December 31, 2013

Ditko in 2013 wrapup

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Snyder/Ditko publications

The Four-Page Series #2-#4
Ate Tea N 18
Ditko Public Service Package, 2nd Edition
Laszlo's Hammer new edition

Fanzines

Ditkomania #90-#91 

ACE Comics

Skyman Pencil Portfolio 

Archie

New Crusaders - Legacy 

Dark Horse

Creepy Presents Steve Ditko HC 

IDW

Thunder Agents Classics Vol. 2 

Valiant

Valiant Masters - Shadowman v1 

Plus various reprints from Marvel and various collections of public domain material.

September 16, 2013

New Ditko - LASZLO'S HAMMER

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The new edition of Ditko's LASZLO'S HAMMER is now available, Kickstarter backers should be getting it from Robin Snyder directly soon.  For those who didn't back the funding campaign, ordering information is at the usual spot, and sellers who order from Snyder should have copies soon if they don't already. Like right here. Retailers interested should contact Snyder for bulk rates on the entire library of Ditko/Snyder co-publications.

The title feature of course is the 27-page comic format essay from 1992 (as revised in 2002, to correct the spelling of "Laszlo" from "Lazlo") on the opposing topics of creation and destruction, starting with the example of Laszlo Toth's 1972 damage to Michelangelo's The Pieta using the same type of tool Michelangelo used to create the sculpture. Ditko explores the issue in a variety of ways, from the allegorical to the abstract to the concrete (including some amusing scenes on the creation and "editing" of comic books). It's one of the crucial texts in Ditko's independent work.

Also included are the single page "It's Either... Or" (first seen in the fanzine GUTS #5 [1969], and I believe the earliest example of one of Ditko's signature constructs, reducing characters down basic forms to make a universal point) and the 4-page "In Principle : The Unchecked Premise" (first printed in STEVE DITKO'S STATIC [1988], and one of his most fully realized allegorical pieces). Robin Snyder provides some introductory notes and a list of Kickstarter backers.

September 6, 2013

New Ditko - FOUR-PAGE SERIES #4

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Now available from Robin Snyder, Ditko's THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES #4, with five new essays:

“#19: Action/Reaction And The Self-Claimed, Self-Creators”
“#14: Labels And Labelers”
“#21: How Dare He!”
“#29: Too Late”
“#27: The Movers And The Freezers”

In addition, THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES #1, previously available as a section in an issue of THE COMICS newsletter, is now available as a standalone reprint.



August 24, 2013

Upcoming Ditko - THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES #4

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Robin Snyder advises that THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES #4 is on the way, and there's a new printing of #1 now available for those who missed it. Ordering info here.

Here's a preview of one of the essays in #4:

#14: LABELS AND LABELERS
© 2013 S. Ditko

As usual with fan comments—labels, smears—about me, they have more “emotional” truth than any factual substance.

These fan labelers, abusers, insulters, have no real interest in, concern with, facts, truth, 1st hand experience, knowledge.

Their “truth” is subjective, emotional or intrinsic, some “authority” is believed, parroted.

Did I “retire” or is it that comic book editors didn’t want my work anymore?

Is that relevant to anything?

Can these so-concerned fans explain why, outside of my Marvel work on S-M and DS, all other comic book titles, characters, I worked on at Marvel and DC soon failed.

Where was my claimed, believed, huge fan support or were my “fans” some overblown hype?

Isn’t it that ALL—or most—fans are emotionally selective fans?

Fans, like all of us, are turned on or off by specific subject material.

Any artist has X number of fans (sales) for his mystery, his fantasy, his war, science fiction, specific super hero...

August 18, 2013

Upcoming Ditko - WITZEND reprint

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According to the Wallace Wood Estate there will be a complete reprint of the magazine WITZEND in 2014. The magazine was founded and edited by Wallace Wood in 1966, later continued by Bill Pearson until #13 published in 1985. Steve Ditko appears in 8 issues with a total of 37 pages.

