ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing

Spider-Man Co-Creator Steve Ditko: Strange and Stranger Book Review

Updated on October 27, 2014

The Definitive Biography of the Reclusive Comic Book Artist

Strange and Stranger: the World of Steve Ditko was published in 2008 by Fantagraphics Books. Author Blake Bell traces the life story of this legendary and reclusive comic book artist over six decades, using dozens of illustrations and interviews with the people who once worked with Ditko.

Anybody who loves comic books, and especially Spider-Man or Dr. Strange, will find this to be a fascinating tale.

The ISBN for this book is: 1560979216.

Charting Ditko's Complicated Path Over 50 Years

Steve Ditko is probably the most enigmatic and complicated of all comic book artists. He helped make the Amazing Spider-Man the pop-culture event in the 1960s that helped revolutionize comic books, and created the mystical worlds of Dr. Strange. He famously walked away from Spider-Man at the height of its popularity and over the decades has maintained a career that is marked by few public appearances or interviews.

Author Blake Bell, in providing details of Ditko's childhood lays the ground for the rather off-the-beaten path that Ditko would take, first at comic book companies like Charlton in the 1950s through a bizarre journey of confrontations and imagined betrayals as objectivism began to loom over his work more and more.

Strange and Stranger's 220 pages are packed with lots of artwork from throughout Ditko's 50+ years in comic books, and the large size of the book -- 12.2 inches by 9.2 inches -- really makes the illustrations stand out in full color.

Strange and Stranger on Amazon - By Blake Bell

Strange and Stranger has gotten rave reviews from Amazon readers, so you may want to scroll through their comments before ordering!

Steve Ditko and the Amazing Spider-Man

Spinning the Tale of the Web-Slinger

Steve Ditko's greatest contribution to comic books was his vision of Spider-Man, of course. Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee, having launched the Fantastic Four with Jack Kirby, asked Ditko to help him develop Spider-Man after deciding that Kirby's version of the character didn't work.

Ditko gave Spider-Man his costume design and developed the look of the series, which was very different than the usual Superman and Batman comics of the day. Eventually, Ditko would take over the plotting of each Spider-Man comic as well.

Even though I knew the general story behind the creation of Spider-Man, Blake Bell weaves a strong narrative about that chapter of Ditko's life, neither making him the hero or the villain of the dispute with Lee.

He brings up details that I had never heard -- like readers' reaction to Aunt May and what Lee wanted to do with her.

If you are a real fan of Spider-Man, you will find this chapter absolutely fascinating, and cringe at the thought of what might have been if Lee had had his way on some things.

Stan Lee on Working With Steve Ditko - From Stan Lee's How to Write Comics

Stan Lee, in his latest book, says he ''jazzed'' by Ditko's approach to stories but that tension emerged during their collaboration on the Amazing Spider-Man series because their story instincts diverged.

''The challenge for me was to find out what he wanted,'' Lee writes in Stan Lee's How to Write Comics.

The book includes some paragraphs from an old interview by Ditko on how he worked, as well as many pages of observations about writing comics by Stan Lee.

Steve Ditko vs. Stan Lee

The contributions of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko to the creation of the Amazing Spider-Man and the wild success of the comic book series have long been disputed by the two men, with Lee at times saying he was responsible for innovations that Ditko felt he should get credit for inventing.The rift between the two creators reached the point where they stopped talking to each other sometime before issue No. 25, and after Ditko left the series after issue No. 38.

Who do you think contributed the most to the success of Spider-Man?

Steve Ditko Books

While Strange and Stranger is the definitive biography of Steve Ditko, his artwork has been collected in numerous volumes. Here are a few that you might like.

It's The Art That Matters!

Much has been written about the dispute between Stan Lee and Steve Ditko over the creation and direction of Spider-Man, and about the way Ditko's personal philosophies have gotten in the way of his telling a good story. But no one can deny that when he was at his best Steve Ditko was one of the most creative and interesting artists working in comic books, especially during the 1960s. This Dr. Strange scene from Strange Tales No. 138, reproduced in Bell's book, shows just how otherworldly Ditko's art could be. His art was so different from everyone else's that many 1960s readers suspected he was doing the same drugs that hippies used.

