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Author
Revolutionary_Jack


Member Since: Fri Nov 26, 2021


This is a post that I can say has been years in the making:

For as long as I've known about comics, Steve Ditko has been famous (in that's it's the first two things you hear about the guy) for two things. Creating Spider-Man, and being an Objectivist. Both of these things are true.

Whenever I've come across commentary on Ditko's run on Spider-Man, you keep hitting many posts that bring up Objectivist influences on Spider-Man:
-- Supposedly Ditko objected to Norman Osborn being Green Goblin because a Randian would never want a businessman to be a bad guy (which is now totally debunked).
-- The protest scene in ASM#38 is a sign of Randian ideas manifesting (which led Al Ewing to have Spider-Man apologize for it in-page).
-- Neil Gaiman said in Jonathan Ross' BBC Documentary that Ditko and Lee disagreed politically, Ditko was "impossibly uptight" while Stan was the liberal friend of fans.

I am not a fan of Ayn Rand at all. In fact I think she's a damaging figure in many ways. But it's just that as someone who read Spider-Man comics at the time, I really didn't see any of this stuff reflected on page. So I researched Ditko for years. So I've written an article that looks at the "Randian Interpretation" of Ditko's time at Marvel as a whole. I go point by point, look at the evidence, and the latest up to date research, to hopefully complicate this stuff. Let me say, that I don't have any smoking gun one way or another, but I do think the existing assumptions about Rand and Ditko and how it affected Spider-Man (and for that matter Dr. Strange) needs to be reassessed.

elvingsmusings.wordpress.com/2022/06/07/ditko-rand-the-objectivist-spider-man/





https://elvingsmusings.wordpress.com/
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Quantum


Member Since: Sun Dec 21, 2008
Posts: 2,285


Well yeah, you're not going to see much Randian stuff in Ditko's Spider-Man or Dr. Strange or stories, because Stan was writing them. Check out his self-published Mr. A, on the other hand...


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Revolutionary_Jack


Member Since: Fri Nov 26, 2021



    Quote:
    Well yeah, you're not going to see much Randian stuff in Ditko's Spider-Man or Dr. Strange or stories, because Stan was writing them. Check out his self-published Mr. A, on the other hand...


Well I go into this in my post.

The point is that Stan Lee was an admirer of Ayn Rand and it was he who recommended to Ditko that he read her works.

Lee also censored a satire of Ayn Rand that Kirby had whipped up and he did so after Ditko had left the company.





https://elvingsmusings.wordpress.com/
Posted with Mozilla Firefox 101.0 on Windows 10
Happy Hogan 

Manager

Location: Northern Virginia
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,439




    Quote:
    This is a post that I can say has been years in the making:



    Quote:
    For as long as I've known about comics, Steve Ditko has been famous (in that's it's the first two things you hear about the guy) for two things. Creating Spider-Man, and being an Objectivist. Both of these things are true.



    Quote:
    Whenever I've come across commentary on Ditko's run on Spider-Man, you keep hitting many posts that bring up Objectivist influences on Spider-Man:
    -- Supposedly Ditko objected to Norman Osborn being Green Goblin because a Randian would never want a businessman to be a bad guy (which is now totally debunked).
    -- The protest scene in ASM#38 is a sign of Randian ideas manifesting (which led Al Ewing to have Spider-Man apologize for it in-page).
    -- Neil Gaiman said in Jonathan Ross' BBC Documentary that Ditko and Lee disagreed politically, Ditko was "impossibly uptight" while Stan was the liberal friend of fans.



    Quote:
    I am not a fan of Ayn Rand at all. In fact I think she's a damaging figure in many ways. But it's just that as someone who read Spider-Man comics at the time, I really didn't see any of this stuff reflected on page. So I researched Ditko for years. So I've written an article that looks at the "Randian Interpretation" of Ditko's time at Marvel as a whole. I go point by point, look at the evidence, and the latest up to date research, to hopefully complicate this stuff. Let me say, that I don't have any smoking gun one way or another, but I do think the existing assumptions about Rand and Ditko and how it affected Spider-Man (and for that matter Dr. Strange) needs to be reassessed.



    Quote:
    elvingsmusings.wordpress.com/2022/06/07/ditko-rand-the-objectivist-spider-man/


I'm not of fan of Ayn Rand either, but selfishness vs altruism has often been an interesting discussion in comics. It seems to work best when it IS a discussion, and not when the "objectivist" creators think the readers should take their side.

Having read your article, I have one question:
I see the words "objectivist" and "randian" a lot, (both in your article and in the real world) and outside your article, they seem to be used interchangeably. Can you explain the difference between the words in your own head cannon.

As far as Stan Lee censoring a Kirby satire of Ayn Rand, I didn't read anything more into that than Lee not wanting to seem disrespectful. I'm curious if he read what Kirby said about it first. Is it possible that Lee didn't think Kirby was the right person to do the satire well?

With comics like The Dark Knight and Watchmen, not to mention some of Ditko's other work, Rand's influence on comics seems to be far-reaching.

