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  1. #61
    Resident Fanboy Erik Larsen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Harris View Post
    In the "In Search of Steve Ditko" documentary, Stan basically says the same thing -- that's he's happy to call Ditko the co-creator if it means so much to Ditko, but he still believe he himself is the creator. I haven't seen the Kevin Smith interview, but in "In Search of Steve Ditko" he doesn't seem ungracious or like he's being a jerk about it, he just honestly believes that he himself is the creator. When pressed about the fact that had he given the assignment to a different artist with different ideas, it would have been a completely different character that might possibly have failed, his answer is that in that case, he wold have created a character that was a failure.

    I can't say I entirely agree with Stan's point of view, but it's understandable at least because he's not really claiming credit as the writer but as the editor in chief of Marvel. From Stan's perspective, of course, his job is to put out the best comics and that includes deciding which artists best fit which ideas or characters. The fact that he assigned the Spider-man strip to Steve Ditko, who developed it into what Spider-man became, to him means that he is the creator because as editor he had final say over all the creative decisions that went into the strip.

    Interestingly, the genesis of Spider-man as I understand it both undermines and supports this viewpoint. What I've read from several sources is that Stan originally assigned Spider-man to Jack Kirby. Kirby turned in a much more straightforward superhero who, to Stan's eye (and perhaps others in the company) bore too close a resemblance to one of Kirby's old characters, The Fly. Whether to avoid litigation or just for creative reasons, Stan decided to scrap Jack's version and reassigned Spider-man to Ditko, who came up with the version we all know and love.

    It's obvious from this that Ditko is clearly the co-creator at the very least, if not the outright creator, of Spider-man. On the other hand, Lee's point is also valid; he could very well have gone with the original Kirby concept for Spider-man instead, but as editor decided it needed tweaks to be successful.

    It's really tricky to try and assign credit in a system where not only are roles not defined to being with, but where multiple overlapping roles are held by the same person -- where does Stan the editor end and Stan the writer begin? Stan's position is even more understandable considering how many years prior to the Marvel Age that he spent as the company's main or only writer, hiring and using whichever artist best fit his vision for each story. Even though he was giving them more artistic leeway once the Marvel Method came into being, I'm sure that from his viewpoint it was just an extension of the Atlas days, where the artists were there to bring his vision to life.

    Anyway, I'm firmly on board with them both being co-creators and I think Ditko has a legitimate beef, but I can understand why Stan has the position he has, and I don't think it's a matter of being petty or ungracious or stealing people's credit but rather that he honestly believes himself to be the creator of those characters and the artists to be work-for-hire freelancers that he hired to draw his concepts.

    My two cents.
    While Stan is right--that Spider-Man in any form would not exist without him--Ditko is also right that THIS Spider-Man would not exist without him. And that's what Stan doesn't seem to want to acknowledge--that Spider-Man as he exists today could not exist without Ditko's contribution.
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  2. #62
    CotM Member Rob Allen's Avatar
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    Longtime comics dealer & historian Bob Beerbohm wrote recently:

    "Ditko told Steve Johnson and myself on the phone when we called him in 1969 (his name & number listed in NYC phone book)to interview him for our fanzine Fanzation that it had ALL to do with reneged promises on royalties on his creation Spiderman. Blake makes mention of this "event" on page 95 of his great Ditko book

    Ditko specifically told us Martin Goodman and Stan Lieber promised him a cut of the action on Spiderman merch and animated TV stuff in motion then. He told us he tried very hard to get Kirby to walk at the same time, but Jack had mouths to feed."
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  3. #63
    world of yesterday benday-dot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Allen View Post
    Longtime comics dealer & historian Bob Beerbohm wrote recently:

    "Ditko told Steve Johnson and myself on the phone when we called him in 1969 (his name & number listed in NYC phone book)to interview him for our fanzine Fanzation that it had ALL to do with reneged promises on royalties on his creation Spiderman. Blake makes mention of this "event" on page 95 of his great Ditko book

    Ditko specifically told us Martin Goodman and Stan Lieber promised him a cut of the action on Spiderman merch and animated TV stuff in motion then. He told us he tried very hard to get Kirby to walk at the same time, but Jack had mouths to feed."
    I recall that passage. Romita states Ditko could no longer abide the lack of "autonomy", and Ditko himself told Roy Thomas that "Lee was working against him". I suspect we must take Ditko's insistence on royalties in this context. Ditko stood to gain much financially from such royalties, but money never seemed to be the singular motivator for Ditko.

    He seemed to have only contempt for profiting off any original art he possessed as it pertained to characters for which he no longer cared. It is said that years later he used some of this art on his cutting board. He, for much of his career, seemed to prefer Charlton and its lower page rates with greater creative freedom. And of course he was an early and semi-frequent contributor to Wally Wood's seminal and creator run Witzend, which promulgated self-determination and self-expression in cartooning and comic book storytelling.

