301 Moved Permanently

301 Moved Permanently


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Co-creator of Spideman Chooses Self-Publishing

Steve Ditko could be rolling in it right now. Instead, the 85-year old co-creator of Spiderman and driving force behind Dr. Strange has become one of North America’s most prodigious and reclusive comic book self-publishers. The results are both a cautionary and inspirational tale. Steve Ditko is at once a stubborn recluse enthralled by the ideology of Ayn Rand and a man with a vision who refuses to be repressed by the mainstream.
So how did Ditko become such a polarizing figure? For the answer we have to go all the way back to 1966.
That’s the year longstanding disputes between Ditko and Stan Lee over credit and direction of Spider-Man and false promises of merchandise and television royalties from publisher Martin Goodman led to Ditko’s departure from Marvel. By that time, Ditko was already an ardent follower of Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy; a position that rejects faith, fantasy and mysticism in favour of reality and rational self-interest at all costs.
Following his exit from Marvel, Ditko attempted to introduce objectivist philosophy into mainstream comics with characters like The Creeper and Hawk and Dove (for DC Comics) and The Question (for Charlton Comics). But again editors and collaborators were attempting to soften the stories to make them more palatable to a mostly young, liberal comic-buying audience.
By 1969 Ditko made the decision that would permanently alienate him from much of the industry. He would self-publish comics as an objectivist platform and fully represent his beliefs through his art, as Rand’s philosophy demands.
To pay the bills, he continued to pencil and ink adolescent fantasy genre stories for Charlton (and later similar work for Marvel and DC) but he offered no creative input whatsoever.
He retired from mainstream comics completely in 1998 and now, with the help of his former Charlton editor Robin Snyder, he has been self-publishing at least one new work a year ever since, still working out of the same small Manhattan studio on West 51st Street. His latest works, 16 and 17, feature all- new superhero adventures based on objectivist philosophy.
In many ways, he is the comic book version of J.D. Salinger. The last time he had his picture taken, gave an interview or made a public appearance was in the late ‘60s.
What you get from Ditko is of varying quality. The sketches and dialogue are rough and frenetic, like morse code: “Needed money for gambling debts…had no choice…only way.” While his latest work doesn’t have the beautifully layered
inking of his reprinted zines from the ‘70s (including Wha…!?, Ditko’s “H”
Series, Mr. A and others), his characters all feature a trademark angst and paranoia reminiscent of Peter Parker. (Aaron Broverman)
To order Ditko’s self-published comics visit ditko.blogspot.ca/p/ditko-book-in- print.html.

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