Steve Ditko, one of the most influential comic book artists to ever live, has passed on at age 90.

In the early 60s Ditko was hired by Stan Lee to come up with a visual take for some new character named Spider-Man. Lee had previously given the job to Jack Kirby, but Jack came back with a square-jawed muscular man that didn’t feel right at all. Spider-Man was supposed to be a new kind of hero…more human, less exaggerated, Lee explained.

Steve Ditko was the right man, adding some visual warmth to Peter Parker’s inaugural superheroics. Over the next few years Lee and Ditko fleshed out Spider-Man’s world through the Marvel Method (which involved the artist directly in the writing process by having him follow a synopsis instead of a script). It was Ditko who designed Spider-Man’s suit, a pair of tights that summed up the character so well that it’s never been revised (well, almost never, but that turned out to be an alien creature, so…technicality).

Though Lee and Ditko’s reinvention of the comics industry was a team effort, their personalities couldn’t have been further apart. While Lee loves the spotlight and soaks up as much attention as he can get, Ditko was a complete recluse. After leaving the industry he refused to take interviews or make any public appearances. He would, however, write a handwritten note to you if you were this guy.

Before Steve Ditko retreated to his New York cave, he invented the characters Doctor Strange, The Question, Mr. A and Squirrel Girl for Marvel, as well as The Creeper for DC. If the only work of Steve’s you’re familiar with is Spider-Man, you’re in for a surprise. Spidey is the most grounded art Ditko ever made; when it came to other characters, he drew some impressively trippy stuff!


Upon the news of Ditko’s passing, comic creators from all over the world expressed their gratitude on social media for his work, and his influence on their careers.