Saturday, 4 June 2016


Tsk! Tsk! Whatever Happened To Common Sense?
(The Comics, July 1999; reprinted in Avenging World, 2002)
by Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko comics can be obtained from Robin Snyder at:
3745 Canterbury Lane #81, Bellingham, WA, 98225-1186, or
 SnyderandDitko [at] icloud [dot] com
All available Steve Ditko books are listed here. 

Tom Peirce also wrote that I said "women are leeches of male light and incapable of rational thought".

They certainly CAN be leeches of male light and I think that's worth cautioning young men about.  I wish someone had cautioned me.  "She ain't pretty she just looks that way".  But I don't think I ever suggested that female voids are an inescapable inevitability.  Saying that they exist, I don't think I'm telling anyone they didn't already know about a dear friend of theirs who just won't let himself see what/who it is that he's gotten involved with.

[although the NATIONAL POST has yet to so much as mention anything about it, Sandeep has been keeping me posted on Johnny Depp's latest adventure in those areas.  It's not something I've made up because I have an unreasoning hatred for women:  it's a not-uncommon reality that I think is becoming less uncommon as the Feminist Theocracy gets a stranglehold on our society]

"Unlike Sim, Ditkoism promotes rational thought and self-awareness regardless of gender."

I think it's worth pointing out that the Feminist Theocracy DOESN'T do that.  "Believe the Women" as a hard and fast rule isn't rational given the incidents where women have demonstrably been proven to have lied to the judicial detriment of innocent men.  I've always championed rational thought -- but I think I'm safe in saying that carte blanche "Believe the women" isn't remotely rational.  Except in case like Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton where the sheer numbers make "Believe the women" the ONLY rational response.

Although I would agree with Mr. Peirce that Ditko, to the best of his abilities, does believe in rational thought, he doesn't see himself as a promoter, I don't think.  If you write him a letter, he'll explain to you where and how he disagrees with you.  But it's strictly between you and him.  Someone who "promotes" a view doesn't see it that way.

I can't say that there's very much that Ditko wrote to me that he hasn't said any number of different ways in his creative works and in his concise essays that Robin Snyder has published.  He's addressed the whole quitting SPIDER-MAN thing very concisely and very consistently -- in THE COMICS.  The idea that he hasn't address it comes from people like Blake Bell who think they have a right to be addressed directly because they're Ditko fans and they write unauthorized books about him.  If you want to know what Ditko thinks, Robin Snyder is the guy to write and cheque to.  "Here. Here's Ditko."

The point of Objectivism is to start with "A is A" and keep it from getting too much more complicated than that:  complications bearing the blight of subjectivism.

In my experience and after extended correspondence with him, Ditko doesn't believe in any kind of "Ditkoism"(Mr. Peirce's term)...or Objectivism...or Ayn Rand...specifically.  His philosophy issues from Aristotle.  To the extent that Objectivism and Rand conform to his perceptions of Aristotle philosophy, he subscribes to them.

I can't be an Objectivist, by definition, because I believe in God.  But I certainly admire what Objectivism endeavours to do:  to develop a methodology by which the nature of objective reality can be determined and to then propagate that methodology.

I believe in Objective Reality but I believe that it is only accurately perceived by God.  Everything else is subjective.  Thus, my own bottom line: "We'll find out on Judgement Day" and "God will not wrong you so much as the husk of a datestone."

So, that was very much the "row I was hoeing" in writing to Ditko.  Not surprisingly, he was having none of it and a spirited discussion resulted.

[phone message from Jeff Seiler just before I came in here:  John Lougher, one of the core SPACE guys has just passed.  Sincere condolences to his family.  As Jeff said, he was definitely "one of us" for the period when I was ignoring being a pariah and attended selected public functions.  He never said much, but when he did, it always was worth listening to]  


Dave Kopperman said...

Let me preface this by saying that Ditko clearly is the co-creator of Spier-Man, in every sense of the word. But I've always found that particular Ditko page at the top of the post to be a little manipluative - by reducing Stan Lee's contribution to such a generic degree that it leaves out anything about the character. I'm certain Ditko knew that if he actually put in the original synopsis, it would have weakened the force of his argument. Even a general idea of what a written synopsis would be; say, "socially awkward teenager gets bitten by a radioactive spider and turns to fighting crime out of a sense of guilt for having allowed his uncle to be killed." That immediately puts Ditko's contribution in perspective.

The thrust of Ditko's argument here is that the iconic visual of the character is more important in a visual medium. Not AS important, mind you, but MORE important. I couldn't disagree more strongly, and I suspect most Cerebus readers would agree with the following: the quality of writing in a comic is the thing that makes the comic great. You can, after all, have a great comic with mediocre to even rudimentary art ("Persepolis" comes to mind), but anything that hopes to have lasting value and impact needs to have strong writing and even stronger ideas propelling it.

