Steve Ditko, 1927 – 2018
I first met Spider-Man in the early 1970s. I would have been six or seven, and our next door neighbour, who worked at a newsagent’s shop, brought home a Spider-Man comic that hadn’t sold that week and gave it to me. Considering my life long love affair with Spidey ever since, I should imagine I was smitten as soon as I saw the cover.
Back in those days, when my mother still used a mangle to squeeze water out of washed clothes and the rag and bone man on his horse drawn cart was still a regular visitor on our street, getting your hands on an American, full colour comic was only slightly less difficult than finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
What we British kids had to make do with were black and white reprints, the story lines several years behind their American counterparts.
But I loved those comics and so my father put in an order for The Amazing Spider-Man, and every Friday when I got home from school, there it was, the latest issue. And I would devour it in minutes.
At this stage in Spider-Man’s career John Romita Sr, or simply John Romita as he was known back then because John Romita Jr was still a kid and had yet to make his own mark on the world of comic book illustration, had been illustrating the Webslinger’s adventures for a couple of years. With a background in working for romance comics, Romita had at first seemed an unusual choice for a super hero book, but he soon became a fan favourite.
It was only when I started going back, looking for those adventures that I had missed, that I discovered Steve Ditko.
To be honest, at first I wasn’t that impressed.
Ditko gave Spider-Man’s action scenes a certain awkwardness in the way he posed them, whereas Romita’s drawings were much more fluid and naturalistic.
But as I worked my way through the Steve Ditko era back catalogue I gradually warmed to his illustrative style and came to appreciate it.
Ultimately I became a fan.
Since hearing the sad news about his death I have been looking through Ditko’s work again.
And I think some of his work should be hanging in art galleries.