Mark Ditko: Family, Creativity and the Unparalleled Genius of Steve Ditko
Sumner welcomes Mark Ditko to Hard Agree. Mark is both a successful civil engineer and the nephew of Sumner’s all-time favorite comics artist: Pennsylvania’s finest, the legendary Steve Ditko! Mark’s beloved uncle co-created, plotted & illustrated the adventures of Peter Parker, the amazingSpider-Man, across an amazing 38 issue run that’s never been equaled. Along the way, he also designed the most famous, most-instantly recognizable superhero costume of all-time, before creating Doctor Strange, The Question, Ted Kord (AKA the 1960s Blue Beetle), Captain Atom, The Hawk and the Dove, Shade the Changing Man, Mr. A and another Sumner favorite, The Creeper! Mark is the jovial keeper of the Ditko flame and the guardian of his Uncle Steve’s legacy – and he’s here to discuss many aspects of the great man’s career, to shed some light on his personal relationship with his uncle, to lay out his future publishing plans for the Ditkoverse, to update the status of certain pieces of unpublished Ditko work (long speculated about by fans) and to celebrate the launch of Johnstown PA’s Hometown Heroes: Steve Ditko Exhibition, curated by the Ditko Family and running from July 15th – Sept 11th 2021!
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HA – Mark Ditko
Andrew Sumner: [00:00:00] So mark, when you, in terms of, uh, in terms of the, the, the buck work show, it’s in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, right?
Yep. Yep. Yeah. And the, uh, am I right in thinking that the show is running for eight weeks?
Mark Ditko: Yeah, it actually started or opened last week. Um, Earlier this week, uh, on the fifth. Uh, so it’s open
Andrew Sumner: that’s the 15th of July.
Mark Ditko: Yeah. Yes. So it’s open now. Um, it’s, you know, my stuff’s not in there. My brother and dad are putting some stuff still in there, so it’s still kind of, you know, being seated, you know, with information there’s still, I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that’s set up that people are touring it, right?
Yeah. Um, the, the private opening, you know, with the Ditko family and kind of sponsors and, and select people is on the 24th of July. So that’s this coming Saturday. So, you know, my plan is to get out there and obviously be there for that. And then [00:01:00] from there, it’s just. Whole series of things, the Ditko play, you know, that Lenny put together,
Andrew Sumner: which I’ve seen by the way, mate.
I aye. Yeah. I saw that. And, um, uh, I think it was back in 2019, um, at, at New York comic con. Yeah. I saw that and enjoyed it very much. Actually we’ve seen itself. I I’ve
Mark Ditko: only ever seen the, you know, the video, the video of the thing. So I haven’t actually seen it live. I, you know, linear course invited me and I didn’t get out to New York, you know, that time.
Um, so I hadn’t, so I had the scene, so anyway, he’s doing it, he’s doing it in Johnstown. Um, uh, so that’s on the 25th and then there’s kind of a series of things happening through the weekend. There’s, you know, um, art classes on the weekend through August, and then there’s a big event, you know, uh, over the weekend in September, and then ends up with the comic convention, the Ditko comic con on the 11th of September and where we’re going to auction off that all of the Devco inspired.
Uh, [00:02:00] the people are submitting
Andrew Sumner: amazing. I mean, that is, that is absolutely fantastic. And that seems like a good moment for me to say welcome Todd agree. My name’s Andrew Sumner and I’m privileged to be joined by mark Ditko, the nephew of my all time. Favorite comic book creator, the legend that is Steve Ditko and, uh, mark you and I have corresponded for a while.
It’s great to see you face to face and have this chat with your brother.
Mark Ditko: Yeah, it’s good to be here. I mean, it was, uh, like I said, for me a long time coming and being able to do these things. Um, but yeah, you were one that, uh, it was on my, on my hit list as a, I gotta, I gotta sit down with
Andrew Sumner: Andrew. Yeah, no, it’s, it’s, it’s so good mate.
And I wonder if we could, if we could start at the beginning in a way, because of course you knew you knew your uncle, Steve, your entire life. So when you, um, when did you first enter the world yourself?
Mark Ditko: Uh, I was born in [00:03:00] 1959, April 7th.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. Nice one. So, yeah, so you’re a couple of years older than me and yeah, only a couple.
And you’re, uh, so therefore, you know, by the time you, uh, you, you, you were not much more than a toddler, that’s essentially when your, your, the really famous era of your uncles Marvel career began, right?
Mark Ditko: Yeah. Right. And you know what, um, kind of with that, uh, I started, I started looking at comics cause they were around the house, um, which I still don’t know how they got there, but they were always around the house.
Uh, but when I was maybe four, four or five, probably 63, 64 era, um, what I remember my first exposure to comics was, uh, Oh,
Andrew Sumner: wow. Okay. Yeah. So that,
Mark Ditko: that was my, that was my era, you know, that was my connection. It was a conga. And you know, at that point I didn’t [00:04:00] realize, I mean, conga was such a fun character, you know, for, for, for me as a kid made me sort of almost, it was probably a big motivation for me to just falling in love with gorillas in general, you know, some big fan of gorillas.
Um, but that was it. But at that time, I didn’t really know until my uncle did that stuff. Yeah. I just, I just liked the comic and I liked, you know, the comics that were around the house and that was just one of
Andrew Sumner: them. What age do you think you were when you realized that your uncle Steve was, was actually in a comic book, creator and was responsible for, for, you know, his classic characters and all these names that subsequently throughout the course of your life have come to dominate popular culture.
Mark Ditko: You know, that’s, that’s tough. I get asked that question because it seems like, you know, everybody has their sort of aha moments of there, there points in time where there’s this like connection in the [00:05:00] switch goes on. It’s like, oh my gosh. You know? Um, but I got to say, you know, as maybe disappointing as it is, I didn’t, I can’t really spot that period because for me, uh, I wasn’t, even though there were comics around the house as a kid and I w I read comics, it wasn’t, it wasn’t like an intimate part of my lifestyle.
You know, we, we lived in Pennsylvania, the woods, we had jobs, we worked, we went to school, you know, we kind of had our own lives and my uncle was really just around. Heck I, you know, went in through the sixties. I didn’t even know he didn’t live there. Yeah, he was just, he was around at barbecues. He was around at Christmas.
He was around whenever the family got together. I had no idea he was in, in New York. So th the, my, my, like locating this aha moment of, oh my gosh, uncle Steve is Steve Ditko. I’d have to say was probably in my early teens or [00:06:00] mid-teens, but even then it wasn’t something that was so like shocking to me. It was just like, oh my gosh, that’s kind of cool.
He, he invented post-it notes, like, wow, that kind of, uh, I’m not, not mild, but it was a such a non-eventful thing. I was like, wow, that’s actually really cool.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, that that makes a lot of sense because the thing about family relationships, and I think a lot of people, when they ask you these questions, aren’t in the moment focusing on the way on the dynamics of family relationships, which is that actually few of us have any real sense from our very close of our close, extended family members, uncles, and aunts, and that kind of thing.
Cousins. When I think about it now, there are some of my cousins, I’ve got no idea what they do for a living and I’m, you know what, I’m in my late fifties, I’ve known them all my life. I’m close to them. They’re very interesting people to me, but I couldn’t tell you what they did because that [00:07:00] never factors in our conversation.
