Artist Steve Ditko, who co-created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange with Stan Lee, has died at age 90.
The New York Police Department confirmed his death to The Hollywood Reporter. No cause of death was announced. Ditko was found dead in his apartment on June 29 and it is believed he died about two days earlier.
From the 1970s on, he rarely spoke on the record, declining almost every interview request. He sat out the publicity booms that accompanied the Spider-Man films and the Doctor Strange movie.
“We didn’t approach him. He is private and has intentionally stayed out of the spotlight like J.D. Salinger,” Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson told THR in 2016. “I hope he goes to see the movie, wherever he is, because I think we paid homage to his work.”
Derrickson, author Neil Gaiman and filmmaker Edgar Wright paid tribute on Twitter upon learning news of Ditko’s death.
Wright tweeted that Ditko was “influential on countless planes of existence” and “his work will never be forgotten.” Gaiman wrote, “I know I’m a different person because he was in the world.”
Rest in peace.
Having inspired such writers as Stephen King and Robert Bloch, it could be argued that the forefather of modern horror fiction was H.P. Lovecraft. The influence of his Cthulhu mythos can be seen in films, games, music and pop culture in general. But what led an Old World, xenophobic gentleman to create one of literature’s most far-reaching mythologies? What attracts even the minds of 21st century to these stories of unspeakable abominations and cosmic gods? LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN is a chronicle of the life, work and mind that created these weird tales as told by many of today’s luminaries of dark fantasy, including John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, Neil Gaiman, Stuart Gordon, Caitlin Kiernan and Peter Straub.
Roger Avary (born Roger d’Avary; August 23, 1965) is a Canadian film and television producer, screenwriter and director. He worked on the screenplays for Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, the latter of which earned both him and Quentin Tarantino an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at the 67th Academy Awards. He also directed the cult films Killing Zoe and the excellent The Rules of Attraction among other film and television projects.
When in 1981, Video Out-Takes co-owner Lance Lawson (a name that comes up repeatedly in Avary and Tarantino’s films) left to open the now famous Video Archives, Avary went along, writing the store’s database program. Under the vision of Lawson, Video Archives became a gathering place for a group of cinephiles, who became known as “Archivists”. Among this group, Avary met an odd and brilliant film enthusiast, Quentin Tarantino. The two became friends, introducing each other to their favorite films.
Early in his career, Avary made a number of contributions to some of Quentin Tarantino’s movies. He worked as a cinematographer on Tarantino’s unfinished first film, My Best Friend’s Birthday. He had written a script called “The Open Road” which Tarantino rewrote. Avary took on the producer’s role, and he and Tarantino tried unsuccessfully for several years to get funding so that Tarantino could direct the script himself. Eventually, the script was sold to French producer Samuel Hadida and became the movie True Romance.
Avery and Tarantino worked together on Natural Born Killers, directed by Oliver Stone; Avary also co-wrote the background radio dialogue in Reservoir Dogs (1992), and designed the “Dog Eat Dog” logo which appeared in the end credits.
Most notably however, Avary contributed material which, combined with Tarantino’s, formed the basis of Pulp Fiction (1994) for which he and Tarantino won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Avary’s bizarre 1994 Oscar speech (for Best Original Screenplay) consisted of “I want to thank my beautiful wife, Gretchen, who I love more than anyone else in the world… I’m gonna go now ’cause I really got to take a pee.” The “pee comment” was a reference to all five films nominated in 1994 for Best Picture having a key scene where a character excuses themselves to use the bathroom.
Avary also wrote and directed the neo-noir cult thriller Killing Zoe (1994) which Tarantino executive produced. Avary had initially intended to write a screenplay completely devoted to his travelling experience through Europe, for which Tarantino suggested the ironic title Roger Takes a Trip. But when producer Lawrence Bender called Avary during location scouting on Reservoir Dogs asking if he had a screenplay that took place entirely in a bank so that they could take advantage of an inexpensive location they had no use for, Avary told Bender that he had such a script—and quickly wrote Killing Zoe in under a week, using elements of his European trip as inspiration. The film was honored with le Prix très spécial à Cannes 1994, the very same year that Pulp Fiction won the Palme d’Or.
From 1985 to 1986, Avary attended Menlo College, in Atherton, California. The school, “a West coast Bennington”, laid the foundations for his film adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel The Rules of Attraction. In 2002, Avary directed his adaptation of the novel, which he also executive produced. His film from within the film, Glitterati (2004), used elements of Victor’s European trip and was shot on digital video. In 2005, he purchased the rights to another Bret Easton Ellis novel Glamorama, and is currently developing it for himself to direct.
In 2006, Avary wrote a screenplay adaptation to the hit videogame, Silent Hill (2006), with French director and friend, Christophe Gans, and Killing Zoe producer Samuel Hadida.
According to Avary’s biography on the American “Killing Zoe” DVD, Avary directed a small, independent musical production of “Beowulf” for the stage in Paris in 1993. Beowulf seems to have been a lifelong obsession with Avary.
In the late 1990s, Avary was hired by Warner Bros studio to adapt Neil Gaiman’s comic series The Sandman to the big screen. After he was fired, Gaiman and Avary started work together writing an adaptation of the epic poem Beowulf. The film was finally produced in 2007 with Robert Zemeckis directing, utilizing performance capture technology.
On January 13, 2008, Avary was arrested under suspicion of manslaughter and DUI, following a car crash in Ojai, California where a passenger, Andreas Zini, was killed. In December 2008, he was charged with, and pleaded not guilty to, gross vehicular manslaughter and two felony counts of causing bodily injury while intoxicated. He later changed his plea to guilty on August 18, 2009.
On September 29, 2009, he was sentenced to 1 year in work furlough, (allowing him to go to his job during the day and then report back to the furlough facility at night), and 5 years of probation. However, after making several tweets about the conditions of his stay on Twitter, Avary was sent to Ventura County Jail to serve out the remainder of his term. On July 10, 2010, after spending eight months in jail, Avary was released.