What makes a hero?
July 24, 2013 5:03 PM   Subscribe

The Avenging Page (In Excelsis Ditko) is an exhaustive essay on the recent self-published comics of legendary artist and writer Steve Ditko.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants (23 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
OK, Ditko is definitely insane, but the Boy and Girl Team of Illegal, Criminal, Violence, Traitor, Saboteur, Terrorist, Dictator is brilliance and genius! Grant Morrison could not have come up with a better name.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:11 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Looking at the recent comics in this article made me feel really uncomfortable and honestly a bit frightened, like a Ditko character was going to hunt me down for the sins of being Irrational and having Fear, Doubt, Arbitrary, Confusion, Distortion and Uncertainty.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:23 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do think it deserves the batshitinsane tag. The tboyandgirlteamofillegalcriminalviolencetraitorsaboteurtrroristdictator tag is probably asking for a bit much.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:27 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Charlemagne In Sweatpants: "like a Ditko character was going to hunt me down for the sins of being Irrational and having Fear, Doubt, Arbitrary, Confusion, Distortion and Uncertainty."

Or as I call it, "Wednesday"
posted by jquinby at 5:28 PM on July 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't have Arbitrary anymore, I took a pill for it.
posted by JHarris at 6:20 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Cool find, CiS.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:26 PM on July 24, 2013


Cue the usual suspects with their usual slander, going on about Ditko's "insanity"...many of whom can't get enough of Frank Miller's pathetic, poorly-written revenge fantasies. Put aside the fact that without him, we wouldn't have Iron Man or Spider-Man or Dr. Strange or half a dozen other characters. Beyond that sizable contribution to the medium, Ditko has been one of the most unique voices in independent, self-published comics for forty years and even if you don't like his politics, you have to respect his work ethic and his creativity. Having read most of what he's done since he left Marvel, I think it's fascinating, thought-provoking and high-minded work that aspires to the realm of ideas and not easily dismissed as the ravings of a Randroid. Anybody who bothers to actually read, say, The Avenging World, or Static or Mr. A will be well-rewarded for their effort. It's easy (and fucking lazy) to dismiss him out of hand, but those few readers who are willing to actually read his work and not rely on internet rumors to pass judgement...well, they may not love everything they see, but I think they will see enough to eventually understand that Ditko is one of the few true masters of the medium.
posted by antihostile at 6:33 PM on July 24, 2013



Cue the usual suspects with their usual slander, going on about Ditko's "insanity"...many of whom can't get enough of Frank Miller's pathetic, poorly-written revenge fantasies.


I'd disagree with that, and I think that I, like many others, also grew sick of Frank Miller a long time ago. And as the article points out, Alan Moore is one of the people who portrays Ditko, or a Ditko character (The Question as Rorschach) as 'insane'.

And in the many, many comics reproduced in this article I did get a strong feeling of insanity in their single-minded focus and doubling down on one idea. That doesn't deny that Ditko is talented - many 'insane' outsider artists are. And I'm not denying his influence on comics, or my love of his early Spider-Man or Dr. Strange comics. But I don't like current Ditko would have much sympathy for the doubtful, hesitant Peter Parker that Stan Lee wrote.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:39 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ditko is one of the few true masters of the medium.

That doesn’t exclude him from being batshitinsane, too.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:41 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


What makes a hero?

Umm. Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Isn't that what makes a hero?
posted by Twang at 8:07 PM on July 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ditko holds a place in my heart. For Dr. Strange. For Hawk and Dove. For Mr. A. But mostly for this: the one shining moment when Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, stood fast and did not yield.
posted by SPrintF at 8:20 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't be fatuous, Jeffrey.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:20 PM on July 24, 2013


I honestly thought Ditko was dead until this post. Amazing! He draws the best hands!
posted by Catblack at 8:56 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I may shift gears for a moment gentleman, Ditko versus a hurricane, who would win?

Before you answer, the name of the hurricane is Hurricane Ditko.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:28 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hunh, Joe/Jog just had a big Ditko thing on Comics Alliance; be interesting to compare the two.

I honestly thought Ditko was dead until this post

There was a BBC documentary about Ditko that aired a few years ago that was enjoyable. I made an FPP about it, though the video's since been pulled. Probably easy enough to find via other channels, though.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:34 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


the one shining moment when Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, stood fast and did not yield.

uh, what?

No one time thing for our man behind the mask. That pretty much defined his whole superhero career, that is, until I stopped reading him in the early '80s. Never, ever giving up, and paying an enormous price for doing so.

Here's a sample from the great John Romita Sr run on Amazing Spiderman. And yes, surprise surprise, he defeats Hammerhead also.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 10:42 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


What makes a hero?

8 beers and the willingness to swim from Windsor to Detroit and back.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:36 PM on July 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Seems to me that Spider-Man's superhero career is more defined by repeatedly giving up and then repenting of the decision later.
posted by baf at 12:34 AM on July 25, 2013


Alvy Ampersand, that piece is wonderful, and makes me want to order some Ditko comics, distasteful views and screeds or no. The weird and energetic is more interesting to me than the ordinary yet rational. I mean, just look at Miss Eerie!
posted by JHarris at 12:49 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Ditko's acrobatic fight scenes so much. I don't think anyone has ever bettered him at drawing Spidey fighting a crowd of bad guys. His choreography is just so clear and easy to follow with so much three-dimensional depth.
posted by straight at 12:57 AM on July 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cue the usual suspects with their usual slander, going on about Ditko's "insanity"...many of whom can't get enough of Frank Miller's pathetic, poorly-written revenge fantasies.

To be honest, I don't think many of Ditko's critics, at least where his politics are concerned a) think he's literally insane or b) are that impressed with Miller's (recent) work either. Take some body like Gary Groth, well known to both admire Ditko for his skills and work on e.g. Spider-Man and Dr Strange and be adverse to Ditko's Randian beliefs.

At this point in time, I think in general most of the critics who still take Ditko seriously as an artist are far from dismissive of his politics, as these are an inherent part of his art, repulsive though they may find them. I also think he gets a lot of admiration for his devotion to what he considers to be the right way, in an industry where whoring yourself out is often the best path to respect and riches.

(Frex, he never sought to get any money from the profit Marvel made off his creations, other than what he gotten back in the sixties. A contract is a contract, which dumb as it may seem, is certainly a principled stance for a Randian like him.)
posted by MartinWisse at 2:38 AM on July 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also for those who would like to appreciate Ditko's genius in both writing and art when his political beliefs only informed them rather than overwhelmed them, go and buy the first two Essential Spider-Man and the first Essential Dr. Strange. These are in black and white, but that works with Ditko's art, the Dr Strange especially. Don't read any of the other material in that volume though, as it will be a disappointment after Ditko. I don't think anybody else did Strange better than him.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:43 AM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, antihostile(eponironic!), but as someone who has been reading comics since not long after Ditko's original Spider-Man run, I bow to no one in either my appreciation for his seminal work in comics or "respect [for] his work ethic and his creativity"... and, yeah, he's bugfuck crazy. In fact, he's got that in common with Frank Miller, not to mention Dave Sim, in that he's still got his creative abilities fully intact, while putting them in the service of his own take on a fringe philosophy. I can admire these artists' craft while being repulsed at the ends to which they're being put.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:06 AM on July 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


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