New York tabloid finds Steve Ditko

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201207051043 New York tabloid finds Steve Ditko
Although this “quest for Seve Ditko” story calls him the JD Salinger of comics, he’s actually pretty easy to find—like many other pilgrims, the Post reporter, inspired by the release of the latest Spider-Man movie, just rang the door on his studio.

He never married, never had children. He was never particularly close to anyone with whom he worked. He has been called “impossibly uptight” by fellow comic book writer Neil Gaiman. The only thing Ditko ever seemed to care about is the Work, and to this day, even well past retirement age, he continues to turn up every weekday at his Midtown West studio and put in eight hours of drawing. Sitting alone behind a windowless steel door with a nameplate reading “S. Ditko,” the artist, who long ago left mainstream and superhero comics behind, creates strange, self-published comic books often steeped in the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand, of whom he is a devoted adherent.


The report suggests Ditko lives in a nearby hotel and includes quotes from many who have actually met him, and a portrait of the prickly, principled artist emerges. Ditko refuses, as he has for decades, to talk about his work, but allows a few comments:

Whatever the case, the artist doesn’t seem much interested in money. Although he could make thousands doing commissions for fans, he consistently refuses. Instead, he forges ahead on black-and-white, self-published books with titles like “The Avenging Mind.”

“I do those because that’s all they’ll let me do,” he tells The Post, suggesting big publishers aren’t interested in his work anymore.


Ditko’s refusal to do commissions or trade in his past for any reason makes him something of an icon for the objectivist philosophy which he lives by. You know, if you talk the talk (or untalk in Ditko’s case) you must walk the walk. And he has for all of his 84 years.

The comments on the piece include a few testimonials, like this from former Marvel editor Mort Todd:

The “just having a conversation with him is difficult,” and “impossibly uptight,” quotes speak more of those who said it than of Ditko. I’ve done lots of work with Steve and found him just the opposite. He is one that never suffers fools gladly, and fools don’t like it.

Comments

  1. I didn’t realize Mort’s glasses were objectivist reality benders, although it might explain why they’re an inch thick. Yeah, Gainan’s the fool, and Ditko’s a teddybear, totally not an OCD recluse who’s obsessed with the ranting of a greedy, vengeful science fiction writer.

  2. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Jim Shooter said on his blog that Ditko isn’t the hermit or weirdo that the comics press makes him out to be…he just means what he says when he refuses to go on camera or give interviews.

    However, anyone who wants to talk to him can just go to his office, much like Jonathan Ross and Neil Gaiman did in Ross’ documentary. He’s not exactly living in a heavily fortified compound somewhere in Montana.

  3. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Also I don’t recall where Neil Gaiman ever called Steve Ditko “impossibly uptight.”

  4. Talmidge says:

    yeah, this makes him out to be far more of a dick then I think he really is. And wasn’t there a wizard article about how Stan and Steve reconciled in the early 2000s?

  5. other than the fact that he’s a huge Ayn Rand devotee he seems nice enough.

  6. @Johnny: If Gaiman DID say that (and this is the NY Post, so grain of salt), I imagine him saying it with a grin.

  7. Chris Hero says:

    From everything I’ve read about Ditko, he sounds pretty cool. I love how he sticks to his guns about what he believes. I wish more people would at least frown over how Marvel has treated him over the years. Yes, Kirby deserves credit in the Avengers movie, but Ditko deserves credit in Spider-man.

    I don’t agree with his beliefs, but damn he sure sticks to those guns.

  8. R. Maheras says:

    Chris Hero wrote: “but damn he sure sticks to those guns.”

    While many people know Ditko grew up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, few know in his early years, he lived on Iron Street.

    I guess it’s only fitting that the “kid from Iron Street” grew up with a resolve of iron.

    If he’d let me, I’d glady write his approved biography. But I already asked, and since he said “no,” I know it’s never going to happen.

    The title of the approved biography I’ll never write? “The Kid From Iron Street,” of course.

  9. I have bags of money waiting to spend on monthly Ditko titles.

  10. Joe S. Walker says:

    The interesting question is what will come to light after Ditko dies.

  11. Comic2read says:

    I wish Ditko would attend Comicons. I’d like to have my Spider-Man #1 that Stan Lee signed also signed by him.

  12. In the current ‘The Amazing Spider-man’, Ditko got a created by credit on the same line as Stan Lee.

  13. Steve Ditko is credited at the end of the Amazing Spider-Man movie, not that the credit puts any money in his wallet.

