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Happy Birthday, Steve Ditko!

Today is Steve Ditko’s 85th birthday, and in celebration, we here at ComicsAlliance wanted to share a few of our favorite pieces of his work. With decades of work on characters like Dr. Strange, Hawk and Dove, the Creeper, the Question and more, Ditko was easily one of the greats, but — at least for me — his role as the co-creator of Spider-Man is what made him one of the most influential comics creators of all time.

That’s why in honor of his birthday and his legacy, I’m pleased to share a few pieces from one of his best works: Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1.If you’ve never read it, that first Spider-Man annual is one of the blueprints of modern comics storytelling. In this case, Lee and Ditko brought us the big all-the-villains event with their extra-sized tale of Spider-Man battling the Sinister Six, taking on all of his major villains over the course of 40 pages.

It’s not just that it’s a big story in terms of page count, though. It’s a story that feels big, largely because Ditko made the decision to to ramp up the drama by showing the climaxes of the fight scenes as full-sized splash pages. Considering that his normal style was, like Jack Kirby’s built around six- and seven-panel grids, the effect is incredible — giant, larger-than-life moments that pop off the page, frozen moments of twisted bodies and villains reeling from impact as Spider-Man conquers his foes.

The end result was what was arguably the best work of Ditko’s career, loaded with expression and tension that’s still rarely matched 40 years later:

So happy birthday, Steve Ditko, and from all of us at ComicsAlliance, thanks for your hand in shaping one of the best characters ever! By which we of course mean J. Jonah Jameson.

Spidey ain’t half bad either.

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