Ditko, Steve 1927-
DITKO, Steve 1927-
Born November 2, 1927, in Johnstown, PA. Education: Attended Cartoonists and Illustrators School, New York, NY, 1950-52.
Home—New York, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Marvel Enterprises, 10 East 40th St., New York, NY 10016.
Illustrator. Farrell Comics, New York, NY, worked on "Fantastic Fears," 1953; Prize Comics, New York, NY, worked on "Black Magic," 1953; Charlton Comics, New York, NY, worked on "The Thing," "Captain Atom," "Blue Beetle," "Question," "Gorgo," "Konga," "Black Fury," "SF," "War," and "Weird Stories," 1953-68; St. John Comics, New York, NY, worked on "Weird Tales," 1955-57; Marvel Comics, New York, NY, worked on "Amazing Adventures," "Journey into Mystery," "Tales of Suspense," "Spider-Man," "Hulk," "Doctor Strange," and "Weird Tales," 1956-66; Tower Comics, worked on "Norman" and "Dynamo," 1966-68; Dell Comics, worked on "Nukla," "Get Smart," and "Hogan's Heroes," 1966; ACG Comics, worked on "Fantasy," 1966; Warren magazines, worked on "Creepy," 1966-68, and "Witzend," 1979-70; National (later DC) Comics, worked on "Creeper" and "Hawk and the Dove," 1968, and "The Shade, the Changing Man," 1975; Pacific Comics, worked on "The Missing Man," 1982; Valiant Comics, worked on "Solar," "X-O Manpower," "Shadowman," and "Magnus, Robot Fighter"; Defiant Comics, worked on "Dark Dominion," 1993; created strips "Mr. A" and "Avenging World."
Named to Harvey Awards' Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, 1990.
Beware the Creeper, National Periodical Publications (Sparta, IL), six volumes, 1968-69.
(And writer) The Ditko Collection (1966-1973), edited by Robin Snyder, Fantagraphics Books (Thousand Oaks, CA), 1985.
(With Stan Lee) Marvel Masterworks Presents Amazing Spider-Man, four volumes, Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 1987-92.
Tales of the Mysterious Traveler, Eclipse Books (Forestville, CA), 1990.
(With Stan Lee) The Amazing Spider-Man Masterworks, Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 1992.
(With Stan Lee) Marvel Masterworks Presents Doctor Strange, Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 1992.
Steve Ditko's Strange Avenging Tales, Fantagraphics Books (Thousand Oaks, CA), 1997.
(With Stan Lee) The Essential Spider-Man, Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 1998.
All-New Steve Ditko's 160 Page Package, self-published with Robin Snyder (Bellingham, WA), 1999.
Steve Ditko's Charlton Package, self-published with Robin Snyder (Bellingham, WA), 1999.
Steve Ditko's Missing Man Package, self-published with Robin Snyder (Bellingham, WA), 1999.
Steve Ditko's Heroes Package, self-published with Robin Snyder (Bellingham, WA), 2000.
Steve Ditko's Tsk! Tsk! Package, self-published with Robin Snyder (Bellingham, WA), 2000.
The Essential Doctor Strange, Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 2001.
OTHER; FOR CHILDREN; ILLUSTRATOR
Roger Stern, Spider-Man: The Secret Story of Marvel's World-Famous Wall Crawler, Children's Press (Chicago, IL), 1981.
Robin Snyder, War of the GoBots, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1984.
Robin Snyder, GoBots on Earth, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1984.
Spider-Man was adapted by David Koepp into a film directed by Sam Raimi and released by Columbia, 2002; a sequel, Spider-Man II, was released in 2004. Numerous animated television series adaptations featuring Spider-Man and other characters created by Ditko, including Doctor Strange.
Steve Ditko occupies a significant place in comics history as the artist who created Spider-Man. Ditko and writer-editor Stan Lee developed the character at Marvel Comics in the early 1960s, and Spider-Man's combination of superpowers and human frailties made him a hit with readers at once. Spider-Man survived Ditko's acrimonious departure from Marvel in 1966, with other artists taking over the character, and for years his role in originating Spider-Man was somewhat obscured. Ditko's work was reprinted, however, in the 1980s and 1990s in Marvel's "Masterworks" series, and the release of the big-budget, live-action Spider-Man film brought the reclusive artist new recognition. Ditko has created numerous other comic-book superheroes, include Dr. Strange, Captain Atom, the Blue Beetle, the Creeper, and the Hawk and the Dove.
