Monday, November 2, 2009

Dia de los DITKO! A comic book master turns 82....

Hot on the heels of my girlfriend's big birthday over the weekend, I'd like to pay tribute to today's birthday for the one and only STEVE DITKO.

Ditko, of course, is the artist behind The Amazing Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and so many of his own brilliant, independently conceived creations such as The Mocker, Static, and, for various comic-book companies, books such as Beware the Creeper, Hawk & Dove and The Missing Man. He even refined the character Iron Man, coming up with his modern red and gold armor.

Ditko turns 82 today and is still going strong in NYC, producing new work recently on an almost monthly schedule. Quite a return for this icon, one of my all time favorite cartoonists, to the scene, after some years of intermittent work.

Ditko has been on the forefront of many a journalist's mind as the subject of Blake Bell's excellent art book/biography, "Stranger and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko," and the BBC news documentary, "In Search of Steve Ditko."

Happy birthday, Steve Ditko! Don't quit cartooning now, you're on a roll!


Javier Hernandez said...

Hi Mikey! I'm responding to your comment on my Ditko Birthday post with a comment on your Ditko Birthday post!!

I thought using the Missing Man pic would be a nice little wink to the hard-to-photograph/interview Mr. Ditko!

Your 'Dia de El Ditko' comments were nice to read this fine day. (Wonder if Sturdy Steve read these on his Blackberry this morning as he went out to buy his morning coffee??).

Ditko is such a beacon for all of us that want to keep creating our own characters and make comic books we can stand proudly behind. I sincerely doubt we're ever gonna have Witchblade Anniversary posts on our blogs, or annual remembrances of The Day Bane Broke Batman's Back...(or any other goofy stunts and squids), but let's always tip our hats to the artists who give it their all and do things their own way!



Greenblatt the Great! said...

Javy, I think SD does read our blogposts, but he calls his gadget a "crackberry" because he's so addicted to it, he can't put it down!

No, I feel the same way you do about Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. These guys are inspirations because they are their own men.

Look, they came on this planet to create art on their terms and not try to emulate what others around them were doing. They do comics because they love comics and not as thinly veiled storyboard pitches to the movie studios (a mainstream trend that gained currency in the 2000s). If Ditko and Kirby represent one lesson, it's to create your own individual style, visual vocabulary and universe of characters (defiantly so!) and contribute something unique to the comic book world. Have passion and be unique, they seem to say through their work.

Maybe that's why we're kind of digging Jason these days. I'm not going to put this guy on the same plane as Kirby and Ditko, who have lived longer and have had more diverse careers. One can haggle and say he's kind of a one-trick pony or he's a stylist or he's borrowing heavily from a certain European aesthetic. But right now, the guy is on his own trip, building a body of work that is uniquely his own.

There is nothing more pathetic, in my opinion, than an artist to actively apes something else that is already out there. I don't mean influences, everyone has 'em. I mean really tries to copy a style--even if it's in homage to Ditko or Kirby. It's hard to respect such an artist, no matter how good his taste in comics.

And I can't even imagine anyone trying to make an entire career of doing that. And yet, as you know, brudda, those types are out there, copying styles and concepts. I can name a handful but I'm a gentleman and that wouldn't be ladylike!

What's great about Sturdy Steve, Javy, is that he's actually not a Missing Man -- not work-wise, that is! He's been chugging away all along, producing work on his terms....since Oct. 2008, as you noted, seemingly more than a long time....and if you squint, you can see him.