December 30, 2007

Ditko in 2007 wrapup

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Hey all. I know posting on here had come to an unscheduled halt. No promises, but that might change soon. Anyway, thought I'd drop by for a quick note on recent Ditko publications. 2007 was a good year for Ditko reprints, with three major books featuring all of his Spider-man stories, dozens of short fantasy stories (some never reprinted before) and the remainder of his Charlton stories acquired by DC (Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, the Question). Plus a few more minor things. Oh, and a BBC documentary that got some good reviews. I should watch that some day...

2008 should see some major stuff, such as a volume which will include all of his 1960s work on the Hulk, and another with his few Iron Man stories (both to go with movies of the characters. Can we get someone to do a Speedball movie? Shade, maybe? Starman, even? Doctor Mayavale?).

September 17, 2007

Upcoming Ditko - New Gods story

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Well, here was a bit of a surprise. The Ditko story was announced as backup done for Simonson's ORION series back around 2000, but for whatever reason was never used. Good to see it seeing the light of day. Some other contents of the book are pretty good, as well (the Evanier/Rude/Royer MISTER MIRACLE story, in particular).


TALES OF THE NEW GODS TP

Written by Mark Evanier, John Byrne, Walter Simonson, Jeph Loeb and others
Art by Steve Rude, Byrne, Simonson, Frank Miller, Dave Gibbons, Arthur Adams, Erik Larsen and others
Cover by Walter Simonson

Don't miss this new volume featuring the greatest New Gods stories by a Who's Who of all-star creators! Recognized as one of Jack Kirby's greatest creations, the New Gods now play an integral role in the DC Universe. Rediscover the classic tales of young Scott Free, Darkseid, Orion and more in this softcover collecting stories from Mister Miracle Special, Jack Kirby's Fourth World #2-20, and Orion #3-4, #6-8, #10, #12, #15, #18-19! Plus, a never-before-published short story by writer Mark Millar with art by Steve Ditko & Mick Gray!

on sale January 23 168 pg, FC, $19.99 US

September 11, 2007

--Link-- Evanier on Ditko

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Mark Evanier has a pair of entries on Ditko's 1960s departure from Marvel, here and here, initiated by some comments on the upcoming Jonathan Ross documentary that you can read about here.

August 22, 2007

New Ditko - Amazing Fantasy Omnibus

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The big AMAZING FANTASY OMNIBUS, collecting the 15 issues of AMAZING ADVENTURES, AMAZING ADULT FANTASY and AMAZING FANTASY, including about 250 pages of Ditko, some never reprinted before, is being released today.

July 13, 2007

Battlemania #4 [1991]

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A short-lived part of Valiant's initial launch was its marketing relationship with the World Wrestling Federation, including this series of magazines, which seems to largely exist as a vehicle for the 12-page catalog of schlock in the middle. Surrounding that are two long stories, the first of which is the 20-page "Pain Or Peace", pencilled by Ditko, inked by Don Perlin and written by Jim Shooter.

I never was much of a wrestling fan, but picked up far more than I cared to about it through hanging around with people who were. I'm not quite clear from this story if the set-up is that the "characters" are real and this is their life outside the ring or if it casts the characters in other roles. In this story the Big Boss Man (a police officer), is waiting in a van using some major monitoring equipment on a house newly bought by the Undertaker and his manager Paul Bearer, convinced they're up to no good. He's joined by a kid delivering pizza, and they monitor as Mrs. Goodheart enters the house as part of the welcome wagon. What follows are a bunch of suspicious events and comments that are always on the edge of threats to Mrs. Goodheart or hints of cannibalism, but not quite enough to meet the Big Boss Man's standard of probable cause. Finally, of course, it goes too far (and I'm sure the badgering of the pizza delivery boy questioning his manhood didn't help), and there's a brief fight (which is a nice throwback to classic Ditko fight choreography), which leads to the Big Boss Man crashing a funeral. Apparently his high tech surveillance gear missed the arrival of a funeral procession. On the other hand, the ending seems to confirm that there is cannibalism going on.

Yeah, this wasn't that good. The inking is kind of heavy, but there are a few solid bits of Ditko when you get away from the faces of the wrestlers.

Anyone know if any of the other Ditko drawn WWF stories are worth getting?

This story and others also appeared as part of some one-shot specials, like this.