#1 - spot illustration of smoking invisible man with an iron mask
#2 - comedic 1-page story "Midnight Special"
#3 - first Mr. A story - "Angel"
#4 - second Mr. A story - "Money"
#6  - "The Avenging World - Part 1"
#7 - "The Avenging World - Part 2" (AW added to extensively for 1973 collection and subsequent reprints, but WITZEND version has a few pages not seen again until the 2002 AVENGING WORLD book)
#8 - comedic 1-page story "The Break-Out"
#12 - comedic 1-page story "The Booby Trap"

August 9, 2013

--Link-- Last day for LASZLO'S HAMMER Kickstarter

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If you've been considering the Kickstarter to fund the reprint of Ditko's LASZLO'S HAMMER, this is the last day to get in on it.

Here's another brief sample from the 2002 AVENGING WORLD reprint of the story:



I'll have details on ordering options for those who don't do Kickstarter soon.

July 29, 2013

--Link-- LASZLO'S Kickstarter

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The Kickstarter for the new edition of LASZLO'S HAMMER is about to meet its goal with the next handful of backers, so if you wanted to be one of those who helped get it there now is the time to act. Otherwise, you still have eleven days.

Those of you currently reading the recent new edition of the DITKO PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE might be interested to know that LASZLO'S HAMMER features a bit of a callback to that book, with some scenes of the creativity at "Genius Pub. Inc." (or "G. Ness", as it was called in PUBLIC SERVICE).
And for those curious, a look at the rare first edition, and a starting place to read about Laszlo Toth.

Cracked #219 [1986]

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Even three-fingered robotic hands by Ditko are distinctively his style.

CRACKED #219 [1986] is the second issue of the series to feature Ditko's work, continuing his "Robot War" feature with writer Mort Todd that debuted the previous issue, with another 1-page dialogue-free but sound-effects heavy gag page with some very intricate tonework. I always like the little touches you get in the artwork of these stories, like the robot in the first panel apparently camouflaging himself with some flowers on his butt.



--Link-- Recent posts on recent Ditko

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Javier Hernandez on some recurring themes and designs in the covers of some of Ditko's recent new comics.

Joe McCulloch on Ditko's recent comics.

July 28, 2013

Ghostly Tales #101 [1973]

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The Ditko in Charlton's GHOSTLY TALES #101 [1973] is the 8-page "Ghost Artist". This tale narrated by an especially giddy Mr. Dedd features a second-rate comic book artist named Tony Sansom who winds up sharing some studio space with the much more talented and successful comic strip artist Jimmy Elder. Despite Elder being quite generous with his advice, leading to some improvement in Sansom's work, the younger artist is still consumed by hatred and jealousy, finally finding an outlet all-too-common in these stories - Murder!

Also all-too-common, death isn't the end, and while Sansom briefly thinks he's gotten all he desired there's always a price to be paid.

Interesting little take on the comics business (written by Bhob Stewart and Russ Jones), a couple of really nice Ditko images, especially as Sansom approaches his inevitable end. The Charlton printing seemed to be especially uneven during this period, so my copy is kind of rough, although it's the fascinating Sanho Kim lead story, a Korean ghost story told in both Korean and English, which suffers the most.


Ghost Manor #14 [1970]

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Bit of an unusual Ditko contribution to Charlton's GHOST MANOR #14 [1970], the opening 2-page feature is "Are You A Scorpio?" with art by Ditko. In this story, Winnie the Witch gives some of the character traits that supposedly are present in the approximately 1 in 12 people born between October 24 and November 22, as well as predictions about their immediate future. What makes this unusual is that, as far as I can tell, this is the only such feature that ran in Charlton's comics around that time, whether drawn by Ditko or another artist (I'm sure someone with a more extensive collection of 1970 Charlton comics will correct me if I'm wrong). You'd think if they logically planned a dozen entries, they'd get at least two or three into them before giving up.

Or maybe they realized quickly that they needed more research, so they didn't end up with things like "your ruler is Pluto, God of the sea", which I think Poseidon might disagree with...

Anyway, minor enough story but a couple of nice touches of storytelling by Ditko in the two pages, like the faces on the people very clearly not ignoring the Scorpio walking into the room on the last panel below, and a few funny bits on the predicted romantic life of various other Scorpios on page two.


July 23, 2013

New Ditko - CREEPY PRESENTS STEVE DITKO

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In the pleasant surprise department, Dark Horse has their CREEPY PRESENTS STEVE DITKO book set to come out in comic stores tomorrow, two weeks ahead of the scheduled date. Presumably copies from Amazon and other vendors will follow in short order. For those into digital, there's also a Kindle edition coming out for $10, and it's a pretty good bet that Dark Horse will have it available on their own digital store, like the previous Wrightson and Corben volumes, probably for about $12.

