Monday, 17 September 2007

In Search of Steve Ditko

WARNING: It's another post about comics from the guy on here, who's not into comics.

Last night I watched In Search of Steve Ditko on BBC4.

It was a fascinating documentary wherby Jonathan Ross looked at the career of, and attempted to track down artist Steve Ditko. If you missed it and don't know who Ditko is, then he co-created Spiderman. Or he was the artist who worked with Stan Lee on Spiderman. Depending on whose version you want to believe.

The fact that he's not univerally credited as being the co-creator of Spiderman was a big feature of the film.

I was a big Spiderman fan when I was young and what I noticed from the panels they showed in the doc, was that Ditko's artwork was what I most associated with Spiderman. I had these early stories in paperback book form, a long time before the term 'graphic novel' was widely known, and I read them cover to cover numerous times.

Ross talked to a lot of big names in comics including Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Mark Millar. They discussed the reasons why Ditko suddenly, amid rumours of acrimony with Stan Lee, got up and left Marvel Comics.

There was also an interview with Stan Lee, who was put on the spot as to whether he believed Ditko was the co-creator. Lee was very diplomatic and suggested Ditko could have co-creator status if he wished, but when asked if he believed that he was, just couldn't bring himself to say so.

An excellent documentary the only disappointing thing about it for me was that a couple of newspaper previews said that there would be an on-camera interview with Ditko. In fact one preview I read said that it was 'moving'. Unfortunately Ross can't quite convince Ditko to appear on camera.

Jonathan Ross writes about it here in Friday's Guardian.

So, for more about the man himself, Canadian writer Blake Bell provides some stories of Ditko from the 1960s. Here he discusses his own visit with Ditko in 2001.

Bell also has his own Steve Ditko website.

From one of the best sources of information on comics on the net, Mark Evanier's News From Me comes these two pieces on Ditko relating to the documentary. In the first he discusses Ditko's alleged recluse status. In the second he provides a link to a 1968 interview and writes about Ditko's departure from Marvel. Here's Mark Millar on his own forum talking about the doc after he had watched it in June.

Finally Ditko's
Wikipedia page.

If you missed it, it’s repeated at 12.30am on Wednesday night on BBC4.

UPDATE: Here it is on YouTube. This is the first of seven parts.

1 comment:

Fraser said...

I enjoyed this immensely, mostly because it was done by comic lovers for comic lovers but was still very accessible for newcomers, highlighting as it did the fascinating controversy of why Ditko left Marvel.

It also didn't shy away from the fact that Ditko was a nutcase and the interview with Stan Lee, where Ross, as I knew he would, forced Lee's genuine opinions out of him was great.

I'd always been disappointed by Lee's failure to acknowledge the contribution of this collaborators, and while the interview never addressed issues like the poor payment and general shabby treatment of people like Kirby and Ditko while Stan made out like a bandit, I did find myself agreeing with him about what merits the term creator.

But at the end of the day the show sadly failed to deliver and ended on a pretty gargantuan anti climax.