  14. Gail Simone says:

    I like what Mort Todd. I have to admit, I would much rather Mort was right here than the current conventional take on Ditko.

    I would love to see him back drawing comics I could buy. Hell, I would love to WORK with the man…that would be amazing.

    I didn’t get his work when I was a little girl, but now I adore it.

    I’m glad we have some people like Dave Sim and Steve Ditko, they make the industry more interesting by far.

  15. Steve is from an era before when everyone is waiting desperately to be rich and famous. He is indeed putting out regular material, but since there’s nothing sexy about it nobody pays attention, which is fine. It’s not about accolades, it’s about doing what you want to do.
    If having honest to god principles is so rare these days as to be mislabled ‘uptight’, then who is really kidding who? Guilty conscience much?

  16. @Gail Throw in Norm Breyfogle, Michael Netzer, and Sandy Plunkett to your list of interesting creators, doing their own thing entirely, trends be damned.

  17. Chris Hero says:

    @Joe Field

    Wonderful! It’s great to hear that he got credited!

  18. Otistfirefly says:

    @cheese

    What do you care? What business is it of yours if he lives bu Ayn Rand? I’d be willing to bet he walks the walk and talks the talk FAR more than you ever will. Call us when you have contributed something lasting to the world like Steve Ditko has…

  19. Robert Morales says:

    What online readers will miss about this story is that the NY Post gave it THREE FULL PAGES to start off Tuesday’s entertainment section, something unthinkable until recent years.

  20. Al™ says:

    I’m hoping Ditko manages to live out his years in peace without a pile of new people pestering him. Especially with the press basically pointing out his whereabouts. Nuff said, move along, nothing going on here.

  21. @otis Is that the measure of a man? You’re not allowed to have an opinion unless you designed Spiderman’s costume? That’s a pretty high bar to set, no? According to your theory you’re not allowed to criticize me unless you’ve contributed as much as I have, care to share your bona fides? PS: who’s ‘us?’

    ‘Sticking to your guns’ or ‘walking the walk’ or what ever euphemism you want to use aren’t always things to be cheered. Being unbending is also known as being stubborn, unable to know when you’re wrong and an inability to see things from other people’s perspective. I’d rather applaud someone who was able to evolve their views to fit a situation over someone who pigeon-holes everything into their belief system.

    Ayn Rand carried a chip on her shoulder because her family was part of the old Russian aristocracy and was chased out of Russia during the Bolshevik revolution, that anger evolved into a hatred of all things communal. Objectivism isn’t anything to be proud of. It’s adolescent nut-jobbery based entirely on anger, selfishness and greed under the guise of individualism and liberty.

    Ditko is an amazing creator, I admire his talent greatly, but he went over the cliff some time ago. His self published works are beautiful, but also unreadable in their madness.

  22. Well said Cheese.

  23. Ed Brubaker says:

    Unless I’m remembering incorrectly, all the Spiderman movies (the Raimi ones, I mean) say “Spiderman created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko” in the credits.

    And wasn’t there a story that Sony offered Ditko a bunch of money for the first movie, and he turned them down? Just like he refuses to sell his Spiderman pages and instead uses them as cutting board surface. Say whatever you want about Ditko, but money isn’t his motivator, clearly.

  24. It’s too bad that the movie industry and Marvel comics don’t make Spiderman’s costume look like Steve Ditko’S work. This is why Spiderman’s popularity is dwindling because Ditko’s work is what maid Spiderman not just the writer!

  25. horatio weisfeld says:

    Joe S. Walker

    The interesting question is what will come to light after Ditko dies.

    >>

    So you think the rumors are true? .. that Steve’s really had his 100% Ditko version of ASM 38-100 hidden away all these years??

  26. Joe S. Walker says:

    I’d be surprised if Ditko ever drew Spidey between 1966 and that “who created what” page he did a few years ago. Other unpublished work and original art in his possession, who knows? But I was thinking more of biographical info and documentation. (NB that the New York Post repeats the old uses-art-for-cutting-board story, upping the ante by claiming that he uses Spider-Man pages. When Ditko’s studio knows him no more, maybe some knife-slashed sheets of Bristol board will be found there and identified – and maybe they won’t.)

  27. Didn’t Spidey make at least a brief appearance or two in the 80’s Marvel work he did? (ROM, Speedball, etc.)

  28. Gaiman did make that uptight comment. It was in the Jonathan Ross documentary. It was said, however, with some humour. So the quote is out of context. Gaiman is a Ditko fan, as was made clear in the programme.

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