July 4, 2007

The Legion of Super-Heroes #267 [1980]

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As is the wont of a sad completist, I couldn't resist picking up the one last issue I needed to have all of Ditko's Legion of Super-Heroes stories. In this case, Ditko pencilled the 8-page back-up in this issue (published just after DC went from 17 to 25 pages of comics in every issue), "The Grounded Legionnaires".

Unfortunately, about the only word that comes to mind to describe this story is "bland". Shadow Lass runs into a bunch of kids at the Legion HQ, who evidently aren't that familiar with the Legion since they're amazed that she can fly. So she tells them the previously untold story of how the Legion flight rings were invented years earlier, in a battle with a rather goofy thief named Vibrex, Master of Vibration, who was able to disrupt their anti-gravity belts with his powers. Really, just utterly dull in all respects. Dave Hunt's inking is solid enough, but not really that suited to Ditko.


May 24, 2007

Haunted #39 [1978]

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 This issue has a reprint of the 7-page "Along Came a Spider and..." from HAUNTED #7 [1972]. A fairly minor entry in the Ditko catalog, made all the more minor in this version thanks to some spotty reproduction. The story has a dirty American hippie (oddly named Tyler Rand. No relation, I assume) looking for a place to live in London, when he finds a room with a rich older widow who he plans to seduce and swindle. It's kind of confusing to figure it out completely since there are a few scenes where the speech balloons are clearly supposed to be thought balloons. Someone needs a refresher course.

His plan continues well, although he's vexed by the widow's instance that a spider in his room be left undisturbed. He also has to finance his plans with some purse snatching. I get lost after that, but it seems the spider is the lady's husband, who turns the hippie into a spider, and then another victim is drawn into the lair.

As I said, minor Ditko, and not well printed, but with a few interesting visuals. What's the name of the cloaked ghost who hosts these stories? I know Dedd and Graves and Winnie and the Baron, don't think I know the ghost's name.




May 23, 2007

Upcoming Ditko - Two DC strays

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DC has a pair of potpourri style books with a bit of Ditko coming this fall, which may be worth picking up. The 52: THE COMPANION has a bunch of stories featuring characters who were in that crossover, so the classic Question story is there. The GREAT DISASTER thing looks like they're taking any 1960s and 1970s story that had a post-atomic catastrophe future and deciding that they're all the same post-atomic future. As far as I can figure the Ditko is just a pair of two-page shorts, both with Colletta inks. A lot of the other stuff seems interesting, though.


52: THE COMPANION TP
Writers: Steve Ditko, Greg Rucka, Gardner Fox, Grant Morrison, Steve Gerber, Mark Schultz, Jack Miller, Dan Jurgens, David Goyer and Geoff Johns
Artists: Steve Ditko, Kano & Stefano Gaudiano, Chaz Truog & Doug Hazlewood, Carmine Infantino, Walter Simonson, Doug Mahnke & Tom Nguyen, Murphy Anderson, Alex Toth, Dan Jurgens & Tom Dzon and Leonard Kirk & Keith Champagne
Collects: MYSTERIOUS SUSPENSE #1, GOTHAM CENTRAL #40, ANIMAL MAN #16, METAL MEN #45, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #97, RIP HUNTER: TIME MASTER #6, JSA #43-44, and stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #350, STRANGE ADVENTURES #226, SECRET ORIGINS #35.
$19.99 U.S., 224 pages


SHOWCASE PRESENTS: THE GREAT DISASTER FEATURING THE ATOMIC KNIGHTS TP
Writers: John Broome, Jack Kirby, Gerry Conway, David Michelinie, Cary Bates, Sheldon Mayer, David Kraft, Paul Levitz, Steve Skeates, Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, Len Wein, Robin Snyder, Mike Bentley, George Kashdan, Wyatt Gwyon, Paul Kupperberg, Roger McKenzie, Jack Oleck and Elliott S. Maggin
Artists: Murphy Anderson, Jack Kirby, José Luis García-López, Walter Simonson, Pablo Marcos, Mike Nasser, Alex Saviuk, Vicitan, Bill Draut, Alfredo Alcala, Jack Sparling, Rich Buckler, Howard Chaykin, A.B. Magpali, Howard Bender, J.M. Matucenio, Steve Ditko, Buddy Generale, Paul Kirchner, Jeff Aclin, Frank Miller, Alex Niño, Curt Swan, Danny Bulanadi, Wallace Wood, D. Bruce Berry, Andy Mushynsky, Frank McLaughlin, Bob Layton, Bob Smith, Steve Mitchell, Bob Oksner, Terry Austin, Joe Rubinstein, Vince Colletta, Tex Blaisdell, Bob Wiacek, and Danny Bulanadi
Collects: FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL #1, HERCULES UNBOUND #1-10, SUPERMAN #295, DC COMICS PRESENTS #57, and stories from KAMANDI #43-46, STRANGE ADVENTURES #117, 120, 123, 126, 129, 132, 135, 138, 141, 144, 147, 150, 153, 156 and 160, WEIRD WAR TALES #22, 23, 30, 32, 40, 42-44, 46-49, 51-53, 64, 68, 69 and 123, HOUSE OF MYSTERY #318, HOUSE OF SECRETS #86, 95, and 97, TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED #215 and 221, and THE AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS #12.
$16.99 U.S., 576 pages

