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Nuff said? Stan Lee’s letter confirming Steve Ditko as Spider-Man’s co-creator
05.28.2014
07:54 am

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Art
Pop Culture

Tags:
Stan Lee
Steve Ditko
Spider-Man

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In 1999, comic book hero Stan Lee wrote an open-letter confirming Steve Ditko’s role as co-creator of Spider-Man. The letter was in response to some public niggling between Ditko and Lee over who did what in the creation of the character.

The controversy came about after Lee “reminisced in Comic Book Marketplace about his inspirations for writing an acclaimed late 1965 issue of Amazing Spider-Man.” This led to artist Steve Ditko breaking his long silence on the subject, as told in Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics—The Untold Story:

“Stan never knew what was in my plotted stories,” the artist wrote to the [Comic Book Marketplace] editors, “until I took in the penciled story, the cover, my script and Sol Brodsky took the material from me and took it all into Stan’s office, so I had to leave without seeing or talking to Stan.”

A few months later, after Lee was identified in TIME magazine as the creator of Spider-Man, Ditko popped up on that magazine’s letters page, too:

“Spider-Man’s existence needed a visual concrete entity,” Ditko wrote. “It was a collaboration of writer-editor Stan Lee and Steve Ditko as co-creators.”

This time Lee picked up the phone and called Ditko, for the first time in more than thirty years.

“Steve said, ‘Having an idea is nothing, because until it becomes a physical thing, it’s just an idea,’” Lee recalled.

“And he said it took him to draw the strip, and to give it life, so to speak, or to make it actually some- thing tangible. Otherwise, all I had was an idea. So I said to him, ‘Well, I think the person who has the idea is the person who creates it. And he said, ‘No, because I drew it.’ Anyway, Steve definitely felt that he was the co-creator of Spider-Man. And that was really, after he said it, I saw it meant a lot to him that was fine with me. So I said fine, I’ll tell everybody you’re the co-creator. That didn’t quite satisfy him. So I sent him a letter.”

In the letter dated August 18th, 1999, Lee wrote:

To Whom It May Concern:

I would like to go on record with the following statement…

I have always considered Steve Ditko to be Spider-Man’s co-creator.

When I first told Steve my idea for a shy, teenaged high-school science student who’d be bitten by a radioactive spider, thus gaining the ability to stick to walls and shoot webs, Steve took to it like a duck to water.

Steve’s illustrated version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and his coterie of supporting characters was more compelling and dramatic than I had dared hope it would be. From his very first panel, Steve created and established the perfect mood and gestalt for Spider-Man.

Also it goes without saying that Steve’s costume design was an actual masterpiece of imagination. Thanks to Steve Ditko, Spidey’s costume has become one of the world’s most recognizable visual icons.

Nor can I forget to credit Steve with the many, many brilliant plots he furnished as the strip continued to increase in popularity with each passing month. So adept was he at story-telling, that Steve eventually did most of the plotting and illustrations while I, of course, continued to provide the dialogue and captions.

I write this to ensure that Steve Ditko receives the credit to which he is so justly entitled.

Yours sincerely,

Stan Lee

Nuff said?! Perhaps not: Ditko was apparently upset that Lee used the word “considered,” as Lee explains in the clip from Jonathan Ross’ BBC documentary In Search of Steve Ditko embedded below.

Check out more of Sean Howe‘s on-line supplement to Marvel Comics: The Untold Story here. Below, Stan Lee’s original letter, plus a selection of Steve Ditko’s artwork for Spider-Man after the jump.
 
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Stan Lee discusses Steve Ditko’s role in the creation of Spider-Man—and Ditko’s reaction to this very letter—with Jonathan Ross from the BBC documentary In Search of Steve Ditko:

 
Some Ditko splash-pages from Spider-Man, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Bill Murray as The Human Torch in ‘The Fantastic Four’ radio series, 1975
09.05.2013
01:10 pm

Topics:
Media

Tags:
Bill Murray
Stan Lee
The Fantastic Four

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A young Bill Murray stars as The Human Torch, aka Johnny Storm, in this 1975 radio adaptation of The Fantastic Four, narrated by Stan Lee.

