Sep 25, 2021 • 47M

Podcast: Steve Ditko, Spider-Man, And Ayn Rand

The cartoonist who created Spider-Man and Dr. Strange was hesitant to challenge Marvel in court. His heirs are another story

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Episode details
Detail from Amazing Spider-Man #18 (1964). Conceptualized, drawn and plotted by Steve Ditko. Dialogue by Stan Lee.

On Thursday it was announced that the estate of Steve Ditko (1927-2018) started a legal procedure to obtain part ownership of Spider-Man (a character Ditko created in 1962) and Dr. Strange (a character Ditko created in 1963).

One of the fascinating details about the story is that Ditko felt he had been wronged but was hesitant to pursue legal remedies. There are many reasons for this, but one major factor was the influence of Ayn Rand on Ditko’s thinking. White Rand is usually thought of as a fierce proponent of property rights and self-interest, Ditko used her black-and-white morality as grounds for refusing any settlement with people he thought had wronged him.

For this podcast, I survey the life and career of Steve Ditko, with sidelong glances into colleagues like Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. It’s a fascinating story, and one that has wide resonance outside of comics.

This will be the first of a series of podcasts on the history of comics, which will run on weekends on this newsletter. For this podcast, I deliver a talk. Future podcasts will have guests.

Steve Ditko’s Mr. A (1968).

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