Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy 84th, Steve Ditko!

Steve Ditko may not have created as vast a number of comic book characters as Jack Kirby, but his impact on comics is a profound one. He drew many types of stories, ranging from science fiction to horror to monsters to superheroes. Ditko is an adherent of Objectivism, and he has strong views about many topics that can be seen in opposition to mainstream values. His views often crept into his work. Among the memorable characters he invented are Hawk and Dove, The Creeper, Mr. A, The Question, Captain Atom, and Squirrel Girl. His most known creations are the ones he shared with Stan Lee at Marvel Comics, the mystical Dr. Strange and the amazing Spider-Man.

Ditko played a large part in the direction of the Spider-Man series, and he may been the main storyteller because he and Lee were not on speaking terms at times because of their differing views. The Marvel Method of storytelling makes it difficult to determine just who is responsible for what in the creation of a comic book.

He and Lee held many contrary opinions, and the reasons for his leaving Spider-Man are not known. One of the most talked-about possible reasons was a dispute about the direction of Spider-Man: Lee wanted to introduce love interests and have more soap operatic qualities while Ditko was writing more of a story about the struggles of an unique, strong individual against a hostile world. In the end, the dispute over the identity of the Green Goblin drove him from the book. Lee wanted Peter Parker's best friend's father Norman Osborn to be revealed as the villain while Ditko wanted him to be an unknown stranger.

In the years since, Ditko has continued to make comics for the big publishers and on his own. He has become somewhat of a recluse, refusing to give interviews or be photographed. He prefers to let his work speak for itself. He was the subject of a documentary by Jonathan Ross that aired on BBC4. His work was also the subject of Blake Bell's book Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko.

Steve Ditko was inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994.

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