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brian0918

The spell of Ayn Rand ruins the creator of Spider-Man

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NYTimes: From Spider-Man to Ayn Rand (about comic book artist Steve Ditko and his conversion to Objectivism):

[Ditko] split with [stan] Lee and Marvel in 1966. By then, he’d fallen under the spell of Ayn Rand and Objectivism, and started producing an endless string of ham-fisted comics about how A is A and there is no gray area between good and evil and so on. “The Hawk and the Dove,” for instance, concerns two superhero brothers who … oh, you’ve already figured it out. Ditko could still devise brilliantly disturbing visuals — the Question, one of his many Objectivist mouthpieces, is a man in a jacket, tie and hat, with a blank expanse of flesh for a face — and his drawing style kept evolving, even as his stories tediously parroted “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” at the expense of character, plot and ultimately bearability. 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.

Edited by brian0918

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He actually sounds Roark-like. I like how this is the first time that I have ever heard that there was another creator of Spider-Man besides Stan Lee, and I've know of Spider-Man my whole life. It almost sounds like Lee was Ditko's version of Peter Keating. Wow, the world is just wrong sometimes. I would do anything to live in a world where heroic men were worshiped instead of torn to pieces in the NY Times.

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I already left a post about this story on the topic about Ditko. However, the New York times seems to have to put their political spin on everything apparently. All the news that fit to print my ass!!

Edited by Rearden_Steel

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He actually sounds Roark-like. I like how this is the first time that I have ever heard that there was another creator of Spider-Man besides Stan Lee, and I've know of Spider-Man my whole life. It almost sounds like Lee was Ditko's version of Peter Keating. Wow, the world is just wrong sometimes. I would do anything to live in a world where heroic men were worshiped instead of torn to pieces in the NY Times.

I was thinking the same thing. I've been a huge fan of Marvel Comics my whole life, but only ever thought of Stan Lee as the creator.

What about Ditko's remark that he can't draw vampires because Objectivism rejects the supernatural. While the latter is true, I don't think the former follows from that. Indeed, many of the recent interpretations of vampires (Blade, Underworld) explain them in entirely natural terms. And does Objectivism reject fantasy literature and authors? Surely there are some Objectivist fans of Lord of the Rings.

Do you think Ditko was just trying to rationalize some of his preconceived beliefs?

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This article touches me. More than anything it fills me with hate towards the newspaper who'd print something like that. I hate newspapers and the people who are the cause for the newspapers to be like that.

Even through the mask of lies you can see the story of that man, and it looks beautiful.

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Ditko resides in New York City as of 2008. He has refused to give interviews or make public appearances since the 1960s, explaining in 1969 that, "When I do a job, it’s not my personality that I’m offering the readers but my artwork. It’s not what I'm like that counts; it’s what I did and how well it was done.... I produce a product, a comic art story. Steve Ditko is the brand name".

:)

(From wikipedia)

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It is possible for an Objectivist author to write propoganda rather than good art. That's not a good thing. Are Ditko's critics reacting negatively to Rand and Objectivism? do they think that any seriousness is wrong (like people who think AR's fiction is long and boring)? or, are they criticizing Ditko for using propoganda at the expense of art? I think the only way to answer this is to look at the material oneself, and make a judgement. There was an earlier thread about "The Question", one of Ditko's heroes, where some of this was discussed. Also check out this essay, friendly to Ditko.

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Coming from a comic fan, a lot of Ditko's work is pretty laughable, and that includes the Objectivism stuff. The dialog between Mr. A and his criminal victims is so screaming of someone who has simply stolen Rand's words and put them in a comic.

The Question is much better artistically and from a literature standpoint. He does not just go into Galt's speech at every chance he gets. Ditko isn't untalented, but his Objectivist-based stuff isn't as strong as other stuff he did.

Also, I find it odd that Ditko would not draw vampires, but he was fine with Dr. Strange, one of the most mystic-based characters in comic book history.

Ditko seems to me to be an old crank who did some bad art based on a good philosophy. He's a legend in the business with his early influences, and not all of his later-career stuff is bad but he needs to reconsider his premises on a few things. I think he's become more of a misanthrope than some brave producer.

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Also, I find it odd that Ditko would not draw vampires, but he was fine with Dr. Strange, one of the most mystic-based characters in comic book history.
Take that vampire story with a large pinch of salt. That's just the kind of thing someone would take out of context and make something of it that was not intended... i.e. it could be a smear. Similarly, while the picture of a misanthrope might be true, it could well be a smear.

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NYTimes: From Spider-Man to Ayn Rand (about comic book artist Steve Ditko and his conversion to Objectivism):

I like the reportorial neutrality that the quote has, really let's people make up their minds without prejudice, right? Well, the world is talking about "Going Galt" and the NY Times is circling the drain hot on the heels of the Boston Globe. Why should I complain about them disparaging Objectivism? We should help them along. If they want to make fools and corpses of themselves, don't let them stop on my account. In fact I'll gladly pour gasoline on their self-immolation pyre.

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Whatever the guy may think of Ayn Rand, her style or her philosophy, she sure does sell. So why would the influence of a bestseller turn Ditko into a commercial failure? If Ayn Rand's style was that unbearable, people would stop buying her books too, not just Ditko's comics.

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