Saturday, 7 July 2018

Stephen ("Steve") J. Ditko 1927-2018

Steve Ditko is dead.  He was 90 years old and he lived his life the way he wanted to and was not, despite what you will be reading in the established comics media, ripped off by Stan Lee and living a poor man's life.

We are about to see days of Ditko images posted by people who want to seem hip and cool but have never heard of Ditko before.  Eulogies will be written bordering on the poetical and talking of his brush-line, the angles of lines the "majestic poetry of his work" and so on and so forth.

A few words about his "troubled personality" and world-view/politics.

Most will skirt past (if they are even aware) of the question as to whether he ripped off a Kirby department store fancy dress costume for Spider-Man.  Or whether he borrowed a lot from the movie The Raven for the look of Dr Strange.

Ebay prices on anything with Ditko's name on it are going to fact, even books or toys based on Ditko work are going to sky-rocket.

Here is the thing: Ditko is rather like Kirby in that they were seen as comic gods who were ripped off by Stan Lee -in fact Marvel Comics owners at different times should be responsible.  Ditko turned his back (allegedly) on Spider-Man movie money.  Kirby would have loved that kind of cash.

I could run off a very -VERY- long list of artists and writers who have died over the last ten years who all contributed to making the comics industry in the United States what it is today.  Creators who were the back-bone of Marvel and DC comics.  Some died poor. Very poor.  But who cares, heh? They were not Kirby or Ditko so where's the "merch" or investment value?

Comic artists and writers are, incredibly, human beings. They need to eat and pay bills like the rest of us. They might get a very brief mention when they die. Or end up in a care home. But who cares, right?

I can predict what each internet eulogy, each You Tube tribute will say.  Even the art they will show. Because these are the wannabe cool kids or blinkered fans.  I am not taking part in that falseness.

I have all my Ditko books, including his often mocked work for Charlton.  I have my Dr Strange collections.  His Spider-Man work.  My eulogy to Ditko is in my head. That first Dr. Strange story I read (in Black and white) as a youngster and how it impressed me so much that I could not wait for the next part or story.  The way he drew the Spider-Man cast. But above all, yes, Dr Strange and how it affected my outlook on comics and story-telling.

That is how each and every real Steve Ditko fan will honour the man. Because that is how we cherish our favourite writers and artists.

But let's not forget the other founding comic creators -old and sick and who would really appreciate all the attention but will not get it.

Steve Ditko is dead.

Others are still out there.

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