Yeah. And so it’s totally believable to me that that’s, that’s the key. That was your experience. If you
Mark Ditko: found out all of a sudden, it wasn’t, you. Cousins nephews. Uncles was somebody who, you know, used to tour with, you know, black Sabbath or, you know, pink Floyd, or some of you, you just go like, wow, that’s amazing.
And it would probably be about the end.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, right on. Yeah, no, I, I, I absolutely you go amazing. Yeah, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t, it doesn’t supersede that for familial relationship. We’ve got with them, with them, with somebody you’re close to a news company that you like, because that’s the bedrock of what your interaction with them is.
It’s everything. And the other stuff is just an interesting footnote. Right? Cause I think also your ability to be blown away by things that your own very close family members do [00:08:00] is substantially reduced because you know them so intimately. So you almost never have those aha you Rica moments where, well, hang on, you used to be the real life.
James Bond. You never mentioned that to me before. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s like
Mark Ditko: collect back then in
Andrew Sumner: a way. Yeah. Right. Or mark up. I do completely understand. So. To, to talk about, um, your actual experience with your uncle. Steve, what was your relationship like with him as you were growing up when you were a kid, when you became a man?
Mark Ditko: Well, it obviously changed like all relationships do in, in the beginning. He was just another one of my fun uncles. You know, I have to, I have to say that I led, um, I had a pretty idyllic childhood, you know, we lived in, uh, a great place, surrounded the dead end road, nothing but woods and pawns. And, you know, we [00:09:00] hiked and we spent outdoors time and we had our relatives around and Barb family barbecues and stuff and fun uncles, uh, one apple that was a magician.
And every time he’d come over, he’d do magic tricks for us and other ones, you know, uncle Steve could draw and he was, you would wrestle and. You know, so it was, uh, kind of, uh, uh, just very idealic, you know, um, so early on it was just, he was just another one of my fun uncles or aunts. We, I, I love my family.
And then it’s, you know, probably the first sort of entrance point was at one point when I was little, um, he was probably showing my older brother who’s two years older than me, my brother, we were always drawing as kids. He was older, so he started a little bit earlier. So he was probably drawing something and showing my uncle for whatever reason, you know, we maybe knew that he drew, um, and my uncle would just kind of [00:10:00] give him some tips and pointers.
So I just said, Hey uncle Steve, can you draw gorillas? And sure. He, I mean, he just grabs a piece of paper and he whips off. Just kill or gorilla. And I was like, whoa, that’s amazing. You’re such a good artist, a little bit, like no wrong conga that I’m reading, you know, the comics at home. So initially it was just, wow, he’s, he’s an awesome uncle and he’s could draw so well, he’s obviously got some skills there then as we kind of got older and older, I mean, we stayed, you know, kind of just sort of in a playful mode, just as a kids and uncles would be.
Um, but then, um, for me it changed a bit when I was a late teen. Um, when I was a late teen, I, I, I probably was sort of flashing back like the sort of a hippies kind of like rebellious sort of era. [00:11:00] But just in, in really, mostly in terms of attitude, I would, I had longer hair, um, you know, never wore a shirt, hit bands, you know, braids and stuff.
So I, I remember being at the kitchen table at my house. I don’t even remember why we were there and my uncle was there and I was just, I don’t know, maybe I was probably 17, 18 or something late high school. And I was just complaining. Maybe it was probably my first year in college, you know, and I was just complaining about some world condition, you know, it’s like, ah, you know, just ragging on something.
And he was always somebody who you could always talk to. He was always so even keeled, you could, it was almost like there was no subject necessarily. It was taboo from my perspective. So we’re just talking there and he, he looks at me and he says, so what are you doing about it?
It’s like [00:12:00] nothing. No, like w w what, what kind of statement is that? Like, I’m not doing anything about it. And he said, well, if you’re not doing anything about it, then really you have no right to complain. And, you know, you can’t really, you can’t really say anything because if you’re not doing something about it, then you just, then apparently you just have to live with that.
You know, it was like, whoa, that was deep. You know? So then we started a little bit more of a, kind of a philosophical, you know, relationship. Um, at that point, then I sort of turned into the seeker, you know, I drove a witnesses, so would come to the door, Mormon some I invite them in, you know, it’s like, yeah, show me what you got.
You know? So, uh, so then at that point he started to kind of feed me some information. He gave me some tapes to listen to, um, some sort of just like, uh, you know, positive, you know, perspective things. So, um, So then at that point, I started to see him through [00:13:00] a completely different lens. And then ultimately I ended up graduating.
Uh, I moved down the Virgin islands and lived down there for a while and in the tent and the jungle. And then I ended up coming back and ultimately moving to Phoenix, Arizona, getting, having a family. And then ultimately, I, I, in 1990, I moved to Los Angeles and it just, the chain of events was kind of interesting.
I, I, I just then started to write to him. I started to, you know, stumble back into comics. Um, for me, I was literally going shopping one time and I saw a yard sale across the street and I walked over and they had a bunch of comics there. I had been kind of out of the whole comic side. In fact, they probably hadn’t corresponded with my uncle for a while at that point, other than going back to Johnson, maybe seeing them there.
So I was, uh, talking to this guy who was running this, this, [00:14:00] um, little yard sale. And he found out who I was and he was just blown away. He was like, wait a minute, Steve Ditko was your uncle. And that’s when it kind of hit me. It was like, wow. Okay. Uh, yeah, I guess that really means something. So then he was like, come here, I gotta show you something.
So he takes me down into this apartment garage and he’s got two giant trunks full of comics. And he says, I know, I guess I said, you got any Ditko and that’s obviously how the conversation started. And he says, I know I got, I know I got Ditko in there. And he said, I’ll tell you what, I’ll sell you both these trunks for 200 bucks.
And he said, just because you’re who you are. So I was like, oh man. So I bought him and that kind of started this whole thing. I started writing to my uncle more, you know, Hey, when you did creeper, you know, did you do this? Or what was Hawk and dove all about? Or why, what was this? And what was that? And then I started to attend comic conventions [00:15:00] and that’s when it really, my world kind of cracked open because I’m, I walk in and I say, who I am.
And next thing I know I’m talking to Jack Kirby, or I’m talking to Stan Lee, or I’m talking to Jim shooter, or just because of the name, they just sort of like, the doors just opened. So I, I did that for a couple of years and then I just kept writing them. And, but most of our conversations became very philosophical.
They were about very thematic. My letters were about the family what’s going on currently, you know, with the extended family. Um, what are you, what is he doing? Ask him some questions and then the sort of philosophical thing. And he became a bit of a guru to me. Yeah. So probably from the early nineties on, I kind of saw him more as a guru, you know, a life or life coach
Andrew Sumner: w which makes given his philosophical leanings and the intellectual rigor that he approached everything, [00:16:00] whether it’s, you know, philosophically, politically in terms of his approach towards life and his beliefs, that makes a tremendous amount of sense to me.
And you’re really getting the best of both worlds because you’re getting decades of thank you. And you’re getting Steve Ditko, your uncle all rolled into one, which is kind of unparalleled access to his brain.
Mark Ditko: Yeah. And then he would send me things. He started sent ISA, Hey, you should read this. Have you ever heard of DeBono?
