Friday, 24 January 2014

Dave Sim's Letters: Meeting Steve Ditko

Ditkomania #91 (June 2013; Available as a free PDF)
Cover by Javier Hernandez
Edited by Rob Imes

Hi Rob,

Wow. Issue #90 [available as a free PDF] definitely comes right out of left field. I can't wait to read the letters of comment on this one.

I share a number of Ron Frantz's opinions and am diametrically opposed to numerous others, but -- having had the privilege of spending an hour talking with Steve Ditko OUTSIDE his studio (i.e. in the hall) a few weeks back -- I do feel compelled to provide a 2013 update, while avoiding violating Steve's well-known and (in my case) well-regarded sense of privacy.

If the neighbourhood in which he has his studio could be regarded as "dodgy" back in 1977, it's certainly nothing of the sort in 2013. The New York City clean-up of the area in the 1980s and 1990s is legendary and justly deserving of praise. Likewise the interior of the building.

The lobby is modern and clean and there is an on-duty security guard/receptionist in front of the bank of elevators which are well-maintained, modern and clean. I only saw Steve's floor, but it's in the same category.

And I don't mean "clean for New York City." The Hotel Pennsylvania where I stayed is in that category, the door jambs on the rooms showing signs of repeated attempts at forced entry, the paint chipped, etc. All part of the local charm, for me, and I felt perfectly safe. For New York City.

Steve Ditko's office building is quantum levels above that.

Venturing into borderline sense-of-privacy violation (forgive me, Steve!), I have to say that Steve is the best-dressed, best-groomed octagenarian in whose company I have ever spent time. He even edges out Will Eisner in that category (which is really saying something if you know how well-dressed and well-groomed Will was!).

Steve's environment and Steve's appearance were, to me, at striking variance with what has been presented to Ditko fandom over the years.

I also found him gracious, hospitable, engaging and extremely patient ... and sharp as a tack. Just for the record.

Aside from that, great issue! We all owe Mr. Frantz a great debt for committing his version of this aspect of comics history to paper, I think. Even where and when we hold views diametrically opposed to his own.


Box 1674, Station 'C'
Kitchener, Ontario N2G 4R2 Canada

This letter first appeared in Ditkomania #91, the magazine devoted to Steve Ditko, creator of Mr. A and co-creator of Marvel Comics' Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. Ditkomania #92 is now available (which includes Dave Sim's three-page review of Steve Ditko's Laszlo's Hammer), and can be yours for just $2.50 postpaid in the USA ($2.60 postpaid in Canada or Mexico; $3.40 postpaid for the rest of the world). Payment can be made via Paypal to 'robimes [at] yahoo [dot] com'. 

(Thanks to Michael Hoskins for the heads-up!)


J. Robinson Wheeler said...

Dear Dave, hello from Rob. I can't reply to your post without getting an internet error. But I read it, and I'll try to reply to it.


Anonymous said...

Well, good to hear that Steve's taking good care of himself. Since finding about his shunning of the fans and press, and hearing about his re-use of old Spider-Man pages (AAAAHHHHGGGGHHHH!!!!), I kind of imagined him being in the throes of a Hughs-esque hermit existence, long hair and fingernails, jars of urine lining the walls... or at least getting a little weird in the way that that fellow from Jeopardy described Dave a while back.

- Wesley Smith

Michael Grabowski said...

I hope that someday it will be appropriate for Dave to recount publicly his conversation with Ditko, at least to the extent that it covered comics, art, writing, and their philosophies. But what an awesome opportunity Dave had and I'm glad that he got to have it.