Steve Ditko’s Legacy

Other than Bruce Timm maybe I can’t think of another more influential artist to me than Steve Ditko. Ditko studied under Batman artist Jerry Robinson at the Cartoonist and Illustrators School in New York City. He began his professional career in 1953, working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, The legends behind Captain America which was primarily the seed that would allow Stan Lee to start the Marvel Boom in the 60’s. Beginning as an inker and coming under the influence of artist Mort Meskin. During this time, he then began his long association with Charlton Comics, where he did work in the genres of science fiction, horror, and mystery. He also co-created the superhero Captain Atom in 1960.
During the 1950s, Ditko also drew for Atlas Comics, a forerunner of Marvel Comics. He went on to contribute much significant work to Marvel. In 1966, after being the exclusive artist on The Amazing Spider-Man and the “Doctor Strange” feature in Strange Tales, Ditko left Marvel for reasons he never specified. He’s never talked about it, and Stan Lee doesn’t shed a whole lot of light on the issues either but always credits him for his co-creation Spider-Man. Ditko continued to work for Charlton and also DC Comics, including a revamp of the long-running character the Blue Beetle, and creating or co-creating the Question, the Creeper, Shade the Changing Man, and Hawk and Dove. Ditko also began contributing to small independent publishers, where he created Mr. A, a hero reflecting the influence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Ditko mostly declined to give interviews, saying he preferred to communicate through his work. Ditko returned to Marvel in 1979, taking over Jack Kirby’s Machine Man, drawing The Micronauts and Captain Universe, and continuing to freelance for the company into the late 1990s. Ditko was inducted into the comics industry’s Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990, and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994.
He’s not nearly as boisterous or as charismatic as Stan Lee which may be why they never got along. Then again saying they didn’t get along might not be true. Like I said neither man talked about it. Steve Ditko even said in an interview that Stan might not know why he left. So who knows the ultimate reason for going. I remember a story from Stan Lee in an interview with Kevin Smith where he said that Jack Kirby was going to be the artist for Spider-Man, but Stan felt his art was to brawny and adult like. Spider-Man needed to look lither and built like a teenager instead of the barrel-chested Captain America.
It becomes tiresome If after every artist death I bemoan how influential they were to me, it also loses some of its truth cause hundreds of artist have influenced my overall style, but Steve Ditko was the standard of art. he is the reason Spider-Man looks the way he does. That suit, the web piping, the slim white and black eyes. It’s due to him bringing it to life. Not to mention the beautiful artwork that went into creating doctor strange.
The more I age, the more I realize that all these people who have influenced the world of pop culture will begin to fade away, and while that seems incredibly macabre considering Steve Ditko had no children or next of kin, it doesn’t matter. The fact that Mr. Ditko is gone only strengthens the fact that his legacy will live on forever, for every cartoon, every video game, every movie, every comic, or piece of fan art.


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