May 22, 2007

Upcoming Ditko - AMAZING FANTASY OMNIBUS

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Coming out in August, AMAZING FANTASY OMNIBUS, a collection of 15 issues of fantasy/sci-fi shorts, and one Spider-Man story, from 1961-1962. Single Ditko story in each early issue, going to all Ditko for the AMAZING ADULT FANTASY issues, works out to over 250 pages of Ditko in this collection.



AMAZING FANTASY OMNIBUS HC
Written by STAN LEE
Penciled by STEVE DITKO, JACK KIRBY, DON HECK & PAUL REINMAN
Cover by STEVE DITKO

Across six issues of truly amazing adventures, Lee, Kirby, and Ditko dreamed up a cadre of ten-story tall menaces from Torr to Manoo to the one and only Monsteroso to trash unwitting Earthlings on a month-in and month-out basis. Backed up by weird tales of wax museums, witchcraft, Martians, and the occult master who set the trenchcoat trend in comics, Dr. Druid, it seemed these titanic tales could never be topped.

And then Stan Lee and Steve Ditko did just that by launching "The Magazine That Respects Your Intelligence!" An all-new approach for the young comics sophisticate, Amazing Adult Fantasy presented Twilight Zone-tinged tales of otherworldly aliens, time travel, ghosts, atomic nightmares, and maybe even the secret of the universe itself. With story after lushly-illustrated story, Ditko set a new standard for comic book illustration, and Lee raised the bar ever higher with his scintillating scripts.

And, oh, in the last issue they created some guy named "Spider-Man."
Collecting this lynchpin series of Marvel Comics’ history for the first time ever, the Amazing Fantasy Omnibus puts AMAZING ADVENTURES #1-6, AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #7-14 and AMAZING FANTASY #15 between two hardcovers 45 years in the making.

416 PGS. $74.99

May 21, 2007

New Ditko - Action Heroes Archives v2

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Out this week, ACTION HEROES ARCHIVES v2, collecting Ditko's Blue Beetle and Question stories, plus some Captain Atom. With the still available v1, this should mean that every page of work for Charlton that DC acquired the rights to will now be in print.

v1 and v2 both also available from Tales of Wonder.



THE ACTION HEROES ARCHIVES VOL. 2

Written by David Kaler, Roger Stern, Michael Uslan and various; Art by Steve Ditko, Alex Toth and various; Cover by Ditko

Collecting classic stories by master artist Steve Ditko from the pages of CAPTAIN ATOM #83-89, BLUE BEETLE #1-5, MYSTERIOUS SUSPENSE #1 and CHARLTON BULLSEYE #1, 2 and 5, plus the title story intended for BLUE BEETLE #6 (published in CHARLTON PORTFOLIO #9-10) as well as an 8-page Question story by Alex Toth and a foreword by Charlton's then-editor Dick Giordano.

384pg. Colour Hardcover $75.00
On Sale May 23, 2007

May 16, 2007

Revolver #3 [1986]

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Ditko writes and draws the 12-page story "The Expert" for this issue of the Robin Snyder edited anthology from Renegade. The story is apparently a revision of the story of the same name that I don't have, published in QUESTAR #3 [1979], which is listed as a 6-page story. The pages are printed sideways, in landscape format, in this story, so I'm assuming that each page of the original was split into two pages here, among other changes.