You know, you should read that you should read this, you know, he here’s this book or here’s that book. And obviously it just eventually came to, you know, some, you know, you really should read the Fountainhead, you know, you really should read Atlas shrugged and you really should read those books. So he started to send me this stuff, you know, and of course I’m reading this stuff, you know, because that was sort of the, kind of the foundation of our conversations, you know, fundamentally that’s, uh, that was really the glue that kind of held us together.
The rest of the stuff sorta just became, I want to say hobbies on our [00:17:00] relationship as far as finding out a little bit more about comics or what he did there or what he did there, you know, here or there. Uh, but I think for me, um, if, even if he wasn’t my uncle, even if he had nothing to do with comics, if all that stuff aside.
W his level of kind of ethical, you know, I’ll look on things, his integrity, his, his just overall morality, you know, his, his underlying, just basic philosophy. Um, that, that was enough glue for me to have me just riveted to what he was saying.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, of course in that makes complete sense. And it’s almost a, it’s almost a, uh, an unparalleled opportunity really, I think, to have had those conversations, you must consider yourself very lucky to, to have had the relationship with them that you
Mark Ditko: did.
Oh, absolutely. You know, and you know what, and I’ll say, okay, you know, am I, you know, I [00:18:00] I’ll just get this out there. You know, am I exploiting that now? You know, doing these things and trying to promote it. Um, I am trying to promote him. I want him, I want people to know who he is. I want people to know more who he was.
And so does my dad, you know, and so no, my, the other family members, we kind of want that. I just feel like I, I have been kind of lucky to have maybe a relationship that some others didn’t have to that degree. I had my own, my own relationship. That nobody’s relationship is like anybody else’s I had my own, you know, it was what it was.
And yeah, I am absolutely happy with everything, you know, that has gone on. And could I have done more? I’ll tell you what I have to say in talking with people now. It’s like, oh my gosh. I wish I would have thought about that question back when I was writing him, because I would’ve got an answer to that.
So, but yeah, I absolutely feel my S feel lucky enough to have had the opportunity to kind of know him. Yeah,
Andrew Sumner: I, I, [00:19:00] well, sadly, and I think what you, you and the family you’re doing is actually is actually VR. You’re doing it very sensitively. I think, I think the thing is that one of the ways in which you want to great artists and people who achieve great things.
Is absolutely fundamentally at the end of the day, it’s important to, to respect your uncle’s wishes and approach while he’s living. But the thing about the lives of great people is once those people are no longer on this mortal quo, they become very interesting for historical purposes. And I think at that point, you know, how a person chooses to live their life, but then how they are remembered as a complete artist, their life is whether whether they wish to talk about joining the life or not, the life is, is part of that complete spectrum.
And I think you’ve kind of almost over it to history to, to open that story a bit, if you can, because your, your uncle’s work belongs to the world now. Right? If that makes sense. Yeah.
Mark Ditko: You know what [00:20:00] that’s okay. This is where I love having these conversations because it brings up so many elements of I’ll say what I wrestle with or what others wrestle with is because I absolutely have had my.
You know, uh, attacks, I’ll say in a strong word, not really that blatant about what I am doing, you know, and why I’m doing that. Um, versus other people’s opinions on, you know, how something should be done and, you know, the, the sensitivity and, you know, people ask me, so do you think your uncle would like this bottle workshop?
No way you wouldn’t
Andrew Sumner: know exactly.
Mark Ditko: There’s no doubt about that. He would absolutely hate it. Yeah. But you know, there’s that side, you know, and I’m not, no, I’m not pandering to the, you know, the CBS, you know, the comic book fans, you know, that my uncle, you know, had his own attitude on, you know, I’m not necessarily doing [00:21:00] that, but it is true.
What you said is there is a high interest, you know, and, and spiked interest on who he was. You know, my dad, when he passed away, I went out to new, to Johnstown, to, you know, help my dad and my younger brother, pat Patrick, with stuff. And within the first couple of days, you know, we were talking and he, my dad said, you know, we should do a book called, you know, Steve Ditko, the man, you know, who he was as an uncle, as a brother, as a son, as a family member, as a friend.
Um, just so that people know, you know, who he really was. Uh, and I, I absolutely a hundred percent agreed with that. In fact, that’s in progress now, a
Andrew Sumner: great idea, by the way, try today,
Mark Ditko: it’ll probably come out 2022. Um, but the, the thing is, is what he wanted, what he want that. Absolutely not. In fact, I mean, my, my assessment [00:22:00] is, and sometimes I’ll throw in kind of my opinion, my opinion.
Uh, his, uh, uh, I’ll say reluctance to promote the family or his, his brothers and sisters and nephews and whatever was because he was kind of trying to protect us from that media frenzy. You know? So he, you know, when we went to New York to go into his studio, the security guard said, you know, my dad says, I’m Steve deco’s brother.
We’re here to clean out his studio and this, and the security guard said, no, you’re not. He told me over and over again, he has no relatives. So I, you know, to me it wasn’t, there wasn’t anything, you know, mean-spirited about that. It was a protection mechanism because he didn’t like that. When, you know, back when Kat Ironwood was doing her thing and doing energy sent out interviews, [00:23:00] Index, you know, mailers to all the high school, his high school friends and family stuff.
He didn’t like that. You know, of course I think he was really just trying to protect the family in that way. Um, but yeah, I think we, we now, and it’s a decision, you know, it’s just a right or wrong, you know, there are some things that maybe are, he would’ve seen as more sensitive. Um, you know, and, and I can’t say that, you know, maybe even me and my dad or my brothers or anything are on the exact same page.
Cause I think there’s still a lot. Questions rolling around of like, what do we do? What, where is there a, is there a line somewhere that we shouldn’t cross? You know? So I think that’s still being kind of, you know, finding yeah. Or our footing there, but I, after the last Spider-Man premiere, so I got invited to that down in Hollywood and I was talking to Kevin Fagan and, um, he said just to kind of cut to the chase in [00:24:00] this conversation, um, I was telling her that we were going to start to do some things like that.
And he said, you have to, he said, because if you don’t, he said 10 years from now, what will be remembered or what will be seen, he’ll be seen as a caricature of who he was. Yeah. And who, what the sort of extant, uh, attitudes are? He was a cranky recluse on and on and on. Yeah. Um, withdrawn from the society, whatever.
Um, but he, that’s not who we was. That’s not the way he was. So we do, I feel like I have to set the record. To the degree I can on, on really who he was
Andrew Sumner: mark. I think you’re absolutely right. And faggy is a very smart guys. We both know. And his counselor is very wise that the reality is that, um, your uncle Steve is, is a figure of extreme historical interest and, and you can’t control the way the world [00:25:00] regards you, the you, the individual and you, the individual, uh, the artist and your, your actual artistic output.
And once you’re no longer on this plane of existence, if you don’t control the information. That comes out and make sure that it’s treated with as much intellectual rigor, as truthful as possible. People will still dig around and put out as much information as they can. And, and it’s, it’s, it’s far better for you, the family to be at that center of that process and program that comes out to be a genuine reflection of the man, rather than a bunch of what I’ve heard, brain biographies.
I mean, I’ve already seen that, that your, your dad’s extremely detailed correspondence with his fan base, which is fantastic, um, which is surfaced in a number of ways since his death. There’s a website that, you know, reprints a lot of those, uh, A lot of those letters and at least one person [00:26:00] as has published a collection of, of that, of that correspondence over time.
