Steve Ditko: Interested in Vincent Price...
...and Tony Moore. Less Interested In Deadpool.
I’ve previously written about my correspondence with Steve Ditko a bit here, and here. I’ve mostly kept the contents of the letters private as they’re actually a little hard to follow because Mr. Ditko was replying to my letters line by line. I don’t know how he’d feel about our discussions becoming public, and I don’t need the karmic damage, but there are bits and pieces here and there that are harmless and fun to share.
It’s accepted that Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange was at least spiritually a nod to Vincent Price. Early in 1963, the year that Strange debuted, Price starred in THE RAVEN by Roger Corman as Dr. Erasmus Craven.
You can watch the trailer over on YouTube. A young Corman actor named Jack Nicholson also shows up but he seemed not catch the eye or ink of Mr. Ditko.
The inspiration is mostly just a bit of nearly forgotten trivia, and Price waved back to it in an episode of Scooby Doo or all places.
About 25 years after that Scooby Doo episode Brian Posehn, Tony Moore and I were asked to launch an ongoing Deadpool series when MARVEL NOW hit, I was determined to write Dr. Strange before I could be fired. That meant slotting him into one of the first three issues before sales data could be gleaned by Marvel and our ongoing could be cut-short to a mini, so I made sure Dr. Strange showed up in my second Marvel script.
Worrying about being fired before our first issue was on stands is something that young creators need to really always consider. Drive every gig like it’s your last time behind the wheel.
My correspondence was mostly about creator-owned comics. In one of my last notes I printed up a couple of pages of Tony Moore’s inks of the Dr. Strange sequences and included them in my note. For all I know these were the first Dr. Strange pages he’d seen that were not the ones he has been long rumored to have continued writing and drawing after he left Marvel. (!)
I always assumed that I would not hear from Ditko again, especially after folding up some unsolicited Marvel inks into one of my typed messages. (My handwriting is awful)
To my surprise, Mr. Ditko responded enthusiastically:
Tony Moore accepted this praise like an Oscar, as well he should.
Happy anniversary, Dr. Strange. As my fans will know, he’s always close to my heart. Here’s to many more.
Next time on Gerry’s Mailbag™: my penpal’ing around with Vince Colletta takes a dark turn when I mention Jim Shooter.