Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko dies at 90


Steve Ditko, the artiste who cocreated Spiderman and Doctor Strange with comic book legend Stan Lee, has died. He was 90.

Ditko was found dead in his apartment on June 29 and it is believed he died about two days earlier. The New York Police Department confirmed his death to The Hollywood Reporter. No cause of death was announced.

Ditko was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on November 2, 1927. His father worked at a steel mill and his mother was a homemaker. He took to comics thanks to his father, who loved Prince Valiant, and from Batman and the Spirit, which both debuted as he entered his teens. After graduating high school, Ditko served in the Army in post-war Germany, drawing for a military paper. After being discharged, he moved to New York City in 1950 and studied under Batman artiste Jerry Robinson at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School (later the School of Visual Arts).

By 1953, Ditko started getting work as a professional comics artist, including at the studio of Captain America creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

In the year 1961, Lee, who was the editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics, gave Ditko the assignment to work on Spider-Man after heun satisfied with Jack Kirby's take on the idea of a teen superhero (hidden identity Peter Parker) with spider powers. Ditko is credited with creating the look of the superhero - the costume, the web-shooters, the red and blue design.

Spider-Man first appeared in Amazing Fantasy No 15. The comic was an unexpected hit, and the character was spun off into The Amazing Spider-Man. Ditko was also instrumental in etching out Spider-Man antagonists such as Doctor Octopus, Sandman, the Lizard and Green Goblin.

The artiste received a plot credit in addition to his artist credit in issue No 25 and his run ended with issue No 38.

Two years later, Ditko gave birth to the surreal and psychedelic hero, Doctor Strange. The character, whose real name was Dr Stephen Strange, debuted in Strange Tales No 110, and Ditko continued on the comic through issue No 146, cover dated July 1966.

Post that, Ditko left Marvel over a fight with Lee, the causes of which have always remained murky. The pair had not been on speaking terms for several years. Ditko never explained his side, and Lee claimed not to really know what motivated Ditko's exit.

He then went on to Marvel's arch-rival DC Comics in Charlton and other small independent publishers.

Ditko, however, returned to Marvel in 1979, where he worked on Machine Man and the Micronauts, and he continued working for them as a freelancer in the 1990s. Among his last creations was Squirrel Girl in 1992, who has become a cult favourite in recent years. After his work at Marvel, Ditko is probably best known for creating Mr A, character which embodied Ayn Rand's objectivist philosophy, in 1967.

Ditko maintained a Manhattan studio until his death, where he continued to write and draw, though how much, and what unpublished material remains, is unknown. "Doctor Strange" director Scott Derrickson, director Guillermo Del Toro, author Neil Gaiman and filmmaker Edgar Wright paid tributes to Ditko on Twitter.

Derrickson wrote, "Goodbye Steve Ditko." Del Toro tweeted, "Peak Ditko." Gaiman wrote, "Steve Ditko was true to his own ideals. He saw things his own way, and he gave us ways of seeing that were unique. Often copied. Never equalled. I know I'm a different person because he was in the world." Wright tweeted, "RIP to comic book legend Steve Ditko, beyond influential on countless planes of existence. He never truly profited from his comic creations that have lasted for decades, but his work will never be forgotten."

Ditko has no known survivors. He is believed never to have married.

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