The world has lost a comic book legend. Steve Ditko has sadly passed away at the age of 90. He is best known for co-creating iconic characters Spider-Man and Doctor Strange alongside Stan Lee at Marvel. He was also well known for his idiosyncratic politics.
Ditko was discovered dead in his apartment on June 29th, but is believed to have passed two days before that. He is said to have died from natural causes. The artist and story teller was born in 1927, Pennsylvania, and came up as part of a prominent group of comic book creators who would change the industry throughout the 1960s. He is responsible for introducing revolutionary concepts, characters and storylines that would help shape and define what Marvel became, and his work is still prevalent today, living on in the many movies released by Disney and Marvel Studios.
Steve Ditko joined Marvel Comics in 1955, at a time when it was being called Atlas Comics. He contributed plenty of stories and artwork in a number of different genres, and he worked on titles such as "Amazing Adventures," "Strange Worlds," "Tales of Suspense" and "Tales to Astonish."
In the early 60s, Atlas became Marvel. The company's first big success came with Fantastic Four in 1962, which was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The title revitalized the comic industry. Lee and Kirby would go onto collaborate on a number of other titles. But Lee was soon tasked with creating a new teenage superhero. Kirby's attempt at making the character swing was rejected, and soon Lee was working with Ditko. Stan gave Ditko the basic premise for the character, and his name, Spider-Man. From there Steve Ditko went to work creating the rest, developing the red-and-blue Spider suit that would soon become iconic.
Ditko is also created with creating Peter Parker's web shooters, along with other elements essential to the character. Soon, Spider-Man would become one of the most popular superheroes in history. The character debuted in a comic that had already been canceled, issue 15 of "Amazing Fantasy." It hit newspaper stands and corner stores in the summer of 62. Even though "Amazing Fantasy" had been canceled, the sales for that particular comic were among the highest in Marvel history.
Seven months later Peter Parker returned in his own comic book, "The Amazing Spider-Man," a title that is still in publication to this day. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko would continue to collaborate over the years, and went onto create such popular characters as Spider-Man villains like Doctor Octopus (July 1963), the Sandman (Sept. 1963), the Lizard (Nov. 1963), Electro, and the Green Goblin (July 1964). They also created Hulk villain The Leader.
The pair would go onto create another iconic hero in 1963 with Doctor Strange. The character helped define Ditko's visually striking and weird style, and it was the perfect match for the burgeoning counterculture of the time. Though they found success with their characters, Ditko and Lee were often at each others throats, arguing over creative decisions.
Ditko always felt he wasn't given enough credit or compensation for his work. Before the end of the 60s, Lee and Ditko were no longer on speaking terms. Ditko would walk away from Marvel Comics in 1966. From there he headed to Charlton Comics, where the pay wasn't as good, but there was a lot more creative freedom. There, he created other longstanding and still iconic characters that include The Question and Captain Atom,
During this time, Ditko used his work to express his political views. He supported objectivism, the conservative philosophical system devised by Ayn Rand. Ditko's new characters would express beliefs that fell in line with the belief system. This was most apparent in his creation Mr. A, a noir-influenced superhero. In 1968, Ditko would go to work for DC Comics for a short time, before returning to Charlton. He would stay there until the mid-70s, bouncing back to DC a few years later.
In 1979, Ditko found himself back at Marvel Comics. He would contribute to a variety of titles throughout the 80s. He then freelanced for Marvel in the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, also contributing work to Eclipse Comics and Dark Horse.
Steven Ditko didn't often speak about the success Marvel found with his more popular characters. He rarely granted interviews. But he did make a startling comment in 2012, remarking that he had made zero money from the success of Sony's Spider-Man movies.
Ditko was inducted into Jack Kirby's Hall of Fame in 1990. He was then inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 1994. The comic book legend is said to have no known survivors. There are no records that he was ever married, and he had no children.