So I'm 16 years old, right, and I'm working for the second summer in a row at DC Comics. This time I'm in the export department, and I'm really fucking up at the job, but no one's bothering me about it, and in fact, I'm getting good, free, old comics left and right, because acting department chief JACK C. HARRIS says I can go through the export stash of comics, and if I find doubles they're mine to have. You can believe I found doubles. Anyway, Jack was a good guy to me, the first dude I ever saw who wore blue jeans together with a buttoned shirt and tie that wasn't Billy Joel, and he was also still doing a little comic book writing on the side in addition to running the export department.
One day it's lunchtime, and Jack's out. This little fellow comes looking for him. I remember him as little, maybe he wasn't. But he looked kind of like this:
A guy with a kind of working class build, sporting a short-sleeve shirt and simple trousers. He seemed quiet. I told him Jack was at lunch, and he said he'd wait in Jack's office, and I'm like "okay". He stays a while, I remember passing him by once or twice, and finally Jack returns from lunch and the two of them are talking.
Then later the guy leaves, and Jack's all like "You do know who that was, right", and I'm all "no", and he says it was Steve Ditko.
I was young, but I knew that was pretty impressive. Not only did I know Steve Ditko was important, I was also a big fan. I mean, yeah, I liked Greg LaRoque back then, but I also knew the work of a true genius when I saw it. Afterwards, it hit me that even just SEEING Steve Ditko was a bit of a big deal, and I wished I'd taken a better look at him. He just seemed like a guy, a small working class guy.
Steve, to me, is the other half of the Marvel Universe. If Jack is all that's powerful and heroic, the true Wagnerian noise of Marvel, Steve is the dark undercurrent, the dissonant tone. The truly human tone. I should get that new Fantagraphics book about him. I should've gotten a better look at him back then.