Legendary Comic Artist, Steve Ditko, Passed Away Last Month
Steve Ditko, who co-created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange with Stan Lee, passed away in his apartment at age 90. He was found on June 29, and it is assumed he died roughly two days before. His death was confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter by the NYPD.
Ditko and Lee co-created Spider-Man in 1961. Ditko was given the project by Lee, then the editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics, who was unsatisfied with Jack Kirby’s work. Spider-Man’s entire aesthetic is Ditko’s design, from the suit to the web shooters to the color scheme. Spider-Man made his debut in Amazing Fantasy #15. The character was a hit, and eventually, they developed The Amazing Spider-Man. Ditko went on to design adversaries for the story like Doctor Octopus, Sandman, the Lizard, and Green Goblin. Ditko ended his Spider-Man run on issue No. 38.
From 1961 to 1966, Ditko worked on Doctor Strange. Marvel debuted the psychedelic hero in Strange Tales #110. Ditko worked on the comic through issue No. 146.
Ditko left Marvel Comics shortly after, due to a vaguely-explained dispute with Stan Lee. Even prior to his departure, Ditko had not been speaking to Lee for years. Ditko never publically explained what happened, and Lee maintained his ignorance about Ditko’s reasons. Rumor has it Ditko was upset with Lee for failing to properly credit Ditko in his contributions to Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. Lee was ever the face of Marvel and Ditko believed Lee was more motivated by self-promotion and therefore thought he deserved more credit as the creator of the characters.
So Ditko went to Charlton, DC Comics, and other smaller publishers. He created characters like the Question, Hawk and Dove, and the Creeper—all for DC Comics. In 1967, Ditko created Mr. A, his best-known character outside of Marvel. All of these characters reflected Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy, in which Ditko was an enthusiastic believer.
Ditko was widely known as the “J.D. Salinger of comics.” Since the 1970s, he refused to speak on the record and almost every interview. He took no part in the publicity surrounding the Spider-Man films and the Doctor Strange movie.
Ditko lived in a studio apartment in Manhattan until he died. He continued his creative work, writing and drawing, and there is an unknown number of unpublished works there.
Ditko was born on November 2, 1927, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. His father was a steel mill worker and his mother was a homemaker. He became interested in comics at an early age because his father was also passionate about that. Batman and the Spirit came out as Ditko was becoming a teenager, and he enjoyed them.
After high school, he went into the Army and served as an artist for a military paper in post-war Germany. He was discharged in 1950 when he moved to New York City. There he studied at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School under Jerry Robinson, an artist for Batman.
Ditko earned work as an artist by 1953. He was working with Captain America creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. He ended up having to go home to Johnstown in 1954 because he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. In the next year, he went to Atlas Comics, the forerunner of Marvel, where he had an initially successful partnership with Stan Lee before they split in the ’60s.
He has no known survivors.