Ironically we seem to have gotten an unintentional satire of Rand with Zack Snyder in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.










Revolutionary_Jack


Member Since: Fri Nov 26, 2021



    Quote:
    Having read your article, I have one question:
    I see the words "objectivist" and "randian" a lot, (both in your article and in the real world) and outside your article, they seem to be used interchangeably. Can you explain the difference between the words in your own head cannon.


For me it's the same thing. Randian is a synonym for Objectivism and vice versa, and I alternate words to avoid repetition. Objectivism capitalized is of course different from lower-case objectivity and so on, so I mean it in terms of how Rand asserted things.


    Quote:
    As far as Stan Lee censoring a Kirby satire of Ayn Rand, I didn't read anything more into that than Lee not wanting to seem disrespectful. I'm curious if he read what Kirby said about it first. Is it possible that Lee didn't think Kirby was the right person to do the satire well?


It might be an attempt to put Kirby in his place, and snobbishly insisting that Kirby is too stupid to understand Rand, so that might be a thing too. I leaned towards Lee being a Randian but others can make different conclusions.


    Quote:
    With comics like The Dark Knight and Watchmen, not to mention some of Ditko's other work, Rand's influence on comics seems to be far-reaching.


Rand had an impact in real-world society when one of her acolytes became the Chair of the US Federal Reserve. So it would be a surprise that her influence doesn't show up in comics as it has in movies, advertising, games.






https://elvingsmusings.wordpress.com/
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The Silver Surfer


Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008


You make a pretty big leap in logic.

You jumped to the conclusion that it was changed to censor it, but oddly but oddly, the quote before that does not justify it.

Evanier says that Lee changed it to more conform with the traditional Marvel concept. Then you say it was clearly to censor.

His makes far more sense. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby both had flaws. Stan had a tendency to make things kind of formulaic, and the misunderstood monster was certainly a standby at Marvel.

You took a quote, and then attributed an entirely different meaning than what it says.

Stan Lee was also the editor, something he desperately needed. His solo work highlights that fact. His Captain America in the 70s is a rambling mess. that borders on being unreadable, and even his magnum opus the Fourth Word... which I love... has some serious structural problems in terms of basic story telling.

I say this as someone who works with editors on a regular basis, things get changed around all the time. It is rarely as dramatic as people want to make it. However, those edited do have a habit of thinking it is more...and I say from experience, both mine and colleagues.

Kirby also had a habit of, let's say bending the truth to make a better story for himself. He has said he landed in the first month of the Normandy invasion, when casualties were still high and it was actually in August after the last of the fighting ended. In an issue of Kirby Collector, he claimed he was responsible for liberating a concentration camp, even gave detail, and that is provably wrong.

It is very possible Jack Kirby was making himself see better. I cant say that for sure, but neither can you, and neither can Evanier...he was in Middle School at the time. I am just saying, you have a pretty big leap in logic.





Just to be clear, I do think the idea of Stan Lee being a liberal is a bit off base. I think people jump to that conclusion based on a few factors.

After Ditko left, Spider-Man started supporting Randy Robertson's protests. Captain America also Notably showed loose support for protestors in when Lee worked with Colan, and expressively showing a figure corrupting idealistic youth with violence, but the overall idea being supported.

Of course, none of these are really political. Robertson wants cheaper housing, if memory serves, and Cap steers clear of the whole issue just saying he supports their rights.

Then of course, there is Captain America #122, where Captain America has a five page soliloquies about how he should have "battled less and questioned more." He also notable talks of a fondness for JFK, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr.... all people Rand loathed... by name.

Of course, that scene ended with Cap saying he should buck up, and that the old-fashioned an new are not so different, and defended the establishment. Oddly, including MLK as a part of it, which doe not make a whole lot of sense,'

Then, of course, is Lee's Silver Surfer run, which gets a little Hippie-sh. The constant talk of brotherhood, and how humans exploit the planet is pretty anti-Rand. That of course would not mean he never was, people change over time.

However, it is also not political. None of it is really. It is more philosophical musings.

IN my opinion, Stan Lee was probably not very political in general. I could see how the lone misunderstood hero could appeal to Lee. Of course, Jack Kirby loved that narrative about himself as well.

Given Lee's exuberance at putting in Black characters in comics, he clearly could be viewed as being socially liberal. However, that was not as connected to politics as people want to make it out.






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Revolutionary_Jack


Member Since: Fri Nov 26, 2021



    Quote:
    You make a pretty big leap in logic.


I am in fact presenting my opinion on that matter.

As I mentioned:

"Gartland allows Lee a benefit of the doubt in that this wasn’t directly political but simply a case of not understanding the motives, and that’s likely. But there’s enough grounds to presume that Lee didn’t want to attack Rand or critique her ideas even indirectly, and that suggests personal bias."

I clearly separate the author's views from my conclusion and interpretation.


    Quote:
    Evanier says that Lee changed it to more conform with the traditional Marvel concept. Then you say it was clearly to censor.


Well obviously Evanier presents the story as changed from original, and I interpreted that claim my way.