As discussed before, this book collects, for the first time in one volume, the sixteen stories drawn by Ditko for Warren's CREEPY and EERIE from 1966-1967, fifteen of them written by Archie Goodwin, the other by Clark Dimond and Terry Bisson. It was the first major body of work that Ditko did for black-and-white publication, and he used a variety of techniques to create some of the most visually arresting work of his career (that cover image gives you a taste, though I'm not wild about that colouring job). You can see posts about some of the stories in previous entries on this weblog.

I do want to point out that, based on a look at some of the EERIE ARCHIVES and CREEPY ARCHIVES books that reprint the full issues these stories appeared in (meaning you'd need to get five $50 hardcovers to get all of the Ditko, making a single $20 book much more attractive), it doesn't appear that whatever path led the publishing rights to these stories to Dark Horse included the original artwork or high-quality first-generation stats of the artwork to reprint from, so as far as I can tell the reprints are based on printed copies of the actual comics. The production work seemed to be top-notch given the limitations inherent in reprinting from that kind of source (and it's a better option for b&w comics compared to colour comics), but as those who've seen samples of Ditko's original artwork for some of these stories (whether on what Ditko once termed the "comics thieves market" or elsewhere) are aware there was a level of detail in Ditko's work that Warren's printing of the day couldn't capture. So buyer beware, maybe not the best printing you could hope for of these stories, but likely the best you'll ever see, at least of all the stories under one cover.

July 11, 2013

New Ditko - DITKOMANIA #91 and others

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DITKOMANIA #91 is now out, the latest issue of the long-running fanzine from publisher-editor Rob Imes. This is the first issue from the modern Imes-era to have full colour covers, both front and back.  The focus of this issue is Ditko's bouncing heroes, as seen on the Javier Hernandez cover, with a lot of attention to 1980s creation Speedball, with a lot more Speedball fan-art than you'd expect existed.  This issue also has an extended letter-column with a lot of reactions to Ron Frantz's article from the previous issue and Frantz's replies.

Ordering and subscription information over here.

Other recent possible Ditko, Archie has a recent NEW CRUSADERS: LEGACY book, which apparently includes some 1980s Ditko.  The revived Valiant had a recent VALIANT MASTERS: SHADOWMAN reprint which should include Ditko's SHADOWMAN #6 [1992]. And Marvel has a recent reprint of some of Ditko's Captain Universe stories from 1980-1981 and 1989-1990. Feel free to comment if you have any of these and have specific details about the contents.

--Link-- Ditko's LASZLO'S HAMMER new edition Kickstarter

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Robin Snyder has a new Kickstarter project for a new edition of Ditko's 1992 LASZLO'S HAMMER, long out-of-print as a separate publication and only available as part of the larger AVENGING WORLD book.  The description says that " Laszlo's Hammer will appear as the lead feature" in this book, so presumably some other reprint or new Ditko will make up the balance of the book.

Here's the Ditko-Fever entry for the original publication, which is one of the few major Ditko publications I've never even seen a copy of, much less own.

More details as I get them.

July 3, 2013

New Ditko - THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES #3

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Just in from Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko, the latest in Ditko essays, THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES #3, with the following contents:

“#9: An Eternal Truth, Lesson Rejected”
“#10: The Fantasy Lifters”
“#12: For Good Or Ill”
“#13: Tsk! — The Still Unreachable — Tsk!”
“#18: Anti-Ditko 'Fans'”
“#17: …To The Last Drop”

[For the numbering, there were 10 essays total in the first two FOUR-PAGE SERIES publications (see here for list of Ditko essays), not numbered, 2 of them reprint and 8 original. On first publication, one of the reprint essays was labeled "The second in a new series of articles". So to answer the inevitable questions about what essays #1-#8 are, and if and where #11 and #14-#16 will appear, and why #17 is printed after #18: Your guess is as good as mine]

It's available directly from Robin Snyder, along with all the prior in-print Ditko publications from their 25 years of co-publishing.

