Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Ditko, Steve

(1927-2018) US Comic-book artist with a strong, simple line style, noted for his pioneering creative work on several very distinctive comics characters. He did his first comics work for Black Magic Magazine (vol 4 #3 1953), then went on to draw further Horror strips for Black Magic and both strips and covers for Strange Suspense Stories (#18-#20, #22, #31-#53 1954-1957) and Fantastic Fears (#5 1954).

SD began to develop his very personal style while drawing Tales of the Mysterious Traveler (#2-#11 1956-1959) for Charlton (see The Mysterious Traveler), and soon thereafter started drawing Captain Atom in Space Adventures (#33-#40 1960). He began a brief but fruitful association with Stan Lee, drawing Spiderman (beginning in Marvel Comics's Amazing Fantasy #15 1962), in which his idiosyncratic portrayals of the paranoid, guilt-ridden Superhero brought the character phenomenal success and its own comic book, The Amazing Spiderman (1963-current). Then, in collaboration with Lee and Jack Kirby, SD created Doctor Strange (in Strange Adventures #110 1963). In 1966 he abandoned both strips when a dispute arose with Lee.

SD was then at the height of his creative powers, and produced some outstanding material for Warren Publishing's Eerie (#3-#10 1966-1967) and Creepy (#9-#16 1966-1967 and #25-#27 1969), plus work for other major companies; he revamped two moribund Charlton superhero characters – the two-toned, gadget-minded Blue Beetle (vol 2 #1-#5 1967-1968) and Captain Atom (vol 2 #78-#89 1965-1967). For the latter company he also created another superhero, The Question (Blue Beetle #1 1967). SD's original and provocative handling of this character reached an imaginative highpoint in Mysterious Suspense #1 (1968), widely considered the finest commercial comic book of the period.

SD decamped to National Periodical Publications (see DC Comics), where he created The Hawk and the Dove (Showcase #75 1968) – who continued their career in The Hawk and the Dove #1-#2 (1968) – and The Creeper (Showcase #73 1967). SD's illness was the reason for the short-livedness of these publications.

SD returned to Charlton in late 1969 to draw for their horror titles. He has, however, continued to address philosophical concepts with Mr A, which he drew for a number of limited-edition magazines including Witzend, and has published collections of his work including Mr A (graph coll 1973) and Avenging World (graph coll 1974). [RT]

Steve Ditko


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.