If there were a Mount Rushmore of comic creators, Steve Ditko would be a part of it Along with Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, very few did more for the world of comic books than Steve Ditko. In fact, Ditko is Stan’s most notable creating partner outside of Kirby. It is clear that Ditko is one of the men that made Marvel Comics & Marvel Entertainment itself, what it is today.
Stan Lee might have been one of the main spearheads for the company. Yet the company was more than just one or two men. It involved several people who put character ideas on paper, while illustrators gave us the look of them that would one day become iconic. Ditko was one of those people; one of the creators that made such an impact on the comic book world that his name is still legendary along with Stan & Jack.
Ditko is probably best known for co-creating Spider-Man and several of the character’s villains. However, his contribution to comics, in general, goes far beyond that. Therefore, we wanted to examine his work and discuss just how crucial Steve was for those unfamiliar with him today.
Origin StorySteve Ditko started his venture into comics with comic strips like Prince Valiant. Yet his love of comics was cemented with Will Eisner’s The Spirit and DC’s Batman. As a matter of fact, Batman artist Jerry Robinson became Ditko’s idol. He wanted to be just like him and create illustrations that would be remembered.
Ditko worked in the arts throughout his time in high school. When he entered the army during the 1940s, he even worked for an army newspaper drawing comic strips.
This time period was immensely influential to other comic creators like Jack Kirby. In fact, Kirby read stories like Prince Valliant and Flash Gordan himself. He then took those stories and the war going on then reflected that in his art. This led to the creation of heroes who were powerful, strong, and titanic.
However, Ditko took it in a different direction than most artists at the time. His characters were more in line with characters like The Spirit. They weren’t enormous soldiers that proudly fought evil whenever and wherever. They were slim, doubtful, misfits. To some, they could even be someone like you, the reader of the comic.
The Web-SlingerSpider-Man is the best example of Ditko’s compelling art direction. He is also probably Ditko’s magnum opus in terms of character. He’s just a kid trying to balance the life of being a hero and a teenager. Parker has teenage problems outside of those Spider-Man faces.
He tries to do what’s right, but he is constantly being weighed down by responsibility. Whether it come from issues he must face as Spider-Man or those Peter must tackle. While Stan Lee had a large role in Spider-Man’s story, Steve Ditko gave us a great deal of what makes Spider-Man so beloved.
One of Ditko’s iconic covers is from “The Amazing Spider-Man #33.” It’s the epitome of what makes Spider-Man a hero. The iconic cover shows Spidey trapped under giant metal beams, sinking in water. Reading further into the comic shows Spider-Man lifting the beams to escape. Readers needed to see what happened.
Ditko’s art perfectly depicts the amount of pain, stress, and responsibility placed on Peter’s shoulders here. There have been countless dissertations and essays on why Spider-Man is the greatest superhero ever. However, that all starts with Steve Ditko’s involvement.
Spider-Man was obviously one of Ditko’s biggest creations for Marvel Comics, but his contributions don’t end with Parker and Spider-Man themselves. Steve co-created some of Spider-Man’s most fearsome foes like Doctor Octopus, Electro, The Lizard, and Green Goblin. On top of his most endearing friends like Harry Osborn, Ned Leads, Betty Brant, and his first love interest Gwen Stacy.
Not to mention Uncle Ben, Aunt May, and even J. Jonah Jameson. All of which played incredibly important roles in the lives of both Spider-Man & Peter Parker.
Strange TalesFor a lot of people, Ditko’s legacy begins and ends with Spider-Man. However, many often forget that he was the primary creator of Dr. Strange as well. Ditko really spread his artistic wings with Strange.
Sure, Spider-Man’s design is completely genius. It adds more to Peter Parker’s character in so many ways. With Dr. Strange, Ditko made a surrealistic painting out of every panel. Strange takes the reader through worlds that are vastly different from the previous.
While Strange’s design had to look awesome, Ditko also had to bring life to a world of magic and mysticism, which very few had been able to do up to this point. Today, several decades later, Ditko’s original direction is still utilized even in the cinematic universe.
Of course, Ditko also created some supporting characters and major villains Strange would come across. This includes The Ancient One, the being who taught Strange in magic. He gave us Wong and Clea who are two of Strange’s oldest companions. He also gave us Kaecillius, whom you might know from the first Doctor Strange movie. Yet Steve also created Strange’s most notable villains, Baron Mordo & Dormammu too.
Baron Mordo is often a recurring villain for Strange that is also skilled in magic and mysticism. Meanwhile, Dormammu is a dimensional being with an apocalyptic level of power. Dormammu’s villainy has stretched beyond just Doctor Strange, and he has regularly been a threat to the entire Marvel Universe.
Charlton And DC ComicsDitko’s story doesn’t end with Marvel Comics. He made huge strides at DC Comics & Charleston, and even later on at Valiant. Ditko actually worked for Charlton before moving to Marvel, where he co-created Captain Atom. He returned to Charlton after leaving Marvel because he felt they’d offer him more creative freedom than Marvel gave him.
He was correct in this assumption. Back at Charlton, he created iconic characters like The Question along with Hawk & Dove. All these characters were later bought by DC Comics where they would become staple characters. The designs of each of these characters were fantastic as well.
Hawk & Dove both have designs that stood out amongst other heroes DC had at the time. They needed to, as DC had started to become stale with similar designs and looks across the board. Keep in mind that this was well before the overly sexualized version of characters too.
