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AND NOW... PART 15 -- THE SENSES-SHATTERING CONCLUSION!
"ROAR!"
STEVE DITKO -- he's the guy who drew Spider-Man! A real nut case. A recluse who never leaves his studio. He hates Spider-Man now. He cuts up his original Spider-Man artwork with a knife! He never ever gives interviews. He belongs to some kind of cult that worships Ayn Rand! And he stopped working many years ago.

In summary, Steve Ditko is not normal!

But as we've attempted to show you in this landmark issue, Ditko's "abnormal" image is all absolute NONSENSE. First of all, exactly what IS "normal"?

STAR magazine runs a weekly feature called NORMAL OR NOT? In this photo-feature, STAR shows celebutards doing whacky things, then the magazine renders a judgment as to whether the celeb is "normal" or "not normal." For example...
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What if comic book creators were covered this same way? See below -- except we're leaving the judgments up to YOU! If you forgot to bring your microscope to class today, click the image below to see an abnormally LARGE version, then YOU decide. Normal or not?
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What about Ditko's "ranting" cartoons? Aren't THEY abnormal? I don't think so. One example: Mr. Ditko occasionally eats at fast food restaurants such as McDonalds or Burger King. If you're in a hurry, as most people in Manhattan are, these places can't be beat, even if you hate fast food. If you're late for a Broadway play, or a concert at MSG, in almost any part of town, you can always find a Mickey D's or a BK. Fast food franchises are omnipresent in Manhattan! But despite the ad campaigns, the people who staff these places are not always what you would call "focused on customer service." To say the least.

The Ditko cartoon BELOW may seem like "abnormal" ranting to some people, but to me, Robby Reed, native New Yorker, having had the exact same experience many, many times, I find it to be quite humorous. It reminds me of Andy Rooney kvetching on "60 Minutes."

And now reader, it's time to go down the list, and, once and for all,
BUST THE DITKO MYTHS!
DITKO A RECLUSE?
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NO! Mr. Ditko is far from reclusive. He simply has a limited circle of intimates he shares his life with. He doesn't have a "tell all" Facebook page. Although there is a Facebook group called DITKOMANIA devoted to his work, Mr. Ditko himself does not have a "Facebook" page at all! Remember, he's 86 years old now. Like most seniors, he is NOT a fan of internet. He communicates via hours-long discussions on the phone, or through hand-written letters of up to 20 or even 30 pages in length.

It is true that Mr. Ditko is a fairly typical Manhattanite who rarely leaves the "bubble" of Manhattan. But as you may know, that is a one very large "bubble" indeed. A "bubble" full of millions of people from all over the world. A "bubble" full of Wall Street, Fashion Avenue, Broadway, Times Square, every TV network, the United Nations and Grand Central Station. A "bubble" full of... everything.

If Mr. Ditko is a recluse, he has to be the world's WORST recluse. Because his office address is listed in the phone book. Everyone knows where to find him, and people often do. For example, as we discussed previously, one day a New York Post reporter just went up and knocked on his door. Ditko answered the door. On several occasions, Mr. Ditko has had lengthy discussions with complete strangers who appeared, one day, out of nowhere, knocking on his door. (But don't you try it yourself, reader -- it's happened once too many times, and there's now a guard posted at the building's entrance!)

XIn the past, Mr. Ditko has kept such "visitors" standing outside in the hallway, sometimes for hours, and has not allowed them into his office! Now THAT'S weird, right? Actually NO, not at all.

Reader, let me ask you something. Hypothetical situation. Let's say a complete stranger knocks on your door, tells you he's your biggest fan. You let this supposed "fan" into your home, and speak with him at some length.

Sometimes it turns out fine. British TV host Jonathan Ross met Steve Ditko at his New York office. Ditko didn't want to appear on camera, but he was gracious enough to speak with Ross (and Neil Gaiman), and he even gave Ross and Gaiman some free comic books (pictured right)! To me, that speaks volumes. Subsequently, Jonathan Ross and Ditko remained in touch, and became friends. "What a lovely man!" Ross exclaimed after meeting Ditko.

