Steve Ditko-Another Architect of the Silver Age is Gone

It is really hard to write about an artist that means so much to this hobby and who has lived his life as a virtual recluse.

Steve Ditko passed away in his 90th year. To say he was an amazing talent and somewhat of an enigma are both true. He was the co-creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange and a host of other characters. Blue Beetle, Hawk and the Dove, The Creeper, Speedball, Captain Atom.

I started collecting comics when he had already left Marvel. I first saw his work in the great square bound 25 centers, Marvel Tales and Marvel Collectors Item Classics. He was what all of the Silver Age greats were. Unique.

Jack Kirby, John Romita, Gene Colan, John Buscema, Herb Trimpe, Marie Severin. All unique in the style and flair they brought to whatever they worked on.

You could open a book and instantly tell who pencilled it. Even who inked it. Unique.

I remember when I started getting the back issues of Spider-Man that were done by Ditko. I don’t think I appreciated it for how good it was until years later. I grew up with John Romita doing Spidey and it was a clash of styles that I had to grow into. When you look at the Master Planner trilogy from issue 31-33, that is what comic books are supposed to be. What a story. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour and read it. Issue 33 from the cover to the end page was an emotional tour de force.

His Doctor Strange stories were downright otherworldly. I read somewhere that Timothy Leary was a big fan!

Some of my favourite Ditko stories were done in the Warren B&W magazines. His use of ink wash was mesmerizing.

There are many articles since his death stating his net worth as being between 5 and 8 million dollars, and he lived in the same apartment building for decades.

I did find a couple of interesting pieces on Steve Ditko. The first a website called Steve Ditko .com.

The second is a BBC Documentary”In Search of Steve Ditko.” It is a joy to watch.

So in closing, I would just like to say thanks to the enigmatic Steve Ditko. This kid grew to love his work!

Continued Happy Collecting!

Dennis De Pues
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.

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Chris Meli
Chris Meli
5 years ago

Dennis, I really get your point about growing to appreciate Ditko. In many ways Kirby and Ditko were “wasted” on kids, but the good news is that as published art, we get many second chances, and there is the added benefit of nostalgia. I heard a story along the same lines on the radio this morning: a woman who remembered seeing Jimi Hendrix open for the Monkees, with Hendrix being shouted off the stage by pre-teen girls crying for Davy. As DC reader from an early age, Ditko’s characters appeared emaciated, and his action sequences seemed more like a depiction of a dance than a fight. It took me until well into adulthood to appreciate the power of his intentionally unique style – I think one thing that helped with this was the ability to view page after page of work in reprint volumes, because in the old days I only would see a few pages now and then in a reprint story in the back of some comic. While of course he will always be first associated with Spider-Man, on the Marvel front I think Dr. Strange was his true calling. His depiction of the mystical realms was utterly unique and utterly spot-on.

If you know of any reprints of those Warren B&W magazines, please advise. I don’t follow that area very closely, but I’d love to see those ink wash stories.

Scott VanderPloeg
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris Meli

They’re collected in one volume: Creepy Presents Steve Ditko.

Chris Meli
Chris Meli
5 years ago

Thanks Scott. Out of print but still some reasonably-priced copies on eBay. On its way!

5 years ago

You won’t be disappointed Chris.Back issues of the actual Creepy magazines are really very reasonable as well if you prefer the original.Another great collection is “The Creativity of Ditko.”