Steve Ditko, the Marvel Comics artist who gave the world the woven webs and soaring red-and-blue shape of Spider-Man, has died aged 90.
Ditko was found on June 29 in his Manhattan apartment and was pronounced dead at the scene, New York police said on Friday. No further details were available.
Ditko, along with writer Stan Lee, introduced the world to Peter Parker and his alter-ego Spider-Man in 1962 in an issue of Amazing Fantasy.
A year later, Ditko introduced the world to surgeon-turned-metaphysical superhero Doctor Strange.
Spider-Man would go on to become arguably the most recognisable character in the Marvel universe and Doctor Strange a member of its permanent pantheon.
The adventures of both have been turned into blockbuster films.
"Comics are unimaginable without his influence," tweeted Patch Zircher, a comic-book artist who has worked on Batman and Superman for DC Comics.
While Lee embraced his status among comics fans, appearing at conventions and in Marvel's films, Ditko was a recluse who won the worship of the most hardcore comic-book geeks.
"He saw things his own way, and he gave us ways of seeing that were unique. Often copied. Never equalled. I know I'm a different person because he was in the world," fantasy author Neil Gaiman tweeted.
The son of a steel-mill worker, Ditko was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1927.
He served in the army in Europe after World War II and began working in comics in the 1950s in New York, eventually landing a drawing job with Marvel forerunner Atlas Comics.
Jack Kirby, Lee's artist on the Fantastic Four and many other Marvel characters, took a stab at creating Spider-Man in 1961 but Lee was unsatisfied and gave the gig to Ditko, who gave Spidey the essential look he has today.
Australian Associated Press