The story is one of those Ditko ones where he seemed to get ahead of himself, probably knowing more of the backstory than he manages to get into a coherent form on the actual page, so it's very high on action and energy, very low on characterization. The story has a despot named Zar who is opposed by two rebels named Cela and Raig, as well as the treachery of one of his own men, Xex. Boy, sometimes you could just type in letters at random and get Ditko names...

The art is much better than the story, really slick and exciting space opera, really detailed classic Ditko art (I'm also struck by how much, in stories like this, you can see Ditko's influence on popular "cosmic" artists of the era like Steve Rude and Jim Starlin. Zar would fit neatly as a villain in NEXUS or DREADSTAR).



May 11, 2007

Info needed, ASTRAL FRONTIER

2 comments
Can anyone confirm that ASTRAL FRONTIER #1 and #2, a sci-fi anthology book scheduled from Whitman / Gold Key in 1982, to include the Harris/Ditko "Star Guider", do not in fact exist. Various searches give mixed messages, but I'm pretty sure neither book exists. Just want to make sure.

May 9, 2007

--Link-- Spidey #29 art

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A shade less than $39K would have gotten you an excellent late-period Ditko SPIDER-MAN page. Not bad...

It's fascinating to see some aspects of the technique on these pages. I'm not sure if more recent reprints are better, but you can't see a fraction of the detail on the webbing or hair on the copies of this story I have compared to what you can see on the large scan.

http://comics.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=823&Lot_No=42247&src=pr#Photo

May 8, 2007

--Link-- 1962 5-pager art

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Recently auctioned (for the bargain price of $28K), the full 5-page story "The Face" from TALES OF SUSPENSE #26 [1962]. You'll have to register to see the very large full scans, but it's worth it (and, if any of you are worried, I've been registered at Heritage for years and gotten no junk mail or spam at that e-mail address).

http://comics.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=824&Lot_No=44105&src=pr

May 4, 2007

May 2, 2007

--Link-- Polite Dissent on H&D

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Scott at Polite Dissent likes Hawk and Dove. You can read his thoughts on the three Ditko stories:

Showcase #75
The Hawk and the Dove #1
The Hawk and the Dove #2

And continue on to the post Ditko stuff if you want his views on how the characters have been handled since.

Ghostly Tales #148 [1981]

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Almost ten years and over 50 issues later, and that guy is still running. And that wolf is still laughing. Digging up this cover from GHOSTLY TALES #94 [1972] in their later years, Charlton flipped it around and reduced the story title to fit the UPC code, and removed the original figure and narration from Mr. Dedd. Still a nice eye-catching cover.


Scary Tales #42 [1984]

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Worst. Architect. Ever.

This cover comes from MANY GHOSTS OF DOCTOR GRAVES #34 [1972], drawn for a Ditko story in that issue that isn't reprinted here (so isn't in this particular series of cover-only posts). There was some text on the original introducing the "Ghostmaster" story, which is replaced on here with the giant spider in his web in the middle of the piece, and the UPC code covers up some nice work on the skeleton. Still, despite everything, a good cover to use as a generic one for this style of book, with a lot of the popular horror elements (ghosts, monsters, witches, shoddy contracting).

Ghost Manor #75 [1984]

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Figured I might as well finish off the series of Ditko cover-only books from Charlton with a few reprints.

This vertigo inducing cover comes from SHADOWS FROM BEYOND #50 [1966]. I think I like this version of the image better, thanks to the removal of the text labels. I also think the colouring works a bit better. Still a great image capturing the spirit of these kinds of books.

May 1, 2007

Haunted #46 [1979]

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This cover is a reprint of that from HAUNTED #6 [1972] (posted just minutes ago), flipped to appeal to readers of Japanese comics. Or maybe just to make sure the UPC code doesn't cover anything important. I think it actually looks better here than on the original. The ornate design of the chest really comes across.

Haunted #6 [1972]

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Not a great scan of this one, unfortunately, but Ditko's skill at shadows and emotion still come across.

See also, HAUNTED #46 [1979]

April 30, 2007

Ghostly Haunts #26 [1972]

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Nice effect on this cover with all the levels, building up a real sense of depth. The smoke monster is also cool, but the best part of the cover has to be those creatures carved into the walls of the cave.

