On this day in comics history in 1927, artist Steve Ditko was born. Craig has said of Ditko, “The master, Steve Ditko, his name thrills me as his concepts and art certainly do.” Although he has shunned interviews and public appearances for more than four decades, Ditko is not a recluse and is well known for being nice to industry professionals and fans alike–even fans like the UK’s Jonathan Ross who, with Neil Gaiman in tow, essentially invaded his offices (off camera) as part of a BBC documentary entitled IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO a couple years back.
Probably the most principled man in comics history, Steve Ditko has long been and remains at age 82 a controversial figure for his unbridled embracing of Randian philosophy, his seemingly odd choices in his comics work (years of working for low-paying Charlton when the bigger publishers would have made him rich, leaving SPIDER-MAN and refusing to ever draw the character again, etc.), his eccentric self-published titles, his lack of visibility and seeming lack of caring in most cases and the very fact that only a handful of photographs of him have ever surfaced, the most recent I believe, being 50 years old now!
Freely credited by Stan Lee (as well as director Sam Raimi in the credits of all three films) as the co-creator of SPIDER-MAN, it was Ditko’s characters, concepts and inimitable sense of costume design that made the strip initially popular. He also created DOCTOR STRANGE, CAPTAIN ATOM and went on to create the 1960′s revamp of THE BLUE BEETLE, the iconic QUESTION, THE CREEPER and his own black and white (and black OR white!) character, MR. A.
Along with his no interviews policy, Ditko has long shunned any personal profiles but in 2008, author Blake Bell published a nice coffee table volume entitled STRANGER AND STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO. Although it contained more biographical info than fans had yet seen, Ditko has always said that he would prefer his work to speak for itself. Toward that end of the spectrum comes Craig’s upcoming book, THE ART OF STEVE DITKO (see http://theartofditko.com/).
One of the most recognizable stylists in the history of comic books, Steve Ditko’s art and writing can be a polarizing force but one can’t deny its importance. Seen here is an ultra-rare fan commissioned drawing (part of a much larger, multi-artist piece) of THE BLUE BEETLE done in either the late 1970′s or the early 1980′s and marking one of the ONLY known times Steve Ditko ever revisited one of his classic characters.