As a youngster, his art didn't appeal to me. But happily I grew out of that! A masterful storyteller on Spider-Man, and luckily for readers, he let his imagination soar on Dr. Strange. He was announced as the permanent artist on Iron Man with Suspense 48 iirc, but only stayed for three issues. What could have been! I also enjoyed his brief turns on the Hulk - #6 of the original series, and Astonish #60-67. Haven't read much of his other work though, but someday.
He had a working relationship with at least one writer whose name I can't recall. He had published some books about Ditko's work. Since he apparently had no descendents, maybe his unpublished work will surface through that guy.
As for his world view, I don't agree with it, but since he never hurt a hair on anybody's head I have no problem with him.
Ditko published many B&W collections of his work with Robin Snyder. Some of them were short volumes with new contents.
I recall seeing reprints of Ditko's early Marvel work circa 1974, when I was about 12, and it didn't appeal to me at all -- too different from typical Marvel artwork of the mid-70s. Later on, however, I grew to appreciate his art, especially in those classic Spider-Man and Dr. Strange stories. I profoundly disagree with his objectivist/Randian outlook, but he produced some of the best comics stories ever and was one of the creative giants of the comics industry.
Given his age, Ditko's death certainly can't be classified as shocking or unexpected. As to his intense privacy, to the point that the most recent known pictures of him are from more than 50 years ago, I can respect that. Still, I can't help but wonder about his private life. He never married (admittedly, I'm now 56 and never married myself and I doubt I ever will be, however much longer I live) and apparently never had any serious romantic relationships with anyone -- or if he did, it's a closely guarded secret. During his last year on Spider-Man, when he was doing the plotting, Ditko depicted Peter Parker as either purposely or inadvertently pushing any woman who was interested in him, mainly Betty Brant and Gwen Stacy, away, and trying to avoid even meeting Mary Jane Watson. That all changed once John Romita took over on art and Lee became more involved in the plotting again as the once overly reclusive Peter started becoming far more social than he had been under Ditko. How much of that was a reflection of Ditko's own life, intentionally or not? We can only speculate.
Since he had a way of holding grudges, being hurt at an early age might have soured him on relationships in general. We'll never know.
Possibly, although I suspect it was more something in his personality that while he could be very friendly and had a great sense of humor, he was also so intensely private that maybe outside of his immediate family he was unable to have any meaningful relationship with anyone else, aside from professional relationships. A bit like Peter Parker being so focused on Aunt May's health that he alienates his peers during his first week in college while also feeling that he must dedicate his life to fighting crime as Spider-Man even though it destroys his budding romance with Betty Brant. But then, in his last Dr. Strange stories, the mage becomes ever more entranced with Clea, having only learned her name in that last story but uncertain whether he'll ever meet her again.
Also of note, Ditko's tenure on Spider-Man showed Peter Parker's development from a callow adolescent into a young adult, from high school sophomore to college freshman, his test of maturity coming in issue #33, after which Ditko seems to have lost much of his previous evident inspiration on the title for his remaining 5 issue. Dr. Strange starts out as the mature superhero in his first appearance, but still a relative novice, dependent on the Ancient One to get him out of trouble time and again, but by the end of Ditko's run, Dr. Strange has also developed into a much more self-reliant character, having overcome several extreme challenges entirely on his own. It's evident to me that Ditko's last Dr. Strange story was a rush job, meant to bring a conclusion to his run on his own self-imposed deadline but not the full story he may have originally intended to tell. Still, it also seems clear that during his run on the titles he came up with artistic story goals for both series, and having competed them to his satisfaction, and recognizing that he could not retain full control over either character, he decided to leave them with his particular take on them still intact and never return to them as by the time he had the opportunity to do so, Spider-Man and Dr. Strange had evolved, under Lee and other chroniclers, into very different characters. Ditko could go back to the Hulk and Iron Man because although he had some significant input in those characters' early development, he hadn't been involved in their creation and character development from the get-go and they were, hence, less personal for him than Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. At least that's my speculative musing, for whatever it's worth. And note the uproar among fans when Kirby returned to Captain America in 1976 and pretty much ignored all the character development Cap had undergone since he had drawn his last Cap story in 1969, not to mention his portrayal of the Black Panther who might as well have been an entirely different character from the one so memorably written by Don McGregor over the 3 previous years.
There are some more tributes and observations in this article:
Also, if you clicked on the original Hollywood Reporter link you should look at it again. More material has been added. Neither of these links are 100% duplicated.
Fred W. Hill said:
….his test of maturity coming in issue #33, after which Ditko seems to have lost much of his previous evident inspiration on the title....
I read somewhere that Ditko considered Spider-Man's triumph in #33 to be the culmination of his story.
Yep, when Peter Parker truly becomes an adult and should no longer be troubled by adolescent angst, at least as per Randian philosophy. Of course, Stan Lee begged to differ on that and reality is much more complex than Ayn Rand made it out to be. Talented as he was, Ditko erred in blindly accepting Rand's dogma.
Steve Ditko was long off Spider-Man and Dr. Strange when I stared reading comics in earnest, so I know of it only through reprints ... and I can't say I like it very much. I'm most familiar with, and most pleased by, his work for the various Timely/Atlas/Marvel horror titles. For my money, those one-off stories were a perfect match for his art style.
I got the word Friday night and spent a good part of the weekend reding and reviewing his work over the years. His independant stuff can be purchased from Robin Syder here.
Ditko was one of a kind in more ways than one. Even though I wasn't much of a Marvel reader in the mid-Sixties, I still couldn't resist issues of Spider-Man like #'s 28 and 29 - two of the best comic book covers I have ever seen.