Steve Ditko passed away on June 29, 2018, at the age of 90. Considered a comic legend, his creations will be remembered for their importance and transcendence. Despite almost always living in the shadows and in anonymity, he was and is revered by fans and creators, who recognize his work as essential to understanding superhero comics as we know them today.
In 1961, Ditko and Stan Lee created Spider-Man. Lee, the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics , offered Ditko the assignment after becoming unsatisfied with Jack Kirby’s proposal for a teenage superhero with the powers and abilities of a spider. Spider-Man’s image, the costume, the web shooters, the red and blue design, it’s all Ditko’s creation.
Spider-Man first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962). The comic was an unexpected success, and the character got his own series: The Amazing Spider-Man (1963). Ditko helped create classic Spider-Man characters like Doctor Octopus, Sandman, The Lizard, and Green Goblin, as well as Aunt May and Gwen Stacy. Beginning with issue #25, Ditko was credited as a co-storyteller, but ended up leaving the series by issue #38.
In 1963 Ditko created the surreal and psychedelic Doctor Strange . The character debuted in Strange Tales #110 (1963)., and Ditko continued in the comic through issue #146 (1966). After that, Ditko left Marvel Comics after a falling out with Stan Lee, the causes of which have always remained unclear. The couple had not spoken to each other for several years. Ditko never explained the real reasons for leaving him, and Lee always claimed that he didn’t really know what caused Ditko to leave. A widely held version of events suggests that Ditko was frustrated by Lee’s oversight and his failure to receive the credit he deserved for creating Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. The charismatic Stan was always the visible face of Marvel Comics,
Ditko went on to work for Charlton , DC Comics , and other small independent publishers, where he was able to develop his work in complete freedom. He returned to Marvel in 1979, where he worked on Machine Man and Micronauts , continuing to work for them as a freelancer through the 1990s. One of his last creations was Squirrel Girl , created in 1992, and who has become a cult character in recent years.
Outside of his work for Marvel, Ditko is probably best known for creating Mr. A in 1967. The character embodied Ayn Rand ‘s Objectivist philosophy , which Ditko had been a fervent believer in since the mid-1960s. objectivist created by Ditko are, for example, The Question, Hawk and Dove and the Creeper, all of them for DC Comics.
Even when Ditko fell back into near-retirement, he never fully retired; as recently as 2016, he was still producing work that was, for all intents and purposes, self-published with editor and friend Robin Snyder, continuing to freelance and create new characters.
Ditko’s characters were always outside of what was considered “normal” and were even, most of the time, creepy and weird, which made them unique and memorable.
Over the decades, Ditko always defied established trends and went his own way, being an “author” at a time when there were hardly any “authors” in the comic book world. He was a creator ahead of his time in terms of ideas and attitude.
Review with us the most important creations of this great genius of the Ninth Art.
11. Mr. A
Unlike most of his work, the character of Mr. A was at all times wholly owned by Ditko, who wrote and illustrated every story in which the character appeared.
Mr. A first debuted in Wallace Wood’s witzend #3 (1967). Ditko always said that The Question was a version of Mr. A within the limits of the Comic Code. Mr. A is inspired by the belief system and moral absolutism of philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand.
10. Shade, The Changing Man
His first appearance came in number 1 of the Shade series: The changing man (June 1977). The character was brought to life with great success by Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo in one of the first titles in the Vertigo line.
Robert “Robbie” Baldwin first appears in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22 (1988) as a student who, after an accident, gains powers that lead him to become the superhero known as Speedball. Finally. he ended up being one of the founding members of the teen series The New Warriors .
8. Captain Atom
Captain Atom was created by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko for Charlton Comics, and after the acquisition of said publisher by DC Comics, it was added to its official continuity during the Crisis on Infinite Earths saga (1985).
7. Squirrel Girl
Doreen Green ‘s first appearance was in Marvel Super-Heroes vol. 2, #8 , aka Marvel Super-Heroes Winter Special (1992), in a story with story and art by Steve Ditko and a screenplay by Will Murray.
6. Hawk and Dove
Created by Ditko and Steve Skeates, these characters debuted in Showcase #75 (1968). The concept was simple, but daring for the time (at the height of the Vietnam War). Hank and Don Hall were brothers who couldn’t be more different in personality. Don was a peace activist, while Hank defended the war conflict.
5. The Creeper
First appearing in Showcase #73 (1968), this character proves that in Ditko’s bizarre universe it’s bizarreness and absurdity that counts, not credibility.
4. Blue Beetle
This version of the character made his first appearance in Captain Atom #83 (1966), with dialogue by Gary Friedrich over art and plot by Ditko.
3. The Question
The Question first appeared in Charlton Comics’ Blue Beetle #1 (1967) and was acquired by DC Comics in the early 1980s and incorporated into their continuity.
2. Dr. Strange
Created by Stan Lee and Ditko, he first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (1963). It is one of his most recognized creations and had a great influence on the alternative and countercultural environments of the 60s, because its surreal images seemed to be the effect of the consumption of hallucinogens (something that the author always denied).
The most famous and iconic character in Marvel Comics came from the pen of Steve Ditko. The author managed to hit the nail on the head with the design of a character that not even “King” Kirby himself managed to capture: Peter Parker was the teenage hero who represented the person on foot, the one with whom everyone could identify.
Stan Lee pays tribute to Steve Ditko
I can’t let the week go by without commenting on Steve Ditko. Steve was one of the biggest creators in the comic book business and his talent was indescribable. I worked with him for many years and was always amazed at how he worked with his images, scenes and movements. He told the stories like a great movie director would. He will be greatly missed by the public, by his fans. I’m sure a lot will be written about it as time goes on and I’ll be the first to buy one of those books. You left a great impression on the world.