Yeah. But I’m under the slant. Yeah. That particular book isn’t, you know, myself and my long-term friendship, Steve Ditko is, as we know, actually, Steve, Steve carried on those interactions with a lot of people. I was one of them I I’ve chosen for the time being I’ve shared it with you, but I’ve chosen to keep my, my, my kind of correspondence to myself.
Right. Um, but the whole thing is, is similar of that is opportunistic. And some of it is an interesting historical document, but I think, I think the reason people are so interested in those things is they can’t, they can’t get right behind the velvet curtain and see the detail of his life, but people will keep on trying to do it.
And because people are trying to do. I think you will serve him that the best in the long-term by actually, um, catering and looking after that process yourself.
Mark Ditko: Yeah. You know, [00:27:00] I have, I have, um, uh, I don’t know, to me it’s, uh, you know, everyone has their own sort of rules or guiding rules of their lives.
They’re, you know, they’re that sort of allow, allows them to sort of fall back on and make decisions. And one of the ones that I think that drives me relative to this, and it probably doesn’t doesn’t drive others. It’s just an internal motivation is I think that all the rumors and speculation and innuendo, um, on my uncle was created by my uncle in a way he, you know, obviously not directly, but indirectly by.
And so, so my, my datum, you know, is nature abhors, a vacuum. When you do not put something in there, something will go in there, some kind of crap or whatever nonsense will go in there. So to me, the only way you, uh, [00:28:00] like circumvent that is to put truth in there to actually put something in there. So now he started to do that when you started to write his essays and yeah, so that was, that was huge.
You know what, and he hadn’t done that for a long time and all of a sudden, you know, he got a motivation, you know, to start to get his essays out there, which, you know, okay, it’s great to say, let my art speak for myself. You know, it’s like, okay, well the stalker, what does the stalker really telling me about you.
Or something shade, the changing man. Okay. Um, but when he started getting into the essays, okay. Now he that’s his words right. From the horse’s mouth, you know? Um, so one of the things that I want to do is I want to compile a book of all those, everything he ever wrote. Fantastic. So that’s something I think to me, will in his own words, get that out there.
Um, but in the meantime, you know, I want to do stuff like this to try to fill that vacuum because he did create that vacuum and it did suck in a [00:29:00] lot of cracks. You know, in there that was unwarranted unjustified and just flat out wrong based on little fragments of one lettered response where someone, he was Curt with someone who for the 400 thousands time asked him to draw Spiderman for them, you know, but it’s like, okay, give me a break here.
You know? So they make this whole opinion over that, you know, Curt response and they post it. But I think there’s a, obviously there’s a lot that can be, you know, disseminated about him in an intelligent way to get people, to, you know, understand who he was better. Yeah.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah. I, I, that, that, that that’s, that is very well said, mark.
I think it’s very a sudden dig in, in terms of what you’re working on. Now. I actually can ask you before I ask you this, can I ask you a question? Did you, did you ever visit Steve at his studio before he passed? No. No. So you only went there once he, once he was [00:30:00] no longer there.
Mark Ditko: Yup. Yup. Never. I just never, never had the opportunity to just kind of connect up with that in mind.
I run my own business and I travel quite a bit and you know, the one time I went out there, I did, uh, uh, I had a big job, a couple of big jobs in New York, New York subway. Um, cause I’m a civil engineer and um, and we just, it just never connected up, you know, as he was, as he got older, you know, his, his hearing wasn’t getting so good, you know, is it’s, you know, it’s start to get some physical, you know, restrictions, you know what, he just, he wasn’t up for it and I wasn’t going to push him.
So I just, I never connected up with him
Andrew Sumner: his studio. No, that makes sense. And in the latter parts of his life was his studio, his primary residence.
Mark Ditko: Oh, no, no. He had an apartment. He had an apartment. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so his studio was a whatever, the two 11 or 6, 6, 6 fifties Broadway, depending on which address he was.
And then it [00:31:00] was, you know, just down, you know, you, you come out of the building and you hang a right. And there was, uh, another building and then a little corner merchandise gift shop. Um, and then there was, I think. If it was 75th street or something, I can’t remember what street and you cross that. And two buildings down was an apartment complex and that’s where his apartment was.
Andrew Sumner: wow. I, so that’s in, I had never, I hadn’t preached, I appreciated that. That’s how he lived within the stone servers of his, of his studio for, for decades. Yeah. And his bank
Mark Ditko: was just right up the street. Yeah. Uh, uh, you know, a couple minute walk, you know, up
Andrew Sumner: 75th. That’s amazing. Absolutely amazing. So, so looking at it from the outside, you know, as you, as you live through your life and the, you find work as a civil engineer and, you know, you had your own life and your own focus, um, on what point did you realize was it around that?
So you started to really realize [00:32:00] what a big name your uncle was within comics when you started to interact the comic cons and one on that scene and with other professionals, like, as you said, you met Kirby and you met with other people like that. It seemed to me from the outside is a lifelong Ditko fan.
And, you know, a person who is truly appreciated his work. And, and he was, he was always my favorite crater, not just artists, but rights, rights is whatever it seemed to me. What was something of an accelerant in terms of the fame of the Ditko name was when the first Toby Maguire Spiderman pitch came out, because that’s when your uncle started getting a big credit on the movies themselves.
And it was a very big, I mean, I remember going to see, um, so as you know, I used to be a, uh, like a movie journalist, a magazine publisher, and, um, I reviewed that. Uh, I reviewed Spiderman [00:33:00] for the, for the, uh, for a couple of the magazines. I w I was. Writing for at the time, the enemy and on culture, both music magazines.
I mainly wrote about movies for music max. Right. And I was the publisher of uncut at the time. And, um, I went to see the first UK, uh, journalist screening of, of that Spider-Man movie. With, uh, uh, an editor Titan called David Leitch. And there they’re only two of the people in the audience and the two of the people in the audience who Joe corner, she went on to direct a movie called attack the block and, uh, uh, and, um, Jonathan Ross who famously made, uh, you know, of course.
Yeah. And I didn’t know Ross at the time. I’ve met him since, as you know, but I back then, so I didn’t, I didn’t chat with him, but my son, he was sat about three rows in front of himself and David, and we’re the only four people in this screening room. This is Sony pictures in London, in the basement. They used to have this little so where the first [00:34:00] four people in the UK watch it.
And when the title was role, when the titled card came up, which is created by Stanley and Steve Ditko, myself and leech lets out our massive chair and, and Cornish and, and Ross turn round and smart because they got it completely also. Um, cause until I saw her, I didn’t know her. Give you give Steve credit or not.
And that was amazing to me at the time. And it felt like a complete validation of all the, the work that he had done and his contribution on one level, you know, on one level. And, um, and in that moment, it struck me that from that point on, I would imagine that the debt co name started becoming well known outside of just comics.
What was that? Was that your experience of it? Or was that something you didn’t really feel at the time?
Mark Ditko: You know, it’s so funny because I see, I see things through a whole different perspective. I’m on, I’m on a whole different rail system, you know, uh, because I am, [00:35:00] my name is Ditko. Yeah. So I don’t, I actually didn’t necessarily see that when I, when I started to become more visible that go to comic conventions, I was just telling people who I was, and it was already connecting the dots with people who already knew.
