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Love of comics

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Steve Ditko, (Stephen John Ditko) a comic book author and artist known for his work and of course as well being the co-creator on the Marvel Comics characters “Spider-Man” and “Doctor Strange.” Ditko, although his characters being full of creativity, life, and more specifically relatable, he shied away from the media, so not much information is known about him, and much information that was known of him didn’t really come from statements necessarily expressed from himself, but rather through his lifestyle, interest, and statements of people that may have known and/or worked with him before. Steve Ditko, to a certain extent was a man of mystery and obscurity, hidden away from the media and world, not revealing much about himself, similar to the way some of the heroes he had created hid themselves away from the public, through a mask. He was truly an artist, that was one to separate the art from the artist, by removing himself from the world, and instead making alternate worlds himself full of characters that fans absolutely adored. Ditko’s characters, both heroes and villains alike will remain as a kind of memento of his work and will continue to be a reminder of what had made this man and his work so astoundingly, one of a kind. From issue to issue, from multiverse to multiverse, his characters will always contain some sort of piece of him.

Ditko, born in Pennsylvania, on November 2, 1927, in an area known as Johnstown, grew up around the love for comics. Notably, his father, Stephen Ditko, used to collect comic book strips consistently, and collected the newspaper comic book series Prince Valiant. His mother, Anna Ditko, would actually create little scrapbooks for Ditko’s father as well, filling them with all the collected comic book strips albums his father had previously created to help preserve and organize his father’s collection. Being a young boy at the time of Batman’s first official release in 1939, he grows a love for the series and that further helps to establish his attachment and liking for comic books. Besides him and his parents love for comics, his father was a carpenter for an industrial plant that made steel, and his mother a stay-at-home mother/house wife. While living with his parents in Pennsylvania, Ditko attended Johnstown High School, which during his high school career, was during the time of World War II. Ditko eventually later on enlisted and enrolled in the military (post World War II) once he had finished high school and graduated. Once there he had worked in the Army’s newspaper team and started developing comics of his very own for the newspaper.

After returning from the military, Ditko, now with a G.I. Bill, decides to attend more schooling. Figuring out that the creator to his much beloved and fawned over character of Batman, Jerry Robinson, was an instructor at the Cartoonist and Illustrators School in New York, he moves there and enrolls with his G.I. bill in 1950 and begins to spark the beginning of his career. Growing a good student-teacher relationship with this superstar idol of an instructor, he received with the assistance of Robinson, a scholarship within the school. After completing his schooling at the institution, he begins to create art professionally, and starts out as an illustrator for “Stretching Things.” (A story based on a writing created by Bruce Hamilton.) His father had actually attempted to convince his son to move away from the idea of being a comic book artist for his father didn’t feel as if it was a good means of supporting his son’s living and that he should go into sign painting instead. So Ditko, went to take a course in sign painting, but was undeterred and continued with the path he truly desired and pursued a career as a comic book artist.

Although, even as a comic book artist, Steve Ditko always seemed to be shy and reserved throughout his life, from co-workers to cousins, with the exception to his family. During even the times of his greatest success, he’d always seemed to be quite a family orientated person, making sure to take the trip back to his home in Pennsylvania to spend time with his family twice a year for the holidays. Whether he’d have a deadline for an illustration/art or not, he would just continue with his work sitting next to his family. His drawings would be inspired by his family, as his mother had her hair in a bun lots of times, he drew Peter Parker’s Aunt May with a bun along with a few other elderly women in his comics as well. Ditko’s family was truly the center of his life, staying in Johnstown wasn’t necessarily something he could do for the type of artist he was.

Ditko after going to school in New York, stayed there, looking for work from various studios. Besides his illustrations for Stretching Things and making scripts for companies on the side, he wanted to become a full-fledged comic book artist. He landed his first studio job at a new place created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, creators of Marvel’s Captain America, for they needed a team of artist for the company they had just created. Finally getting a first-hand experience of the career he had so longed to strive and attain not only that, but he also got to work with another one of his icons, Mort Meskin, who had worked on characters such as Johnny Quick and The Vigilante. He was getting closer and closer to the place he wanted to be. Sadly, there wasn’t enough work to go around, he had to leave the studio within a couple months and once again look for a place to work. Luckily for Ditko, that wasn’t going to take too long before he found another position.

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