Steve Ditko, born Stephen J. Ditko in 1927 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is one of the most famous comic book artists in history. He has worked in comics since the early 1950s, and brought forth such diverse characters such as Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. In 1950 he came to New York to study at the Cartoonist and Illustrators School. Among his influences are Mort Meskin, Jerry Robinson, Burne Hogarth and Jack Kirby. Ditko began publishing in 1953. Among his earliest works are horror stories for Farrel, Prize, St. John and Charlton Comics. He continued to work for Charlton until the company's demise in 1986.
Dr Strange (1965)
In 1956, he started drawing horror and supernatural stories for Stan Lee's Atlas line, which later became the Marvel Comics Group. His work was featured in the comics Amazing Adventures, Journey into Mystery and Tales of Suspense. Ditko got his first major superhero assignment in 1962 by co-creating 'Spider-Man' with Stan Lee in Amazing Fantasy. In 1963, Ditko and Lee cooperated on the creation of another famous character in the Marvel Universe, 'Doctor Strange', whose first stories were printed in Strange Tales. During his stay at Marvel, Ditko also succeeded Jack Kirby on 'The Hulk'. After a disagreement with Lee, Ditko left the company in 1966.
Ditko subsequently began collaborations with Dell ('Nukla') and Tower ('Dynamo', 'Norman'), but his main employer was Charlton, where he revived two old superheroes, 'Blue Beetle' and 'Captain Atom', from 1966 to 1968. He also created his own title, 'The Question', two more philosophical titles, inspired by Ayn Rand's Objectivism and the writings of Aristotle. Ditko was also present in Wally Wood's Witzend magazine, in which he created 'Mr. A'. As one of Ditko's more personal projects, 'Mr. A and Avenging World' displayed his political sentiments vividly, but had little commercial appeal.
In 1968, Ditko began a short cooperation with DC Comics. He created 'The Creeper' and co-created 'The Hawk and the Dove', in which he explored various ethical issues. He illustrated horror stories for Warren in the second half of the 1960s, and then continued to work in this genre at Charlton during the 1970s. He also returned to DC to create among others 'Shade the Changing Man' and 'Stalker'. 'Shade' was later successfully revived in DC's Vertigo line, without Ditko's involvment. Back at Marvel in 1979, he succeeded Jack Kirby on 'Machine Man' and also took over 'Rom'. He also created 'Captain Universe' with Bill Mantlo and cooperated on the comic book 'The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones'. In addition, he cooperated on the plotting of 'The Fly' stories at Archie Comics and cooperated with Renegade Press.
The Curse of Husfat! (Ghostly Tales #56, 1966)
From 1988, he was present in Speedball. A year later, he cooperated with his former editor Robin Snyder on a series of reprints of his older work, for which he also produced some new material. With Jim Shooter, he worked with characters like 'Magnus Robot Fighter', 'Solar', 'X-O Manowar' and 'Shadowman', until Ditko and Shooter founded their own Defiant label in 1993. Under this imprint, they created among others 'Dark Dominion'. That same year, Ditko contributed to Jack Kirby's Secret City Saga. In 1995, he cooperated on the Marvel mini-series 'Phantom 2040', and two years later, he made 'Strange Avenging Tales', which was published by Fantagraphics.
Ditko retired from mainstream comics in 1998, although he continued to work for Marvel and DC on classic characters like 'Sub-Mariner' and licensed properties like 'Mighty Morphin Power Rangers'. Ditko's further work in the 2000s included new collaborations with independent publisher Robin Snyder, publishing older material like 'Static', 'The Missing Man' and 'The Mocker'. Ditko and Snyder released 'The Avenging Mind' in 2008, containing several pages of new artwork.
Out of the Depth (Haunted 14, 1957)