So I don’t know. That had any real impact. On me at all. And it was, to me, what I would get connected with when people would find out who I was, were the diehard Ditko, who already knew who he was Spiderman or Dr. Strange or anything else that he was doing. You know, the, the movie, the movie coming out, I didn’t necessarily see any impact because the people who are really connecting with me already knew was
Andrew Sumner: yeah, yeah, no, that, that, that does make a lot of sense.
I, and I’ve always thought that the it’s it’s, it’s very interesting to me that outside of your human physical [00:36:00] interactions, the existence of yourself and on your family was mostly to my eyes throughout Steve’s life. Kind of shrouded in mystery. I wasn’t, I’d heard rumors that you guys existed and I never knew if it was, if it was apocryphal, if you really did exist, all did go family.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that sort of thing. I remember talking to will in the once he was out at that time under the impression that, you know, either you or your brother weren’t his nephews, but his sons. Yeah. And I was like, man, so what stemmed? It comes married at one point. And I, and then sometimes, oh no, it sees, he’s got, it’s got a bunch of siblings and, and they’ve got children.
It’s his nieces and nephews, which turns out to be the case. But I always used to think, I mean, come on the name, Ditko sown usual. The can’t be there really can’t be many knocking around and there’s a strong chance that there’s anybody out there in the U S who’s not [00:37:00] Steve with the surname Ditko. They must be related to him, which of course is true.
It was like suddenly once Steve passed, it was like an avalanche of information. And that’s when I think a lot of people really tagged onto your presence. And then as you got involved in your uncle’s estate, then it became a whole other thing that it was like, Aw man. But I thought it was so fascinating that he’d done such a good job of actually shrouding your existence in that kind of mystery and that to the point where people were.
So I think respectful of your uncle and his wishes that even when you went out about various shows, a map, various professionals, they then deadened on the blogs or on the social media or whatever go, man. I was talking to Steve’s nephew of the day and.dot, dot, you know, a lot of that stuff wasn’t publicly reported, which would be with just about any other artists.
I mean, artists in the, in the extended sense of the word. And I think the reason that it wasn’t is because. A lot of [00:38:00] those creators, the guys you met, they had such respect for your uncle and the way he lived his life.
Mark Ditko: Yeah, I totally agree. Uh, but there’s another element to that. And it’s the fact that the family ourselves, uh, aligned our presence with what my uncle wanted.
You know, I was, I was talking to my dad and my dad said, you know, I guess was a couple of years ago. And he said, uh, you know, uncle Steve never really wanted to talk about his work when he came home. So when he would visit, he didn’t, he didn’t talk about his work. It was kind of like, you know, uh, let’s, I’m a family member now.
I mean, I’m, I’m putting on a different hat, you know, I’m, I’m a family member, I’m an uncle, I’m a brother, I’m a son. So I’d rather not, you know, let’s, let’s not talk about this. It’s not, not all about him. He wasn’t one to be the center of attention in that way. So, um, I think the family were sort of, you know, Grooved in to [00:39:00] just, and it’s not something we talked about because if he didn’t want to, he didn’t really care.
We honored that and we just didn’t. So there was, yeah, there was the side of him that people did it maybe out of respect, um, to not mention that they kind of know us or whatever, but I think there was also from the family’s perspective, we were just like keeping it mum, because we knew that’s what he was.
You know, so that was, I mean, that was another part of it. We didn’t, you know, you know, I probably was the one that was, you know, most overt about it when I’d go to comic conventions, because I wanted to talk to Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Jim shooter, and all those guys, you know, so I kinda was one a little bit more open and, you know, and I wrote him about it, you know, that I was going there and Jack would say, Hey, the next time you see him, you know, tell, ask him if he ever got a girlfriend, you know, or something.
So, I mean, I would relay those things and he, he just took it in stride, you [00:40:00] know, um, he didn’t say stop doing that or whatever. Um, so I mean, he, let me kind of do my own thing, but I was being respectful of not, you know, going too far about that and making sure that he knew what I was doing. Uh, but there was definitely a little bit of a family, um, tight lipped, uh, piece, uh, element to that.
Andrew Sumner: Yeah, that, that, that makes it makes complete sense. I had a feeling, you might say that because that’s of course how you keep that situation in tap for that such a period of time. You really got to be aligned, but no further information to come out. So I think for a lot of, a lot of hardcore deco fans like myself, it was kind of an amazing side effect of, of Steve passing.
Passed tragically. Cause he lived to a ripe old age and he was incredibly productive, right. Till the end. But at that moment where he, you know, he is, he transformed into his next plane of existence, whatever you [00:41:00] believe that’s been, whatever it was, Steve, whatever it is, it was so interested in the kind of avalanche of family information that suddenly appeared.
And honestly, fascinating to people like myself. Who’d spent a lifetime kind of thinking, man, I wonder what kind of guy he is, you know? And, and, and the thing is, I think also I think this is where you get these fans with preconceived ideas. A lot of his hardcore fans were very respectful of that, you know, various spectacle of what he did and how we, how we approached life and not wishing to.
Discuss sort of promote his personal life outside of his work. So a lot of people simply didn’t ask those questions. I know there are people who did well, that’s a very different thing, but I think it’s, it’s been, uh, I’ve, I’ve really enjoyed the graceful way that you’ve interacted with your uncle’s fan base since his passing.
Mark Ditko: Yeah. I mean, I try, I try my, to be honest, I don’t know. It’s I just say sensitive. I mean, I, I S I say what I want to say, but I feel like I’m intelligent enough to, you know, to do it [00:42:00] correctly. And I, I kind of feel like, you know, I I’ve, you know, just like, you know, Howard stern kind of dubs himself, you know, I’ve dubbed myself, the Steve Ditko philosophical monitor.
Yeah. You know, I have the one that feels like. Just because I decide that I am is when David Curry wrote his book, he sent me the manuscript, you know, Zach cruise, you know, he sent me his measure. The Ditko play Lenny would put together. He sent me the manuscript before this stuff even went out. I read all that thing, that stuff multiple times and gave them tons of comments, you know, Zach’s I didn’t cause I absolutely loved Zach Cruz’s book, mysterious traveler that would just right off the shelf was just dead on.
But David, I gave David Apollo comments and he picked them all up. He just very willingly, you know, struck this out, reworded that, you know, and, and then Lenny, same thing. He, the massage his stuff. So [00:43:00] anybody that has written has been writing stuff. And once they connect with me, if I, I mean, I, I don’t want to portray him in an incorrect way.
I try my best to do things in a, uh, correct aligning with, you know, my uncle’s attitude, you know, in philosophy. So I try, I try my best, you know, to do that. And I feel like. Not doing too
Andrew Sumner: bad a job now you’re doing a great job, mate. That is fantastic. I can see the intellectual rigor that you applied to that, and I can see how important is to you.
And it’s wonderful to know that Steve’s legacy and Steve’s lifetime of work is in such great caring hands. I think that’s the thing that means the most to me. I think if I was in a similar situation, I would hope that I approached it with the same degree of, uh, intellectual rigor and, um, empathy that you’ve done.
I think, I think it’s lovely to see. And speaking of all of that, mark, [00:44:00] um, what is it that, uh, so first of all, what, in terms of you, you, I take it, the, uh, you cleared out the studio when Steve passed that the student doesn’t exist anymore, presumably, or is rented out to somebody else. So do you, the family now control all of the art.
