Ditko or Romita Spider-Man?

I came onto the collecting scene at age 10 and issue number 62 of the Amazing Spider-Man. This was when the Silver Age hit its peak! The explosion of titles and the full-blown mastery of the form had arrived.

Spidey to me has always been the great John Romita Sr. version. Good looking people with a romantic bent and the action clean and smooth with a great sense of design.

I have always coveted the early Ditko run and have at one time or another owned the first 38 issues plus Amazing Fantasy #15 that Ditko drew but it always seemed a little clunky to me because Romita was where I came into the run.

Recently, I have again been working on getting that original Ditko run into my collection and this time something had changed. The art didn’t look clunky anymore. It looked brilliant. It is funny how one’s perception can change. I have been picking up mid grade from nice 4.0’s to 6.0’s, mostly raw, or if I get a steal, a slabbed copy in that grade range, and crack it open.

I have never enjoyed the early Ditko’s as much as I do now. Ditko’s style had always stayed”stuck in the 40’s” to me.  The men’s suits, the women’s hairstyles and dresses.  I am sure Mary Jane Watson would have looked nothing like the image that pops into your mind when you hear her name if Ditko had introduced her!

Having picked up 10 issues over the last few months, what really has changed for me is the absolute brilliance in the acrobatic portrayal of everybody’s favourite webspinner. Ditko was fond of 6-9 panel pages and had Spidey jumping, spinning and flipping all over the place, and if you take the time to follow those jumps and spins they usually work in perfectly seamless fashion.

Romita took Amazing Spider-Man into the modern era but Ditko definitively created the way he moved. Nobody did it better.

Take a look at the Tom Holland Spider-Man and the way he moves! That’s Ditko, through and through. Light on his feet, jumping flipping and cavorting along the rooftops like “The Amazing Spider-Man!”

Do yourself a favour, go back and take a look in one of the myriad ways you can see these issues in reprint form. Or better yet be selective about the back issues in 4.0-6.0 and hold the actual history in your hands. I’m betting you will be pleased.

Continued Happy Collecting!

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Dennis De Pues
Dennis is an admitted "Son of the Silver Age", having grown up with the influences of Silver Age greats: Kirby, Colan, Romita and Buscema.Three decades later, he is the creator of Crash!! and Galloway Park. More is definitely on the way.
Articles: 260

10 Comments

  1. You can count me on the Romita side of the ledger. Like you I have grown to appreciate Ditko more over time. You also touched on his biggest downfall art-wise. Steve Ditko couldn’t draw an attractive female under threat of torture. He simply couldn’t do it. John Romita drew beautiful females and people in general, and that clean look was where Spider-Man had to go for mass appeal. You can bet Stan Lee knew this as well.

    It wasn’t that awesome Medusa cover that caught your eye in issue #62 eh! A Spider-Man comic fan was born.

    I’ll e-mail you my list of 4.0-6.0 Ditko Spider-Man for sale/trade :).

  2. I actually stopped buying Spider-man when Romita took over because it just looked like a romance comic. I felt a huge letdown when Diko was replaced on Spider-man. I should add that mine is not a popular opinion in many circles. For my tastes, Romita’s romance comics were better than any action title he took on. I even hesitate to say such a thing around most people because they don’t seem to keep their responses clean or civil. It usually ends up being, not a matter of opinion, but that my opinion is wrong and the Romita fans are right. They don’t even give me time to say that I do indeed like Romita’s art but his Spidey work is not my favourite. Ditko showed us how a Spider-man moves in the most dynamic fashion I have ever seen in any artist and that is just unbeatable…to me. Just my opinion.

    cheers, mel

  3. Thanks for both your comments Mike and Mel.I am sure there are fans who came on board as Spidey Fans when Ross Andru had his run, or Keith Pollard, Todd McFarland or John Romita Jr.and think that their entry into the Spidey Universe was the best.I really ,really have enjoyed going over the Ditko run and always enjoy the Romita run as well.Of all the rest of the creators listed above, JR Jr would be my next favorite creator.Mike I look forward to your Ditko list!And Mel I couldn’t agree more in the “dynamic fashion” that Ditko made Spidey move!Thanks for your thoughtful comments gentlemen.

  4. My Take on Ditko vs Romita. I love both artists. But lets consider the villains created. A hero is only as good as his villains. DITKO wins hands down….Ditko and Kirby created dozens (and in Kirby’s case dozen upon dozens of memorable villains)
    Romita of the same era…..not so much. The Kingpin. ….
    Ditko was a creator..Romita a storyteller

  5. David ,it is amazing the number of villians Ditko created!Vulture, Doc Ock,Lizard,Electro,Kraven,Green goblin,Scorpion and that is in the first 20 issues!Sheesh!What a Rogues Gallery! Great point!

  6. +Sandman and Mysterio, also in those incredible first 20 issues! Best comic run ever? Possibly.

    Personally I am a fan of both Molten Man and Meteor Man as well. Lee and Ditko certainly created some magic.

    For pure artistry, I would give the nod to Romita. But both artists were crucial to the brilliance and unmatched success of Spidey’s early years.

  7. Eric ,I think that there is no wrong answer to the Ditko/Romita question.I love them both as well and for the entirely different reasons you expressed,I think you hit the nail on the head!

  8. My favorite debate in comics. If Ditko was Spider-man’s daVinci, Romita is Michelangelo. Romita’s refinement was a necessary evolution, but Ditko was the idea man, and created the foundation. Spidey’s list of villains are only second to Batman’s rogues gallery (debatable) and that’s thanks to Ditko. But would MJ and Gwen be so popular if it weren’t for Romita? Romita is the more talented artist *technically*, but Ditko’s art is more about raw expression than polish, and as a creator, Ditko wins.

    I always felt Sam Raimi was a Ditko man. The way he showed action, horror, weirdness, the tightness and framing, reminds me of Ditko’s panels. Doc Ocks origin in Spider-man 2 really borrows liberally from the source.

    In all honesty, I didn’t fully appreciate Ditko until I saw this excellent documentary on BBC called “In Search of Steve Ditko”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfxVO0fLHvA. Love how Alan Moore dissects his “clausterphobic” style. Also, Ditko himself was such an odd, reclusive person.

    Totally agree that those early Ditko Spidey’s are precious and need to be experienced in hand!

    On a side note, Farewell and thank you to Stan the Man! ‘Nuff said.

  9. Hey Darren, the “In Search of Ditko” is must see entertainment for every Spidey fan !Your “debatable” Rogues gallery comment is just that, open to personal opinion.I am on the Ditko side of that debate, but again that is just personal opinion.Very sad to hear of Stan’s passing. It will be bitter sweet to see his upcoming cameos in the MCU.

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