DEFIANT DitkoIn the summer of 1992, days after I was ousted from VALIANT, Frank Miller called me. He said he’d heard what they said. He asked me to tell him what really happened.

Frank was very sympathetic and supportive.

Not too long after that, I got a call from Steve Ditko. The new management at VALIANT had dumped him in a callous and demeaning manner (my characterization of the events, not his). And it sounded like it got to him. He sounded depressed. It must have been one harsh rejection. I’m not going to try to quote him, but for the first and only time to me, he said things about people hating his work. He sounded hurt.

Maybe I read too much into it, maybe I’m coloring it all wrong. Maybe Steve would deny the above. I don’t claim to know what was going on in his mind, but that’s what it sounded like, that’s what it felt like to me.

My turn to be sympathetic and supportive.

Not much I could do to help at that point.

But, after we hung up, I gave Frank a call. At that point, Frank was doing a lot of work with Dark Horse. I said, “I don’t know whether Mike Richardson would take my call, but I know he’ll take yours.” I suggested that Frank call Dark Horse Master and Commander Mike and tell him that right now would be a great time for to do a project with Steve Ditko. I thought it would cheer Steve up considerably to hear from Mike, if there was work to be had.

Frank, a good soul, called Mike. Mike is also a good soul, has abiding respect for Steve and his work and was happy to get a heads up about Steve being available. Mike called Steve. Dark Horse indeed, did something with Steve, although as previously mentioned, Steve is pretty strict about what he’ll do and what he won’t, so as I recall, it wasn’t a very extensive project. But, I suspect it felt good for Steve to get an offer right about then.