This episode is #4 “Dreaded Doctor Doom.” You can listen to the whole series (10 eps) here.

‘Nuff said?
 

 
Via Scheme 9

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Searching for Steve Ditko’: Spider-Man’s reluctant co-creator (and the Ayn Rand connection)
08.28.2013
10:02 am

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
Jonathan Ross
Stan Lee
Steve Ditko


 

The name Steve Ditko probably means very little to you if you aren’t a comics fan, but if you are, then the name is well known to you: Steve Ditko is the co-creator of Spider-Man, the original artist who envisioned the character along with Stan Lee. The worldwide smash of the Spiderman film franchise saw many Ditko-drawn Spider-Man classics republished and a concurrent growing fascination with the reclusive artist, who is still working in New York, at age 85.

Aside from Spider-Man, Ditko was also the co-creator, again with Lee, of the cosmic Dr. Strange, who was my favorite comic book hero as a child. The comic panels of Dr. Strange were some of the most vividly psychedelic ever seen in comics, and they contrasted sharply with his rendering of Peter Parker’s drab world, which was almost Soviet in comparison.
 
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In the mid-60s, Ditko began to chafe at Stan Lee’s dictatorial editorship of Spider-Man and eventually got Lee to agree to let him plot Spider-Man—unheard of at Marvel—while control freak Lee would write the actual dialogue suggested from Ditko’s stories. The arrangement did not last long. Spider-Man as originally written was very much a conflicted character as we all know, but the character also had a lot of anti-establishment appeal—he was a smartass—and this is one of the many reasons the character took off in the heady era of the ‘60s. At the time that Ditko’s grasp on Spider-Man tightened, so did his interest grow in the Objectivist philosophy of Russian-born novelist, Ayn Rand. When Rand’s humorless black and white moralizing started creeping into the Spider-Man stories, Lee balked and soon the two men were not speaking to each other. Eventually Ditko left, leaving behind a character that would go on to become a billion dollar enterprise. He would never draw Spider-Man again and has essentially erased himself as much as possible from the character’s history.

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It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that Ditko sees himself as a real-life “Howard Roark,” Rand’s fictional architect in The Fountainhead, a man who refuses to compromise his vision. Rand’s influence was even more obvious in his right wing vigilante character Mr A, who would throw someone off a building for disagreeing with him. His work became didactic, shrill, hectoring and rightwing his influence waned. Mr. A was like Bill O’Reilly as a superhero. What teenager wants to be yelled at by a moralistic superhero? In the opinion of many, his work degenerated into fascistic rhetoric and lunacy from the late 1960s onwards.

 

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There have been almost no interviews, ever, with Steve Ditko. While really not a hermit or a recluse, he’s an intensely private person and refuses all interviews, although there are stories of him speaking to a fan ballsy enough to ring his doorbell, but always standing in the doorway, never inviting them into his studio. In his BBC documentary In Search of Steve Ditko, otaku British talkshow host Jonathan Ross tracked Ditko down in New York City and called the artist on the telephone. Ditko politely refused his request for an on camera interview. But when Ross (and Neil Gaiman) showed up on his doorstep, he did in fact entertain them, although not on camera.

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Blake Bell’s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, a coffeetable book published by Fantagraphics, is a wonderful and fascinating look at Ditko’s life and work. Kudos to Bell for putting together such a volume which was clearly a labor of love and unique erudition. I can’t imagine how much shit he had to go through to be able to put together such a book. I’m sure Steve Ditko was no help!