But sometimes -- it DOESN'T turn out fine. Some "fans" concoct wild stories about their visit, embellishing their report with completely fictitious details. Other "fans" try to secretly tape record the entire conversation. And one "fan," this one the worst of all, leaves behind a web-based spy-cam intended to transmit your every movement over the internet.

OH MY DEAR LORD!! I can't think of anything more freakish and disturbing. Ghoulish! Ugh, it makes me quiver in disgust. Can you imagine? The ultimate invasion of privacy.

If it happened to you, or to me, we'd never let a stranger into our homes again! We'd keep them all standing at the door. Perhaps even for hours on end. Would that make US reclusive? No. It would make us sensible. Reader, ALL these things have actually happened to Mr. Ditko. So I hope you'll agree that he is not a recluse, he's just... sensible.

DITKO IS NOT A RECLUSE!

DITKO HATES SPIDER-MAN?

XNO, Ditko does NOT hate Spider-Man! How could he? That's his BABY! But we have to remember that Spider-Man is something Mr. Ditko did more than 50 years ago. How many times would you want to endlessly rehash something YOU did 50 years ago, no matter how great it was? At some point you'd scream, "Good Lord! Can we EVER move on!?!?"

Former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter quoting Ditko:
"Steve said that he was an adult when he did his work for Marvel in the Sixties, that he knew what he was doing, that he understood the way things were done at the time and he accepted the terms. He agreed to the deal, or the standard terms that were in place then, and he would not renege. If Marvel chose to be generous, fine. But he would stand by the choices he made."
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And at this point, what's left to say? Ditko has written thousands of words (and drawn a few cartoons) describing his role in the creation of Spider-Man. If you read the numerous essays he's written on the subject, there's really no question left unanswered. With one notable exception. The one unanswered question seems to be why Mr. Ditko quit Marvel.

Keeping in mind the fact that Ditko only freelanced for Marvel, and that years later he did return to do new work for the company, my conclusion is that Ditko didn't so much quit Marvel as he quit Spider-Man. Spidey was Ditko's auto-biography, and Ditko objected to Stan Lee rewriting what Ditko felt was HIS life story. He didn't quit because he HATED Spidey, he because he LOVED Spidey.

DICK GIORDANO: "[Steve] thought he was writing Spider-Man, but Stan was getting the credit. As proof he showed me a chart he had on the wall that said when certain things were going to happen over the next six issue span. Steve felt it was criminal for someone to take credit for ROARsomething he didn't do. That's what led to the break-up with Marvel and Steve. (COMIC BOOK ARTIST #9 pg.42). "

And, in my opinion, there's also another reason Ditko left Marvel. In my view, this reason was given in Marvel's statement that Ditko was leaving "for personal reasons."

It wasn't because Ditko hated Spider-Man. HE DOESN'T! So stop saying that!

DITKO DOES NOT HATE SPIDER-MAN!

DITKO NEVER PHOTOGRAPHED?
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Steve Ditko has a reputation for being camera shy. Sometimes you read that there are no pictures of him at all! Or you see that same "THINK" picture over and over, as if it's the only one.

But think about it. I mean, it's not like we have zillions of pictures of Don Heck, or Bill Everett! And do we have tons of pictures showing the studios of Wally Wood, George Tuska, Joe Sinnott or John Romita? We don't.

In fact, how many comic creators have you seen a photo of? Probably very few. This issue, I've shown you photos of Mike Gold, Ralph Macchio, Jim Starlin, and many others. Wasn't that the FIRST TIME you ever saw these people? Weren't you startled a bit just by seeing their photos? Why is that?

The fact of the matter is that back in those days, cameras simply were NOT omni-present, as they are today. Taking a simple little snapshot meant buying a camera, buying film, loading it into the camera, taking the picture, then bringing the film somewhere to have it developed. And you had no clue if the pictures came out good until you got them back, usually more than a week later. Is it any wonder why we have so few shots of comic creators?

Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Neal Adams have all been heavily photographed. But what about John Buscema, Gil Kane, Larry Lieber, Dick Ayers, Gene ROARColan, Sal Buscema, Stan Goldberg, Joe Sinnott, Frank Giacoia, Herb Trimpe, or hundreds of others I could name?

