In memory of
Steve Ditko, comics artist who co-created the characters of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, was found dead in his New York City apartment on Friday, June 29, 2018, according to multiple news sources. He was 90.
Following news of his death, comic book publishers, fellow artists, and fans took to the internet to mourn the loss of a legend in the medium.
“Ditko didn’t just create characters – he built worlds. But today it is our world that is saddened by his loss. While he may no longer walk this mortal plane, Steve’s legacy will continue to endlessly inspire us all,” wrote Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski in a statement on Marvel.com.
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Ditko created Spider-Man alongside Marvel Comics editor and scripter Stan Lee. Ditko designed the web-slinger’s iconic red and blue costume with spider-web details. He also claimed the fully face-concealing mask to hide the identity of teenage Peter Parker was his idea.
“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,” Ditko said in a rare interview.
Beginning with the character’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, Ditko created the artwork and co-plotted many issues. He was instrumental in designing a cast of supporting characters, including Peter Parker’s ancient Aunt May and his apoplectic boss and Daily Bugle publisher, J. Jonah Jameson.
Among Spider-Man’s memorable rogues gallery are many Ditko co-creations, including the Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Sandman, the Lizard, Electro, and the Green Goblin.
Another of Ditko’s iconic contributions to the Marvel universe was Doctor Strange. His psychedelic illustrations of alternate dimensions made the sorcerer’s adventures some of the most influential comics of the 1960s.
Ditko left Marvel in 1966 after a falling out with Stan Lee. There has been much speculation as to the cause of the end of their creative partnership, but the reclusive Ditko rarely spoke about it.
He continued to work in comics and had successful stints with Charlton and DC Comics, working on comics featuring Blue Beetle, the Question, Captain Atom, and Hawk and Dove.
Ditko was a fan of author Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy. He created the character Mr. A to explore these concepts in comics form. It was one of the few characters he created that he personally held the rights to.
Mr. A inspired comics author Alan Moore to create a more extreme version of the character, named Rorshach, in “The Watchmen.”
Another fan-favorite Ditko co-creation is Squirrel Girl. Created in 1992 with writer Will Murray, the girl with the proportional speed and strength of a squirrel has been embraced by recent comics creators and audiences for her whimsical style and satirical take on super-heroics. She finally got her own solo series, “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” in 2015.
One of Ditko’s most acclaimed comic sequences occurred in The Amazing Spider-Man #33, dated Feb. 1966. In the sequence Spider-Man is defeated, trapped beneath heavy machinery. Inspired by memories of his family, and through sheer force of will, he rises above his anguish to escape and face his enemies. Those panels were a distillation of the spirit of superhero comics and inspired a similar sequence in the 2017 film “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
“Polite and unassuming—he never sought attention or the limelight but in many ways represented the hidden hero he saw in all of us,” DC comics publisher Jim Lee wrote in tribute on Twitter.
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