Search For Treasures

Monday, June 9, 2008

Steve Ditko

Today's post is about a man who I consider to be among the greatest artists of all time, especially among the world of comic books. His work is high up there on one of my greatest influences. Of course, I am referring to the great Steve Ditko. Below is one of the few known existing photographs of the man. He is an intensely private man, refusing to give an official interview since 1966.

One reason he says he doesn't give interviews is because he "wants the work to speak for itself". Among his vast work from the 1950's onward consists of soem of the wildest and most imaginitive characters known to comics, including:

The Question

The Hawk and the Dove

The Creeper

Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts

And of course, everyone's favorite wall-crawler

One of the reasons I love his work so much is because his work has a lot of expressionism. The way he draws his characters makes them seem alive, but he does it in a different way than the way Kirby does it. Kirby does a lot of dramatic posing with his characters, done in a very overly dramatized manner. Ditko brings his characters to life through use of camera angles, moody atmosphere, and wonderful facial expressions. I think it would behoove every comic book artist working today to study his work and learn from him.

One of the things I've always noticed about Ditko's work, especially during his run on Spiderman, was that everybody looked incredibly anxious, often looking like they're just about to have a horrible nervous breakdown. I think that actually fit the Spiderman comic, because, let's face it, a lot of those stories were very depressing. Also, I think it just fit the time period as well. Think about it, it's 1963, we just went through the Cuban Missile Crisis, but we're still living with the fear of nuclear annihilation. I think an artist who could represent those feelings would strike a chord with readers. I think all artists strive for that, striking an emotional core with a reader or viewer.

I may not agree with his politics, but damn it all if he's not one of the greatest artists and storytellers of all.

Here are a few places to find out about this great artist:

Steve Ditko's website (operated by Blake Bell)

The BBC Documentary In Search of Steve Ditko

This documentary includes interviews with comics masters such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, John Romita Sr. (his replacement on Spiderman), Marvel editor Joe Quesada, as well as the one and only... Stan "The Man" Lee. I hope you enjoy.

Until next time,

Happy Trails