I have never been a big fan of comic books, with one notable exception, but I have absorbed much of the pop culture through Saturday cartoon adaptations. Well, recently, the reclusive Steve Ditko, who came up with Spider-Man, died in his New York apartment. To me, Spider-Man was perhaps the most appealing superhero- he was a teenager who had to deal with studies, relationship complications, money problems, and an overbearing boss. Spider-Man was created as an Outer Boroughs hero, the sort of hero who is currently popular, a Queens kid who receives a gift that he is compelled to use for the common good, but unable to use for his personal enrichment. Spider-Man also remained resistant to the silly 'grimdark' aesthetic that seemed to characterize comics and genre fiction in the 90s- there was a bright primary color palette, though the narrative was tempered by a tragic backstory, which in some iterations could have been prevented by Spider-Man himself.
Besides Spider-Man and many of the villains in his orbit, Ditko created Dr Strange for Marvel Comics. He also indulged in his *SIGH* Objectivist leanings by creating an Objectivist superhero. Funny how this character never got the Saturday morning cartoon treatment.
At any rate, Steve Ditko was one of those titans of pop culture, even if he wasn't a household name. I was introduced to his work through reruns of the 1967-1970 cartoon series with the catchy theme song:
There were also hilarious Spider-Man sequences in the 1970s education show The Electric Company
The bit about not being able to eat a hotdog still cracks me up. At any rate, even as someone who didn't read comic books, Steve Ditko's most memorable characters percolated into my pop-culture awareness... and of course, without Spider-Man, we wouldn't have Italian Spiderman, who is even cooler:
I'd be remiss if I didn't post the Ramones' take on the theme song to the 1960s era cartoon:
After all, the Ramones were also superheroes from Queens... and Steve Ditko fans to boot.