Steve Ditko, the legendary co-creator of Spider-Man and creator of Doctor Strange, as well as Mr. A, has died. He was 90 years old.
Ditko knew how to tell a story through comics. He knew how to speak through color and a flowing line. He had a talent and an eye for detail that has not been matched, because he was the originator – once you saw a Ditko comic, it changed you. It influenced you.
Neil Gaiman said it best: “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.”
This was even clearer with Doctor Strange, whose pages debuted in 1963. Ditko’s art was trippy, bright, vibrant, and seemed to be constantly in motion. Ditko’s artistry always kept readers guessing as the Sorcerer Supreme traversed across dimensions to outsmart villains and return peace to his own. Each page was a visual delight, and it seemed like the colors threatened to burst off the page and overrun your imagination.
Of course, most people know him through a more famous hero, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. In 1961, Ditko and Stan Lee created a mild-mannered boy who grappled with the challenges of growing up and used his superpowers of strength, heightened senses, and spiderwebs to bring common muggers and mighty villains to justice.
Spider-Man taught every child that it was possible to be young and brave in a scary world. I don’t think I need to tell you just how much we need this lesson today. That iconic blue and red suit? That was all Ditko. The Peter, Miles, Gwen, and Cindy we know today are also part of this Ditko world, even generations removed from his pencils.
I admit that it is hard to say much about the man himself, and I have not done his legacy justice with brief words. A deeply private man, Ditko did not give many interviews and had been rarely seen in the public eye the past few decades. In the 1960s, Ditko left Marvel during a notorious dispute with Lee. He never stopped drawing but he also rarely got enough credit for his work at Marvel. Over the years, however, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe roared to life many writers took the time to add his name to the pantheon of greats and bring attention to his contributions to the medium and to Marvel. Lee may have been the face of Marvel, but Ditko was its beating heart during a formative time. However he may have felt about his history with Marvel and Lee, or how his works have burst onto the silver screen, his legacy is undeniable and undeniably personal to millions of writers, artists, and readers. He will be missed.