29 July, 2008

In Search of Steve Ditko

I could kick myself for missing the BBC 4 documentary, In Search of Steve Ditko, which aired last autumn.

I am currently reading a Marvel Pocket Book which collects Ditko's early Dr. Strange stories and explains how the brilliant surgeon, Steven Strange, became the even more brilliant occultist.

Dr. Strange is quite unlike any other Marvel comic. With its edgy, abstract graphics and dark themes, it's easy to see how it attracted a counter-culture following in the 1960s.

Fantagraphics recently published a critical retrospective of Ditko's work, Strange and Stranger, and there seems to be renewed interest not only in his seminal role on Spiderman and Dr. Strange, but his later (weirder) work for DC and Charlton Comics.

Apart from his great, though unusual, creative talent, the mystery about Ditko's abrupt departure from Marvel Comics and Spiderman, his reclusive character and his adherence to Ayn Rand's quasi-fascist ideology, Objectivism, all contribute to the
enigma that is Steve Ditko.

There are only snippets of the BBC documentary around YouTube, so I am grateful that fellow comics enthusiast Doug Pratt has posted the full program in decent quality, in six seven-eight minute segments (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7). Thanks Doug!

BBC 4 is currently rerunning its Comics Britannia documentary series. The first program, about DC Thompson's Comics Factory - which created Beano, The Dandy, Whizzer and Chips etc - was excellent and I look forward to the next installment.

[via Paul]