Remembering Steve Ditko: Forget Kirby Dots, Let's Talk Ditko Sparkles

The idiosyncratic co-creator of Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and many lesser-known comics characters died last week. His distinctive storytelling style shaped generations of comics readers.

Friday evening, as word got around that Steve Ditko had died, the encomiums that bubbled up across the usual social media platforms assumed several distinct shapes. The reclusive comics artist and writer who co-created Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and a handful of other, lesser-known comics heroes beloved of only a hardy few (hi!), had clearly touched many nerdy lives, albeit in different ways.

The reactions tended to focus on various, discrete, highly specific aspects of his legacy: His faces. His fingers. His formalism. His far-out dreamscapes. His fierce adherence to a Randian worldview.

Me, though? I thought of his sparkles. More on them in a minute.

First, let's tick off those facets of his work that left such an impression on people.

First, his faces.

Or, technically, his fondness for their absence, in whole or in part.

Consider: Here was a guy who put his hero — and not just hero, but freaking , whose whole is just how achingly, embarrassingly relatable, and friendly, and (not to put- he is, in a full-face mask.

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