Kraft, David Anthony; Slifer, Roger (April 1983). "Mark Evanier". Comics Interview (2) (Fictioneer Books). pp. 23–34. 
  38. ^ Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. Harry N. Abrams. p. 129. ISBN 9780810938212. 
  39. ^ David, Peter; Greenberger, Robert (2010). The Spider-Man Vault: A Museum-in-a-Book with Rare Collectibles Spun from Marvel's Web. Running Press. p. 29. ISBN 0762437723. 
  40. ^ Saffel, Steve (2007). "A Legend Is Born". Spider-Man the Icon: The Life and Times of a Pop Culture Phenomenon. Titan Books. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-84576-324-4. 
  41. ^ Manning "1960s" in Gilbert (2012), p. 34
  42. ^ Greenberger, Robert, ed. (December 2001). 100 Greatest Marvels of All Time. Marvel Comics. p. 67. 
  43. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 93: "When Dr. Strange first appeared in Strange Tales #110, it was only clear that he dabbled in black magic and had the ability to project his consciousness into an astral form that could leave his physical body."
  44. ^ Green, Robin (September 16, 1971). "Face Front! Clap Your Hands, You're on the Winning Team!". Rolling Stone (via fan site Green Skin's Grab-Bag) (91): page 31 of print version. Archived from the original on September 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  45. ^ Strange Tales #134 at the Grand Comics Database: "Indexer Notes: Part 5 of 17. First mention of Eternity. Strange would finally find it in Strange Tales #138 (November 1965)".
  46. ^ Wright, Bradford W. Comic Book Nation: Transformation of a Youth Culture, Johns Hopkins, 2001. ISBN 0-8018-7450-5. p. 213
  47. ^ Heer, Jeet. "Steve Ditko", The National Post, May 3, 2003, via JeetHeer.com. WebCitation archive.
  48. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 117: "To this day, no one really knows why Ditko quit. Bullpen sources reported he was unhappy with the way Lee scripted some of his plots, using a tongue-in-cheek approach to stories Ditko wanted handled seriously."
  49. ^ a b c Sinclair, Tom. "Still a Marvel!", Entertainment Weekly June 20, 2003. WebCitation archive.
  50. ^ a b Jonathan, Ross, In Search of Steve Ditko, BBC Four
  51. ^ Lawrence, Christopher, "Who Is Steve Ditko?", Wizard #124 (Jan. 2002)
  52. ^ "Confidential Videotaped Deposition of John V. Romita". Garden City, New York: United States District Court, Southern District of New York: "Marvel Worldwide, Inc., et al., vs. Lisa R. Kirby, et al.". October 21, 2010. p. 45. 
  53. ^ "Bullpen Bulletins", Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966). Marvel Comics.
  54. ^ "Excelsior! Stan Lee speaks", CraveOnline July 31, 2007. WebCitation archive.
  55. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 123: "After Ted Kord assumed the scarab as Blue Beetle in a back-up feature of Captain Atom #83, writer/artist Steve Ditko and co-writer 'D.C. Glanzman' (who was actually Ditko) launched the Blue Beetle into his own series."
  56. ^ Spurlock, J. David (2011). How to Draw Chiller Monsters, Werewolves, Vampires, and Zombies. Watson-Guptill. p. 32. ISBN 0-8230-9532-0. Retrieved October 29, 2011. "The tonal ink-wash drawings he did for Creepy and Eerie magazines afforded him unique opportunities to exercise his mysterious prowess." 
  57. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 129 "Writer/artist Steve Ditko and co-scripter Don Segall gave [character Jack Ryder] more than the last laugh as the garishly garbed Creeper, one of DC's quirkiest protagonists."
  58. ^ Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Silver Age 1956-1970". 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Taschen America. p. 268. ISBN 9783836519816. 
  59. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 130 "Brothers Hank and Don Hall were complete opposites, yet writer/artist Steve Ditko with scripter Steve Skeates made sure the siblings shared a desire to battle injustice as Hawk and Dove."
  60. ^ a b c d e f g h Steve Ditko at the Grand Comics Database
  61. ^ Evanier, Mark (September 11, 2007). "Ditko Doc". "P.O.V. Online" (column). Retrieved 2010-04-27. . WebCitation archive.
  62. ^ Cooke, Jon B., & Christopher Irving. "The Charlton Empire: A Brief History of the Derby, Connecticut Publisher", Comic Book Artist  #9, August 2000. Access date 2010-04-27. WebCitation archive.
  63. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 174 "Steve Ditko returned to mainstream comics with Shade, the Changing Man. Joined by writer Michael Fleisher, Ditko unveiled the story of Rac Shade, a secret agent-turned-fugitive from the extra-dimensional world of Meta."
  64. ^ Stalker at the Grand Comics Database
  65. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 164 "This sword and sorcery title by scripter Paul Levitz and artist Steve Ditko epitomized the credo 'Be careful what you wish for'. The series anti-hero was a nameless wanderer whose dreams of becoming a warrior brought him first slavery, then worse."
