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Spi­der-Man cocre­ator Steve Ditko passes away at 90

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To call Steve Ditko one of comics’ great­est cre­ators is an un­der­state­ment. If all (all!) he had achieved in his ca­reer was co-cre­at­ing Spi­der-Man, then he would have made an in­deli­ble mark on pop cul­ture, but he left us so much more.

Born in Penn­syl­va­nia, the young Ditko fell in love with comics and art at an early age, even­tu­ally go­ing on to study un­der Joker co-cre­ator Jerry Robin­son. He be­gan work at At­las Comics in 1956. As the com­pany evolved into Mar­vel, Ditko was al­ready a con­sis­tent favourite with read­ers and when Stan Lee needed an artist to de­sign a hero called Spi­der-Man in 1962, Ditko drew a thrillingly weird cos­tume.

While Spidey is his most fa­mous work, Doctor Strange is ar­guably Ditko’s most fas­ci­nat­ing. From his Bleecker Street home, Strange would em­bark on pandi­men­sional ad­ven­tures, full of the psy­che­delic spirit of the ’60s. Hip­pies adored Strange and as­sumed his cre­ator was like-minded – in fact, he was po­lit­i­cally con­ser­va­tive.

Ditko left Mar­vel sud­denly in cir­cum­stances that re­main mys­te­ri­ous. In the years fol­low­ing he worked for nu­mer­ous smaller pub­lish­ers be­fore mov­ing to Mar­vel’s “Dis­tin­guished Com­pe­ti­tion” in 1968. Among his many cre­ations for comics are Shade the Chang­ing Man and The Ques­tion.

Like many cre­ators, Ditko didn’t get the credit or the cash he de­served – he claimed never to have seen a cent from the Spi­der-Man films. But for su­per­hero fans, he re­mains a name ev­ery bit as im­por­tant as Lee and Kirby. WS

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