    Quote:
    I cant say that for sure, but neither can you, and neither can Evanier...he was in Middle School at the time.


Most of the fanzine writers of the 1960s were very young teens and kids. I covered that in my book review of Ballmann's collection of fanzine articles (elvingsmusings.wordpress.com/2022/05/25/book-review-steve-ditko-in-the-1960s-edited-by-j-ballmann/).


    Quote:
    After Ditko left, Spider-Man started supporting Randy Robertson's protests.


I cover this in my post on this thread. But the evidence is in fact the opposite. Thirty issues after Ditko left, in the issue where Randy makes his first appearance, Peter essentially walks away from a protest and refuses to participate.

If by "After Ditko left", you mean immediately then there's no grounds to support that. 30 issues means 2years+.






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Happy Hogan 

Manager

Location: Northern Virginia
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,439




    Quote:

      Quote:
      Having read your article, I have one question:
      I see the words "objectivist" and "randian" a lot, (both in your article and in the real world) and outside your article, they seem to be used interchangeably. Can you explain the difference between the words in your own head cannon.



    Quote:
    For me it's the same thing. Randian is a synonym for Objectivism and vice versa, and I alternate words to avoid repetition. Objectivism capitalized is of course different from lower-case objectivity and so on, so I mean it in terms of how Rand asserted things.



    Quote:

      Quote:
      As far as Stan Lee censoring a Kirby satire of Ayn Rand, I didn't read anything more into that than Lee not wanting to seem disrespectful. I'm curious if he read what Kirby said about it first. Is it possible that Lee didn't think Kirby was the right person to do the satire well?



    Quote:
    It might be an attempt to put Kirby in his place, and snobbishly insisting that Kirby is too stupid to understand Rand, so that might be a thing too. I leaned towards Lee being a Randian but others can make different conclusions.



I don't see how that's an indication that Lee was snobbish. I'm also not buying that Stan was a Randian without better evidence. Do you have examples in his writings that would support that? Decisions he made as an editor or publisher mean little without the context of those decisions known to us. As far as recommending Ayn Rands works to Ditko, that could be so Steve would have more insight into writing or plotting villains.    Unlike DC at the time, Stan Lee was not usually about basic mustache twirling villains.  Stan was about creating nuanced characters, in both heroes AND villains. In any case, anyone can recommend that someone read Rand's work without necessarily being an Objectionivist.


    Quote:

      Quote:
      With comics like The Dark Knight and Watchmen, not to mention some of Ditko's other work, Rand's influence on comics seems to be far-reaching.



    Quote:
    Rand had an impact in real-world society when one of her acolytes became the Chair of the US Federal Reserve. So it would be a surprise that her influence doesn't show up in comics as it has in movies, advertising, games.


She certainly had influence, but I'm not sure that she had a lot of dogmatic followers. Zach Snyder's Superman work seems to have Randian elements, but it also has Christian themes and tropes. I'm not sure that Rand would have approved of it, as Rand herself was an athiest.






Revolutionary_Jack


Member Since: Fri Nov 26, 2021



    Quote:
    I don't see how that's an indication that Lee was snobbish. I'm also not buying that Stan was a Randian without better evidence. Do you have examples in his writings that would support that?


I go over in my article on the divide between being a fan of Rand and Randian. I guess in this post I mixed the two together for which I'm sorry. I would say that Stan Lee liked what he read of Rand and gave it no deeper thought beyond feeling good while reading her works like most general readers of Rand's The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

At the same time privately and personally, Lee as revealed by Abraham Riesman, certainly did have a lot of what we would call "libertarian" ideas. Very anti-union, very pro-individualist and so on. Politically, he was a chameleon and very good at ventriloquizing the viewpoints that people wanted to hear for him. So he would sound liberal when it was convenient and in his interest to be liberal and so on.


    Quote:
    In any case, anyone can recommend that someone read Rand's work without necessarily being an Objectionivist.


That's true. But the fact that it was Lee who did it, certainly overturns this idea that Lee was the liberal and Ditko was the fringe weirdo. It turns out both had a degree of things in common.


    Quote:
    She certainly had influence, but I'm not sure that she had a lot of dogmatic followers. Zach Snyder's Superman work seems to have Randian elements, but it also has Christian themes and tropes. I'm not sure that Rand would have approved of it, as Rand herself was an athiest.


Rand was an atheist but she was pro-freemarket far more than anti-god and she'd swallow her convictions and pal around with religious folk who liked her ideas and belief system even if they didn't make sense.

As for Snyder and Rand, well ultimately he made Superman and Batman and Justice League unprofitable by bringing them into the big screen and his Watchmen was also unsuccessful, which means that there's no creator with Randian leanings who has had success outside Rand. Brad Bird's Incredibles might be an exception but he's denied it.

I go over this in another post that came out today where I point out that Rorschach from Watchmen in fact was far more successful a Randian anti-hero than Ditko's own creations proved to be.

elvingsmusings.wordpress.com/2022/06/13/the-paradox-of-success-rorschach-mr-a/comment-page-1/#comment-482





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