This one hit me hard. A comics industry legend. Honored to have met and spoken to him a bunch of times. Happy to have been influenced by his imagination. A true artist and auteur. Steve Ditko was a profound individual.
I often cite Jack Kirby as my greatest comic book influence. But, Steve Ditko was certainly on the Top 10 list of my favorite cartoonists. I don't have the faculty at this moment to discuss Ditko's craft and vision and how much his work affects me to this day. I'm still processing his passing. It's crystal clear how much Ditko innovated the industry and inspired so many creators.
In 2011, I was asked by then Amazing Spider-man editor, Stephen Wacker, to conjure an 8-page Spider-man story. His challenge? "What happened to the costume the night Peter Parker quit being Spider-man?" (from issue #50) I could do whatever I wanted to, just as long as the costume was returned to the garbage can in the alley by the end of the story.
Here's what I did, "Spider-man for a night," published August 22, 2012 in Amazing Spider-man #692, the 50th anniversary issue of one of the best superheroes ever created. Thank you Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
Every time I visited Steve Ditko, it was a cold call. I introduced Ditko once to my mother, and another time to a fellow cartoonist, Joe Infurnari. Ditko was nice but always hesitant. As if he was ready to shut the door if he didn't like who he saw. As my visits increased (five times total), I could tell his patience wore thin. The first time we talked, I gifted him a copy of CUBA: My Revolution. We talked about Cuba which he seemed to be interested in. I asked him if he still drew comics and he said "Everyday." His commitment to the medium energized me and I supported all of his Kickstarters. The most time we shared together was probably 20 minutes? He was initially kind but super private and easily irritated. I believe I gave him a copy of my Billy Dogma comix the second or third time we met, and I always wondered if that turned him off to me. Because our auteur work speaks for us, I wonder if he felt we had philosophical differences that drew the proverbial line. I think he had a tough time being empathetic to other points of views. Maybe that was part of the reason he was a recluse? I also wondered often about his relationship with people. Who did he confide in? Did he ever experience romance? How did that inform his work? I never asked him about that. The last time I was near his office/home, I spoke to the doorman and we shared Ditko anecdotes. They loved that Ditko resided there but everyone respected his mystery. I elected to not bother him ever again. I never corresponded with Ditko over mail but I intended to send him a copy of THE RED HOOK next week. I think he might've liked that one.