Robin Snyder
3745 Canterbury Lane #81
Bellingham, WA
98225-1186 USA

SnyderandDitko @ icloud.com

Essays - The Four-Page Series (prices include postage, order direct from Robin Snyder)
#1 (part of The Comics v23#9) -- $2.50 US, $3.50 International
#2 -- $1.50 US, $2.50 International
#3 -- $1.50 US, $2.50 International
#4 (upcoming) -- $1.50 US, $2.50 International [featuring "He Should Have X@*#! Done..." and more]

Keep watching the comments, I'll pull out a key quote from each essay over the next few days.

June 5, 2013

--Link-- DITKOMANIA #91 Kickstarter

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Rob Imes has a Kickstarter project ending in a few days for the publication of DITKOMANIA #91, the next issue of his on-going fanzine. If it makes its funding goal, this issue features at least 32 pages on various Ditko topics, including his bouncing heroes (including Speedball) and letters about previous issues, plus for the first time in the Imes-published era of the fanzine, colour covers.

Check it out, both print and digital editions available, plus other premiums for higher funding amounts. And as usual, subscription information for DITKOMANIA is over here.

New Ditko - PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE 2nd Edition

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Now available from Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko is a new edition of the long out-of-print 1991 DITKO PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE, featuring all the Ditko content from the original book at a slightly larger page size, a reprint of the Ditko essay "The Self-Proclaimed" from THE COMICS V11 #5 [2000], an introduction by Robin Snyder and a list of all the Kickstarter backers of the book. All for $14, only $1.05 more than the original 22 years ago.

As usual, all the new books and various other Ditko publications are available directly from Robin Snyder, details here, and the new book should be available from retailers who order from Snyder now or in the near future (interested retailers should contact Snyder for terms, which are probably better than you get for similar comics from your main distributor).

April 25, 2013

Upcoming Ditko - #9 TEEN

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As announced in the just released ATE TEA N: 18, this is the next new Ditko scheduled to come out, #9 TEEN, featuring the continuing adventures of Madman, Hero, E (e) & I (i) and more. Here's the cover: 



April 24, 2013

New Ditko - ATE TEA N: 18

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While most of the actual dates that comics were created and published back in the 1950s are lost to us, from some of the dates I have seen I think it's useful to use 5 to 6 months prior to the cover date as a ballpark figure for latest time when the main creative work on comics would be done on newsstand comics.  The cover dates were usually 2-3 months after the on-sale date, so that still leaves at least 3 months for production and printing.

I bring this up because DARING LOVE #1 had a cover date of Sept-Oct 1953, and using that ballpark estimate that means the artwork on it was probably being worked on around April 1953 or earlier. And that comic is now generally accepted as having the first published Ditko illustrated comic book story, "Paper Romance". So, pending further evidence, now is as good a time as any to mark 60 years of Ditko comics.

And that's 60 and counting, since the first new Ditko comic of 2013 is now available:

Ditko's latest all-new 32-page comic, ATE TEA N: 18, is now available. Returning features, as seen on the cover, are  The Cape, The !?, The Hero and The P Mask, plus a new concept that will probably return and the usual single page bits.

As usual, all the new books and various other Ditko publications are available directly from Robin Snyder, details here, and the new book should be available from retailers who order from Snyder now or in the near future (interested retailers should contact Snyder for terms, which are probably better than you get for similar comics from your main distributor).

April 23, 2013

New Ditko - Mr. A. in THE COMICS

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Robin Snyder's newsletter THE COMICS Vol. 23 No. 11 [November 2012] features a retrospective on Ditko's Mr. A., including a black and white version of the wraparound Mr. A. cover to THE COLLECTOR #26 [1972] (also used as the centerfold in both MR. A. [2010] and THE COVER SERIES [2010]), a bibliography of Mr. A. appearances from WITZEND #3 [1967] to the present and articles by Joe Frank, Batton Lash, Joe Brancatelli and Rodney Schroeter.

Ordering and subscription info for THE COMICS is available on this page. You can also order the recent and upcoming FOUR-PAGE SERIES collections of new Ditko essays from Snyder, and the other in-print Ditko material he has.

