Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Death Of Ditko!


The news has broken that the great comic book creator Steve Ditko passed away in the last week of June, 2018. He was an uncompromising artist who approached his craft with diligence and care and brought an unbending philosophy to his characters and stories. Famously, he was a follower of the teachings of Ayn Rand and preached that learning in his works for nearly all of his career. He is remembered as the creator of The Amazing Spider-Man and that world-famous icon will be doubtless the lead in nearly all of his eulogies, but for me, a fan of Charlton Comics it was his Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and The Question who are the "heroes" I most remember.  Or perhaps his most pure creation, Mr. A.


Ditko did work for most if not all the big publishers -- Marvel, DC, Warren, Charlton, Eclipse, Fantagraphics, Tower, Atlas-Seaboard and many more. But most of the time he was also working for himself, or at the very least working to satisfy his own understanding of what professionalism was. When he worked on characters created by others you got his striking artwork and idiosyncratic storytelling. But when he worked his own creations, you got all of that and more, you got an insight into one of the most inscrutable creators in all the history of comics. Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, The Question, The Hawk and the Dove, The Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, Mr.A, Static, Odd Man, Killjoy, The Mocker, Deadly Nightshade were just some of the many heroes created by Ditko.


Ditko was little known  not because of the vagaries of history which had lost his name before the craft of comics earned its own cadre of historians, but because he chose to remain in the shadows. A man deeply committed to privacy he is reported by some to be friendly and by others to be difficult. He was likely all of that. He almost never allowed his picture to be taken and so his face is largely unknown, or known only in outdated images. I will have much more to say about the stalwart comics talent in due course, but I wanted to commemorate his passing today as I'm sure many others will do. Steve Ditko is dead, long may his work be remembered.

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11 comments:

  1. Ditko's life is obviously a tale of triumph, but beyond that I believe that it was a happy life. Fans focus on his privacy and his exploitation by Marvel, because that's all we know. But because of who he was, you couldn't really hurt him. And nobody could prevent him from doing what he most enjoyed, drawing comics. If you really look at his work and the fact that he was engaged in it into his final days, it's obvious that he just loved drawing. It was his life, and life was good.

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    1. He lived on his own terms for sure, as much as it was possible for any man to do so. I like to think my approach to my job, taking on my profession with a proper but not overbearing degree of seriousness and hitting my marks every day was at least a little bit learned from the example of Ditko. He like Kirby and other veteran pros had to draw to make their bread, but they got into the field because they liked what it allowed them to do and to say. Ditko was sure the guy who taught that truth telling is a virtue, something we could all do with more of today. He is already missed.

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  2. I think it's probably more accurate to say he'll be remembered as the co-creator of Spider-Man - Ditko himself never claimed otherwise. And although he was discovered on June 29th, it's believed he died on the 27th. I could never really get into any of his post-Marvel work - it became far too cartoonish for my tastes, compared to his earlier art style. Still, it's a shame he's gone.

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    1. I intentionally didn't say "co-creator" to allow Ditko primacy in this eulogy. Most folks in the media are not so careful when they talk about Stan's contribution to the Marvel Universe and for this once I decided to give Ditko the same presumption. There's no doubt he lost a few steps in his waning years, but as an artist in his generation he was remarkably potent for many years. I appreciate the information about the day of his death. I will adjust my post accordingly.

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    1. It's not as shocking as some have been, given his age. But still and all, Ditko did have an aura of immortality. He was always much younger than you thought he was at any given point in his career which didn't really kick off until the 50's, probably ten years after many of his peers at Marvel such as Kirby, Ayers, and others. He's mentioned in the same breath all the time, but was really a different wave of talent.

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  4. R.I.P. the Godfather of comic books storytelling STEVE DITKO

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    1. Ditto. He was one of the most distinctive stylists in the whole long history of comic books -- dedicated to the details of his craft.

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