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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN No. 3 * Steve Ditko Collection



Marvel [Indicia: Non-Pareil Publishing Group]

July, 1963


CGC certified: Fine (6.0). Cream to off-white pages. STEVE DITKO COLLECTION. Cover: Steve Ditko pencils and inks, Stan Goldberg colors. Story: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Art: Steve Ditko. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Lettering: John Duffy, Artie Simek. Origin and first appearance: Dr. Octopus. 

Provenance: From the Steve Ditko Estate, CGC-certified as Steve Ditko's personal copy, and with a certificate of authenticity signed by Mr. Patrick S. Ditko, Steve Ditko's brother. Not cleaned and pressed in order to preserve all traces of Steve Ditko's handling. GPAnalysis: A non-Ditko Collection 6.0 sold for $6000 in 7/22.

A note on the Ditko Collection: Steve Ditko owned from one to three copies of each of the 41 Spider-Man comics that he drew (comprising Amazing Fantasy #15, Amazing Spider-Man #s 1-38, and Amazing Spider-Man Annual #s 1 & 2). The only complete set of 41 Spidey comics belonging to Ditko is featured in this sale; an incomplete set of 23 Spidey comics was offered last year by another auction house; and a final incomplete set of 19 Spidey comics will be offered by PBA next year.

Ditko Collection Census: This is the only Ditko Collection copy of ASM #3.

The Mystery of Steve Ditko's Missing Artwork

The late artist and publisher Greg Theakston shocked comic fans when he claimed, in a 2002 issue of Wizard, to have seen evidence that Steve Ditko was destroying his own original artwork by using it as a cutting board.

“I was sitting next to a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand dollars, maybe, worth of Ditko artwork and he was cutting it up without letting people look at it.” — Theakston, "The Mystery Behind the Man," Wizard #124, Jan. 2002.

Theakston's bombshell left fans reeling in dismay, with a number of dumbfounded Ditkophiles insisting that Theakston must have misinterpreted what he saw. Among the skeptics was artist Stephen R. Bissette, who noted in a 2008 blog post, "I don’t buy the ‘cutting board’ story." When PBA's Director of Comics asked Ditko's nephew, Patrick Ditko, if he knew the fate of his uncle's original art, the answer was disheartening. Upon entering Steve Ditko's Manhattan studio three months after the artist's death in June 2018, Patrick, his brother Mark, and their father Pat were stunned to find that there wasn't so much as a scrap of original comic book art anywhere to be found. Theft is unlikely, as a huge heap of mail piled against the inside of the door showed that nobody had entered since Ditko's death. The "foot-and-a-half-high" stack of original artwork that Theakston had seen during his visit to Ditko's studio was gone without a trace.

When asked what he thought happened to his uncle's original art, Patrick Ditko delivered a woeful reply: "I believe that he destroyed it all."

If Ditko did destroy his own stash of original art, what compelled him to do so? "It all ties into The Fountainhead," Patrick Ditko speculates. In Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead, architect Howard Roarke demolishes his own skycraper rather than allow the integrity of his vision to be compromised by others. Did Ditko, a follower of Rand's Objectivist philosophy, emulate Roarke's example? As the architect of his comics career, did Ditko prefer to demolish his own artistic edifice rather than allow his originals to fall into the hands of others? Like so many mysteries pertaining to Ditko, the answer may never be known. There's certainly precedent for creatives to destroy or attempt to destroy their own work, from Nikolai Gogol and Franz Kafka to Gerhard Richter, who described cutting up his own paintings as "an act of liberation."

The Survival of Steve Ditko's Comic Book Collection

Ditko was unsentimental about his creative output, as demonstrated by his alleged destruction of his original art. So how is it that Ditko's collection of Amazing Spider-Man comics survived this ostensible purge?

According to writer Will Murray, who co-created Squirrel Girl with Ditko in 1991, Ditko ritualistically boxed up each year's comic book output and stashed the boxes away, out of sight and out of mind:

"At the end of every year, he’d go on vacation, and either before or after that, he would take all his work for that year, box it up, put it away, and not look at it again. That year was over with, that work was done, and the next year would bring a new round of work. The past was the past, the past was dead. He was only interested in the present and future." — Robert Jeschonek, Another Side of Steve Ditko: A Life with Family and Friends. Unpublished manuscript of a work-in-progress, p. 166.

Ditko's sister Anna had a spare room in her house that was reserved for her brother's use during his twice-yearly visits to Johnstown, Pennsylvania throughout the 1960s and '70s. In the room was a closet, where Steve Ditko kept clothes and supplies, and in the back of the closet there was a small niche. According to Patrick Ditko, after Anna's death, her son Tom was cleaning out the closet and found several plain cardboard boxes stashed away in the closet's niche: "These were Uncle Steve's comic book comps."



Enjoying the Spidey Sale? Order a fully-illustrated softcover catalogue for 30 bucks. Only about 100 copies were printed and they're going fast. To reserve a copy, contact PBA's Director of Comics: [email protected]

Consign to PBA Galleries. Our comic sales average a 98% sell-through rate, our prices realized are top-of-the-market, and our research-intensive catalogues are the best in the business. Seeking Silver Age Marvel, Golden Age superheroes, and pre-Code horror. Contact [email protected]


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