Saturday, July 07, 2018

Steve Ditko, pioneering comics artist, dead at 90 with a few links on Ditko's objectivist convictions and how he was at odds with a few of his more traditionally liberal collaborators in the industry over the years

No Steve Ditko arguably meant no Spider-man and no Dr. Strange. 

Definitely no The Question which would have meant no Rorshach.  The irony that Alan Moore's most famous comic book story depended in crucial ways on the creations of an Objectivist whose views he would probably still scorn to this day is one of those ironies that's worthy of Moore's better writing. 

Ditko can seem like he was the photo-negative of Stan Lee.  If Lee basked in celebrity and catering to fans Ditko was thought of as a recluse and a creative hermit.  I do wonder, however, if in the age of celebrity and social media Steve Ditko can be thought of as being like another comics titan of a different strip, Bill Watterson.  I like to think of artists like Steve Ditko and Bill Watterson as not recluses but as committed to an pre-social media standard of maintaining a personal life or a private life.  The ideal, if I may venture this, is that your work is known but you are not, not beyond what you feel comfortable sharing with the public at large, to whom you owe none of the trappings and traits of celebrity.

It's striking to consider that coverage says that Ditko was a recluse. Maybe he was ... or maybe we are so saturated with celebrity as a way to define being a figure with influential work in the public sphere that if someone rejects or refuses those parameters of contributing to the public sphere we can't help but regard them as a "recluse".

By now it seems that Ditko's disagreement over Stan Lee and company's decision to make Norman Osborne the Green Goblin has some agreement.  Making Osborne the Goblin has stuck and its comics canon but when I read the comics in my younger days I felt the Green Goblin was kind of a tedious C-lister and that Norman was an interesting, conflicted character.  He seemed capable of being cold and aloof but he did seem to really love his son Harry.  The proposal noted above that Ditko may have wanted Norman to become the surrogate father figure to Parker is a theory, but the first Raimi film clearly ran with the idea that Norman offers himself as having been like a father to Peter.  The possibility of retconning a Norman Osborne who's never been the Green Goblin is clearly never, ever going to happen. 

But if it's true Ditko didn't want Norman to be the Green Goblin who he DID want the Goblin to turn out to be may never be known. 

As these things go the pinnacle of Spider-man stories for me is that initial 100 issues up to the death of Captain George Stacy.  There a plenty of reasons why the Lee/Ditko Spider-man holds up for me as classic pulp fiction but I don't wan tto bore you with all the reasosn for that.  If you're a Spider-man fan you basically already know, don't you?

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