Ditko started working in comics in the early 1950s, providing the art for horror and fantasy series in such titles as "The Thing" and "Space Adventures" for Charlton Comics. He began working for Atlas Comics, which later became Marvel, in 1956, but he continued contributing to Charlton as well. In 1960 he created his first superhero, Captain Atom, for Charlton. The character is an astronaut who develops superpowers after being exposed to atomic radiation while on a space mission. Over the next couple of years, Ditko kept on drawing Captain Atom's adventures while taking other assignments for both Charlton and Marvel; in 1962, he introduced his most famous character.
Marvel colleague Jack Kirby had come up with the concept of a superhero with spider-like powers a few years earlier, when he worked for Harvey Comics, but it never came to fruition. At Marvel in the 1960s, Stan Lee picked up on the idea and asked Kirby to draw the character who would become Spider-Man. However, Lee did not care for Kirby's efforts, and he decided that Ditko, whose style was more realistic than Kirby's, was better suited to an "everyman" type of hero such as Spider-Man. In reality, Spider-Man is a nebbishy, put-upon teenager named Peter Parker, who gains superpowers after being bitten by a spider. With these powers, he climbs walls and slings webs throughout New York City, fighting villains such as the Green Goblin. Marvel introduced Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy, and the character swiftly became popular enough to merit his own series, "Amazing Spider-Man," for which Ditko drew the first thirty-eight issues.
"Lee and Ditko tweaked the traditions of superherodom," reported Jordan Raphael in an article on Ditko for the Los Angeles Times. "Eschewing the tedious infallibility of Superman, they saddled the webslinger with real-life dilemmas—money troubles, a sick Aunt May—and somewhat bizarre superpowers. Lee enlivened the action with snappy, humorous dialogue; Ditko's moody and naturalistic line work brought Spider-Man down to earth, emphasizing his humanity." All of this made Spider-Man a hero to whom teenage readers could relate.
During Ditko's association with Marvel, he and Lee created another enduring character, Doctor Strange. Stephen Strange is a surgeon left unable to practice after his hands are injured in an automobile crash. He then learns mystical arts than enable him to fight evildoers, often from other worlds. He debuted in "Strange Tales," Volume 1, in 1963 and went on to be a mainstay of that series. "Ditko's bizarre and eerie depictions of alien dimensions and monsters fueled the book's cult success," remarked Matthew Price, reviewing the reprint collection The Essential Doctor Strange for Oklahoma City's Daily Oklahoman. Price added, "Though Dr. Strange never became the sales success that 'Spider-Man' was, his stories remain important for exploring new realms in both the Marvel Universe and in mainstream comic stories."
While Ditko and Lee's work was succeeding, their relationship was disintegrating, to the point that they were not speaking to each other, instead sending messages through coworkers. They fought over story lines for "Spider-Man," and "after a few dozen issues, Ditko was plotting the book himself and turning the penciled pages over to Lee, who filled in the dialogue," Raphael related. He quoted Lee as saying, "It was almost like doing a crossword puzzle." Ditko quit Marvel in 1966, and he has never disclosed the exact reason for his decision. He once wrote in an essay, "I know why I left Marvel but no one else in this universe knew or knows why."
Ditko moved to back Charlton, where he revived Captain Atom and another superhero, the Blue Beetle, which had been a collaborative effort. At Charlton he also developed a hero called Question, who dispenses vigilante-style justice. Then, for National Periodical Publications (DC), he created the Creeper and a duo known as the Hawk and the Dove. None of these attracted as many readers as Spider-Man, but Ditko stayed on in the business. He has continued producing a variety of comics, although none circulated widely, and writing essays for magazines catering to comics fans. His essays sometimes display the influence of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, of which he is reported to be a follower, viewing issues "in stark black and white," according to Raphael, who further characterized Ditko as "the J. D. Salinger of comics" for his avoidance of interviews and other publicity-related activities. "Those who know Ditko," Raphael noted, "say he prefers to let his work speak for itself."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK), November 9, 2001, Matthew Price, "Mystical Realms Conjured Up: 'Essential Doctor Strange' Confronts Evil in Comics,", Weekend section, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2002, Jordan Raphael, "Spider-Man's Long-Lost Parent," p. F1.