Writer Benjamin Marra has a fascinating article focusing on Spider-Man’s Co-Creator Steve Ditko. The article also has a quote from Ditko that I’ve never seen before. Ditko explains why he left Spider-Man, Marvel and his strained relationship with writer Stan Lee.
“Why should I continue to do all these monthly issues,” he says he thought to himself, “original story ideas, material, for a man who is too scared, too angry over something, to even see, talk to me?”
The lock clicked. The door opened. And there he was.
Imagine Uncle Junior from The Sopranos, but with sagging cheeks and a taller stature. He was wearing a black-and-gray checkered sweater-vest over a light-blue button-down. Coke-bottle lenses floated in thick, black spectacle frames. I didn’t get a look at his pants or shoes. He looked directly into my eyes, his expression sharp and preemptively irritated.
“Mr. Ditko?” I asked.
Before I could finish the second syllable of his name, he furrowed his brow, pursed his lips, and narrowed his eyes. He turned his head down and to his right at a 45-degree angle, and then shook it in what I assume was disgust. The door swung back into its frame and the deadbolt slammed in. The whole interaction lasted about six and a half seconds.
I stood there and the first thought that came to me was, Yeah, that seems about right. I considered knocking again, but froze. What am I doing? I thought. Why am I bothering this guy? I had done my due diligence, and now I felt a little ashamed. I grabbed my backpack and headed to the elevator.
As the writer was waiting outside Ditko’s apartment, two neighbors came out to talk to him and described their meeting with the man.
“One time, about ten years ago, I accidentally got a piece of his mail,” she said, her eyebrows rising scandalously. “I opened it and then realized it wasn’t mine because that check had too many zeroes.” My body jerked up with shock — that contradicted Ditko’s claim that he doesn’t get a cut. I asked for more details. She said it was from a movie studio, and that when she gave it back to him, he just took it and said nothing. “That’s probably why he can work in that little office,” she said, and laughed. “He’s doing all right.”