The legendary man who co-created Spider-Man, Steve Ditko, has been absent from mainstream comics since 1998. Since then he’s been, as “The New York Times” put it:
By the ’70s he was regarded as a slightly old-fashioned oddball; by the ’80s he was a commercial has-been, picking up wretched work-for-hire gigs. Bell suggests that, following the example of Rand’s John Galt, Ditko hacked out moneymaking work, saving his care for the crabbed Objectivist screeds he published with tiny presses. And boy, could Ditko hack: seeing samples of his Transformers coloring book and his Big Boy comic is like hearing Orson Welles sell frozen peas.
The portrait that emerges here is of an artist whose principles have ossified into bitter perversity. Bell relates stories of Ditko’s refusing to draw vampires because Objectivism rejects the supernatural; quitting a series because of a dispute over coloring production; and using a priceless old page of his original artwork as a cutting board. Ditko isn’t easy to love. As vivid as his work is, it’s never been pretty, and he’s never returned to his most famous creations for a victory lap or courted attention beyond acknowledgment of his work. The raw, nightmarish visions of his art are all he offers, and all he’s ever needed to offer.
Yes, since his departure from mainstream comics Ditko has quietly published his work, most of it focusing on the Randian philosophies that he strong believes in, with the help of his publisher Robin Snyder, who edited for him at Charlton Comics. Over a year ago, Ditko and Snyder went to Kickstarter to raise the funds to reprint his works in The Ditko Service Package #2 and found success.
Recently, the two returned to Kickstarter and were even more successful in their newest venture, which is still in the funding phase. The new title they are selling this time is a book called #9 Teen and is being sold as the next in the ongoing series that follows Ditko’s character of Madman and a slew of other characters. All this is provided is a brief synopsis and a single picture:
ROBIN SNYDER AND STEVE DITKO Celebrate 26 years of publishing with a brand-new title
#9 Teen is complete, finished and ready to go.
There is only the editorial page to complete and we will release our new book.
This new comic book contains another story in the ongoing series of Madman plus a unique variety of some of the most original characters in the comics and more.
Steve Ditko famously left Spider-Man over differences with Stan Lee and has always been a strong voice in the conservative movement where he cites a lot of his theories from Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand’s central philosophy is that of Objectivism or the rational self-interest, living one’s life in the pursuit of one’s own happiness.
As of this current writing, Ditko’s Kickstarter has received $4,257 of its $2,100 goal and will be funded by 164 backers. With Kickstarter’s model being was it is, one that requires a community to support a project so that it might exist, I found it interesting that it was the method that Ditko went about securing funds for his newest venture. While I am no expert on Objectivism, I think this particular method could draw an opposition to that particular philosophy. Perhaps Ditko and Snyder have thought this through more than I have?
Either way, it is always reassuring to see that Ditko, at the age of 86, is still creating works that can inspire and challenge just as his Peter Parker did when he first swung onto the scene in 1962.