  66. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 168 "Thanks to his appearances in Detective Comics and Batman, Man-Bat's popularity soared to the point where writer Gerry Conway and artist Steve Ditko launched the [character] into his own series."
  67. ^ Daudt, Ron E. (2010). "Jack C. Harris Interview (Pt. 2)". TheSilverLantern.com. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved March 20, 2011. "Some of the fans loved it and some hated it. Nobody was lukewarm about it. It was a very Ditko type of feeling. You hated it or you loved it and there was nothing in between." 
  68. ^ Manning, Matthew K. "1980s" in Dolan, p. 186 "The second [feature in Adventure Comics #467] debuted a new version of Starman by writer Paul Levitz and illustrator Steve Ditko."
  69. ^ Superman #400 at the Grand Comics Database
  70. ^ Addiego, Frankie (December 2013). "Superman #400". Back Issue (TwoMorrows Publishing) (69): 68–70. 
  71. ^ Giordano, Dick "Meanwhile" column, Jemm, Son of Saturn #2 (Oct. 1984) "We have another goodie for you! Also on this year's October schedule is the Superman #400 portfolio...The portfolio will have a full-color painted cover by Howard Chaykin and will contain 15 black-and-white plates by [artists including] Steve Ditko...."
  72. ^ Sanderson, Peter "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 185: "Jack Kirby wrote and drew the initial nine issues of Machine Man. In August 1979, the series was revived by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Steve Ditko."
  73. ^ DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 197: "Tako Shamara became the Dragon Lord in Marvel Spotlight #5 by writer/editor Marv Wolfman and artist Steve Ditko."
  74. ^ Cronin, Brian (December 24, 2009). "Comic Book Legends Revealed #239". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on July 4, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2013. "The Godzilla fill-in by Marv Wolfman and Steve Ditko, ended up appearing in the pages of the re-launched Marvel Spotlight in 1980 as Dragon Lord, about a fellow who can control dragons." 
  75. ^ DeFalco "1980s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 238: "Editor-in-Chief Tom DeFalco thought Marvel should publish more titles starring teenagers...He wrote the basic scenario and character descriptions for a new series and hired Steve Ditko to design it."
  76. ^ "News from Hither and Yon: Ditko at Western". The Comics Journal (71): 16. April 1982. Archived from the original on August 19, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  77. ^ Marvel Super-Heroes (Marvel, 1990 series) at the Grand Comics Database
  78. ^ Wolk, Douglas. Sunday Book Review: "From Spider-Man to Ayn Rand", The New York Times August 15, 2008. WebCitation archive.
  79. ^ Bell, Blake. Archive of Ditko News, December 6, 1998 (requires scrolling down), Ditko Looked Up. Entry refers to Ditko's final mainstream comics work, a New Gods story that would remain unpublished for 10 years. WebCitation archive.
  80. ^ a b Franczak, B. "Tales of the New Gods". Ditko-Fever.com. Retrieved 2010-04-27.  WebCitation archive of page. WebCitation archive of main page.
  81. ^ Ditko, Steve (2010). The Creeper by Steve Ditko. DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-2591-8. 
  82. ^ Ditko, Steve (2011). The Steve Ditko Omnibus Vol. 1. DC Comics. ISBN 1-4012-3111-X. 
  83. ^ Armitage, Hugh (April 22, 2011). "Lost Steve Ditko Comic Unveiled". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2012. 
  84. ^ "The secret hero of Spider-Man". New York Post. July 5, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  85. ^ Ross, Jonathan (September 13, 2007). "The Unsung Hero Behind Spider-Man". The Guardian. UK. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  86. ^ Ditko interview in Masters of Imagination: The Comic Book Artists Hall of Fame by Mike Benton (Taylor Publishing, 1994, ISBN 978-0-87833-859-7), quoting from fanzine Marvel Main #4 (1969), published by Mike Howell and Richard Howell
  87. ^ Wolk, Douglas. "The Amazing Steve Ditko", Salon.com, June 3, 2005, p. 2. WebCitation archive.
  88. ^ Young, Thom (September 10, 2007). "Ditko Shrugged: Part 1: Ayn Rand's Influence on Steve Ditko's Craft, Commerce, and Creeper". Silver Soapbox (column), ComicsBulletin.com. Archived from the original on January 25, 2011.  "Part 2: Apollonian and Dionysian Conflicts in The Hawk and the Dove and Beware the Creeper" (September 10, 2007). Archived from the original on April 5, 2010. "Part 3: Did Neal Adams Work on Beware the Creeper #5?" (September 14, 2007). Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. ; and "Part 4: After Ditko, the Drought" (September 22, 2007). Archived from the original on January 14, 2009.
  89. ^ Eisner/Miller, Dark Horse Books, 2005, p.128
  90. ^ Bails, Jerry, and Hames Ware, eds. "Who's Who of American Comics Books, 1928–1999". BailsProjects.com. Retrieved 2010-04-27.  WebCitation archive.
  91. ^ Bell, Strange and Stranger, pp. 165–166
  92. ^ Detective Comics #487 at the Grand Comics Database

External links[edit]