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The World Reacts To The Death Of Steve Ditko

In late June 2018, the world's count of comic book legends decreased by one. Steve Ditko — the co-creator of everyone's favorite web-slinging vigilante Spider-Man and the surgeon-turned-Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange, a longtime collaborator of Marvel Comics luminary Stan Lee, and the mind behind Squirrel Girl, DC Comics' The Question, Hawk, Dove, and many more characters — passed away at the age of 90. 

According to Variety, Ditko was found dead in his Manhattan, New York apartment on June 29. The heartbreaking news of his passing didn't come to light until Friday, July 6, 2018. People around the globe have since mourned the loss of the influential figure. And there's plenty to remember Ditko for. In 1962, he crafted our friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man's whole get-up, conceiving the hero's web shooters and his red-and-blue costume after Stan Lee was dissatisfied with Jack Kirby's initial designs. (The next time we fawn over how incredible Tom Holland looks as Spidey, we should tip our hats to Ditko.) 

Ditko was also essential to the creation of Spider-Man nemeses the Green Goblin, the Lizard, Doctor Octopus, Electro, and the Sandman as well as DC Comics characters Creeper, Terror, Supreme One, the Madmen, and Proteus. 

Though Ditko parted ways with Marvel Comics in 1968 to work for DC and other publishers down the line, his impact on the industry never faded. Here's how the world reacted to the death of Ditko, the "J.D. Salinger of comics."

Scott Derrickson remembers the man who made his movie possible

Scott Derrickson, the filmmaker who directed and co-wrote the 2016 Doctor Strange film, posted a simple but poignant tribute to Steve Ditko on Twitter

"Goodbye Steve Ditko," Derrickson typed in the caption of a photo from the November 1965 issue Strange Tales #138, which depicts Doctor Strange standing amongst a sea of interconnected spheres, sparkling spirals, and colorful pathways as he beholds "the dazzling, description-defying dimension of eternity." The page from that issue was listed by Vulture as one of the 100 most influential comic book pages ever created — a worthy accolade for a man such as Steve Ditko.

In the full panel, not shown in Derrickson's tweet, since the photo was cropped to exclude dialogue bubbles and other text, Doctor Strange wonders aloud, "What inconceivable wonder awaits me now?" There probably isn't abetter message to share in light of Ditko's passing.

Edgar Wright admires Ditko's influence

Baby Driver filmmaker, The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy director, and Ant-Man co-writer Edgar Wright also shared a one-sheet of Ditko's breathtaking art alongside a touching note.

In a post on Twitter, Wright regarded Ditko as both a "comic book legend" and a major influence on many people from various different walks of life. 

"RIP to comic book legend Steve Ditko, influential on countless planes of existence. He sadly never profited from his comic creations that have lasted for decades, but his work will never be not forgotten," Wright wrote to accompany a gorgeous, baby pink-soaked panel from Strange Tales #146, in which Dormammu battles against Eternity as Doctor Strange wonders what will become of both entities.

J. Michael Straczynski's remembrance of Ditko

J. Michael Straczynski was the prolific sci-fi television writer responsible for Babylon 5, Crusade, Jeremiah, and Sense8, as well as a seasoned comic book creative who spent time writing runs on The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, Fantastic FourSuperman, Wonder Woman, and Before Watchmen. When news of Steve Ditko's passing spread, Straczynski remembered Ditko as a unique individual and an ineffable talent. 

"Just saw this. What a loss, and what an amazing, amazing artist," said Straczynski on Twitter. "His work gave me as a kid a peek into a world more surreal and beautiful and terrifying than anything I could possibly have imagined. He was truly one of a kind."

Brian Michael Bendis reflects on an important moment with Ditko

Eisner Award-winning comic book writer and artist Brian Michael Bendis has an important history with Spider-Man that could potentially rival Steve Ditko's own. He's known as the mastermind behind the Ultimate Marvel Universe that began with Ultimate Spider-Man in 2000, the man who relaunched the Avengers series with 2004's New Avengers, and as the writer of various Marvel events including Secret Wars, Secret Invasion, and Age of Ultron. Bendis took to social media to recall a life-affirming moment he shared with Ditko. 

On Twitter, Bendis recounted, "I spoke to Steve Ditko on the phone once. I've talked about it often. I got to thank him for creating Spider-Man and putting food on my table. I hope he really heard me."

Heather Antos thanks Ditko

Marvel Comics assistant editor Heather Antos, who has worked on Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, The Unbelievable Gwenpool, Deadpool Vs. Old Man Logan, and Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu, thanked Steve Ditko for all he has done for the comic book world.

"Thank you, Steve Ditko. Thank you for creating some of the greatest characters the world has ever seen," she tweeted. "Thank you for all you've done to contribute to the comics industry. You will be missed more than you know."