Where are THEIR photos? Nowhere, that's where. Yet these men aren't stereo-typed as "camera shy." And while it's certainly true that Steve Ditko does not particularly enjoy or want to be photographed these days, I don't think it's valid to call someone who we have numerous photos of, in their studio, at the height of their career, camera shy. Lots of people don't like having their picture taken. Why pick on Steve? STOP DOING IT!

DITKO HAS BEEN PHOTOGRAPHED!

DITKO NEVER GIVES INTERVIEWS?
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NO. Not true! We've shown you THREE Ditko interviews, and just like the photos, that's three more interviews than we have with hundreds of other comic creators, who NEVER spoke on record. Absent the Herculean efforts of Roy Thomas to document comic history in Alter Ego magazine, the silence would be deafening.

However, it is true that Steve Ditko is not a fan of giving interviews. Why? Because, as "tall, blondish, bespectacled Steve" famously said in SHOWCASE #73 (April 1968, pictured below):
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Ditko once expanded a bit on this quote, adding: "When I do a job, it's not my personality that I'm offering, but my artwork. It's not what I'm like that ROARcounts; It's what I did and how well I did it. I produce a product — artwork or art and story. Steve Ditko is a brand name. I never talk about myself. My work is me. I do my best, and if I like it, I hope somebody else likes it too."

Although Ditko did only two interviews, or let's say two and a bit, if you count the NY Post "interview" -- again, that's two more than many other comic creators. And it's totally incorrect to say that Steve Ditko NEVER did interviews. SO STOP SAYING IT!

DITKO DID INTERVIEWS!

DITKO THE RANDIAN CULTIST?
NO! First of all, Ayn Rand was an author, not a cult leader, or a politician. She wrote books. Her philosophy, called "Objectivism," is not a religious cult -- it is, like any philosophy, a complex of ideas that produces a certain type of world view.

Objectivism does not demand total obedience. Those who believe in it do so completely voluntarily. Objectivism is not a religion. It has nothing to say about the afterlife, or how to reach it. There is no "Church of Objectivism," and Objectivism has no formal "organization." It's an IDEA.

As Ditko once put it, "While accepting Objectivism as my philosophical base: I am not a spokesman for Objectivism and I alone am responsible for the views expressed here!" (GUTS #5, 1969)

Flo Steinbeg recalled, "Steve had his own opinions and views about politics and things, but he didn't really talk about that stuff in the office. It was part of his life outside work."

Why has Ditko been labeled a cultist? Because most comic book creators are liberals, and, not surprisingly, the world view they present in comic books is liberal. For them, no other viewpoint has even the slightest validity. Their favorite words are "tolerance," and "diversity," but they have zero tolerance for anyone who doesn't agree with them, and their idea of "diversity" does not include diversity of thought. Their favorite stories are the ones where the liberal "educates" the deluded conservative into the "real" way things are -- the liberal way. And in the end, the hero always sees the light, and becomes a liberal.

So it was with Spider-Man in the beginning. Ditko was writing his autobiography -- the story of his own life. He couldn't sit by and watch Stan change his life into the opposite of what it had been. He was an outcast teen who grew up idolizing flawless heroes. He became, or always was, a conservative. And he was a devotee of Ayn Rand.
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Eventually, the "Ayn Rand stuff" became the sub-text of ALL Ditko's work. That "stuff" formed his foundation. That outdated "stuff" that USED to be known as... "having principles." And Ditko refused to give up his principles.

Stan Lee wanted Peter Parker's journey to end with discovering how great liberalism is. But Steve Ditko was and is -- a conservative! THE HORROR. THE HORROR. The liberal comic community has no choice but to acknowledge the brilliance of Ditko's work, but they can never accept his political viewpoint as having any validity. Liberals would prefer if that kind of thinking just... went away. (And to be fair, many conservatives also wish all liberals would go away.)

But the two-party system is the core of our democracy! If EITHER party just "went away," the other party's power would be absolute. And in case you haven't heard, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Does anyone, liberal OR conservative, REALLY want to live in a one-party state?

If One Party State was a rock band, its greatest hits would include, "The Great Purge," "The Gulag Archipelago," "The Great Leap Forward," and "The Holocaust." These killer tunes have slain nearly 100 million people. In fact, no one has EVER had more "hits" than One Party State!