Do you have all the artwork that was returned to Steve? If you got all that kind of safely stored away.
Mark Ditko: Well, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll just say that everything that was in his studio and apartment, uh, we have
Andrew Sumner: totally understand. Now, now we might be in the realms of, there are certain questions. I might have nitty-gritty questions here that you don’t want to add, which I totally, or you don’t want to answer, which I totally respect Nate.
But, um, the thing I’ve always been curious about, and I suspect this might be one of them, it might be near the top of the list. Do those two, do those two issues of Dr. Strange that he inked and penciled, but weren’t submitted to Marvel that they physically exist.
Mark Ditko: Well. Okay. So here we have some, some never [00:45:00] before said or spoken statements.
This is you have some exclusives, maybe because of this line of questioning. We did not find.
Andrew Sumner: Oh, man, what PC? Uh, yeah,
Mark Ditko: you’re saying it’s like, I, I unfortunately, and I’ll tell you what I, as a family, we, um, we’re still waffling. Uh, well, at least I was on what was going on. Said, uh, relative to some of that stuff.
Um, and I had a conversation with my brother. He had his, you know, opinion and eventually we kind of came to an agreement. Um, but yeah, those pages, I take the disappoint people, uh, and for years I’ve been just keeping my mouth shut. Um, but we did not find this.
Andrew Sumner: Uh, what about, so, so Mike, I guy, I think you probably know, I’m sure, you know, Our mutual friend, um, Carl Potts, long-term Marvel editor.
[00:46:00] I was talking to him with the show the other week and, and we were about half of his episode, by the way is about him reminiscing. Cause he knew uncle well worked with him, met him a lot more times. A lot of people have and um, and he was reminiscing about his, his working life with Steve and, and it’s about half of his episode.
But one of the things we were both getting really excited about was the potential existence of those of that artwork. So thank you for asking that late. Do you, with that? I
Mark Ditko: hate, I hate to say some of that stuff. It’s hard for me to just go, okay. Now, do they still exist somewhere? Did he do something with him?
Did he send them to somebody? Does Robin Snyder have him? Does I have no idea? You know, it just pains me because I know what it means, you know, to say, and that’s what I’ve been, it’s been just non-AP needs to just be, it’s taken me three years to just come to say those words, you know,
Andrew Sumner: because that, cause [00:47:00] everybody like myself, like Carl, everyone, everyone who’s listening to this.
Yep. Everyone’s hoping for a hero is Marvel publisher, you know, and they do an extended co co Dr. Strange Omni bursts with the T you know, with the
everyone’s looking for that, for sure. For sure. Um, and mark, are there any, in terms of the, the show that you put in on at the moment or your future plans, are there any real gems that you’ve found that you think people will very much respond to?
Mark Ditko: You know what, um, I don’t know what necessarily people are gonna respond to, but this, this show I’ll say this.
It’s it actually was intended to align more with our release of our book. Uh, the Steve Ditko, the man up, like my brother just told me what the title actually was. That was Steve deco. The man was, I don’t have a working title, but he just told me what the title actually was, but I can’t remember it right now.
[00:48:00] Um, but it was really supposed to align with that and be more of a family friend, you know, things about his, you know, his past his, because towards the tail end of, um, of my uncle’s life, he was sending things to my dad, you know, photos and memorabilia and military stuff and discharge papers and all this other personal stuff.
So, you know, really this show was intended to display, um, and present that in alignment with the book. You know, more photos of him and, you know, things never, never before seen more from a family friend perspective, not so much as an artistic display of things, although that’s going on. But this show in our minds was never really drew, you know, presented in that way.
It was more of a fan again, just try [00:49:00] to align with the upcoming. So I, you know, I don’t, I’d have to say, and, and not to disappoint people, but I don’t necessarily know that there’s any artwork that’s going to just blow people’s minds. You know, that all by, you know, just been waiting to see that, you know, I knew we had it or something, I don’t know that that’s going to happen.
Andrew Sumner: I think what will blow people’s minds is what you’ve already got planned. I mean, to have those, to have that window into your family life and Steve, the man, I mean, there’s already just from that alone because he was so guarded, but there’s so few things eat out during the course of his life images and whatnot, and a few more of eat out since he’s passed.
I remember everybody going bananas that picture of, um, of your uncle with all of you as kids. And he’s got his kind of sports chair on cause that’s that, that, and he’s got a big beaming smile he’s with his family. Everybody’s blown away by that photo. And I think the great thing that you’ve done is you have put out an avalanche of this stuff on the, on the road, up to the show and every little [00:50:00] bit.
Every little image that you put out, people just go nuts. People go, well, I’m just a furor. I have, man. Have you seen this? You know, my inbox. So whenever you released one of your pitches, your uncle Steve, just on fire. Cause my various industry friends are always like, Hey somebody, you’ve got to look at this man.
You know, you’ve got to do it. So I love the way that you’ve done that. So, so mark, what do you, in addition to your two as yet untitled, uh, Steve Ditko, the man, what are the, what other publications you guys working on at them?
Mark Ditko: Well, the other thing that’s kind of in the works is the compiled Mr. Abe book.
Andrew Sumner: Fantastic. TW mate. Yep. Are you dealing with that with Scott IDW about that? Yup. Yeah. I think I’ve said this to you before, but he’s a very good friend of mine. Actually. We, we, co-published some stuff about 10, 15 years ago. There’s no better, no bigger and more knowledgeable fan of, of your uncle then Scott.
He really, he’s amazing. [00:51:00] He’s a wonderful person and yeah, we’ll treat it with the, uh, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this Durango volume that they did, but it was incredible. So I know if you’re going to do the complete Mr. Right. You’re doing it with the right guys. Cause I would imagine knowing them.
They’ll pursue several full months. One will be a complete Mr. Ray. And they’ll just, they’ll probably look at one of the big lodge format, original art books as well. It is
Mark Ditko: going to be a bit larger,
Andrew Sumner: large format. I cannot wait for that. That’s pretty. Yeah. And presumably you have other plans as well, which, uh, which, uh, must be coalescing in some way, shape or form,
Mark Ditko: you know?
Um, the, we obviously we have other, I mean, I have kind of like thoughts that I want to do. I’ve been approached by others with projects that they want to do. Um, right now, the only ones that are really, and I’ll, I’ll say that my dad and, and the, the, my two cousins that represent my two aunts family. So there’s three families, really?
My [00:52:00] dad, my, my family of my aunt, Betty, and then the family of my aunt, Annie, who were the four siblings, my uncle, my dad, and my two aunts, uh, you know, they’re, they’re working on, you know, what they’re going to do, and they’re deciding right now, they’ve only, ever only decided to do the Mr. Ray book, the family book, the bottle work show.
Um, and then, I mean, I have some other things that I been talking to them about, like the essay I want to do the essay book. Um, and I have some other things that I have other people that are approaching me on the other one. That’s kind of, we’ve been chattering about for awhile is doing an actual documentary.
Oh yeah, for sure. That’s, that’s the one that we have. That’s the most discussion. That’s still ongoing now, which I’m going back to Johnstown in a couple of days, you know, mid-week and I’m staying with my dad and my mom. So I’m sure it’s some point conversations on that we’ll come up and kind of see where that’s going.
I’ve been approached by a couple of different people, [00:53:00] um, to, to really help big players.
