Steve Ditko, the legendary co-creator of Spider-Man, has passed away, as confirmed by the NY police department. The reclusive artist, who was 90, was found dead in his apartment, and is believed to have died on June 29. THR broke the story, although rumors had been circulating for a few days.
Ditko’s Spider-Man run remains a seminal example of storytelling, but his Doctor Strange also set the standard for Marvel’s magical realm. Although a stalwart of the early Bullpen, Ditko’s falling out with Stan Lee led him to leave Marvel in the mid-60s. He appeared at numerous publishers after that, but also self-published books set in his own objectivist universe, including Mr. A. He was busy making comcis right up until the end of his life, and one can only wonder what will be found in his studio.
Ditko never gave interviews and was billed as a recluse, but his phone number was in the New York phone book and over the years, he actually quietly befriended some who sought him out who remained respectful and discrete. I’m sure some of those stories will come out in the weeks to come.
Others, including Brit chat show host Jonathan Ross (accompanied by Neil Gaiman) and Vulture’s Abraham Reisman attempted to find Ditko in his lair and make a big deal of it, but he managed to elude them, leading to an aura of unsurpassed mystery.
I actually met Ditko once when he was dropping off work at the DC office, and spotted him in the lobby another time. The guy wasn’t as unseen as the legend had it but he was intensely private.
Perhaps that’s for the best as his spectacular work spoke for him.
I often listen to this Merry Marvel Marching Society record, made at the height of the legendary Silver Age bullpen. Ditko is notably absent, but Stan, Flo, Jack and others are represented in their height. Stan’s still with us, although he couldn’t remember or wouldn’t say why he and Ditko had that falling out.
Listen and respect these creators.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.