Steve Ditko, the co-creator (or creator, depending on who you ask) of Spider-Man, is famous for becoming a recluse who follows Ayn Rand's "philosophy" of Objectivism to the letter. He refuses to do interviews and he also refuses to work with any comic book company that he considers immoral. Apparently, there is no morally upright comic book company, because Ditko doesn't work much anymore.

Well, a recent essay by Ditko has surfaced at Big Hollywood, the conservative pop culture site. The thing that most surprised me was that Ditko apparently still reads comics, even though they're produced by morally inferior creatures. But the rest of it is still crazy Ditko rantings:

a5a8/1239392540-ditko.jpgThe black-and-white standard has already been agreed upon by the majority as “smashed” into a grey rubble of more or less grey, into anti-heroes and non-entities, down to zeroes, a nothing, so useless.

The much maligned B-westerns showed a clearly defined moral code, a standard. Those westerns identified a range from good to degrees of wrong, to the bad/evil.

The cowboy in the “white hat” (good), the hero, fights fair, helps people in distress, defends the law, fights rustlers, lawbreakers, etc. He acts as an agent of justice.

The cowboy in the “black hat” (the bad), the villain, fights unfairly, cheats, stabs, shoots people in the back, steals property, robs banks, rustles cattle, etc. He acts as an agent of the bad.

The cowboy in the “grey hat” (a sneak), tips off the villains about gold shipments, spies on the sheriff, on honest people with wealth, spreads lies, is an agitator, etc. He is an agent of compromise and corruption.

The honest but uncertain sheriff doesn’t have the information, knowledge, about the newcomer hero, so he’s suspicious, tending to believe the lies of the local black and grey hats who are posing as helpful and honest townspeople. He is an agent still collecting, weighing, actions, evidence, for a legal judgment.

The confused heroine is also not trusting the hero because of the uncertainty of the sheriff and the lies from the black and grey hats. She is an agent of emotional and moral uncertainty.

Later, the anti-hero western’s realism muddied the clear identities into greyness: “We’re all alike,” “Nobody is better than anyone else.”

The whole essay involves recent comic books, September 11th, Agatha Christie, and Lazlo Toth. It's a fascinating mess.