Yesterday, the comic book world was rocked by the sad news of Ditko's death. Ditko's passing was confirmed by the New York City Police Department, who found Ditko in his apartment on June 29, and believe he passed away two days earlier. A reclusive figure in the modern comic book industry, Ditko has no known survivors.
Ditko was a defining figure for both Marvel and DC Comics, and both publishers have issued press releases collecting tributes from key members of staff. Marvel Editor-in-Chief C. B. Cebulsky clearly spoke for the whole comic book industry when he stated:
"It’s impossible to put into words the impact that Steve Ditko had not just on comics, but on modern pop culture. With ink and imagination, he thrilled readers with amazing and awe-inspiring adventures. Ditko didn’t just create characters – he built worlds. But today it is our world that is saddened by his loss. While he may no longer walk this mortal plane, Steve’s legacy will continue to endlessly inspire us all."
"A Ditko comic never looked like anyone else’s," DC Entertainment Publisher Dan DiDio agreed. "Aside from his deceptively simple art style—which was uniquely Ditko's—he was a master at plotting and filling his stories with energy." For Nick Lowe, the Marvel Executive Editor responsible for the Spider-Man books, Ditko will forever be remembered because his "hands and soul are all over the best character in all of fiction." Lowe pointed out that Ditko shouldn't just be remembered for the heroes he created, but also for the villains; the artist was responsible for designing countless members of Spider-Man's rogues' gallery, one of the best-developed in comics.
Many of Ditko's characters have now been translated on to the big screen, and actors and directors have paid their respects, remembering that quintessentially beautiful Ditko style. "He never truly profited from his comic creations that have lasted for decades," Edgar Wright noted on Twitter, "but his work will never be forgotten." James Gunn, whose Guardians of the Galaxy films channel so much of Ditko's artistic style, summed it up perfectly; "RIP Steve Ditko, one of my very favorite comic book artists. Thank you." Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson shared a simple "Goodbye Steve Ditko," along with the piece of comic art seen above.
Comic book artists and writers have taken to social media in a collective outpouring of grief and sorrow, paying tribute to one of the legends who defined the medium they work in. J.M. DeMatteis looked back at his own career, recognizing the impact Ditko had. "Without Steve Ditko there'd be no Ted Kord," he noted, "which means no Beetle and Booster anchoring JLI. Without Steve Ditko there'd be no Kraven the Hunter, which means no Kraven's Last Hunt. We build our careers on the backs of giants." Neil Gaiman offered his own statement in honor of the legendary creator; "Often copied. Never equaled. I know I'm a different person because he was in the world." Ditko spent his last years still creating comics in his New York studio, and hoped to be remembered more for them than for his earlier work. Whether or not that ends up being the case, the man's legacy will surely continue to touch pop culture for generations to come.