Below, Jonathan Ross’s wonderful BBC documentary Searching for Steve Ditko:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Mini-Lee: Stan Lee meets his mustachioed 7-year-old doppelgänger
05.23.2013
08:31 am

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
Stan Lee


 
While fan conventions always brings out the most imaginative of nerdish costumes, it is rare that I’m truly surprised. However, this little girl from last weekend’s Motor City Comic Con, in full Stan Lee drag,  is the living end. The… living… end. (She’s even doing her little Spider-Man web-slinger move!)

Stan’s “Mini-Me” is 7-year-old badass Isabella Cracchiolo whose father Vincent recently covered the convention for Bleeding Cool.
 

 
Stan Lee girl
 

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Communism’s Mightiest Super-Heroes: What if Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had been Russian?

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The Freedom Collective is a one-shot comic that pays homage to the story-telling and artistry of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and asks:

What if…those two giants had lived and worked in Russia and shared its hopes and fears of the time?

It’s a neat idea and shows ‘Communism’s mightiest super-heroes, striking at the heart of evil Capitalism for the workers of the world!

Can the Krimson Kommisar, MIG-4, Mastodon, Ajys and Homeland defeat the power of the evil Chief? It is a crime against the State not to buy the comic and find out. And crimes against the State are taken VERY seriously.

Written by Igor Sloano and Comrade Barr, with Art by Domski Regan and Comrade Barr, The Freedom Collective is produced by Rough Cut Comics, and has already received high praise from The Jack Kirby Collector, Grant Morrison and Alex Ross. It is a must-have for all Comrades of Great Comic Art.

Order your copy here, before its too late!
 
Bonus pictures of the Communist Super-heroes in action, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
That Old Black Magic: Stan Lee duets with Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy

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Well, sort of…

And while one may be tempted to criticize Lee’s artistic interpretations of jazz standards, you do have to admire his spryness. He’s still incredibly involved in the community (this video was taken at Comikazi, a comic, sci-fi, and fantasy convention), and he’s never stopped working.

Lee’s Spider-Man Chronicle: A Year by Year Visual History is slated for release October first. Not bad for an 89-year-old!
 

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Stan Lee’s rant on why ‘fuck you’ isn’t really an insult
09.11.2012
02:00 pm

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Stan Lee


 
60 Minutes needs to hire Stan Lee pronto to take over Andy Rooney’s empty “old guy ranting” chair. Now THAT I would watch! Excelsior!

See more of Stan Lee’s rants at his YouTube channel World of Heroes.
 

 
Via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Nuff Said: Stan Lee ‘naked’ centerfold, 1983
08.24.2012
10:09 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Heroes

Tags:
Stan Lee
Marvel Comics


 
Well, here’s something you don’t see every day: Stan Lee posing centerfold-style for a whimsical behind-the-scenes of office life at a Marvel Comics photoshoot in 1983.

Photographer Eliot R. Brown, who shot this gem, said of the session, “Stan indeed kept his fire-engine-red bikini briefs on—very business-like, I must add. You’d have thought he did this every day.”

From Sean Howe’s Tumblr:

When Stan Lee visited New York in January 1983, the editorial staff was at the peak of its yuk-yuk, hand-buzzer giddiness. They’d been shooting photos of each other in superhero costumes for some of the covers—several staff members appeared on the cover of the last issue of SPIDER-WOMAN—and now they were putting together a comic that consisted wholly of photos of intra-office hijinks. They wanted to include Stan the Man. Lee, the original ringmaster, jumped at the chance to pose for a nude centerfold. Marvel staffers photographed Lee with an oversize comic book covering his private parts; soon after, they received a call from his assistant in L.A. “Stan is wild,” said the assistant. “He should not have been naked for your centerfold. Please. Don’t.” (A Hulk costume was later superimposed over Lee’s body in postproduction.)

Stan Lee was obviously no Burt Reynolds, but he had nice gams 30 years ago, eh?