    As Blake Bell says, the very principle of denying a creator the fruits of his labour is utterly anathema to a Randian like Ditko.

  4. #64
    www.comicscube.com Duy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Larsen View Post
    While Stan is right--that Spider-Man in any form would not exist without him--Ditko is also right that THIS Spider-Man would not exist without him. And that's what Stan doesn't seem to want to acknowledge--that Spider-Man as he exists today could not exist without Ditko's contribution.
    In the Steve Ditko documentary, Stan pretty much said "Well, if Steve didn't draw him, then it would have still been my creation; it just wouldn't be successful."

  5. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesse Hamm View Post
    The same reasoning could be raised against Lee. What character did Lee create, without Ditko or Kirby, that is as popular as Blue Beetle, Hawk & Dove, Captain Atom, or Speedball?
    Daredevil.

    Also, Stripperella.
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  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmazingPancake View Post
    Well not wholly, but Rorschach was designed as a Ditko character:

    "[I wanted to] come up with this quintessential Steve Ditko character—someone who's got a funny name, whose surname begins with a 'K,' who's got an oddly designed mask"."

    Tho' you are right, I misremembered, this is what he said about it (Google the source if you want):
    [Alan Moore:]
    During the '60s, I learned pretty quickly about the sources of Steve Ditko's ideas, and I realized very early on that he was very fond of the writing of Ayn Rand.

    I had to look at The Fountainhead. I have to say I found Ayn Rand's philosophy laughable. It was a "white supremacist dreams of the master race," burnt in an early-20th century form. Her ideas didn't really appeal to me, but they seemed to be the kind of ideas that people would espouse, people who might secretly believe themselves to be part of the elite, and not part of the excluded majority. I would basically disagree with all of Ditko's ideas, but he has to be given credit for expressing these political ideas. I believe some feminists regard Dave Sim in much the same light; they might disagree with everything he says, but at least there is some sort of sexual-political debate going on there. So I've got respect for Ditko.
    It's weird that Moore should critique Objectivism in terms of "white supremacism," which is not a dominant theme of the movement (though I suppose it *might* be in there somewhere), nor a dominant theme in Moore's conception of Rorschach.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Allen View Post
    Longtime comics dealer & historian Bob Beerbohm wrote recently:

    "Ditko told Steve Johnson and myself on the phone when we called him in 1969 (his name & number listed in NYC phone book)to interview him for our fanzine Fanzation that it had ALL to do with reneged promises on royalties on his creation Spiderman. Blake makes mention of this "event" on page 95 of his great Ditko book

    Ditko specifically told us Martin Goodman and Stan Lieber promised him a cut of the action on Spiderman merch and animated TV stuff in motion then. He told us he tried very hard to get Kirby to walk at the same time, but Jack had mouths to feed."
    Huh, I saw BLB mention this on a private listserve; I didn't think it had made it to the Internets as a whole. Do you recall where you read it?

    Also curious, as was Berk, as to the provenance as that "heroic Galactus" story.

  8. #68
    Senior Member JKCarrier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gothos View Post
    Also curious, as was Berk, as to the provenance as that "heroic Galactus" story.
    I remember seeing something about this in the Kirby Collector -- unused pencil pages that showed Galactus agreeing to help Thor battle some menace that was threatening Earth. Don't remember which issue of TJKC it was, unfortunately.
    -JKC-
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  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKCarrier View Post
    I remember seeing something about this in the Kirby Collector -- unused pencil pages that showed Galactus agreeing to help Thor battle some menace that was threatening Earth. Don't remember which issue of TJKC it was, unfortunately.
    Thanks, that helps.

  10. #70
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    Default You beat me to it

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Harris View Post
    I'm not claiming Ditko was crazy for leaving Marvel, I'm saying he left Marvel because he was crazy, which is something totally different.

    And no, I don't actually think he's literally crazy, but I do personally think his political and personal belief system is silly at best, irrespective of how it affected his decision to leave Marvel. As it happens, I do also think it was a major part of his decision to leave Marvel and not in terms of some nebulous desire to take a moral stand for artistic freedom, but rather on a nuts and bolts level -- he wanted more of a platform to espouse his beliefs and when Lee wouldn't give it to him, he left.

    One reason I think I think it's unlikely that Ditko left Marvel just because he was unhappy with the amount of artistic freedom that he was being given in general is the fact that he had been working for Stan Lee at Atlas and Marvel for years before Spider-man came along. And while I don't know exactly what kind of system they used at the time, I haven't heard anything to suggest that Lee had yet developed the Marvel Method.

