Steve Ditko’s Legacy: From Superheroes to Moral Heroes - The Objective Standard

Steve Ditko, the comic book artist and storyteller who inspired millions with his illustrations of, among others, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, The Question, and Mr. A., passed away on June 29, 2018. He was ninety years old. Although his work covered the gamut of genres—crime, horror, science fiction, mystery, war, westerns, romance, and humor—the greatest values of his corpus are his depictions of morally consistent heroes.

Ditko’s easy-to-follow, exciting stories drew me in as a child, as they did so many. Integrated into his stories were moral lessons that appealed to me during my teens, as I strove to become my own person. These are what gave his characters and stories staying power. Ditko’s artistic prowess and philosophic vision continue to inspire me today.

Ditko was an intensely private person who let his work do his speaking. As he put it, “I never talk about myself. My work is me. I do my best, and if I like it, I hope somebody else likes it, too.”1 But his life is worth examining, because he modeled the values that animated his characters. . . .

Endnotes

1. Steve Ditko, The Ditko Collection, vol. 1, edited by Robin Snyder (Thousand Oaks, CA: Fantagraphics Books, 1985), i.

2. Blake Bell, Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko (Seattle: Fantagraphics Books), 14–15.

3. I am grateful to Robin Snyder for feedback on an earlier version of this article. See also “Steve Ditko, Recently,” YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slODEjBZkEU.

4. Bell, Strange and Stranger, 66.

5. Bell, Strange and Stranger, 110–11.

6. “Steve Ditko Speaks,” YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8Y2-j2pMVk.

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