A cause of death has been released for legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko. According to the chief medical examiner, Ditko suffered from arteriosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease– a heart attack brought on by clogged arteries. Ditko was found unresponsive in his apartment on June 29, by a social worker who had not heard from him in a few days. It is believed that he had been dead for at least two days prior. Ditko was 90 years-old.
News of Ditko’s passing swept like wildfire on Friday with many paying their respects to the co-creator of some of the most popular comic book characters in history, including Marvel’s Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. Unlike the prolific Jack Kirby, Ditko’s output was smaller and more eccentric. He was also described as being introverted with some calling him “the J.D. Salinger of comics.” As such, he never married nor had kids.
Spider-Man and Doctor Strange were decidedly quirkier than their husky counterparts like Captain America and Thor. Ditko rendered them as slight-of-frame and focused their abilities through their hands, which the artist drew in bizarre contortions. Not only were some of his creations truly frightful– the Green Goblin, Nightmare– Doctor Strange’ adventures, in particular, tended to take place in trippy, psychedelic dimensions. (Ditko himself was not a drug user.)
Later in his career, he continued to create other quirky characters like the faceless Question for Charlton Comics, and DC’s The Creeper. The Question, along with Ditko’s other creations for Charlton, Blue Beetle, and Captain Atom, were later used as the inspiration for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s ‘Watchmen’. In more recent times (relatively speaking), Ditko created two new fan favorites who have been embraced by fans, Speedball and Squirrel Girl.
Said Nick Lowe, Marvel executive editor in the Spider-Man office and vice president of content, digital publishing:
“Steve Ditko’s hands and soul are all over the best character in all of fiction. He was a pillar of the House of Ideas who not only co-created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, but many of the best villains in comic book history. Steve was the first to make Marvel truly weird, and for that we are forever grateful.”
R.I.P. Steve Ditko: November 2, 1927 – June 27, 2018