Via Nerdcore and Sean Howe Tumblr

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The original Spider-Man musical: Rock Reflections of a Super-Hero
09.20.2010
01:00 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
Stan Lee
Spider-Man

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They’ve been gassing the PR machine pretty hard lately around the impending opening this fall of the $25 million-dollar budgeted Broadway musical, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. Directed by the brilliant Julie Taymor and featuring a score from U2, it’ll either be a great night of theater or else the most-embarrassing piece of shit ever. When it comes to a musical sung by a superhero and supervillains, I doubt there is much of a chance for middle ground!

But did you know that there already was a Spider-Man musical? Yup. In 1975, a Spidey rock opera, Rock Reflections of a Super-Hero was released. One day when I was 9-years old my dad brought it home for me. It had a cool album cover which was a painting of Spidey/Peter Parker by John Romita and narration by—who else—Stan Lee. It’s gloriously awful, basically the Peter Parker story set to song (“Square Boy” is about his nerdy high school years. “Gwendolyn” is of course about the death of his girlfriend Gwen Stacy).

The best/worst song is the Doctor Octopus song. In it he threatens to turn the Black Panther and Thor into go-go dancers. If the whole things were a Doctor Octopus album, it would have been way better. It begins in the second half of the clip below:
 

 
And dig the back cover: The Hulk on drums, Silver Surfer on synth, Luke Cage on bass, Thor on trumpet, the Fantastic Four on backing vocals (Ben Grimm has a certain Mama Cass-like quality to his voice, don’t you think?) and Captain America on… tambourine?
 
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Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Fantastic Four: Introducing The Black Panther

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Dangerous Minds pal Charles Johnson has posted another tasty classic comics cover over at Little Green Footballs. Wait until Glen Beck gets ahold of this, PROOF that Marvel Comics promotes racism or reverse racism or Communism… or something:

Since the New Black Panther Party has been the race-baiting rage lately, here’s a related cover image from the Lizard Collection: issue #52 of Fantastic Four, a classic released in July 1966, an arguably more innocent and open time. This book featured the first appearance of African superhero Black Panther, who would go on to become one of the Avengers. It’s Jack Kirby and Stan Lee at the top of their talents, drawing on 60s memes and cultural icons to create a new, distinct, and very influential form of pop art.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Heirs of Jack Kirby sue Marvel/Disney
03.21.2010
06:22 pm

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Tags:
Jack Kirby
Stan Lee
Marvel Comics

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This lawsuit from the heirs of the great comic artist Jack Kirby has been a looong time coming. The legal ramifications of this case are immense, considering the billion dollar value of these corporate trademarks. Comic artists often signed away rights to their creations during the “Golden Age” of the industry, putting their signatures on contracts measurably worse than the ones signed by blues musicians.

From the New York Times:

When the Walt Disney Company agreed in August to pay $4 billion to acquire Marvel Entertainment, the comic book publisher and movie studio, it snared a company with a library that includes some of the world’s best-known superheroes, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four.

The heirs of Jack Kirby, the legendary artist who co-created numerous Marvel mainstays, were also intrigued by the deal. Mr. Kirby’s children had long harbored resentments about Marvel, believing they had been denied a share of the lush profits rolling out of the company’s superheroes franchises.

They spent years preparing for a lawsuit by enlisting a Los Angeles copyright lawyer, Marc Toberoff, to represent them. When the Marvel deal was struck, Mr. Toberoff — who helped win a court ruling last year returning a share of Superman profits to heirs of one of that character’s creators — sprang into action.

Pow! Wham! Another high-profile copyright fight broke out in Hollywood, and this one could be the broadest the industry has yet seen.

A Supersized Custody Battle Over Marvel Superheroes (New York Times)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Stan Lee’s Brain in a Vial
08.03.2009
08:55 am

Topics:
Amusing
Pop Culture

Tags:
Stan Lee

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Here’s a creepy “save the date” invite for an event created by Elixir Designs:

If what you do is ostensibly what your competition does, then why do your customers choose you? Because you do it differently. And, you want to do it better. We help our clients cultivate their authentic differences. Then we communicate them in ways that their customers trust.

Our tangible work-the graphic evidence of the design process- embodies the client?

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment