Comic legend Steve Ditko passed away yesterday at the age of 90. A good long run for a man that contributed so much to the conic book genre.
As a kid Steve shared his fathers love of newspaper comic strips and in 1950 enrolled in the Cartoonists and Illustrators School where Batman artist Jerry Robinson was one of the instructors.
Jerry Robinson, had this to say about Steve when he had him as one of his students in art school:
“a very hard worker who really focused on his drawing” and someone who “could work well with other writers as well as write his own stories and create his own characters”
Steve’s professional comic book career began in 1953 and he soon found himself working with greats like Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. In 1955 he began working at Atlas Comics…which would go on to become Marvel Comics, inking, penciling and/or writing such titles as Amazing Adventures, Strange Worlds, Tales of Suspense and Tales to Astonish.
Stan Lee on their collaboration during this time:
“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.”
“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….”
Steve left Marvel in the 1960’s after having completed a long run with Stan Lee on Spider-man. The circumstances are vague but some say it was because Lee and Ditko disagreed on pretty much everything.
Heavily inspired to get into comics by the character Batman, Steve Ditko was an objectivist and a veteran (having enlisted in the army in 1945) and was said to have a hard-line against criminals (my kind guy). Steve Ditko could Ink, pencil and draw, which made him a triple-threat. I’ve always had a great fondness for comic book creators who could adeptly handle multiple disciplines. Steve would spend the next decades working with just about everybody: DC Comics, Eclipse Comics, Charlton, Archie Comics, Dark Horse Comics and even back to Marvel again.
Characters created or co-created by Steve Ditko:
Agent X (Jim Burley)
Billy Connors (comics)
Bluebird (Marvel Comics)
Creeper (DC Comics)
Electro (Marvel Comics)
Hawk and Dove
Human Cannonball (Marvel Comics)
Ion (Marvel Comics)
Jack O’Lantern (Marvel Comics)
Jackal (Marvel Comics)
J. Jonah Jameson
John Jameson (comics)
Kraven the Hunter
Madmen (DC Comics)
Snake Marston (comics)
Metal Master (comics)
Nightmare (Marvel Comics)
Nightshade (DC Comics)
Odd Man (comics)
Proteus (DC Comics)
Punch and Jewelee
Sandman (Marvel Comics)
Shade, the Changing Man
Terror (DC Comics)
Vulture (Marvel Comics)
Mary Jane Watson
Flying square in the face of most creators today, Steve ardently believed that the work shouldn’t be about him:
“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”
Amen. Truly one of the greats.
RIP Mr. Ditko…you’ve earned it.