I never had an opportunity to meet Steve Ditko. His art and ideas in Spider-man were unique to me in the young early days of becoming acquainted with comics. The reality of his enormous creative talent and relentless ideals remained, however, elusive to me until some time after I’d traversed the first few years of my comics career.
Ditko’s ideological foundation, Rand Objectivism, filtered through the human condition, will always have a subjective tint to its ethical stance. It quickly became a political player, yet failed to satisfy a preferred outcome in the face of what also might be a subjective concern: What happens when free-market capitalism becomes commandeered by the powerful elite, through lobbies and political manipulations, conspiring to economically enslave the working masses?.
Still, cerebral mavericks such as Ditko hold an allure that’s often more powerful than that of their ideologies. The very act of defying not only a blatantly unfair system, but also the elite players who support and prop it up, projects a greater sense of a courageous independent spirit, than the often predictable voices of a conformist majority.
After the initial jolt from hearing of his passing had passed, I remembered somewhat of a common thread between us, beyond my admiration for his emotional storytelling and rejection of the merchandising of comics creators as a commodity.
Charlton Comics’ Captain Atom was Steve Ditko’s very first superhero creation in the early 1960’s – after his celebrated work in horror and mystery genres in the 1950’s. I was fortunate to contribute something small to this character in the early 90’s DC iteration: Armageddon: Alien Agenda #2, where our professional paths had crossed in the periodicals.
The comics industry’s reaction to Steve Ditko’s departure is a resounding letter of love, admiration and respect for the creator who wouldn’t be contained within the procedural and ideological limitations, that many of his peers accepted as an unchangeable reality they needed to maneuver within.
Have peace and Godspeed, Steve. Thank you for creating like a wizard and standing tall like a man.