Steve Ditko Interview: Rapport #2 (1966)

From the fanzine Rapport #2. Printed in 1966.

Links embedded into interview for reference. 

Bob: Do you ever use models while you are working on a strip?
Steve: No

Bob: How much time do you spend completing a story?
Steve: It varies.  The idea would be to just sit down and spend as much time on each panel or page as needed. But in doing, say, just one 20-page story every four weeks means the writing and lettering have to be taken into account. I generally pencil five pages a day (I like four). The inking depends on how soon I get the story back after it’s lettered. I can wait a week or as long as three weeks. Dr. Strange or a sudden ink job is juggled in.

Bob: What other artists, old or new, influence you the most?
Steve: Jerry Robinson.

Bob: Up until recently, did you always ink your own work?
Steve: Yes. I have to pencil stories a lot differently that I naturally do when I do my own inking. For myself, I draw in line, or outline, sketchy in many areas, rarely putting in darks unless for a certain mood, and even then it’s just a slight indication. I like drawing with the brush – not just covering pencil lines with ink. Penciling for others – all lines must be definite, dark areas positive. Like a completes ink job but in pencil. That’s what it should be… I’ve never managed to do it.

Bob: What is your biggest ambition?
Steve: The biggest was to get into comics.

Bob: Have you ever considered selling a strip to a newspaper syndicate?
Steve: Never seriously.

Bob: Is there any particular strip, other than those you are presently doing, that you would like working on?
Steve: None, past or present. It’s a lot more exciting working on something new, and you never have to worry about complaints in comparison to what it once looked like.

Bob: What drove you into becoming an artist?
Steve: I drove myself. I like drawing – the kind of drawing done for comics. I never had any desire to be an illustrator or do a POST cover.

Bob: Which comic strips did/do you enjoy the most, from the Golden Era of comics to the present?
Steve: I enjoyed a wide range on them in the so-called “Golden Era,” too numerous to mention. What I enjoyed the most (and I still do when I look at old comics) is the great variety. There were so many artists with all kinds of styles – every kind of feature imaginable. They weren’t afraid to be different.

Bob: Do you have a personal collection of comics?
Steve: Yes, but because of a space problem it’s not large. I don’t make an attempt to save everything – even those whose work I like.

Bob: Do you think that “Comic Fandom” has any considerable talent throughout that may be worth developing?
Steve: It’s not who I, or anyone else, thinks is “talented” and is worth developing. The question is – “what does the individual really want to do or become?” No goal is worthwhile to any individual unless that individual himself wants it and is willing to put the time and effort into reaching it.

Bob: Do you feel that fanzines are a worthwhile effort?
Steve: Anyone who wants to do something (providing it’s legal) and does it, is doing a worthwhile effort! (he’s a doer) I’ve read a lot about the “crudzine,” but the fact remains – these people did put in the time and effort and made a solid contribution to fandom. You have a lot of critics whose only contribution is hot air. The critics (who can only exist if something is already done by others) are always willing to tell the doers “how and what” to do but too rarely willing to put in the the time and effort themselves. The bad and lousy  in any undertaking will remain until replaced by someone who can do better. It’s too bad so many direct their time, efforts, and energy to complaining about what is bad instead of building something better.

Bob: Is there any advice that you can give amateur artists that may help improve their talents?
Steve: You must really understand the basics of art – perspective, composition, anatomy, drapery, light and shade, story-telling, etc. You need a solid foundation of what is right and good to build on. You can’t really draw anything well unless you understand the purpose of that drawing (story telling), the best way to get the drawing across (individual point of view – composition), and convincingly (perspective, anatomy, drapery, light and shade). Until I can under the influence of Jerry Robinson, I was self-taught, and you’d be amazed at the hours, months, and years one can spend practicing bad drawing habits. Jerry gave me a good foundation, but I have to constantly watch out; bad drawing habits are hard to kill. Practicing on a sold, proper foundation, you train you hard and mind to work like a unit while correctly broadening your knowledge  and ability. Spend more time practicing the things you find most difficult to do, not what is easy or you like. Keep eliminating the problems. Study, draw life around you – people, drapery, and reality. Study other artists to see how they interpret reality to art. Study and compare your art to others and reality – not copying, either, but interpreting it  the way you think best. No one is an original artist; no living artist today or yesterday invented or discovered art, brushed, ink, paper, or comics. Everyone builds on what was done before or is being done (whether it’s a shoe, a light bulb, and airplane, or a drawing). In art, the artist interprets in his own individual way; he plays up more of or less of: uses more or less of what others have built. He can stress constant over natural action. A comical approach or a serious one. A lot of fine lines or bold lines; detailed or plain. Use line-pattern textures or sold and straight black and white. Any mixture of all there is. His style or “originality” is just his individual interpretation.  If  you draw a scene the way you personally think it should be, rather what this or that artists did with a similar scene or might do, you will have you own “original” style. After all, there’s really no once less in the world just like you.

About DitkoCultist

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