“No matter how much your Party promises to accomplish, no matter what paradise it plans to bring mankind, whatever your other claims may be, there's one you can't avoid, one that will turn your paradise into the most unspeakable hell: [the] claim that man must live for the state." -Ayn Rand

In the opinion of Robby Reed, author of this article and sole creator of this web site, Ayn Rand is brilliant, and the principals espoused in her masterpiece, ATLAS SHRUGGED, as they apply to ART (and, for me, only sometimes to life), are among the most exciting and deeply moving ideas I have ever encountered. But I won't go into that here, especially since I already have in a previous issue (DBB #296).

Reader, you yourself may know who John Galt is. If you don't, then I have a question that may change your entire life -- WHO IS JOHN GALT?

John Galt is not a "cult leader" -- he is a fictional character who exemplifies an artistic ideal. He is the man who said he would stop the motor of the world -- AND DID.

"Following" John Galt and Ayn Rand is NOT the same as "following" Jesus, Buddha, or even someone like Jim Jones. Again, Rand was not a would-be Messiah, she was an author who incorporated her IDEAS into novels.

Personally, I love THE GREAT GATSBY. I have the book practically memorized, and that is no lie! From "In my younger days" to "borne back ceaselessly to the past." And I follow some of the ideas in that book. Does that make ME some kind of F. Scott Fitzgerald cultist? I don't think so.

Why is Ditko called a cultist? I believe the reason is that it's easier to dismiss Ditko as a cultist than it is to ROARaddress his ideas in a genuine intellectual manner. It's hard to dismiss "conservatism," but it's easy to dismiss a "cult."

And there's another reason, maybe the biggest one of all. It's this: "The J.D. Salinger of the comic book world belongs to a weird cult!" is a much more exciting headline than, "Elderly man has conservative views!" So Ditko often gets stereotyped as a cultist. Sensationalism sells. Whatever. But still, Ditko is NOT a "cultist." SO STOP SAYING THAT!

DITKO IS NOT A CULTIST!

and now... DITKO SPEAKS!
Reader, it ought to be clear to you by now that in my view, Steve Ditko is a champion. You've heard me ROAR -- and now, you're going to hear Ditko himself ROAR!

Except he doesn't sound like a lion, or a tiger. He sounds like a college philosophy professor giving a lecture explaining his views. He definitely ROARS -- not with volume, but by using REASON -- that which gains all by compelling none.

Below, excerpted from Rhino Home Video's "Masters of Comic Book Art" (1989)... the real, actual genuine VOICE of the one and only STEVE DITKO!
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XHere's what STEVE DITKO says in the
"Masters of Comic Book Art" clip above:

"Early comic book heroes were not about life as it is, but creations of how a man with a clear understanding of right and wrong, and moral courage, chose to act, even if branded an outlaw. He dispensed a better justice than the pervading legal, moral one.

He was a moral avenger. He was not like everyone else. Not the average, the common or the ordinary man. He was the exceptional one. The uncommon one. The one doing what others were unwilling to do, regardless of the opposition and the consequences to himself. His success provided a better model. Through a hero, one could identify the foolish, the corrupt and the Xguilty.

Today's flawed superheroes are superior in physical strength, but common, average, ordinary in mental strength; rich in super powers, but bankrupt in reasoning powers. They are perfect in overcoming the flawed super villains, saving the world, the universe! Yet helpless to solve their common, average, ordinary personal problems. It is like creating a perfectly physical adult with the reasoning limits of a six-year-old."
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THE VOICE YOU HAVE JUST HEARD...

Wow. Just wow. Steve Ditko doesn't sound like a nut case at all -- in fact, he sounds extremely intelligent. He sounds like a man who has put a great deal of thought into analyzing the world around him, in an attempt to impose order on it -- the job of the artist!

And THINK about it-- he's right. In the beginning, superheroes could and DID save the universe every other issue, but in their sub-plots, they were all like stupid children who just couldn't seem to get anything to go their way. Back in the day, Superman's average week consisted of defeating inter-galactic invaders, then returning to the Daily Planet to maintain a "relationship" with Lois Lane while fending off her latest attempt to expose his secret identity.

