Woven webs, a red-and-blue suit, and masked wall-crawler. The world was first granted the wonderful gift that’s Spider-Man in 1962, who eventually grew to become one of the most recognisable icons in the realm of superheroes. With his appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, and the upcoming animated Miles Morales-led movie Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, it only serves as a reminder of how far everyone’s favourite webslinger has come.
And while the franchise continues to live, its co-creator, much to the sadness of the community, does not. Found on June 29 in his Manhattan apartment, Steve Ditko was pronounced dead on scene by the police, at the ripe old age of 90.
While fellow comic legend Stan Lee is arguably the more prominent of the duo, Ditko’s contributions to the Marvel universe are definitely not to be undermined, breathing life to Lee’s writing through a signature, vibrant art style that gave Spidey the essential look he still has today. Following that, he introduced the world to surgeon-turned-superhero Doctor Strange, whose popularity has surely picked up after the character’s standalone movie in 2016.
The Lee-Ditko dynamic pair didn’t last for too long, unfortunately, with the latter leaving Marvel in 1966 for undisclosed reasons, although he eventually returned in 1979, which paved the way for the creation of the wildly popular Squirrel Girl.
Marvel was quick to sing his praises – and rightly so, considering how he’s one of the greatest minds of the team. Marvel Executive Editor Nick Lowe, who also holds the title of VP of Content for Digital Publishing, expressed:
Steve Ditko hands and soul are all over the best character in all of fiction. He was a pillar of the House of Ideas who not only co-created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, but many of the best villains in comic book history. Steve was the first one to make Marvel truly weird, and for that we are forever grateful.
Lowe’s thoughts on Ditko’s artistic prowess and his impact on the community are echoed across the board, with Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski stating:
It’s impossible to put into words the impact that Steve Ditko had not just on comics, but on modern pop culture. With ink and imagination, he thrilled readers with amazing and awe-inspiring adventures. Ditko didn’t just create characters – he built worlds. But today it is our world that is saddened by his loss. While he may no longer walk this mortal plane, Steve’s legacy will continue to endlessly inspire us all.
It speaks volumes of his influence that well-known personalities outside the comics circle are leaving behind kind words as well, with filmmaker Edgar Wright, director Guillermo del Toro, and author Neil Gaiman taking to Twitter to pay tribute.
With the demise of Ditko, the Marvel fandom is bound to feel a little emptier. Thank you for your contributions and rest in peace, good sir.