Steve Ditko, 1927 - 2018

Steve Ditko, the cartoonist who brought characters including Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Hawk and Dove, the Creeper, and the Question into the world, has died of a heart attack. He was 90 years old. Ditko was famously an Objectivist who devoutly followed the word of Ayn Rand — he believed that moral grey areas simply did not exist, and he loathed interviews, believing that an artists' work should speak for itself.

I can't stand Rand and Objectivism, but I loved Ditko's work. Without the inherent creepiness that Ditko delivered to characters like Peter Parker, I think the Marvel Comics stable of characters might have died on the vine. He drew Parker as an outcast, a freak who hated the popular kids and struggled with his anger every day. Anyone who visits MoPop to see the original Ditko page from Spider-Man's origin story in Amazing Fantasy issue number 15 can see that Ditko's tense linework shares more in common with alternative comics than the glorious heroism of Jack Kirby's comics.

That tension between Ditko's weird artwork and the rigid philosophy that eventually overtook his writing gave his work a compelling internal conflict. On every page, you'd see an artist at odds with himself, trying to reckon a messy world with a philosophy that refused to allow for messiness. His art will be studied and appreciated for many generations to come, thanks in large part to the amazing archival work of Seattle's Fantagraphics Books.