Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Steve Ditko

Today is comic book legend Steve Ditko's 80th birthday and to celebrate here are 5 facts you may or may not have known the man.

1. Ditko studied art in New York under instructor Jerry Robinson (the second artist to draw Batman, right after creator Bob Kane) at the Cartoonists And Illustrators School.

2. Had a long running feud with Stan Lee because he believed Stan was claiming to be the sole creator of Spider-Man. The have since patched things up.

3. Is notoriously reclusive and very rarely, if ever, appears in public. He never gives interviews and the closest most people have ever been to seeing his face is in an early issue of Spider-Man in which a self-portrait of him sleeping at his desk appears. He has also designed a number of superheroes that wear masks that show absolutely no facial features. Such examples are Spider-Man and the DC Comics character the Question.

4. In the 1970s, he wrote and illustrated several independently published comic books that were heavily inspired by the theory of "Objectivism", promoted by philosopher/writer Ayn Rand. Titles include "Avenging World" and "Mr. A" (Title taken from Rand's maxim "A is A"). His heavy-handed and often preachy writing style in these books earned him the derisive nickname "Ditko the Dictator".

5. Although Ditko returned to work for Marvel Comics several times after his mid-60s departure, he has steadfastly refused to again draw his two most famous characters, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.


Unknown said...

My favourite story about Ditko was when Frank Miller said he went to visit him in the early 80's. He was shown into his studio and noticed stacks of comic board in there. During the subsequent conversation Ditko went to do something and Miller had the opportunity to flip over the comic board and look at what was on the other side. It was his original Amazing Spider-Man art. Marvel had recently returned it to him, and he was white boarding it to draw his current stuff. Miller offered to buy all of it from him and buy him some new comic board. Ditko gets pissed at this and says he will never sell any of the stuff he did at Marvel or DC because those are just bastardisations of what he created.

That's why Ditko original art is so hard to find....

John said...

Did you read the book Strange and Stranger? Fascinating, excellent, with lots of really great art reproduction and good Ditko wackiness. The original Shade the Changing Man was one of the great comics of my childhood.

Arkonbey said...

Ditko is the the man

Conversely, Bob Kane was apparently a jerk and a hack (I just finished "Men of Tomorrow").

Becca said...

Wow that is an amazing story! I have never heard's such a waste! but I can really relate on a much more minor level having done simular stuff as an artist.

The dumpster has seen too many projects I wish I could get back...thrown away for some stupid reason or another...

I wonder how different the print version is from the original?

I haven't but SamuraiFrog and I were just talking about it the other day. I have never read the original Shade but did read the entire run of the Vertigo had it's ups and downs...

I'll have to look around for collections of the original! I'm not sure why I never have before.

Yeah I've read all sorts of stories about Kane...he probably gets far more credit than he really deserves...