Andrew Sumner: I know, I imagine you’ve got some very credible people who’ve stepped up. I can imagine who some of those people are, and they’re the kind of people who can get it made for you as well. Which, which would the level of access you’ve got.
I think the world is crying out for that documentary because of course, when you get a really prestigious documentary, I would say it’s analogist to say some of the Elvis documentaries that have been made in the last decade or the Frank Sinatra documentary is doing maybe in the last decade, they’re exhausted.
They’re three hours long. You get a real insight into the people and it’s kind of invaluable work to do that for Steve. I think you’d be hugely honoring his memory doing that. I just want to do
Mark Ditko: something for somebody else does before the Kirby Ditko Lee documentary comes out there, then paints my uncle in a bad light.
You know, it’s just like, I feel like I just want to, um, I’m, I’m kind of anxious to get that in motion because I want the right stuff to come out sooner.
Andrew Sumner: I agree. I mean, the thing, a classic example [00:54:00] would be, I’ve been amazed even though your uncle himself, the bunked, it just, how much legs, the myth about him leaving Spider-Man because he was arguing for the green goblin to be anonymous.
And Stan was arguing for the green goblin to be, to be a norm nozzle. When, you know, I mean, you’re on Cora whole fucking essay about the fact that he intended it to be not only did he intend it to be a nominal Osborn, that was his idea because at that point, Stan wasn’t plus in the books, it’s all your uncle.
So it’s such a fucking ridiculous, ridiculous rumor. I will die. Yeah know. And it just perpetuates. Cause because the thing about thinking about Stan, whatever you view about Stan was what he did have for a long, long time, because he’s such a huckster of a personality. I’m a super, super interactive and super talkative.
And one’s very, very good at promoting himself. [00:55:00] Yeah. And I’m sending negative things about Stan because Stan had a lot of positive things, but also if you read the, if you read the recent biography about the Abraham Riesman book about Stan, that’s pretty much who he was, you know, lights and shadow.
Nobody’s perfect. Right? Yeah. But, but the truth is because he was always the voice on record and he’d never had a very good memory and everything. Every story he told was with the slant of being up Stanley the brand. A lot, eh, that’s, that’s 30, 40 years of talking to media on a level that Steve never did and Jack hardly ever did.
So there’s, there’s a lot of these narratives that have been propagated than just live on and they’re all bollocks, you know, they’re just not true. I may I’ve been on. So as a journalist, I was on a lifelong mission before it was horrible. It was in Vogue. So every time I ever had cause to write about, um, your uncle’s creations.
So the reason, even though I was the publisher of the [00:56:00] magazines I used to run, I was used to do all the Spider-Man reviews when the original Spider-Man movie was released in the UK, when Spiderman two is released in the UK. One of the quotes on both of those posters was from me. One of the reasons that I took those assignments and pulled rank is because I would always have a paragraph.
Talking about the creation of Spider-Man. She was created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, and, and mentioned that most of the work was your uncles, which wasn’t the popularity of itself. And I’ve been doing that for years. Every time there’s been some kind of screen iteration just in my own small way. And it’s always frustrates me that there is such a lot of horseshit swirling around about that era in your uncle’s life.
And it’s so easy to correct. And he himself wrote extensively about it. I mean, his old Spider-Man series of essays that’s brilliantly illuminated and stuff. And also he’s dead. Right? Because the reality is I would say that [00:57:00] Stan’s great floor is the, that at heart, he went to his grave believing or had convinced himself and believe that he was really the creator of.
Spiderman of the fantastic four, et cetera. I don’t think he, even though he did claim it, you can’t really claim it for dogs strange because Stan himself is imprint for saying it’s sort of Steve’s idea, you know, it’s actually, he wrote that, but he did a very good job in later life covering that up as well.
Yeah. Yeah. So it’s the fact that he went to go believe in that. Of course, nobody else believes that not even people who are big lovers of Stanley like myself, uh, you know, what’s great about your uncle’s essays, about the creation of Spider-Man. It’s all about the fact that it’s a two-person effort and the name Spider-Man Britain down on a piece of paper.
It hasn’t ever been used by the whole Marvel company as their logo. It’s that amazing costume that Steve designed, which has gone on to be one of the most famous images of the 20th century and that [00:58:00] time, your uncle super icon beyond iconic CPR, iconic. I mean, you’re talking about an image that the Spider-Man face, the Spider-Man costume it’s instantly recognizable in a way that perhaps only two of those logos are, and that’s the Batman logo and the Superman.
Yeah. They used to on the spot and on the Spider-Man face, nothing is recognizable as that. Maybe Elvis, maybe Marilyn Monroe, that’s it. Right. There’s nothing. Yeah. Yeah. So I think you’re, I think you’re doing very valuable workmates now, mark, before, before we, before we close out, we’ve really talked a lot about the fabric of what you’re doing with and for the debt coaster.
And, um, and when you look back on your, your uncle’s output in each of his kind of key areas, and I’m what I’m saying is curious. What I really mean by his is, is his core era at Marvel on man, his career at [00:59:00] DC in the, in the late sixties. And then also his period of time working for, uh Jolton. So I’m not really talking about his self published Robin Snyder stuff with which I’m very familiar or Mr.
A with which I’m very familiar, but I’m interested for you when you look at his Marvel work, what, what, what’s your, what’s your favorite piece of his Marvel work?
Mark Ditko: Um, okay. I’ll Dr. Strange. Yeah, to me, I think to me that’s, that’s obvious, but, um, so I think it was probably in the nineties, maybe nineties or early two thousands, he started to send it. Is file copies of stuff. Yeah. And just boxes and boxes and boxes of it. So at one point I started to go through it and, and he didn’t save, in some cases he didn’t save the whole comic.
He would just save the, the story, you know, and he would have it in a sleeve. [01:00:00] So I started to dig these things out. It was going through my comics and I started to put out all of those five pagers they did in the fifties, early sixties. And those things just blew my mind. Yeah. I mean, I look at those things and just, I’m just gobsmacked, like, oh, I can’t believe the output and the quality and the story.
And it’s, to me that, that, I mean, of course I love Dr. Strange because of who Dr. Strange is that he’s iconic in his own way, but that fifties era and the sixties era, when they were doing those five pagers to me, that body of work. Just blows my mind, you know, it was just so much of it, the output and the stories were just so readable, you know, and the artwork was just fantastic.
So I could stare at those. I was just through them going through them again just the other day I could [01:01:00] stare at those for days.
Andrew Sumner: I, I can, I think that’s very well said. I completely agree with it. I think the, oh, Henry asked five page stories with twist in the tale that he did scores or with Stan. Uh, I, I, I think there are real high watermark in his career and I think I’m just looking at that stuff.
I think the very, very powerful and so fabulously suited to his, his artwork.
Mark Ditko: Yeah. Yeah. But when you started talking, you said, okay, so I’ll say this, when you went and say, okay, what’s my favorite sort of Marvel type thing I have to say. I went to, uh, actually I like his wash work in Erie and was Warren work?
Yeah. His wash work. I was staring at that stuff the other day, too, you know, deep Ruby and all of those, it just like, oh man, that is just phenomenal. Art just phenomenal. So I gotta say, I, I love that artwork. [01:02:00] Yeah,
Andrew Sumner: it is lovely artwork. I have a particular fondness. The reason I mentioned the Charlton era is the way I first encountered most of your uncles.