April 29, 2007

This Magazine Is Haunted #19 [1954]

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Not a bad cover, but also not nearly one of the best of Ditko's pre-code covers. A lot of nice individual touches, like the detail in the house in the background, the fog effect, a few details in the clothes of the invisible ghost. Unfortunately, it takes a while to realize that he's even going for a "tearing through the cover" effect, when that kind of thing, when done, should jump out at you as the very first thing you notice about a cover.

April 28, 2007

Ghostly Tales #90 [1971]

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I don't know about you, but I think I'd find the giant, staring face of Mr. Dedd coming out of one wall more disconcerting than the ghost with a cane. Interesting effect on this cover, all those odd angles really make it disorienting.

April 27, 2007

This Magazine Is Haunted #21 [1954]

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Some gory pre-code voodoo fun from one of the few comics to have a complete sentence as a title. Those are some pretty big needles...

Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #28 [1971]

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Hm, this cover concept looks familiar...

Yet another Graves/Strange connection here. For that matter, the sorcerer on the cover could very easily be the Ancient One. A lot of nice touches here, from the elements of the cover literally coming off the page to the flying brickwork.


April 26, 2007

Gorgo #4 [1961]

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This is an odd one, took me a while to figure it out.

Ditko drew a lot of issues of GORGO for Charlton, based on the 1961 movie. A lot of the his covers for the series were, in typical Charlton manner, made up of interior panels. For #4, where Ditko didn't do the interiors, they made the strange decision to go back to #1 and do the cover from the spectacular Ditko splash page of that issue, modifying it slightly (the guy sitting on Gorgo's head is new).


Ghostly Haunts #30 [1973]

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This is a clever little cover.

The big white gap in the painting really captures the eye right away, then the classic Ditko eye leads the viewer right to that shadow of the creature coming in from outside, then the elements circle around until you get the brushes pointing back to the original eye-catching element of the painting.

And Winnie the Witch adds the icing on the cake. Oh, Charlton horror hosts...

Of the 1970s covers in this series of cover-only posts, this is definitely among my favourites.

April 25, 2007

--Link-- Thing redone

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In a comment to a recent post, Howard Hallis, who probably has more experience designing Doctor Strange covers than anybody, provides a great variation on the THING #17 cover.

Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #55 [1976]

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A very simple design on this one, but I do like the use of negative space to define the imposing shape of the monster of the issue, and you can see that Ditko put a lot of work into it, with the tiny little traces of fur on parts of the creature and the contrast in hatchwork on the roof where the shadow falls.

And look at that woman. Was Ditko having flashbacks to sharing a studio with Eric Stanton a decade earlier or something?

April 24, 2007

New Ditko - Spider-Man Omnibus

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Out this week, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS. Every Ditko and Kirby/Ditko Spider-man story from the cover of AMAZING FANTASY #15 to the last page of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #38, plus various extras bringing it up to 1088 pages total.

See your local comic shop or bookstore, or various on-line vendors, including amazon.com above or Tales of Wonder.

Ghostly Tales #94 [1972]

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Nice feeling of depth and movement in this cover. And I always like that kind of just slightly off way that Ditko drew animals.


April 23, 2007

Ghostly Tales #96 [1972]

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I like the swirling effect created by the various elements on the cover, from the smoke to the shadows on the edges and the story title. Really adds to the element of mystery on this cover. Good solid cover which does the job of making you interested in the interior story, which is drawn by Fred Himes.



April 22, 2007

Strange Suspense Stories #22 [1954]

5 comments
Ah, creepy eyes full of fear. A classic Ditko motif.




What's in the mystery glowing book causing that look of fear? Does it really matter. Great cover, with the ornate designs on the box, the fearful, sweat-drenched face and the candle in the foreground.

I was going to declare a favourite Ditko cover-only book when I got through posting them, but that's going to be too hard a choice. Even dividing them into pre-code and post-code it's going to be a hard call.

This Magazine Is Haunted #16 [1954]

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Underwater revenge-seeking zombie pirates in chains? Man, this is like the best issue of TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER ever!

This is definitely in the running for Ditko's best pre-code cover, at the very least. Not much more I can say about it. Just drink in the zombie goodness.

April 21, 2007

Ghost Manor #6 [1972]

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A really nice creepy ghost cover from Ditko for this issue.

I especially like the tight hatching job done on the ghost to indicate the robes of the characters in the background where they're covered by the semi-transparent ghost.

And while it's probably not done by Ditko, the story title logo on the grave, is really nicely done, and the story teaser on the other grave is a nice touch.

