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Spider-Man and Doctor Strange Co-Creator Steve Ditko Dies at 90

Legendary comic book artist, along with Stan Lee, created two of Marvel’s most enduring and popular characters.

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ cover, published on the Marvel website in remembrance of Steve Ditko.

Steve Ditko, who along with fellow artist and publisher Stan Lee, created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, two of Marvel Comics’ most famous characters, has died at age 90, according to The Hollywood Reporter. His death was announced this past Friday, though New York police reportedly found him dead in his apartment on June 29th.

Marvel Entertainment president Dan Buckley, in a statement published on the Marvel website, said, “Today, the Marvel family mourns the loss of Steve Ditko. Steve transformed the industry and the Marvel Universe, and his legacy will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with his family, loved ones, and fans during this sad time.”

Ditko, who drew comics for the Army newspaper while serving in postwar Germany, moved to New York in 1950, enrolling at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School – renamed the School of Visual Arts in 1956 - under the G.I. Bill. Batman artist Jerry Robinson, a teacher at the school, invited Lee to speak to Ditko’s class, the first meeting of what would end up being a prolific relationship.

Ditko began working commercially on a number of publications starting in 1953. In late 1955, he began drawing for Atlas Comics, which started branding as Marvel Comics in 1961. The character of Spider-Man, his collaboration with Lee, debuted in August 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15 and proved popular enough to warrant its own series, The Amazing Spider-Man. Doctor Strange first appeared in Strange Tales #110 in July 1963, with Ditko working on the comic through the July 1966 issue, at which point he left the publisher.

Much has been written about Ditko leaving Marvel, reportedly over a fight with Lee, though the details have never been definitive. Notoriously private, Ditko never explained his reasons for departing – one of the most generally accepted theories is that Ditko was unhappy because his contributions to Spider-Man and Doctor Strange were not properly credited. He went on to work for Charlton and DC Comics, before returning to Marvel in 1979, where he freelanced into the 1990s. He is also known for creating Mr. A in 1967, a character inspired by the philosophy of Ayn Rand, The Question, Hawk and Dove, the Creeper, as well as Squirrel Girl.

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.