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CHAPTER SIX - PART EIGHT
"AFTER THE FIRE... THE FIRE STILL BURNS!"
The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN comic went in a radically different direction after Ditko quit Marvel. Now that publisher Martin Goodman, through Stan Lee, had total control, the nuanced sub-plots that DItko had been carefully building for many issues were resolved overnight, and his gradual character developement was all but abandoned. Suddenly, for no real reason, Peter Parker became outgoing, hip, and popular, and his formerly derisive classmates suddenly "all decided to act friendly to him."
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On the letters page of the first post-Ditko issue, Stan referred to Steve's departure in passing, never saying that he had quit Marvel, with no mention of his seminal role in creating the title's main character, all his supporting characters, his entire world and his world view. Stan only said, in a reply to a letter from "Annie," that "Ring-A-Ding [John] Romita is now so brilliantly illustrating Spidey's newest adventures." No mention of a guy named Steve.
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DITKO'S "TIME" LETTER
Bob Kane died on November 3, 1998, and his dear friend Stan Lee gave a eulogy for him. When TIME magazine covered the event, they called Stan the "creator of Spider-Man." Steve Ditko responded to this quote with a letter to the editors, which was published in TIME's December 7, 1998 issue. Ditko wrote...
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1999 CARTOON BY S. DITKO
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STAN CONSIDERS STEVE "CO-CREATOR"
In August 1999, Stan Lee wrote an open letter declaring, "I have always considered Steve Ditko to be Spider-Man's co-creator."
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Did this letter settle the issue? No. Ditko took issue with the phrase, "I have always considered Steve Ditko to be Spider-Man's co-creator," perhaps feeling it was too vague, and should have read "Steve Ditko WAS Spider-Man's co-creator."
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DITKO AT CHARLTON

After leaving Marvel, Ditko continued working for Charlton Comics (pictured above). He moved his place of residence from a studio apartment in New York to a hotel room in Derby, Connecticut, where Charlton's massive base of operations was located. Charlton was the only comics company that produced their comics entirely under one roof. At their huge plant, they wrote, drew, inked, edited and PRINTED their own comic books, as a division of a larger company that printed magazines.

They were the lowest-paying company in the comic industry, but they were famous for their non-interference with artists. Charlton's page rates were notoriously cheap, a fact the company itself was well aware of, and they didn't believe in giving artists $100 worth of complaints for a ten dollar page. At Charlton, Ditko's work sailed into print with virtually no alterations whatsoever.

Pictured below is Ditko's splash page for BLUE BEETLE #1, June 1967. It shows the Blue Beetle, but it could easily be Spidey punching his way through the Master Planner's henchmen. Perhaps, in pencil form, it was. It might have originally been drawn as the splash page of a Spider-Man story that never appeared.

The story inside the book is credited to D.C. Glanzman, but according to Charlton editor-in-chief Dick Giordano (quoted in "Comic Book Artist" #9), Ditko actually scripted the book, but asked not to be credited. Needing a scripting credit, Giordano asked Glanzman if he could use his name, and he agreed.
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BELOW: Unpublished BLUE BEETLE cover, colored by Rip Jagger.

BELOW: At Charlton, Ditko created THE QUESTION. DC later bought rights to the character, and Ditko did this illustration for WHO'S WHO IN THE DC UNIVERSE.
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Robby's home-made "Mister A" Who's Who page!

BELOW: Ditko cover for an unpublished Charlton Capt. Atom story, 1967.
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Ditko drew and hand-lettered this ad shown below to announce that he was "happy to be back at Charlton." The center shows a self-portrait of Ditko at his drawing table, in silhouette.
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DITKO AT WARREN

It wasn't all Charlton! Ditko did some of the finest work of his entire career for Warren Magazines,
a mix of brilliant line-work, mesmerizing ink-washes, and dazzling designs. Many of these stories, printed in black and white, echoed Ditko's work on Dr. Strange, as well as his Twilight-Zone inspired tales for AMAZING ADULT FANTASY.

BELOW: A sampling from the 16 stories Ditko did for CREEPY and EERIE.
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DITKO AT DC COMICS

And, of course, Steve Ditko co-created numerous characters while working for DC. Look how beautiful Ditko's drawings look when recolored for covers of DC's recent omnibus editions. Here's The CREEPER...
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and SHADE THE CHANGING MAN...
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BELOW: Shade illustration by Ditko from DC WHO'S WHO...
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In 1975, Ditko co-created STALKER. Pictured below is the Stalker page from the DC WHO'S WHO, pencilled by Ditko and inked by Joe Orlando!
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DITKO AT ATLAS

Ditko co-created THE DESTRUCTOR in 1975 for Atlas Comics, a new company run by former Marvel publisher, Martin Goodman. The fact that Ditko worked for Goodman again proves he was NOT the reason Ditko quit Marvel. If Ditko had hated Goodman badly enough to leave Marvel, it's improbable he would ever work for him again -- even eight years later. And recently, Ditko has written that he barely ever met Goodman, perhaps encountering him only a handful of times, in passing, in the Marvel offices.
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DITKO/MARVEL EPILOGUE

In 1992, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Tom DeFalco (pictured right) tried to get Steve Ditko and Stan Lee to reunite for a story in a new comic book Lee was writing, RAVAGE 2099. Ditko agreed to meet with Lee, and DeFalco was in in the room.

In WIZARD magazine #124 (2002), DeFalco recalled, "Steve came in, very flattered to be asked. The guys started to shake hands, then gave each other a big hug. It was a very warm reception between the two of them, and it was obvious these were two guys who really liked each other and really respected each other.

"Stan laid out his ideas for the series, they had a really terrific discussion going back and forth. A lot of Steve's discussions had been fiery, but this one was just so warm and friendly."

So, although the big Stan and Steve reunion meeting went very well, in the end, Ditko declined the project. But what about Spider-Man? Did Ditko ever consider doing another Spider-Man story? The surprising answer is... YES! Marvel editor Ralph Macchio (pictured left) once asked Ditko to do a Spider-Man story.

According to Macchio, Ditko said, "Well, I was thinking about doing Peter Parker -- what he did during that summer. What happened after he graduated? What did he do with his life?"

Things looked promising for a moment, but in the end, Ditko (again) declined the project. As the Bard said, of all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these -- "It might have been."

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