Robot 6

Steve Ditko writes essays about Spider-Man’s creation

After retiring from mainstream comics in 1998, legendary comics creator Steve Ditko has been a hard man to find. Admittedly, he wasn’t much easier to find before his announced retirement. Since very early on in his career, Ditko has been at odds with the celebrity nature that his work has earned with fans and fellow creators — avoiding the spotlight, refusing interviews and distancing himself from the community nature of the comics industry. In a way, Ditko has become comics’ equivalent of J.D. Salinger, rarely releasing new work and eschewing the modern notion that creators engage with fans and press. Stan Lee, he’s not.

So the news coming out that Ditko has written several essays about Spider-Man in various independent publications is something eye-opening for fans, be they casual admirers or the ardent devotees like U.K. television personality Jonathan Ross, who tracked down Ditko for a 2007 documentary (he declined to be interviewed or photographed). Earlier this year, Ditko published an essay called “The Knowers & The Barkers” in his comic book #17: Seventeen, and a second just popped up in the comic fanzine The Comics Vol. 23 No. 7, published by Robin Snyder, Ditko’s former editor at Charlton and Archie. This second essay, “The Silent Sel-Deceivers,” reportedly runs a page and a half and features Ditko addressing the creation of Spider-Man.

In this essay, he discusses the original take on Spider-Man by Jack Kirby before Ditko was asked to come up with his own interpretation of Lee’s idea for a spider-based hero. These pages, which Ditko says number five in total, have never been published or seen on the original art market. Lee, in a 2000 interview for Greg Theakston’s The Steve Ditko Reader, said he rejected Kirby’s work as “too heroic.” On several occasions, Kirby later claimed he contributed many ideas that ended up in the character’s formal debut in 1962′s Amazing Fantasy #15. Ditko talks about that in this essay, as well as Lee’s own contributions to the Spider-Man concept.

Details on ordering the books containing these essays, and seeing Ditko’s modern cartooning work, can be found at the Ditko Comics Blog.

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Comments

18 Comments

Uh, OLD NEWS.

Ditko has been writing these essays on the creation of Spider-Man, Stan Lee’s involvement, Jack Kirby’s involvement for SEVERAL YEARS.

But something that Ditko has been railing against (again for YEARS) is the fans who ignore what Ditko has said several times to fan over the pronouncements of people like Stan Lee.

BTW, the essays I refer to not only has been appearing in his new series of comic books published by Robin Snyder, but also in the fanzine “The Comics” also published by Snyder.

I really want to read these essays.

That’s true MB, but let’s not act as if the publications Ditko has expressed himself in are widespread in their release, or easy to get a copy of if you even do happen to be aware of their existence.

re: Jason. Actually, both The Comics and Ditko’s current books tend to be available through Robin Snyder (they tend to be mentioned on the Ditko blog). Those are relatively easy to get.

Old news to you guys, news to me and I’ve been reading comics since 1970.. I’m a huge fan of Ditko’s work up to the 70s then I lose interest.

You know, all this info about Ditko in a self-imposed “exile” made me think of the film “Finding Forrester. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finding_Forrester) If only someone would rekindle something within Ditko. Nobody needs to be J.D. Salinger, yet at the same time, nobody needs to be Stan Lee. Why can’t he see that?

Victorian Squid

December 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I have #17, The Knowers and the Barkers is basically a warning to people who think they know what really happened but weren’t there. Basically if you summed it up it would be “listen, if you weren’t there then you don’t know what you’re talking about”. It’s only a half page, the second essay is more to the point and longer.

Steve Bissette talked about and listed some essential Ditko essays at http://srbissette.com/?p=1927

“The Knowers & The Barkers” …
He’s still an Ayn Rand fanboy, is he?

“rarely releasing new work”

Ditko has co-published almost 30 books since 1998 (see http://www.ditko-fever.com/robinsnyder.html), which include over 900 pages of original comics and illustration and reprints of much of his prior creator-owned work. How is that “rarely releasing new work”? I can’t think of very many artists in that age group who have been even half that prolific, other than perhaps Joe Kubert.

Sirkowski- yeah, that’s one reason I have a feeling he’s kinda full of shit sometimes.

Chris, I think it’s great that you’re writing about this. But I have to echo the sentiments expressed by MB and Sam. Ditko has not only been writing these essays for many years, but he’s also been producing tons of comics over the past decade. His modern work is fantastic and bizarre, totally worth checking out. And for those interested in his essays, I think The Avenging Mind is probably his definitive collection on the subjects of Spider-Man, Stan Lee, and modern comics creation.

I need someone to explain to me the allure of Ditko’s work. I kinda get the Spider-Man stuff, but after that? His artwork, to me, seems very “rushed.” If I didn’t know he was a professional, there is no way I could determine that, by looking at his art. Sometimes the label of “highly stylized” is just an excuse for “poorly drawn.” His latest “work” seems like the rantings of someone who has lost touch with reality. I admit it, I don’t get it…maybe he’s just too brilliant for me.

After he left I feel Ditko still produced three years of great stuff for warren, charlton and dc, and from 1969 to the end of 1978,still managed to do good takes on the creeper,demon,at dc.His return at the end of 1979,to marvel was a great disipointment.Only again doing spidy would have revived his career.He needed the character far more then the character needed him.

He absolutely is one of the greatest artists of all time but If his work on The Question is any indication of how he shoehorns his politics into his work I’m kinda glad he never got the full reigns of Spidey.

DITKO = GENIUS.
Hey Buzz–

Try to draw a human figure.

Now, try to draw it in perspective, in an interesting pose, from a unique angle, and make it look “spidery.” Now cover it with tiny web lines, all in perspective to match and accentuate the figure.

Yours looks like a squished bug.

Ditko’s looks amazing.

Appeal explained.

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