The Most Communicative 'Recluse' Around: Letters From Ditko to Fans

I have been doing these Steve Ditko retrospectives since we learned of his passing in early July. I think I'm getting close to exhausting the stuff worth writing about in detail, although I think I'll probably at the very least get into his early Marvel work (maybe plus one more Spider-Man piece?) and perhaps there's more worthwhile that I'm missing. I will probably put out a bit where I collect all of the links to these retrospectives into one piece for better access for everybody, as, again, I've been doing these things for almost two months now, so they're all spread out all over the place.

ANYhow, my pal Glen Cadigan suggested I spotlight some of the letters that Steve Ditko sent back to fans (and others) over the years. You see, while Ditko had a reputation for being a recluse, he was also a recluse whose address (both work and private) were listed in the public phone book. This made it easy for people to write letters to Ditko. Ditko would often write back, in his own unique fashion.

RELATED: Steve Ditko's Outstanding Two Years of Horror at Warren Publishing

Ditko is obviously famous for his very specific ethical code and also famous for his unwillingness to talk about his past work. This would come through in his letters, as well, where he would have rather direct statements on these topics. Perhaps the most common letter that Ditko would write is a simple declaration of his disinterest in discussing his Spider-Man work, which is obviously what strangers would write to him about.

In this 2011 letter, he also addressed another common topic, his disinterest in doing art commissions...

See how he is perfectly friendly with his disinterest? It isn't like this guy was some jerk to fans or anything like that. He just wasn't interested in talking about Spider-Man and he made that perfectly clear.

His other most common letter type was when people would write for autographs or interview requests and Ditko had a simple system. He felt, ethically, that if he did an interview or autograph request for one person, he would have to do the same for another person and since he got so many, he felt that it was better to just turn down ALL such requests.

Roy Thomas often sends out complimentary copies of Alter Ego to people who contributed in some way or another to the magazine. He would also often send Ditko copies of the magazine (I don't know if it was every issue, but I've seen Ditko mention it a few times, so I figure it was frequent). At least once, Ditko sent Thomas a very sweet reply with a cartoon letter...

That is all kinds of adorable, right?

Bryan Stroud wrote in to Ditko about Jerry Robinson and Ditko's response was quite informative...

Stroud passed it along to Robinson.

Here, Ditko explains why he is not interested in personal discussions about the comic book industry, in his own particular way of talking...

On the next page, my pal Fred Van Lente shared his experience with getting a "hate" letter from Steve Ditko.

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