Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko dead at 90

By: tmz/hollywoodreporter.com
Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko
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STEVE Ditko, the man who helped Stan Lee create two legendary Marvel superheroes -- Spider-Man and Doctor Strange -- has died at his home in New York ... TMZ has learned.

Steve Ditko was found unresponsive in his NYC apartment on June 29 when a social worker who hadn't heard from him in a while went to Steve's home to check on him ... according to law enforcement.

The chief medical examiner listed the cause of death as arteriosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease -- basically, a heart attack brought on by clogged arteries.

Steve Ditko was one of the most acclaimed comic book artists of all time, best known for creating Spider-Man with Lee in 1962, and Doctor Strange a year later. The stories they crafted together inspired the 2016 "Doctor Strange" film starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

While Stan became the face of Marvel and "The Godfather of Comic Books" to the public, Steve Ditko remained enigmatic over the years -- refusing to do interviews or make public appearances. He continued to work at a Manhattan studio, though, until at least 2012.

Stephen J. Ditko was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on Nov. 2, 1927. His father worked at a steel mill and his mother was a homemaker.

He developed an interest in comics from his father, who loved Prince Valiant, and from Batman and the Spirit, which both debuted as he entered his teens.

After graduating high school, Steve Ditko served in the army in post-war Germany, drawing for a military paper.

After being discharged, he moved to New York City in 1950 and studied under Batman artist Jerry Robinson at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School (later the School of Visual Arts).

By 1953, Steve Ditko was getting work as a professional comics artist, including at the studio of Captain America creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Ditko came down with tuberculosis in 1954 and spent the next year recovering in Johnstown. He began drawing for Marvel Comics forerunner Atlas Comics in 1955.

He had a successful collaboration with Stan Lee at first, as the pair worked on a number of science fiction stories together.

Ditko has no known survivors. He is believed never to have married.