Jonathan Ross remembers the man he tried to find

Jonathan Ross, the English television presenter, actor, and comedian, was deeply affected by Steve Ditko's passing, as he had worked with the artist on BBC Four's Comics Britannia. As part of the series, Ross hosted a 2007 documentary titled In Search of Steve Ditko, which chronicled his efforts to track down the intensely private Ditko. (Spoiler: Ditko turned down the invitation to be interviewed or photographed for the documentary. This kind of thing happened to those seeking to interview him a lot.)

Ross shared a link to In Search of Steve Ditko on his Twitter account, opened up about the pain Ditko's passing brought him, and wrote that Ditko was the man to beat in the creative industry. 

"I am beyond sad. For me, the single greatest comic book artist and creator who ever lived, Steve Ditko, is gone," Ross said. "Thank you for your tireless brilliance and boundless imagination, Steve, you uncompromising genius."

Neil Gaiman honors Steve Ditko's honesty

English author Neil Gaiman is a legend in the comic book field, best known for penning the DC Comics series The Sandman as well as novels such as American Gods, Coraline, Good Omens, and Stardust. Gaiman shared several sentimental messages on Twitter after learning of Ditko's death. 

"I had heard rumours, hoped they were not true. Thank you Steve Ditko, for making my childhood weirder, and thank you [Jonathan Ross] for taking me with you when we went in search of Steve Ditko, and found him. A kind man, who gave me comics," wrote Gaiman. He later added, "Without Steve Ditko there would have been no Spider-Man, no Doctor Strange, no Creeper, no Hawk and Dove, none of the black and white reprint comics I read in seaside resorts as a boy. No The Question (which means no Rorschach). No Mister A. No mystery."

Gaiman then tweeted, "Steve Ditko was true to his own ideals. He saw things his own way, and he gave us ways of seeing that were unique. Often copied. Never equalled. I know I'm a different person because he was in the world."

Gerry Duggan shares Ditko's wise words

Comic book writer Gerry Duggan has a huge list of comic book credentials. He's worked on Marvel's Deadpool, Uncanny Avengers, and All-New Guardians of the Galaxy; DC's Batman and Arkham Manor; Image Comics' The Infinite Horizon and The Last Christmas; Bongo Comics' The Simpsons and The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror; and Dark Horse Comics' Fear Agent, to name a few. Duggan shared with his 47,000-plus Twitter followers his favorite picture of Steve Ditko.

"The uncompromising and brilliant Steve Ditko is gone. Here's my favorite image of him: trapped in an ink bottle between his two iconic collaborations," Duggan wrote alongside an illustration of Ditko sitting in a bottle of ink, with Spider-Man lounging in a web to his left and Doctor Strange rattling off magic spell buzz words on his right. 

Duggan later posted a snap of a letter Ditko had sent him in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in late October of 2012. "I wrote Ditko on and off for a while. I was just going back and re-reading a few — his description of life also happens to be some of the key ingredients in great comics," explained Duggan. 

In the note, Ditko posited, "Things start and things end, a common pattern with all of us in every profession. Life is movement, action, change, and never-ending opportunities and challenges."

​​Gabriel Hardman tributes Ditko's talents and introvertedness

Gabriel Hardman is the co-creator and artist of Image Comics' Invisible Republic, the writer and artist of MonkeyBrain Comics and Image Comics' Kinski, the co-writer and artist of Marvel Comics' Savage Hulk, and the storyboard artist behind films like Inception, Logan, and Tropic Thunder. Hardman went on social media and  recalled all of Steve Ditko's best attributes after hearing of his passing.

"RIP Steve Ditko. His work was influential, idiosyncratic, weird, difficult and often unappealingly ideological. But few comics creators were more important. His reclusiveness made him all the more interesting," Hardman tweeted. He followed that up with a confession that that he aspires to one day reach a "Steve Ditko level of reclusiveness."

Warren Ellis says goodbye to Ditko

English comic book writer, novelist, and screenwriter Warren Ellis has more than enough to be proud of. He's written Astonishing X-Men, Moon Knight, Thunderbolts, and the Iron Man "Extremis" storyline that served as the foundation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Iron Man 3; created his own comics Red, Global Frequency, and Transmetropolitan; wrote the video games Cold Winter, Hostile Waters, and Dead Space; and penned the novels Crooked Little Vein and Gun Machine. But Ellis was sure to thank Steve Ditko for paving the way with his weirdness, allowing others to walk along the same comic-creating street he did.

Ellis typed a heartfelt goodbye to Ditko, thanking him for everything he had done during his time on Earth.

"Goodbye, Steve Ditko, and thanks for everything, you weird legend. What strange and amazing things you achieved," wrote Ellis on Twitter.

Rob Liefeld reminds us all of Ditko's achievements

Deadpool comic creator Rob Liefeld kept his tribute to Steve Ditko simple but stirring. On Twitter, he rattled off a laundry list of characters Ditko created — which actually only accounts for a small portion of the vigilantes and villains Ditko helped bring to life in his decades-long career in comics.

"Spider-Man. Dr. Strange. Creeper. Hawk and Dove. The Question. Captain Atom. Mysterio. Green Goblin. Dr. Octopus. Dormammu. Baron Mordo. Kraven. Lizard. Nightmare. Electro," Liefeld tweeted. "STEVE DITKO."