Ayn Rand and The Creation of Mr. A

Ditko is one of the proponents of objectivism, a philosophical system developed by Russian-born author Ayn Rand that advocates reason and rational self-interest as man's guiding lights. While Ditko sprinkled smatterings of the philosophy in the Amazing Spider-Man stories that he did, he later created Mr. A to embody objectivism. The character argues that the world is black and white, with no gray moral areas.

He first appeared in 1967, and in truth many of the Mr. A stories that I have read haven't been that entertaining because of the philosophizing. The illustration here is a panel of Mr. A from his first appearance in 1967's Witzend No. 3.

Where Does Steve Ditko Rank?

Steve Ditko greatly influenced many artists and writers that came after his heyday in the 1960s, but where does he rank now among all the comic book giants? I'd probably rank him right behind Jack Kirby in the pantheon of Marvel artists, and among the top 5 in the past 50 years. Your thoughts?

Where Does Steve Ditko Rank as a Comic Book Artist?

See results

Steve Ditko's Early Spider-Man Stories in One Book!

Marvel Masterworks Amazing Spider-Man

Steve Ditko's greatest contribution to comic books was the world of Spider-Man that he created from the superhero's debut in Amazing Fantasy 15 to issue 38 of The Amazing Spider-Man. Marvel Comics collected Spider-Man's debut and the first 10 issues of the Amazing Spider-Man in one book called Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1. I wrote about it in a separate lens, so if you are curious to find out more about Steve Ditko and his contribution to Spider-Man please visit it!

The Amazing Spider-Man Debuts! A Marvel Masterworks Comic Book Review
Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987 with The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1, among others. Since then the company has come out wi...

Stan Lee on a Famous Steve Ditko Moment!

Here's a short interview of Stan Lee talking about one of Steve Ditko's most-famous pieces of work on the Amazing Spider-Man series.

A Personal Tale of Spider-Man

The Death of Gwen Stacy

Two of the most important issues of the Amazing Spider-Man came out in 1973, long after Steve Ditko had left the series. I was a young comic book reader at the time, and I remember the first time I read issue No. 121 as if it were yesterday. Here's my story:

Growing Up With Spider-Man: The Day Gwen Stacy Died
Spider-Man's girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, died 40 years ago this summer, marking the end of one era in comic books and introducing a realism into the lives of sup...

New York Comic Convention

Thousands of Comic Book Fans in One Place!

My daughter and I were able to attend the New York Comic Convention in New York City in October, 2011, and wrote a review of our day there. It was a blast, and we highly recommend a visit to the convention next year for any true comic book fan!

New York Comic Con Anime Festival: A Comic Book Fan
The New York Comic Book Convention occurred Oct. 13-16, 2011, and coupled with the New York Anime Festival, drew more than 100,000 comic-book fans, video gam...

My Comic Book Lenses - Fantastic Four, Hulk, the Avengers and Many More!

Marvel Masterworks X-Men Comic Book Review: Enter the Phoenix! Plus Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler!
This volume reprints Uncanny X-Men No. 101-110 in full color, a collection of 10 comics during a run that really established the new X-Men as a major franchi...

Captain America in the 1960s: A Marvel Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential Captain America Volume 1 reprints Captain America's stories from Tales of Suspense No. 59-99 as well as the first three issues of the newly-...

The Ghost Rider Debuts! A Marvel Comic Book Review
The Marvel Essential series contains four volumes devoted to the Ghost Rider superhero, who first appeared in 1972 in a comic book called Marvel Spotlight. H...

X-Men
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga collects issues No. 129-137 of the original X-Men comic-book series, a series of tales that ends with the final battle over Jean...

