Steve Ditko, one of the most influential comic-book artists of the 20th century, who was the co-creator of “Spider-Man” and developed the character of another superhero, Doctor Strange, was found dead June 29 at his home in New York City. He was 90.
The New York Police Department announced his death, which did not become widely known until a week later. The cause was not known.
Mr. Ditko was an illustrator of remarkable flair whose colorful tales of superhuman characters made him one of the most innovative and revered artists in the world of comics. He also worked in the fantasy and horror genres and created an array of other heroic figures, but he was known above all for creating the lasting visuals of Spider-Man.
The idea for a superhero with spider-like qualities was first floated by Jack Kirby, one of the creative forces behind the Marvel comics franchise. In 1962, Marvel’s editor in chief, Stan Lee, began to develop the idea but did not like Kirby’s illustrations.
Lee then asked Mr. Ditko, who had been working on and off with Marvel for several years, to give visual form to Spider-Man. The first appearance of Spider-Man came in August 1962 — during what aficionados call the Silver Age of comics — in “Amazing Fantasy.”
The background of the story is this: A high school student named Peter Parker has acquired remarkable powers after being bitten by a spider. In his blue-and-red tights and mask — devised by Mr. Ditko — Parker transformed himself into the “Amazing Spider-Man,” who climbs walls, crouches on ceilings and uses a weblike material to swing among skyscrapers as he overcomes villains such as the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus and the Sandman.
Mr. Ditko supplied the illustrations and, eventually, much of the story line of “Spider-Man,” while Lee wrote the dialogue. The comic proved to be so popular that it soon became a separate franchise and ultimately evolved into a daily newspaper comic strip and a series of Hollywood blockbuster films.