The 206th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  Feb. 6, 2018 at 7pm at Parsons School of Design, 2 West 13th Street, in the Bark Room (off the lobby). Free and open to the public.

Joe McCulloch on Total Language: Steve Ditko at 90

Ask a person today who created Spider-Man, and they’ll probably tell you Marvel Comics, that inescapable entertainment brand. Some of them might say Stan Lee, the man whose profile is highest in mass media. Others, perhaps fewer, will know about Steve Ditko (b. 1927), a cartoonist of an unusual trajectory: his vision and craft gave concrete form to commercial characters still adored across the globe, half a century later, but his passion would soon pour into deeply personal, experimental, and furiously divisive works, comics emboldened by the freedoms of artist ownership, yet antagonistic toward the compromised values of society. Few agreed with the ideology espoused by these comics, but Ditko kept working, undeterred – through the rise and fall of the underground era, through the transition from newsstand racks to comic book stores, through the graphic novel boom and the advent of crowdfunding. He is still working now, here in New York City.  Since 2007, Steve Ditko has published more than 800 pages of new comic book art, and they are among his most fascinating: comics where text and image work in a simultaneity of intent, a total language that invests the tautness of line and the hatching of shadow with thematic roles in the story, where the function of the black and white page is a statement of the artist’s worldview, by which there is only good and evil, and where the individual must ascertain the objective nature of the world, lest they reject their own lives. Come and see for yourself.

Joe McCulloch has been writing and speaking about comics for 14 years, sometimes to audiences other than his bathroom mirror.

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