Was Spider-Man really all that different? Like Supes, he also fought a never-ending battle... to balance his love life with his crime fighting. And that went for almost EVERY superhero of the Swingin' Sixties, the era of which we speak! For many superheroes, it's still true today.
"SUPERHEROES WITH FEET OF CLAY"

As we showed you DBB #691, Stan Lee developed the Marvel line by mixing romance, monsters and westerns with elements from romance comics and soap operas. The genre-mixing stuff had been done before, but the soap opera element was new to superhero comics, and it was THAT element that stuck to our pal Spidey like webbing. It's been decades since Stan and Steve left the book, and the various teams who replaced them have just kept repeating the same storylines over and over, ad nauseam. Not just for Spidey, but for nearly EVERY superhero. (Although Spidey did recently take time out to get his mind possessed by Doc Ock for an ungodly long amount of time. Is that over yet?)

No wonder Ditko prefers his own brand of "pure" hero to the so-called "flawed" heroes featured in modern comic book -- "heroes" riddled with self-doubts, plagued by never-ending soap opera-style problems, and cursed with, as Ditko lamented, "the reasoning limits of a six-year-old."

Stan Lee once said, “[I decided to create] the kind of characters I could personally relate to. They’d be flesh and blood … they’d be fallible and feisty, and — most important of all — inside their colorful, costumed booties they’d still have feet of clay.”

ROAR"Feet of clay" refers to the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar as recounted in the Biblical book of Daniel. Essentially, having "Feet of clay" means having a character flaw.

Stan's "feet of clay" philosophy is, of course, at the heart of all his writing -- his heroes are ALWAYS flawed -- however, it stands in full contradistinction to Ditko's view that true heroes can NEVER be flawed.

These two views can never be reconciled. A hero simply cannot be both flawed and unflawed. Why? Because A is A.

DITKO FANS UNITE!

And now, Ditko fans worldwide -- form a circle, because we're going to TELL Mr. Ditko exactly how we feel about him! Steve, I know SOME of your "fans" have been horrible over the years. But swear to God, we're not all like them! I don't know exactly how to prove that to you... except, wait. Yes I do!

Steve, you have said, famously, that you ARE your work. So, what do we think of your work? Well, there's a magazine devoted to Jack Kirby. It's a beautiful magazine. It's called The Jack Kirby Collector. A nice name. And I do collect Jack Kirby!

There's also a periodical about Steve Ditko. It's called DITKOMANIA. The word MANIA is used because that's how we Ditko fans feel about your work. We don't simply enjoy it, or admire it -- we're CRAZY for it! And since the work is clearly a reflection of the man who created it, I hope I speak for every Steve Ditko fan worldwide when I say -- we also love YOU, Steve. We're crazy for YOU.

WHY are we crazy for you? Because every time you draw, you pour out your life's blood onto the page. You have toiled away, sometimes in the spotlight, sometimes in obscurity, for a lifetime. And what is your REWARD? Not wealth, not fame, but something money cannot buy, and fame cannot guarantee. Like the song says, "Wealth and fame, he's ignored." But ACTION isn't Steve Ditko's reward. His reward is immortality.

In the whole history of the human race, there have been millions -- TRILLIONS -- of artists, but there has only been ONE Steve Ditko. He is like no other. He has a style all his own, a GENIUS all his own, and an INTEGRITY all his own. He is one of the all time greats! He is a true living legend! He is the creator of not ONE brilliant character, or even TWO -- or even, well...

Now I'm going to read out some character names,
and I want everyone here to tell me -- who created them visually?


[Please start softly, and build to a ROAR!]


VOID

DITKO!

THE MOCKER

DITKO!

HERO

DITKO!

MASQUERADE

DITKO!

BLINDER

DITKO!

MISTER A

DITKO!

STATIC

DITKO!

KONGA

DITKO!

GORGO

DITKO!

THE CAPE

DITKO!

STALKER

DITKO!

CAPTAIN ATOM

DITKO!

THE QUESTION

DITKO!

THE MISSING MAN

DITKO!

SHADE THE CHANGING MAN

DITKO!