    My assumption, then, is that by the time Ditko left Marvel he was actually receiving far more creative freedom at that point than he either had at any previous time in his career or would receive at any other major publisher, Charlton excluded; not to mention the fact that he was receiving both artistic leeway and credit that were not being given to any other creator in the industry, Jack Kirby included. After all, at the time he left, he was basically being allowed to do anything he wanted on Dr. Strange and was getting full credit for it as well.

    To my mind, then, the real problem had to be with Spider-man and the fact that Stan was apparently editing the comic -- you know, like editors do. I don't know if it's apocryphal or not, but I've read more than one place that Ditko's political belief system was intruding more and more into his Spider-man work at the time he left and that Stan was, when he got a hold of the finished pages, doing damage control by outright changing those elements to both fit Stan's more liberal sensibilities -- and not incidentally to keep the character more marketable to kids who I think it's fair to say weren't interested in Spider-man turning into Mr. A.

    Frankly, I think that if Lee had let Ditko do what he wanted on Spider-man in terms of the character's development, it's likely that Spider-man would never have become the popular, worldwide icon he is today because Ditko's agenda would have curtailed and limited his appeal. The proof of this for me is the simple fact that when Ditko did leave and Lee brought Romita on board to draw his stories, sales reportedly went up significantly. For me, Lee earned his credit on Spider-man by overseeing the book the way a good editor does -- he was hands off when Ditko was great and hands on when the series needed guidance.

    As a result, I think Ditko's departure from Marvel was both inevitable and quite possibly the best thing for everyone involved. I know I wouldn't really have wanted the Ditko of later years to have free rein with any characters I like. Would it have been interesting? Unquestionably. But would it have been good? That I seriously doubt.
    couldn't have said it better myself!

  11. #71
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    Default This rings true

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Allen View Post
    Longtime comics dealer & historian Bob Beerbohm wrote recently:

    "Ditko told Steve Johnson and myself on the phone when we called him in 1969 (his name & number listed in NYC phone book)to interview him for our fanzine Fanzation that it had ALL to do with reneged promises on royalties on his creation Spiderman. Blake makes mention of this "event" on page 95 of his great Ditko book

    Ditko specifically told us Martin Goodman and Stan Lieber promised him a cut of the action on Spiderman merch and animated TV stuff in motion then. He told us he tried very hard to get Kirby to walk at the same time, but Jack had mouths to feed."
    Beleave that a big name in comics was also told much the same once about when he asked if he'd ever again draw spidy, and Ditko said something like "yes, if marvel paid me what they owed me." Even if they coughed up, at his age and being retired, they'd get no new art, even a cover, so why bother?I suspect Ditko never had a wife and kids as Kirby did, both to support and to crack the whip on him. Damn few wives would sit back and let their man walk away from something like spidy, for the peanuts that charlton paid.

  12. #72
    Hey, Larry! Darrell D.'s Avatar
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    Yeah, I remember reading that when Ditko walked, he tried to get Kirby to come with him.
    Kirby had a family to support and neither he nor Ditko never received any royalties on the merchandise. It's surprising that Jack would believe anything that came out of Goodman's mouth, though, since Goodman screwed Joe Simon and Kirby back in the 40s over royalties for Captain America. When that happened, they both jumped to DC (or National, as it was known at the time) and produced a bunch of hits for them. Kirby didn't have that out in the 60's, not until later when his pal Carmine Infantino took over as publisher of DC.
    Last edited by Darrell D.; 11-04-2010 at 05:42 AM.

  13. #73
    Senior Member JKCarrier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.J. View Post
    Even if they coughed up, at his age and being retired, they'd get no new art, even a cover, so why bother?
    Ditko isn't retired. He's been producing new work at a fairly steady clip:

    http://www.ditko-fever.com/robinsnyder.html
    -JKC-
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  14. #74
    Senior Member McFarlane's Green Hulk's Avatar
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    You ever sit back and think that this whole thing is something that Stan & Steve keep fanning the flames over as a rib to the fans? They could have settled the whole matter in private years ago, and just like to stir the pot every now and then.

    I can picture a telephone conversation:

    "Steve? Hi, it's Stan. Listen, I think the fans are on to the real reason why you left Spidey. Why don't we drum up something up to take the heat off, I'll do a vague interview and you can draw up something to counter it and post it on your website?"

    "Sounds good, I've got something in mind."

    While there is zero chance in this scenario being true in any regard, sometimes you wonder...
    Kayfabe for the comic industry!

  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKCarrier View Post
    Ditko isn't retired. He's been producing new work at a fairly steady clip:

    http://www.ditko-fever.com/robinsnyder.html
    I order my comics from dcbservice.com and they have a section just for Ditko. I always thought they were reprints. Anyone get these? Are they any good?

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