Admin - Comments feed

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Just realized I could do this, and hopefully it'll encourage more comments on this weblog, since it'll make it easier to keep up with comments and replies. You can now see recent comments over on the sidebar, or get them automatically in your rss reader of choice (I'm very happy with the Google Reader, and also liked Bloglines). You can use this link:

http://ditko.blogspot.com/feeds/comments/default

You can also subscribe to the comments for any particular post, using the link with the title "Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)" on the bottom of each page.

The main feed for the site is:
http://ditko.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

Racket Squad in Action #12 [1954]

1 comments
Wow, I hope that's not actually the racket squad in action, but rather the racket they're going to have to act against. Because that would be some really bad stuff coming from the racket squad.

Some more from the early Ditko, this cover doesn't quite work for me, although it's very brutal and striking and has a lot of strong individual points. Having the kid getting blown up already with a cane even before the explosion seems like unnecessarily stacking the deck on the pathos. And the Ditko tie on the bomb thrower is nice.

I also like the various ways Ditko put his signature on many of these early covers (on the crate, below the exploding boy).

April 20, 2007

Outer Space #21 [1959]

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Damn, that's a big, ugly promo blurb on that cover.

Otherwise it's a pretty good cover. At first I thought it was one of those unusual "friendly alien" covers, rescuing some American astronauts, contrary to the vast majority of "alien menace" imagery in comics and pop culture of the era, but looking closer I think those humans are captured prisoners of the alien. Damn sneaky aliens, can never trust them.

Also, Ditko's vision of alien architecture, in this case the giant floating space centre, presumably the space POW camp in the space war, in the background, is always a delight.


Ghostly Haunts #56 [1978]

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This cover-only appearance was among the last group of non-reprint Ditko releases from Charlton in the 1970s (with a handful more issues in Charlton's death-rattle in the mid-1980s). A decent effort, especially with the patterning on the curtains and the ghost/invisibility effect.

Plus of course some great hands. What is that weird pose with the two middle fingers tightly together and the other fingers spread out? I was just trying it, and it is not a pose that comes naturally to my fingers, at least, although it does look cool when Ditko draws it.

April 19, 2007

Beyond The Grave #6 [1976]

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Seems like some odd perspective going on over on this cover-only effort from Ditko. A pleasant enough mild horror, using a variation (without the sexy woman) of the "oblivious to danger from behind" motif of this classic (also seen on many Joe Kubert war covers).

Unfortunately spoiled a little in the production by that superfluous Charlton logo slapped on one character's face. Let me go back in time 30 years and send Charlton a memo:

Attn. Charlton:
Re: extra logos defacing Ditko covers
You should know that reminding people that they're buying a Charlton comic by spoiling the artwork on some fine covers is counter-productive. For the most part people are not buying books because they're from Charlton, but despite it.

Thank you for your attention.




April 18, 2007

Cheyenne Kid #10 [1957]

2 comments
Despite westerns being a major genre in comics throughout Ditko's earliest days in the industry, especially among his major publishers Charlton and Marvel, he only drew a handful of short western stories in his career, and many of those starred horses (Black Fury and Black Jack). I guess he just didn't have an affinity for that genre...

Wait, CHEYENNE KID #10 has a message on that topic from 1957, and that message is:

















WRONG!

Ditko just drew the cover to this issue of one of Charlton's many western books of the era, but what a cover it is. Action-packed, very clearly composed and full of detail in every corner, almost a throw-back to Ditko's pre-code covers in that regard. This is right up there with some of the best western work I've seen from the era, like the Simon&Kirby BOYS' RANCH, and looks like it could be a movie poster (though that blurb on the cover is poorly placed and a bit annoying).

I'd wonder how anyone could look at this and not throw the artist as much western work as he could handle, except that I know Ditko was just as strong on the fantasy and sci-fi work (and would later go on to help reinvent the super-hero genre). So add westerns to something that Ditko does well, if not often.

It's kind of odd, you'd think that the black-and-white morality plays of the western genre would appeal to the later philosophical leanings of Ditko. I'm just imagining Mr. A done as a western. The A Kid? Two-Gun A? Shoot-out at the A-is-A Corral?

