Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Ditkophile: Scarcities

Steve Ditko's high school yearbook portrait

The name Steve Ditko probably means very little to you if you aren’t a comics fan, but if you are, then the name is well known to you -- Steve Ditko is the co-creator of Spider-Man, the original artist who envisioned the character along with Stan Lee.
Aside from Spider-Man, Ditko was also the co-creator, again with Lee, of the cosmic Doctor Strange. The surreal panels of Doctor Strange's mystical dimensions were some of the most vividly psychedelic ever seen in comics, and they contrasted sharply with his rendering of Peter Parker’s mundane world.
At the time that Ditko’s input on the plotting of the Spider-Man title tightened, so did his interest grow in the Objectivist philosophy of Russian-born novelist, Ayn Rand.
When Rand’s stark black and white moralizing started creeping into the Spider-Man stories, Stan Lee balked, and soon the two men stopped speaking to each other. Eventually Ditko left, leaving behind a character that would go on to become a billion dollar enterprise. He would never draw Spider-Man again and has essentially erased himself as much as possible from the character’s history.
It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that Ditko sees himself as a real-life Howard Roark, Rand’s fictional architect in The Fountainhead -- a man who refuses to compromise his vision. Rand’s philosophical influence was even more obvious in Ditko's self-published vigilante character, Mr A.
There have been hardly any interviews with Steve Ditko. While really not a hermit or a recluse, he’s an intensely private person and refuses most interviews, although there are stories of him speaking to a fan bold enough to ring his doorbell, but often standing in the doorway, seldomly inviting them into his studio.
In his BBC documentary, In Search of Steve Ditko, British talkshow host Jonathan Ross tracked Ditko down in New York City and called the artist on the telephone.
As expected, Ditko politely refused his request for an on-camera interview. But when Ross and comics writer Neil Gaiman showed up on his doorstep, he did in fact entertain them, though not on-camera.

Yearbook photo

Yearbook photo

Steve Ditko-Eric Stanton studio photo

Ditko-Stanton studio photo.

Blue Beetle model sheet.

Unpublished Mr. A. #3 cover. Colored by Mort Todd.

Unpublished Mr. A #1 cover. Colored by Mort Todd.

In Search of Steve Ditko is a BBC Four documentary. It was first shown on Sunday, September 16,  2007.

The documentary is part of the Comics Britannia season and follows Jonathan Ross' attempts to track down comics artist Steve Ditko (known for Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Mr. A etc.).

YouTube: BBC - Jonathan Ross - In Search of Steve Ditko, Part 1 of 7


Robin Snyder has a new Steve Ditko Lazlo's Hammer Kickstarter page:

There's a comics legend on Kickstarter. Steve Ditko‘s publishing partner Robin Snyder is looking to republish Ditko’s Lazlo’s Hammer.
A hammer has a power available to all as a tool or a weapon. One man dramatically and publicly revealed what makes it creative, productive or destructive. See and read how anyone can be its victim or its abuser. See and read Laszlo’s Hammer by Ditko coming next.



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