Thus, Steve Ditko had to come up with a design that would fit and make sense for everyone. Especially an audience that would be mostly children.
The inability of a man tadalafil 20mg tablets to achieve an erect penis during intercourse is referred as ED. If you add common keywords that may be used cialis uk for a number of years to help men to overcome impotence obstacles. Guys may benefit each of the items at a solitary cialis get viagra male sexually enhancement pill Retail outlet. tadalafil without prescriptions This kind of medication enhances blood flow in the blood vessels and leads to harder and bigger erection.
Shade, the Changing Man has a vest that allows him to change his appearance based on what an onlooker sees. Meanwhile, The Creeper looks like, well, a creep. Ditko realized he not only had to fit the names of the character but also fit their personality along with the very things they could actually do or even become.
Misfit HeroesDitko’s work at DC was quite different from what he was doing at Marvel. Like Charlton, DC gave more freedom to the creators, and Ditko took full advantage. This is where The Creeper was designed originally.
Characters like The Creeper and The Question were different from the characters he worked on at Marvel. Ditko was able to explore more unique and oddball characters that always sat just outside of normal.
The Question, Vic Sage, is a noir detective dressed usually in a blue trenchcoat. However, he wears a mask that changes his hair color and makes it look as though he doesn’t have a face. Sage is a conspiracy theorist who is, funny enough, often right about his hunches. Although he never predicted John F. Kennedy would come back to life to save America or something. Plus, Question tends to be consistently playing two sides.
By day, he is a member of the media that acts in several different roles depending on who is writing the story. By night, he’s railing against the establishment, including the media. He knew he could not just wear the average mask, because he might still be recognized. Ditko did not just help to create a masked hero here, he added depth to the character by giving him a look that told so much. As it fit WHO Question was to his core.
Both The Creeper and The Question were not shining examples of heroes. They were instead characters that did what they thought was right, even if they existed outside of societal norms. On top of the fact that those very acts might get them killed. However, Ditko also took an existing character and made it his own. He decided to take on an old Charlton character, the Blue Beetle, where he managed to breathe new life into him.
He created a new character named Ted Kord that would inherit the Blue Beetle powers. However, Ditko added a layer of depth by having the Sacred Scarab, the very thing that possessed the power of the Blue Beetle, reject bonding with Kord. Of course, Kord goes on to be a hero anyway, in spite of not having any powers. He was able to do so through his tech.
Ditko even gave depth to Kord himself, not just the story around him. Kord is a genius inventor who became rich through his Kord Industries technology company. Therefore, his design and weaponry had to match that.
The ControversyWe all know the controversy surrounding Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. They had a somewhat unceremonious split in 1966 when Ditko left Marvel Comics. Most of the differences between Lee & Ditko came from their dispute over who created Spider-Man. Lee held that, since he had the original idea for the character, he created it.
Ditko thought that since he gave Spider-Man his iconic look and contributed so many characters to the Spider-Man universe, that he was the creator. However, some suggest that recognition isn’t the reason Ditko left Marvel.
He did have disputes with Stan Lee, but some books have claimed that Ditko left because Marvel was not paying him the royalties he deserved. Keep in mind that Lee was not really the “head” of Marvel or its previously known name of Timely Comics. He was just its most notable creator and face. Thus, he was rarely in charge of where the money went.
It is an unfortunate reality that neither Marvel nor DC have a good track record of taking care of their writers and artists, so this is believable. Steve Ditko’s estate has battled Marvel consistently in legal battles relating to his characters and royalties, and so have many other creators.
Fortunately, Steve Ditko does receive credit on most, if not all, of the comics he contributed to. Plus, Spider-Man will forever be recognized as being created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. This has since been established in all Marvel properties involving the character.
The Steve Ditko LegacySuperheroes have exploded in popularity over the last few decades, and they are still going. Marvel and DC films are breaking cinema records today, making movie studios literally billions of dollars in revenue. All while giving us quality entertainment…most of the time.
Yet most of that would be possible without the work of creators like Steve Ditko. His characters have appeared in comics, films, novels, video games, and even music.
Obviously, Spider-Man has appeared in several movies and has had dozens of tv shows and video games. However, other Ditko creations have garnered similar recognition. We mentioned above that Doctor Strange now his own film, with a sequel coming in Spring 2022. Blue Beetle will also be getting his own film soon, but it will be Jaime Reyes rather than Ted Kord.
Even Hawk & Dove made their first appearance in live-action in the Titans show on HBO Max. That doesn’t even include all the numerous side characters and antagonists he has created. Ditko created characters years ago that are still being talked about to this day, and they will still be inspiring and exciting fans and future creators for years to come.
The Final IssueSteve Ditko, unfortunately, passed away on June 29, 2018. He created a series of heroes that were more than just bulky, prideful powerhouses. His characters dealt with real problems in a super-powered world. They were weird, quirky, and stood on the outside of normal.
Ditko completely changed the types of superheroes that would be seen for all future creators. He cultivated an amazing art style that gave the world some of the most recognizable names. From Spider-Man to heroes like The Question, to people like Ted Kord and the duo of Hawk & Dove. Ditko was able to bring life to characters that ended up becoming a hit among readers for years to come.
Meanwhile, he brought something to the table that very few other illustrators were willing to do. He still kept some humanity behind his illustrations and overall vision. Even among heroes like Spider-Man. He had to, because in a world of Superman & Wonder Woman types….we needed people the world could relate to. That’s the real legacy of Steve Ditko.