--Link-- Shaw! on Oddball Adult Fantasy

0 comments
Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comics turns its (injury-to-the-)eye towards the Ditko filled AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #9 in this recent entry.

http://www.oddballcomics.com/article.php?story=2007-04-09

April 17, 2007

The Thing #17 [1954]

1 comments
Paging Doctor Strange. Looks like someone is messing with the Black Arts again.

It's been said (by me, if no one else) that a lot of Ditko's early education in comics was learning what to leave out, with his heavily detailed early work being all wrong for the level of pay and print quality that comics of that era offered. Here's a textbook example of the level of work he did in that period, one of the last published pieces from his brief first stint at Charlton. He tossed everything into this. Multiple spider-webs, chains, a skull, potions, books, the shadow of a gargoyle, curtains, scraps of paper, a crazed wizard in flowing robes and a drooling demon with a sharp tongue emerging from the smoke. I don't know what Charlton was paying back then, but it certainly wasn't enough to justify getting this in return. And while it looks good on the cover (though I'm sure we still lose a lot from the original art), half of this wouldn't come across on the interior printing of the day.

This is another contender for the best of Ditko's cover-only books. It's also has a strong argument for the best of the less than two dozen pre-code covers he did. Just brilliant stuff.

I have to admit, I was tempted to take this scan, strip off the colour and Charlton trade dress, replace it with some Marvel splash page elements from circa 1964, with a blurb about Hoggoth, the Vishanti, Agamotto and all that jive, a few words like "effendi" and a title like "The Menace of the Other Ancient One" and pass it off as the splash page of a lost Doctor Strange story. But that felt too much like work. If anyone does that, feel free to post it (I can send you a larger scan of the cover if you need it) and I'll give you a permanent link over on the side-bar.

Space Adventures #12 [1954]

0 comments
Here's a fan favourite among Ditko's cover-only books, seeing how it was used as the front cover for both Michael Wileman's A 50'S DITKO COVER GALLERY [1982] and Vanguard's STEVE DITKO - SPACE WARS [2005] (hardcover version). Just a delightful little piece from early in Ditko's career (his first published story was less than a year before this, and his first cover only six months prior).

Ditko's obviously showing a strong influence from the then-current EC sci-fi comics of the era, in particular Wallace Wood and Al Williamson, with the female astronaut being attired in an outfit that is impractical at best (high heels and a conveniently transparent suit over a form fitting suit). That's also a magnificent alien.

And I know some people dislike dialogue on covers, but can even they argue that it works on this one?

April 16, 2007

Unusual Tales #6 [1957]

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"You're gonna need a bigger boat."

It's almost impossible to pick a favourite of the Ditko cover-only images, but this one has to be a leading contender. This is fairly early in Ditko's return to Charlton in 1957, after a two year gap where he did a handful of stories for Marvel and not much else. He came back strong, as you can see, with an absolute masterpiece this time around. What really works about this cover is that it completely draws you in, you can't help but want to spend a dime on this, but it's also pretty much complete in itself. I don't know if there's a story in this issue to go with the cover, but do you really need more of a story than you get here, with a perfectly realized monster fish, the reactions of the fishermen, the chaos of the breaking waves.

And, one of the rarest sentences in the English language, kudos to the Charlton production team for some great work on the colour and overall composition of this cover.


April 15, 2007

Shadows from Beyond #50 [1966]

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I've been buying some old Charlton books lately, and was looking on-line at some of the covers so I know what to look for in terms of Ditko stories I don't already have, and I was struck by how good some of the images on books with Ditko covers only are, even though my intent was to identify them so I know to avoid buying them for now in favour of books with Ditko interior art. So I'm going to run a bunch of them here for the next little bit. Scans are from various on-line sources (the GCD (especially this sub-site), various vendor/auction sites, etc.) so quality will vary.



Charlton being Charlton, #50 is the only issue of this title, continuing the numbering from UNUSUAL TALES, while BLUE BEETLE also continued the numbering from UNUSUAL TALES. Oh, Charlton, how at home you'd be in this modern era of backwards numbering, "#0", "#1/2", etc. Anyway, Ditko had been back on Captain Atom for a little while when this came out, and it's an excellent little example of his more playful, design oriented stylings. It might have been better without those little typeset labels. Not sure if Ditko did those or it was someone at Charlton. He did sometimes use that kind of labelling in his fanzine/small-press work, but usually more meaningful and better designed. The cover ran without them, but with an equally obtrusive UPC code, on GHOST MANOR #75 [1984].

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