One of the greatest comic book stories ever written, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are known as the main architects of the Marvel Universe. But there was a third originator of that landmark creation:
Steve Ditko was an artist who originally worked as a comics artist in the 1950's, working on the science fiction and horror books of the time. He worked with Stan Lee on several short comic stories during those years.
When Stan and Jack began the Marvel Universe with The Fantastic Four and The Hulk, there was an idea that Kirby seemed wrong for, so Stan worked with Steve Ditko on Amazing Fantasy #15's first Spider Man story.
He was the first teenaged superhero (not a sidekick) and was weighted down with real life problems with money and girls (and the guilt over his uncle's death due to his own arrogance). He was also a wisecracking motormouth during his superheroics. Spider Man was almost certainly the most recognizable character Marvel Comics had, at least before the movies made all the characters so much more famous.
Ditko also co-created (again with Stan) Marvel's first Magical hero, Doctor Strange. I'm reading the collected Ditko/Lee Doctor Strange now, and it's terrific.
Never a huge hit compared to the other titles, Doctor Strange did become a cult favorite largely because of its psychadelic visuals. I read an article that amused me with it's account of Ditko meeting some of the hippy fans of Doctor Strange and being as shocked by them as they were by him - Steve was apparently extremely conservative and straight laced, despite his massive imagination and creativity.
The movie version of the Doctor took great pains to pay homage to those Ditko visuals.
Ditko created many other characters too, of course: The Blue Beetle, The Question, Squirrel Girl, and many others, including of course the Doctor Strange supporting characters Mordo, The Ancient One, Eternity, Dormammu, and so on, and a part of Spiderman's extensive and classic rogues gallery and supporting cast.
He split from Marvel in the 70's, and though he still works on comics constantly, they are more independent ones, sometimes crowdfunded, and apparently centered around his politics. I haven't read them.
He's an unusually private person, and has not given an interview since 1966, despite obviously being pursued for them many times. But at 89 years old, Steve Ditko is still going strong, and his contributions to the field are truly legendary.
Thanks, Steve Ditko!
Banes at 12:00AM, Sept. 21, 2017
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