Who Is Steve Ditko?
September 23, 2007 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Co-creator of Spider-Man, Steve Ditko is famous for weird, distinctive art, his 1966 departure from Marvel Comics, and granting very few interviews in the course of his decades-spanning career, preferring to let creations such as The Creeper, the Objectivism-inspired Mr. A, and Squirrel Girl speak for him.
Okay, Squirrel Girl not so much.
Jonathan Ross turns the spotlight on the artist in the BBC4 documentary, In Search of Steve Ditko. Did they find him? Well, that's The Question, isn't it?
posted by Alvy Ampersand (26 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Aw bugger, I forgot about those damn inline YouTube things.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:09 PM on September 23, 2007

Don't forget Shade.
posted by Artw at 1:11 PM on September 23, 2007

Damn you Alvy, I was going to do a Ditko post. But this is probably much better than mine would have been.

Also, The Question is one of my favorite comic characters. I'm still bummed DC killed him off.
posted by Rangeboy at 1:11 PM on September 23, 2007

Wikipedia Squirrel Girl entry. He had to have been high.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:22 PM on September 23, 2007

Damn you Alvy, I was going to do a Ditko post. But this is probably much better than mine would have been.

Same here, on both counts -- nice work, Alvy!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:30 PM on September 23, 2007

A parody of Squirrel Girl resulted in one of my absolute favorite moments from the The Tick cartoon:

Tick: "And what's your hero name?"
Flying Squirrel: "Oh, I'm the Flying Squirrel. I like squirrels."
(After Tick enthuses about how she probably can fly, or has a squirrel-related origin)
Flying Squirrel: "No, I just like squirrels. Oh, and my life is empty."

later on, when called upon to take out a villianous ex-KGB ice cream company mascot....

Flying Squirrel: "I... I... I like squirrels!"
(Squirrels throughout the park come running and attack the villain. The evil company CEO tries to get away.)
Flying Squirrel: "Boys..." (lined-up squirrels look to her) "... get him." (squirrels run off-camera)

CEO (from off-camera): "Augh! Get 'em off me! Get 'em off me!!"
posted by JHarris at 1:45 PM on September 23, 2007

I approve of the "AlanMoore'sBeard" tag.

I also approve of Alan Moore's beard.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:06 PM on September 23, 2007

Great post Alvy, thanks. I hadn't seen the BBC show before.
posted by doctor_negative at 6:29 PM on September 23, 2007

Thanks for the post. Ditko was one of my favorites back when I was a Marvel freak. Had stacks of his stuff: I especially loved his Dr. Strange.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:49 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Not really one of my interests, but it's a great documentary; can't beat enthusiasts talking to artists. Thanks, Alvy.
posted by Abiezer at 6:52 PM on September 23, 2007

Fantastic documentary, wonderful post.
posted by empath at 7:04 PM on September 23, 2007

god that link took me back f@m.
posted by vronsky at 7:19 PM on September 23, 2007

Great post, Alvy Ambersand!

I became conscious of Steve Ditko by early-year acquisition of Charlton's E-Man comics; Ditko had a support feature in it as a recall.

And Ditko has influence me aesthetically my whole entire life. I love the man's wacky, loopy style: So dramatically "curvy and round."

And the Question, wow!
posted by humannaire at 9:27 PM on September 23, 2007

I gotta say, from reading the posts about his departure from Marvel, it sucks that Marvel screwed him out of money and rights that he deserved, but I'm glad Stan Lee's vision of Spider-Man and the other Marvel heroes won out and not Ditko's. The moral ambiguity is what made Spider-Man so enjoyable and refreshing.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:31 PM on September 23, 2007

Whoa! I just learned that Killjoy back story in E-Man was an Ayn Rand-influenced tract for Objectivism.

It's true, then. Comic books were used to warp my thinking!

I'm going to go buy some more!
posted by humannaire at 9:34 PM on September 23, 2007

The minute I hear someone admires Rand is the same minute I lose a great deal of respect for them. Sorta like how I feel about Libertarians.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:06 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Joseph - I have been fortunate enough to have had little exposure to Objectivism, but would I be right in thinking there was a bit of an irony in him espousing those values then arguing that he as the creative worker had more right to Spiderman than Lee the ideas man?
posted by Abiezer at 11:19 PM on September 23, 2007

Not really one of my interests, but it's a great documentary; can't beat enthusiasts talking to artists.

What Abiezer said.

I remember enjoying Ditko's work as a kid, and losing interest when Spidey became all flash and muscular. And I hated Dr. Strange. By the time I was twelve or thirteen, I'd pretty much completely grown out of comics. That forced jocularity of 'Smilin' Stan Lee' struck me as being the corniest thing in the world -- particularly when I started to discover comic artists like Robert Crumb and S. Clay Wilson, who were talking about the things that really interested me -- sex and drugs.

But the passion of the people talking in this movie makes me want to take another look at it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:00 AM on September 24, 2007

Squirrel Girl's encounter with Spiderman was classic. He told her to be careful and she replied, " I don't have too...I have nuts!"

plus I grooved to Ditko's Machine Man while under influence
with Tangerine Dream on the turntable.
posted by doctorschlock at 7:35 AM on September 24, 2007

Dr. Strange is a dracula.
posted by Artw at 9:09 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

Hey! When I was a kid, Ayn Rand was (then) the shit! It was like sci-fi romance novel meets beings with superhuman abilities....

....waitaminit, like comics!

If Steve Ditko - an adult - considering himself an Objectivist [*supresses giggle*]...

no, wait, I can't supress it... BWAAA- HAAHAHAHAHAA.!

*wipes tear*

...no, really...an adult Objectivist....BWAA-HAHAHHAAAHA!

posted by humannaire at 2:34 PM on September 24, 2007

It doesn't necessarily have to ruin things... The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress still rocks despite the Rand references and huge globs of Libertarian stuff.
posted by Artw at 2:49 PM on September 24, 2007

It doesn't necessarily have to ruin things.

Exactly. For instance, it worked in the New Testament. It is my impression that John Galt and Jesus are basically the same character. And Killjoy, of course.

In fact, here's a piece contrasting Ditko and Killjoy with Jack Chick's Chick tracts.

In a word, gorm!
posted by humannaire at 7:46 PM on September 24, 2007

When I was a little comics-loving kid, my well-meaning mom one day brought me home a three-pack of Charlton comics from the local Woolworth's. They smelled awful. The pages were already yellowing. They were not that old. And one of the stories featured Killjoy. Killjoy apprehended some crooks and took them to jail, and the last page featured them literally bawling like infants as Killjoy either wagged a judgmental finger at them, or laughed, or both, I don't remember. I just remember that this comic was so fucking weird and unlike anything I'd seen before, ever, that it made me feel ill, and I think I cried, too.

Much later, I looked back on all of this and realized it meant Steve Ditko was pretty awesome, but we're talking MUCH later.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:24 PM on September 24, 2007

Same thing here to a degree, kittens for breakfast. I got the comic because E-Man was so rad/the Einstein connection, but when I read the Killjoy stuff it made me feel unhappy.

On some level I intuitively understood that Killjoy was both dogmatic and a sociopath, as well as scary in a real world kind of way.

[Of course, all this existential angst was greatly alleviated by my younger self having wisely picked up several copies of such valuable editions as X-Men Giant Size #1 and Uncanny X-Men #94 from the same place I picked up the Charlton E-Man/Killjoy stuff, a number of which went a long way towards funding my first year of college.]
posted by humannaire at 8:49 AM on September 25, 2007

« Older MTV FALL 1981-2   |   I'm 71. I've got a right to be loud, lady. I'm... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments