Steve Ditko, the co-creator of beloved Marvel Comics characters Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, has died. Ditko was found unresponsive in his New York apartment late last month with news of his passing just coming to light.
Born in 1927 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Ditko became exposed to newspaper comics at an early age, and found his love for comic book superheroes during the inaugural issues of the iconic Batman character as well as Will Eisner’s “The Spirit.” After graduating high school in 1945, Ditko enlisted in the Army, where he got his first job in the comic book industry drawing comic strips for Army-syndicated newspapers.
After his discharge, Ditko studied under Batman artist Jerry Robinson in 1950 in New York City. Through Robinson’s tutelage, Ditko met then-editor-in-chief and future Marvel Comics CEO Stan Lee. He would join the early team of artists, including comic book art maestro Jack Kirby, in Marvel’s earliest ventures.
Ditko was instrumental in creating Spider-Man, conceiving the character’s signature attributes such as his costume, the web shooters and the red and blue color scheme after Lee was unsatisfied with Kirby’s original designs. The character debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962, and proved to be so popular that, in 1963, Marvel launched “Amazing Spider-Man,” the character’s first standalone series with Ditko and Lee at the helm. To date, Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes ever conceived, generating over 360 million book sales total since his debut.
Ditko, who according to reports was not married, is survived by a nephew.