Tom Holland honors the hero-creator

The third actor to step into the Spider-Man suit on the silver screen in the last 16 years, Tom Holland hit send on a sweet tribute to Steve Ditko, honoring the man who created the hero that helped him rise to super-stardom. 

"We all want to leave our mark on the world — this guy crushed it," Holland wrote on Twitter. "He made so many people so happy and changed lives — most of all, mine! Thank you Steve — your life lives on man, thank you."

Gail Simone encapsulates Ditko's influence

Word of Steve Ditko's passing hit Gail Simone, the formidable force behind Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Deadpool, Wonder Woman, The All-New Atom, Batgirl, Crosswind, and Welcome to Tranquility, especially hard.

In a series of posts on her Twitter page, Simone remembered Ditko's legacy, highlighted his keen ability to depict desperation in art, and thanked him for creating such human characters.

"Trying to deal with the sad passing of Steve Ditko. I don't yet have the words, but I will say this," Simone began. "He did his best with desperate characters. [Jack] Kirby excelled at drawing bigger than life, Ditko was best with the small man, the weak man. That's why my favorite Ditko stories were the horror and suspense stories. Almost no one drew desperation like he could. But even his superheroes had that feeling of need. His best Spider-man tales showed Peter at his most troubled and afraid and human. His Charleston characters often felt overpowered by not villains, but the modern world."

She added later on in the tweet thread, "I can't imagine the Marvel Universe without him. He was the guy playing all minor chords at the symphony. I love his short stories in particular. I love his giant monster work. And the Creeper is simply the most underrated character in the DC catalog. A sad day. But I love the legacy this very human artist brought to his very human characters. Thank you, Mr. Ditko."

Jim Lee recalls Ditko's quirks and kindness

DC Comics icon Jim Lee, who currently serves as the Co-Publisher of DC Entertainment, also shared a string of messages honoring Ditko. 

"Sad to hear of the passing of the legendary artist and creator Steve Ditko. Beloved for generations — his work was the Quirky to Kirby's Majesty and helped provide the early visual vocabulary in counterpoint to Kirby's power and influence," Lee typed out in the first of a three-tweet thread. "Of course, he is best known for co-creating Spider-Man but he also ushered in a slew of unique, very personal and eclectic characters for DC such as the Question, Blue Beetle, Hawk and Dove and more. I only met him once back in the hallways of Marvel when I worked there."

Lee ended his tribute to Ditko by remembering the kind of man he was: "Polite and unassuming — he never sought attention or the limelight but in many ways represented the hidden hero he saw in all of us. #RIPsteveditko." 

Walter Simonson remembers meeting Ditko

When Walter Simonson, best known for his iconic 1983 to 1987 run on Thor, learned of Steve Ditko's death, he shared a sweet memory of the first (and only) time he ever met the comic legend.

"Steve Ditko has caught the last web out across the city into the mystic. A very early influence on my work, I think I met Steve exactly once many many years ago for a few moments in the Marvel offices. Getting to shake his hand was a privilege," Simonson wrote on Facebook. "He used a vector graphic system to create my favorite system of visual magic in comics. And I'm still drawing calves curved somewhere between Ditko's and [Jack] Kirby's. His contribution to comics, of course, goes far beyond any of this. Thanks for all the lovely work, Steve. Godspeed."

Two Comic-Cons come together to honor Ditko

The remembrances of the legendary comic book artist weren't limited to professionals — comic book conventions also honored the late Steve Ditko. San Diego Comic-Con on the west coast of the U.S. and New York Comic-Con on the east issued messages remembering Ditko as the powerhouse creative he was, sending warmth to Ditko's loved ones during this difficult time of grief. 

"A Titan has passed. RIP Steve Ditko. Our condolences go out to his family and friends," a tweet from the San Diego Comic-Con page reads. 

"Thank you for the strange, brilliant and amazing ride," added an otherwise similar tweet from New York Comic-Con's official account

While the San Diego Comic-Con account only shared the text, the New York Comic-Con page also included artwork of Ditko at his desk, his face resting in his hand as he takes a cat nap in the middle of working on a comic. 

Marvel and DC find common ground in remembering Ditko's impact

Often considered at odds with one another, Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics put aside their ostensible differences to honor the man who worked for both companies.

"Today, the Marvel family mourns the loss of Steve Ditko. Steve transformed the industry and the Marvel Universe, and his legacy will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with his family, loved ones, and fans during this sad time," the Marvel Entertainment Twitter account posted after hearing of Ditko's passing. The tweet also included a photo of The Amazing Spider-Man #1 from 1963.

The DC Comics Twitter page issued its own tribute: "Steve Ditko was one of the most amazing creators in the history of comics, and showed us there is a hero in all of us. Our hearts go out to his loved ones, and everyone who knew him." That post was accompanied by a snap of the cover of DC's The Steve Ditko Omnibus Vol. 2, which depicts Ditko's creations Hawk and Dove flying into action.