Stephen J. Ditko or “Steve Ditko” as he is most commonly known, is one of the most influential American comic book writers and artists of all time.
He, along with Jack Kirby (August 28, 1917 – February 6, 1994) and Stan Lee (December 28, 1922 – Current) were often thought of as the three pillars of Marvel comics.
Source: Bleeding Cool
They were responsible for the creation of many of the characters we know and love today such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Doctor Strange, and many more. Without them, Marvel comics – and by extension the Marvel Cinematic Universe – would not be what we know it to be today.
So it is with heavy hearts that the comic book and movie fans of the world must face the news of his passing at age 90.
Despite this, it is worth remembering the man and his storied life. Without him, much of what we love about Marvel Comics and their movies may not be the same. So let’s take a look back at the life and work of this creative, reclusive genius.
Source: Consequence of Sound
1. His career in comic books began all the way back in the 1950’s where he wrote horror and science fiction for several small publishers.
His rise to prominence came in the 1960’s after he and Stan Lee co-created a teenage superhero. He went on to co-write and draw the first 38 issues of this new teenage superhero, who went on to become one of the most popular and recognizable superheroes of all time.
2. He was called the Amazing Spider-Man. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
Ditko and Lee’s 38 issue run on the Amazing Spider-Man is still considered essential reading by most fans and is widely respected for pushing the boundaries of what could be done within the medium of comic books back in the day.
These guys were essentially writing the rulebook themselves as they created story after story full of imaginative heroes, villains, and situations for Spidey to interact with.
3. Another one of Ditko’s most memorable creations was the character of Doctor Strange.
While Jack Kirby was breaking new ground in space and science fiction with the Fantastic Four and Thor, Ditko created Stephen Strange and took the readers down a surreal rabbit hole of nightmarish and psychedelic imagery and mind-bending scenarios and stories.
With the recent Marvel films bringing Doctor Strange to life with the handsome face and acting chops of Benedict Cumberbatch, the character has also gained a resurgence in popularity.
4. While he did most of his work for Marvel, he would eventually leave Marvel over a dispute with Stan Lee. He went on to work for their rival company, DC Comics.
There, he wrote several books and was most notable for creating two characters, Hawk and Dove, who are set to appear in the upcoming live action TV show based on the Teen Titans.
5. Ditko returned to Marvel in the 1970’s and continued working for them as a freelancer in the 1990’s.
One of his last creations for Marvel was the fan favorite character known as Squirrel Girl. She started as a joke character but has since developed a devoted following and is known as the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
Since the 70’s, Ditko was something of a recluse, rejecting almost every interview and declining to speak on the record. He didn’t even take part in the publicity that came with the Spider-Man movies and the Doctor Strange movie, hence why more casual movie fans may not have heard of him.
Regardless, his passing was felt deeply by the comic book community and other creatives who were inspired by the medium while growing up.
Writer Neil Gaiman made a touching Twitter post showing respect to Steve Ditko and his work.
Steve Ditko was true to his own ideals. He saw things his own way, and he gave us ways of seeing that were unique. Often copied. Never equalled. I know I’m a different person because he was in the world. pic.twitter.com/2GFSA86Btj
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) July 7, 2018
The filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro also posted his own tribute. His post included one of the most iconic Spider-Man scenes from the comics.
Peak Ditko- pic.twitter.com/jaDAUXgyQd
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) July 7, 2018
Ditko had a studio in Manhattan up until his death and how much unpublished material remains is currently unknown.
He is also not believed to have any known survivors and is believed to have never married.
Rest in peace, Mr. Ditko. Thank you for all your work and for the countless stories you inspired.
Header Image Source: CBR