Wednesday, July 11, 2018

STEVE DITKO, 1927-2018, R.I.P. ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post

Sorry, fellow babies, no Insect Man chapter this week. Next week, I promise!

One of the most innovative artists in the history of comics has died at the age of ninety.

Steve Ditko obituaries are showing up all over the place because of his two best-known co-creations, Spider-Man (and that is how you spell it, not "Spiderman" or "Spider Man") and Doctor Strange.

A partial list of characters he created, co-created, and/or drew would include the Creeper, Stalker, Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, the Hawk & the Dove, Shade the Changing Man, one of the many DC Comics characters named Starman, Machine Man, Rom, Mr. A, the Question, and yes, even Squirrel Girl! And villains? Scores of those, as well. Just listing the Spider-Man foes would make this article longer than I intend to: Doctor Octopus, Sandman, the Green Goblin, Kraven the Hunter, the Scorpion, the Lizard, the Chameleon...

Ditko started contributing to comics in the early 1950s. He created or co-created many superheroes, but even if he hadn't done a single costumed character, he would hold a place in history for the incredible horror/fantasy stories he drew (among other genres, of course).

Ditko rarely spoke on record about his contributions to comics. He was a reclusive type who preferred to let his work speak for itself. He didn't give interviews after the 1960s ended, and he is only on record as having attended one comic convention, and that was in 1964. The last known photograph of him dates to the early 1970s, I believe.

There's obviously a lot more I could write about Steve Ditko, but I'm going to give you a plethora of images instead, interjecting only when I feel it's appropriate. (Click on any image for a larger version. In fact, I strongly recommend that you do so!)

Ditko's version of the Blue Beetle.

Captain Atom and Nightshade face The Ghost (no relation
to the antagonist in this summer's Ant-Man and the Wasp).

One of my personal favorite Ditko characters. Only six issues in 1968-1969
(plus a debut/origin story in Showcase #73 before that), but I loved 'em!

As the 1960s became the era of the hippies, Ditko's surrealistic artwork on the Dr. Strange series convinced many of the younger generation that Ditko was "one of them" in terms of experimenting with psychedelic drugs. In reality, though, nothing could be further from the truth. Ditko was extremely straight-laced and conservative.

His character design was incredibly inspired. When he and writer Stan Lee decided to finally show "the dread Dormammu," Ditko drew something decidedly different.

Later in Dr. Strange stories which appeared in Strange Tales, he created the look of another character, named Eternity. Eternity was one of those beings that transcend mere good and evil.

And inevitably, the evil Dormammu met and battled Eternity! However, a recent Ditko obituary claimed that this multi-part story "culminated with Strange and Dormammu joining forces." Wrong. See for yourself. Dr. Strange was merely a frightened observer.

I was young and naive enough to believe that the above sequence actually dispensed with both of them for good. Ha. Not in comics...

Ditko's "faceless" superhero, the Question.

Ditko often inked his own work, and sometimes he inked others! Thus, this sequence
from Fantastic Four #13 (penciled by Jack Kirby) has the inimitable Ditko touch.

One of my all-time favorite artists, Wally Wood (1927-1981) inked Ditko's pencils on
The Destructor (shown above) and Stalker (shown below). IMHO, the result was terrific!

Ditko's Mr. A, whose philosophy was as black-and-white as the artwork here!

Steve Ditko's style was so distinctive, his version of characters with which he was not so strongly associated often differed from the norm.

Loki and Thor...

The incredible Hulk...

Dr. Doom...


...and finally... Well, I'm not sure who this guy is, but he sure looks familiar, doesn't he?

 A little tribute from 2008's The Spirit.

And now, it is with great pleasure that I present one of the most memorable segments of the Silver Age, from The Amazing Spider-Man #33! Stan Lee's words and Steve Ditko's pictures provided a sequence that still has comic fans talking!

Basically, Spider-Man is trapped in an underwater complex, beneath tons of machinery. Watch how Stan and Steve combine to make the reader agonize along with the hero.

Rest well, Steve. You've earned it.

Thanks for your time.


  1. Well, I know that post was incredibly long, even by my standards, but he deserved it.

  2. Never knew he created The Question. I always thought he'd be a good live action character. Whoops, I go Spiderman but Batman is Batman and Superman is Superman. Can't they keep the same rhythm? He created a ton of Spiderman, still doing it, villains indeed.

    Nearly 50 years without a photo taken must have took some doing too.

    1. Spider-Man, Spider Man, Spiderman... It does get confusing, dunnit? We have Superman and Batman (as you mentioned), although the logo on quite a few Batman comics over the years had the word separated, like "Bat man." Then there's Iron Man. And we also have Ant-Man (called "Ant Man" on two of his first three covers)!

    2. Ha - No wonder I get confused with the spelling of their names, there are too many versions.

    3. haha true Iron Man I always spell that way. Batman just looks wrong spelled Bat Man. More like a baseball helper.

  3. Well, Silver you were right they did a great job conveying the agony of Spider-man. I could feel the suspense right up to the end. The writer and illustrator are magicians in a way.

    A very talented artist. I wonder why he was so reclusive?

    1. Some artists -- and I mean "artist" in the broadest sense, not just someone who draws or paints -- prefer to let their work speak for itself, and avoid the limelight. Like J.D. Salinger.

    2. That is very true Silver.

      Side note; So, are you still going to Mohegan?

    3. Going to TerrifiCon in August. I was just there last Saturday to see a comedy show.

  4. Wow. What a remarkable man. What a remarkable legacy.
    Thanks for spotlighting Steve Ditko. May he rest in peace and the heroic forces of his creations.

    1. He's one of those few comic book people whose creations are known by non-comic readers.

  5. Yes, I read about it. It's a sad, sad thing. And it doesn't matter if someoneis 90 or 100. It's sad, is what that is.

    I've got lots of Ditko beauties in my collection. No, not his granddaughters. Books! I mean books! Haha!

    Oh that scene is more famous than Michael Jackson's socks. I still love it.

    P.S. Spider-Man.... THAT is how you spell it. So true.

    1. I began reading The Amazing Spider-Man with #10. I remember that sequence from #33 vividly. Even then, at that tender age, I knew he'd survive. I just didn't know how.

  6. You've given him a very nice tribute...and your tributes can be as long as you please, right? :) What a talent, too!

    1. Yeah, his output and the quality of his work were both pretty impressive.


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