Great art can make a good story better, but shitty writing is unreadable even if (say) Bernie Wrightson brings every last ounce of his truly prodigious talent to bear on it. Case in point: people to this day are still buying and reading the Alan Moore "Swamp Thing", whereas the original 70's run is largely forgotten. Bear in mind that this is NOT a knock on Len Wein, who clearly had a lasting idea in his reinvention of the X-Men.

Dave Kopperman said...

Whoops! Hit enter before I clarified that I don't mean Wein's writing on the early Swamp Thing is even remotely "shitty." They're fun, effective quasi-horror comics. But the central IDEA wasn't as potent as Moore's take on it - man gets transformed into monster, has adventures while looking to restore his humanity versus deceased man's consciousness unknowingly inhabits plant life and animates it and has therefore irretrievably lost said humanity, later discovering that he is, in fact, an inheritor of a role as the living embodiment of the Earth's vegetation. The latter had staying power, the first, not as much (although Wrightson's design DID continue forth long after Moore's ideas were driven into the ground by later writers, so point, Ditko).

Jeff Seiler said...

Dave, I agree. If the early Cerebus comics had not been written reasonably well (rudimentary but effective storytelling), the art might have killed the book. I have always bought comic books for their stories. If there's eye candy in them (like, say, Gerhard's, environments), well then, icing on the cake!

Kit said...

I couldn't disagree more strongly, and I suspect most Cerebus readers would agree with the following: the quality of writing in a comic is the thing that makes the comic great

And Ditko was the main writer of his Spider-Man stories - plotting, laying out, designing, cartooning and* writing first-pass or rough dialogue. His writing is apparent in his characters' body language, their behaviour, their choices. He's writing the panel transitions. He's writing the action. He's writing the conflicts.

The cartoon only argues that Spider-Man, the character, is a co-creation; not that the writing or art in any given story is more or less important than the other.

*(per his text here - I've seen plenty of reproductions of Kirby pages with pencilled dialogue or dialogue summaries by Kirby, but not seen any Ditko pages with the same, so have no judgement on that. I've read printed Lee/Kirby comics where Lee's bloviating overpowers or actively contradicts the action depicted, too, but in my experience Lee's faux-hip dialogue and narration on Ditko's Spider-Man was more successful at achieving a compelling synthesis, a gestalt, than any Lee/anyone work I've seen.)

Dave Sim said...

I think it's worth noting that Stan Lee basically BUILT AMAZING ADULT FANTASY as a vehicle for Steve Ditko. I don't think there's another book that's in that category. Whatever it was that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko did together -- the structure of their collaboration -- was SINGULAR and definitely pre-dates SPIDER-MAN by several years.

Dave Kopperman said...

Definitely true. Lee and Ditko had a really special collaborative touch (it may be that they shared more of an internal sense of story logic and morality plays than Lee shared with Kirby). I wonder if Lee has stated which collaboration he was proudest of? It's a little difficult to separate his love for the success of Spider-Man from the creative aspects, but given the affection he clearly has for the character, I'd bet that's the one.

I don't think that takes away from my original assessment, though, and if I didn't state it clearly enough, Spider-Man needed BOTH Lee and Ditko firing on all cylinders to be born (and to build the initial mythology).

Anonymous said...

Dave, do you have any thoughts (or inside knowledge) on who did what regarding the creation of the Marvel Universe? Ditko definitely deserves co-creator credit on "Spider-Man," but I've actually been thinking about this lately, and my impression is that Stan Lee's initial 'write a comic book that I would want to read' inspiration was followed by getting ideas from wherever he found them. I suspect that Jack Kirby contributed something to "Spider-Man," given that he drew [part of?] the original strip and the cover for "Amazing Fantasy" #15, and one of the ostensible inspirations, "The Fly."

At this late date, we'll never know what Kirby brought to the mix, but my impression is that Stan was trying to do something radically different, and he made use of Kirby and Ditko (and anybody else in the vicinity) as much as possible. There's a legend about a never-named "Superman" writer who had no idea what to do with the character, so he conspired to find out what subway Kirby took on his way to drop pages off at Marvel, met Kirby on the train, struck up a conversation, and by the time he left and headed to DC, had a dozen ideas for Weisinger or Schwartz [whoever was in charge at the time] to think about. I think it's not humanly possible that Stan wouldn't have gotten any ideas he could have from Jack, as they reshaped comics, from the time they started "Fantastic Four" to the addition of all the other characters.

Anonymous said...

It's ChrisW writing the above, by the way.

Dar said...

I tend to admire Ditko even more than Kirby, if for no other reason than that he seems the superior writer (apparently Lee thought so too, thus what seems the extra lee-way he gave Ditko), but also that Ditko never resorted to the childish trashing of Lee that Kirby did. Here we see Ditko asserting co-creation, while Kirby asserting sole creation.

Still, Ditko is being kind of unfair, in that Lee never claimed to be th4e sole creator of Spider-Man. Lee's open willingness to give Ditko the credit for Dr. Strange should have showed Ditko Lee's honesty.

Either way, those two are the only ones left of the trio, the last of the Titans, and I hope there is no more hard-feeling between them.