STARMAN

DITKO!

THE CREEPER

DITKO!

THE HAWK AND THE DOVE

DITKO!

THE BLUE BEETLE

DITKO!

REDESIGNED IRON MAN

DITKO!

THE ANCIENT ONE

DITKO!

WONG

DITKO!

NIGHTMARE

DITKO!

ETERNITY

DITKO!

CLEA

DITKO!

DR. STRANGE

DITKO!

THE VULTURE

DITKO!

ELECTRO

DITKO!

DOCTOR OCTOPUS

DITKO!

MYSTERIO

DITKO!

THE GREEN GOBLIN

DITKO!

KRAVEN THE HUNTER

DITKO!

THE CRIME MASTER

DITKO!

THE SCORPION

DITKO!

MOLTEN MAN

DITKO!

METEOR MAN

DITKO!

HARRY OSBORN

DITKO!

NORMAN OSBORN

DITKO!

FLASH THOMPSON

DITKO!

GWEN STACY

DITKO!

J. JONAH JAMESON

DITKO!

BETTY BRANT

DITKO!

AUNT MAY

DITKO!

PETER PARKER

DITKO! DITKO!

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

DITKO! DITKO! DITKO!

Or, as history will surely refer to him...

Steve Ditko -- an ARTIST -- an IMMORTAL.

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In closing, I do have one final thing to reveal. While researching this article, I learned something about Steve Ditko that I saved for last. Oh, you're not going to BELIEVE this one! It really tells you everything you need to know about the guy. Come closer reader, and I'll whisper it in your ear...

But first, you have to promise not to TELL anyone! It'll be our little secret.

Do you promise? OK.

Here it is...

You know those things called comic books?

That idiotic trash for five-year olds?

You're not going to believe this, but...

This Ditko guy -- he actually LIKES them!

You see? This Steve Ditko guy actually IS "abnormal" after all!

And reader (here's the MOST secret part) -- SO ARE YOU.

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Steve Ditko, photo taken by Martin Griem, colorized by Robby Reed.
EPILOGUE

And so reader, this special 80-pg. giant issue of DIAL B for BLOG comes to a close. I sincerely hope we've done Mr. Ditko justice. And now, the point of this entire article: We have a new Spider-Man movie premiering any day now. Steve Ditko, who is still very much alive, knows about it. He sees ads for it. Yet in the mind of the general public, he is not associated with the character. His name is not known. Let's change that!

Reader, Steve Ditko has given YOU countless hours of entertainment and enlightenment. Does he know how you feel about him? Probably not. Now would be a good time to tell him. Get on the internet right NOW, and flood the world with praise for Steve Ditko. Let's put the endless arguments aside, and concentrate on a few TRUE FACTS that are undeniable, unchallengeable, demonstrable, and universally agreed upon -- namely:

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STEVE DITKO DREW SPIDER-MAN!

Simplistic as that sounds, the general public is not aware of it! It's up to all of us to tell them. Hey world, Spider-Man did not draw himself! Steve Ditko drew Spider-Man. And Steve Ditko is not some weirdo. If you hear of anyone continuing to spread the myths we've busted here, ROAR. If you see someone on TV repeating these myths, e-mail them, flood their Facebook pages, call their networks, ROAR. If you see someone repeating these myths on the internet, ROAR.

But HOW, Robby? How do we ROAR? It's easy! Just post the banner image above, or link to this special issue of DBB, which will stay on the internet permanently, along with this entire article. And if someone still insists that Ditko is "abnormal," don't get into a big debate -- just tell them the truth: "You're right! Ditko IS abnormal. AND SO ARE YOU!"

Now reader, sadly -- even INSANELY LONG and ABSURDLY GREAT issues have to end sometime! We've reached that time. You can return to your mundane existence in the "real world" now (until our next issue!) -- for this is...
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Thank you to Steve Ditko fans world-wide
for their assistance with this article!


SPECIAL THANKS TO
WILL PRICE, MICHAEL T. GILBERT, BATTON LASH, ROB IMES, PATRICK FORD

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MORE?!?! OH YEAH, THERE'S MORE.
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TWO FACES ARE BETTER THAN ONE!

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