Robin Snyder with titles like THE HERO, THE MOCKER, DITKO PRESENTS, OH NO! AGAIN DITKO, and sometimes with just a succession of numbers, #25, #26, #27. Just a few days ago, on July 4th, the latest Ditko/Snyder fundraiser on Kickstarter ended having doubled its stated goal.
As Steve Bissette has noted on Facebook, regardless of this success, the public support of this material has actually been minimal considering how many people are now reminiscing with such reverence about Ditko's work and its impact. I understand these outpourings, and I don't doubt their sincerity. Ditko's work coincided with the pre-teen and teen years of the post-war generation, the Baby Boomers, and he and Jack Kirby largely carried the weight of Marvel Comics during its heyday years. For those of us who received that work when it was new, we were young and our mental chemistry was at its most vibrant and receptive, and it was being felt by a lot of people our own age simultaneously, so that if you met someone who knew Ditko's name, that was it: you became friends. Now that we're all a bit older, in our sixties a lot of us, we may still avail ourselves of the new material as well as the wealth of handsomely repackaged vintage work, but I don't find myself discussing it with anyone - certainly not in the depth of the old days. I think what largely constitutes the impact of this work is not only what it is or was, but how we shared it, how it enriched our lives.
|A one-shot, but a great moment in comics.|
Ditko was also essential to my education in cinema. His best work is not only proudly cinematic, it can be like a highly concentrated form of cinema in which all the variation that goes into the building of a sequence must be invested in a single frame. When I look at his work, I can intuit some of the questions he likely asked himself as he began building up those images, like: What is most essential about this facet of story? What do I most want this moment to express? What is the psychological truth of this moment? What am I not seeing that I am feeling, and how can I make that phantom feeling visual? I believe, without a doubt, that when Ditko's work most meaningfully came into my life with THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #13 - the first Mysterio story - the path was paved not only for my interest in Ditko (and thus comic book art itself) but for the work I discovered later by Mario Bava, whose films evoked a similar atmosphere of horror and mystery.
|Original Ditko art for CREEPY #12's "Blood of the Werewolf."|
Much has been written about Ditko's influence by the works of Ayn Rand, and how he lived a hermit's existence - because it's just about all the general world seemed to "know" about him. He always preferred to let his work speak for him. I know that the second point has been highly overrated; he was not a self-publicist, he didn't care about fame or fortune, but I know he got around, met people (I know several people who met or had brief encounters with him), and I have good reason to think he probably answered every letter he received from those people who took the trouble to look up his address and reach out. I mean, handwritten letters, stamped at his own expense. This is a civil and generous discipline that exists among very few people today. What I find especially remarkable, from evidence I've seen on eBay and elsewhere, is that he would sometimes write at length to a stranger to explain why his answer to their request had to be "No." On eBay at this moment (and think of this when you reach the end of this paragraph) is a Ditko letter of reply stating that he doesn't sign index cards, and pointing out that the person requesting such did not include a blank index card with their request! However, think about what that individual received - a personal explanation, returned at Ditko's own expense of time and materials, and signed twice, as was his custom - his signature underlined by his hand-printed name, as if his hand-printing had been typewritten. In essence, he was telling this correspondent, "No, I don't deal in the impersonal, but here is a reply you can take personally."
|This is how you draw a sock in the gut.|
From my heart - thank you, Steve Ditko.
More than most of the artists I've chosen as my masters, you made me who I am.
(c) 2018 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.