Charlton work is we used to have these reprint British comic books called astounding uncle suspense and whatnot that, that used to come over here in the sixties and seventies. And they mainly reprinted. Non DC, non mobile stuff. So they reprinted a lot of Shelton and they actually reprinted all the towel comics, the thunder agent stuff, but in black and white.
So I first encountered things like captain atom and the question just in black and white, and it looks amazing in black and white, it looks incredible because in your uncle’s amazing line work, you just see all of it. And I think, I think you could tell that he was given, he might not a lot of metal or bribe working for Chelton, but he was given a massive amount of creatively weight.
It seems to me just looking at the work
Mark Ditko: well, to me, I think as a evolution of [01:03:00] kind of the Spider-Man. I love the Bart worker blue beetle. Oh, 100%. Yeah. To me, blue beetle is talk about a, just the continuity from the Spider-Man era in terms of action, moving into the blue beetle, to me, what a beautiful evolution, you know, and can in continuity of his art panel layout and just the dynamic.
Dynamic nature of his, I mean, to me, I love, I love the chair and stuff. I love the lovely
Andrew Sumner: beetle. Yeah, me too. Me too. And then to close out this particular reverie, another thing that I, another thing. So I might as well name the things I’m very fond of just to, just to, so I’ve talked to you about these. The other thing would be, um, I though there’s a huge amount of creative dynamism to the work you did on the creeper and the work you did on Hawk and dove.
And I remember I picked those comics up in real time when, when I was about 10, when they came out and man, [01:04:00] they just blew me away because it felt like there was the, it was pure Ditko almost at, certainly at first, both of those that does such an unusual book. You know, particularly for thisI to be producing at the time, but they have a real, real abiding power to them.
Mark Ditko: I can’t believe how many, you know. Okay. So I’m a, I’m a Ditko hoarder, you know, I, I can’t, there was a period like through the nineties, two thousands. I, I I’m, every time I would see an issue of, you know, I don’t care if it was speed ball or shade, the changing man, or every time I saw a showcase, uh, you know, Hawk and dove or a creeper, I bought it.
Yeah. I wish I I’m leafing through my comments and going, oh my God, there’s another creeper, 15 or 20 of them. Yeah, but you know, she’ll get 73,
Andrew Sumner: 75.
Mark Ditko: I just love them. So yeah, I, I, I
Andrew Sumner: feel you there. Um, I’m also a multiple [01:05:00] Arma I’m owner of maybe not as many as you, but I have multiple copies of . I it’s. It’s interesting.
I’ve got, I’ve got, uh, there’s a combination that I love. And indeed, this is what a lot of my correspondence with your uncle was about, was about his occasional partnership with Hollywood, who I think, I think the interesting thing about Steve is few people were able to income anywhere near, as successfully as he inked himself.
And people who changed this podcast will have heard me say this before in other conversations with like-minded people. But one of the people who was a very different artists to Steve, but complemented his work brilliantly as an Inca was Wally wood. And you would think their styles would not be complimentary.
I think that’s, what’s fascinating about it, but whether it’s stalker or whether it’s the other book I’m about to name, check the destructor for Atlas that she, one of the destructor is one of my favorite comic books of all time. I can’t, I still own the one copy that I got. Back in the early seventies when it came out [01:06:00] and the combination of Archie Goodwin writing it and Steve and Wally doing that, the, uh, the, the, the art, I must have re-read that book like 150 200 times.
And I really do think it’s an absolute Ditko gem that book. I love it.
Mark Ditko: Nice. Nice. Yeah, I think I pulled it out because I was bringing a bunch of selection of various comics to the show to see if I could, you know, put up kind of a range of comics that I have that he gave me. Um, and I think
Andrew Sumner: I pulled that one out.
Great. Yeah, I know. It’s it, it it’s it’s apps. It’s absolutely spectacular. I think, um, I think the, uh, th the, the other thing is that I, um, Su-Preme, I think get envious at all. I, MV is not an emotion that I feel it, and it’s not really the right word to use. I don’t really feel envious, but when I was talking to Carly of they, he was saying, well, you know, I’m on my way to go and see the I’m seeing the Johnstown show this week.
And I was like, man, in the normal course of my working life for the last [01:07:00] two decades, I’ve spent six months of my year in the us and traveling around yeah. The, you know, flying data, pop culture, flag, doing various things. And. Had this been a normal year and that all stopped dead last. The last time I was in the states, just last February, February, 2020.
I came back and I basically haven’t been out of my living room since then. But if I was living my normal life, you can bet your life that if you’ve been running this for two months, between August and September, July, and September, um, anywhere, anytime other than this year, I would have been there 100%. I would have been on the phone, go mark mate, I’m on my way.
I’m going to see this show. So I really do absolutely wish with just about every fiber of my being that I could be there at the show and see it. And that’s why I like your plans of ultimately taking on the road and doing other things with it because I desperately want to see it myself.
Mark Ditko: Well, okay. With that, I guarantee you you’re there in spirit.
[01:08:00] I, I will, I will make sure that my, your vibe is there emanating, but it is something that there has been chatter about having it every year there in Johnstown or as a cyclic thing. So we’ll see where that goes. And, um, obviously every year it would probably get better. Yeah. So, this is just the launch point, which, you know, hope that it, you know, all is well-taken and, you know, gives us, uh, enough motivation to kind of keep it going.
But I’d love to take it on the
Andrew Sumner: road. Oh yeah, for sure. Well, I’m all over it. When I’m traveling again, it is the first thing I’m going to do. And, uh, when you get to see it, I think whether it’s resonant, whether it’s true or not, I mean, you’ve obviously had some input, which is great. The stage play I think is, is, is very good, very, very entertaining.
I think the, the guy who plays your uncle is great. I mean, how, w how I’ll be fascinated to hear how he plays out to you. But I think the [01:09:00] casting, the guy who plays young from the guy plays Stan are both excellent. So I really enjoyed the performances. I don’t know how truthful for them as human beings are, but I think it’ll be an interesting ride for you to watch that, or you’ve seen the tape anyway.
Mark Ditko: rarely hear it. Here’s the thing is. Um, Lenny’s coming back to do it, but he’s doing it with another troop in Johnstown. Wow.
Andrew Sumner: So
Mark Ditko: yep.
Andrew Sumner: Now it’d be interesting, mate. Well, you know, that, that is a staple of, of, of theatrical entertainment, of course. So whether it weathers that changing cast to be very interesting, I think we’ll see.
Yeah. Right. That’s amazing. Well, mark, thank you so much for spending this hour, chatting to me and talking to me about the amazing work you’re doing with your, your uncle’s legacy and with your uncle’s estate. I am a 1000% behind as you know, everything that you’re doing and I just [01:10:00] couldn’t be happier to see Steve’s incredible legacy in such and such amazingly Kering, hands and human will occurring than his loving nephew.
That’s the key.
Mark Ditko: I do what I can when I can, you know,
Andrew Sumner: I’ll keep doing it. Yeah. And that that’s music to my ears, brother. That’s what I want to hear. So that’s the big, the big, harder degree for me, mark. Thanks so much for joining me today, pal.
Mark Ditko: And it’s been a pleasure being here until
Andrew Sumner: next time till next time brother.
And I will see you sooner rather than later, all the very best bye.