The Avengers in the Late 1960s: A Marvel Comics Review!
Marvel Essential: Avengers Vol. 3 contains issues 47 to 68 of the comic's original series, as well as Avengers Annual No. 2. For the most part this collectio...

Marvel Essential Fantastic Four Comic Book Review: Dr. Doom and Daredevil Guest Star as the Legend Grows!
The Fantastic Four rocked the comic-book world when it debuted in 1961, with writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby introducing more characterization and real...

The Avengers Debut! A Comic Book Review of the Marvel Masterworks Collection!
The Avengers Volume 1 was one of the first four collections when Marvel Comics began publishing its Marvel Masterworks series in 1987. Since then the company...

The Rampaging Hulk Marvel Essential Comic Book Review
Marvel Essential: The Rampaging Hulk 1 is a collection of Hulk stories from his short-lived late 1970s magazine. This volume includes the tales from issues 1...

Captain America
Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Volume 1 reprints the superhero's adventures in Tales of Suspense No. 59-81 in full color. This was Captain America's fir...

Darwyn Cooke
DC: The New Frontier was a series of six comic book issues in 2004 that focused on the 1950s, when many of the major superheroes that populate the modern DC ...

Spider-Man in the 1970s! A Marvel Comics Book Review
The Essential Spider-Man Vol. 8 contains issues No. 161-185 of the Amazing Spider-Man series, plus Nova issue No. 12 and the Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 11...

Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller A Marvel Comic Book Review of The Complete Elektra Saga!
Daredevil Visionaries: Frank Miller Vol. 2 collects issues 168-182 of the original Daredevil series. Issue 168 was the first comic of the series that Miller ...

The X-Men in the Early 1970s: Neal Adams
Marvel Essential Classic X-Men volume 3 is a real hodge-podge of stories that shows just how far below the radar screen the original X-Men had fallen in the ...

Essential Iron Fist: A Marvel Comic Book Review!
Essential Iron Fist Volume 1 collects the first four years' worth of Marvel comics starring the character, who debuted in 1974 during a martial arts craze. T...

Geppi's Entertainment Museum

Comic Book Heaven!

If you are ever in Baltimore check out Geppi's Entertainment Museum for one of the greatest comic-book collections on display anywhere. See my lens for more details on what you can expect during a visit!

Geppi
Geppi's Entertainment Museum is located in Baltimore and is dedicated to all sorts of American pop culture: comic books, television, radio, movies, magazines...

Here's your chance to discuss the book, Steve Ditko or anything else you may want!

What Do You Think?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      Fascinating! I added a link to this lens in my article "I'm the Biographer Bookworm on Squidoo."

    • Babu Mohan profile image

      Mohan Babu 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      Good to see an Ayn Rand admirer.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I remember the early Spiderman comic books. Steve Ditko gave the character a very unique look and personality that was refreshing compared to the totally boring Superman and Batman.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      ALthough I've never heard of Steve Ditko, this was interesting. It's often the case that creative partnerships die a horrible death.

    • uneasywriter lm profile image

      uneasywriter lm 4 years ago

      Very cool Steve Ditko lens! You are definitely a true fan!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Amazing lenses! You really know your niche.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      I used to love marvel comics when I was a kid, haven't read them for years tho'. interesting and informative lens.

    • mikes-cool-stuff profile image

      mikes-cool-stuff 5 years ago

      Ditko was the definitive artist of Spider-Man. Every artist who ever did the comic tried to copy his style. This is a great lens on Steve Ditko and I will share it with my friend who is a big Ditko fan. Also thanks for liking one of my lenses.

    • Brandi Bush profile image

      Brandi 5 years ago from Maryland

      I've been showing your comic book lenses to my 11-year old son. He is fascinated by these vintage comics and he has a hard time fathoming that some of his favorite characters have been around so long! :)

    • christopherwell profile image

      christopherwell 6 years ago

      Ditko was such a giant in the history of Marvel Comics! (And his quirky stuff at DC Comics was fun, too!)