April 8, 2013

Upcoming Ditko - Archie / Red Circle reprint

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Archie has the following book scheduled to come out in a few months:

LEGACY OF THE CRUSADERS TP(W) Ian Flynn & Various (A) Jerry Gaylord & Various (CA) Ben Bates
A super hero legacy is born! In one of history's greatest battles against the forces of evil, The Mighty Crusaders did the impossible: they won. Now, witness their heroic battle for the fate of the world like never before in this unique graphic novel collection from Red Circle Comics! Using an innovative blend of new and classic material, Legacy of the Crusaders takes readers on a tour of the Red Circle universe, guided by the characters themselves! Picking up directly following the events of New Crusaders: Rise of the Heroes, our new team of young heroes struggle under the tutelage of the world's first patriotic super hero: the Shield. The Shield teaches these New Crusaders about the early history of their parents, the Mighty Crusaders, seen by the reader in the form of some of the best classic tales from the 1980s Red Circle super hero titles. Featuring legendary comic artists such as Steve Ditko and Alex Toth!
Softcover, 192pgs, Full Color $16.99

I'm not sure exactly what Ditko material is going to be included. Most of his work for Archie's Red Circle line was on The Fly, and I'm not sure if Archie still has the rights to that character. Other than that, he did draw a Hangman story and two Jaguar stories as back-ups in the series which might be included.

April 4, 2013

Last Call For PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE Kickstarter

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This is the last day to back Robin Snyder's Kickstarter for the new edition of THE DITKO PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE. Hopefully word's gotten out about it enough that we won't have to hear too much of this starting tomorrow:


And for those of you who have already backed it, now's the time to decide if you want to bump up your pledge level.

April 3, 2013

--Link-- Nocenti on Ditko/DD

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Article about writer Ann Nocenti, includes this on her one story with Ditko:

Steve Ditko used to sit in my office! He pitched a Daredevil story that we did. He wanted lots of shots of characters walking around with packages filled with bombs. It had very a Communist, espionage, pre-terrorism feel to it.

April 2, 2013

PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE - 2 days left

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There are 2 days left for the Kickstarter for the new edition of the DITKO PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE. Hopefully there won't be too many people complaining a few months from now that they wish they had heard about it in time to be a part of it. They'll probably still be able to get the book for a while, but maybe not the limited edition, and definitely not their names in the acknowledgements.

It's still a bit surprising to me that most of the major comic book news websites have decided the book isn't worthy more than a cursory mention, those few that found it worthy of any notice at all, but I guess they know their audiences.

Here's a few panels of "man on the street interviews" from the book. That third panel is one of my favourites from the book, a classic Ditko sneer.


March 31, 2013

Upcoming Ditko - THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES continues

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As announced in THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES #2...

Ordering info here.

March 30, 2013

New Ditko - THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES #2

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Continuing from the first FOUR-PAGE SERIES that was published as part of  Robin Snyder's THE COMICS, Vol. 23 No. 9, now available is THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES #2 published by Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko, featuring five new essays by Steve Ditko:

“Circle The Mind”
“The Fixated Negative”
“For/Against One's Best Interest?”
“LINT”
“Honoring Or Dishonoring”

For a taste, here's the opening of each:
 
  
 



It's available directly from Robin Snyder for $1.50 in the US, $2.50 foreign, along with all the prior in-print Ditko publications from their 25 years of co-publishing.

Robin Snyder
3745 Canterbury Lane #81
Bellingham, WA
98225-1186 USA

SnyderandDitko @ icloud.com

Ditko books in print.

I've also got a handful of copies which will be available when ATE TEA N (#18) comes out.

March 28, 2013

Heroes, Inc. #2 [1976]

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As discussed recently, the first issue of Wallace Wood's HEROES, INC comic came out in 1969, designed to be sold to members of the armed services. With the first issue printed but getting little to no distributfeion, there obviously wasn't a second.

Then in 1976 HEROES, INC. #2 was published, this time as a larger sized black and white magazine from the fan publishers CPL/Gang, best known for their Charlton Comics themed fanzines. Two of Wood's features from the first issue continue here, The Misfits and Cannon. I assume the stories were at least written and penciled back around 1969, the tonework was probably added to compensate for the lack of colour the art was intended for.

This small press distribution means that, while HEROES, INC. #1 is probably the easiest 1960s Ditko comic to find, #2 is among the most difficult 1970s Ditko comics to find for a decent price. And I doubt there'll be a warehouse find of 70,000 copies of it. A tip of the hat to Brian Franczak for getting me my copy.

The story that concerns us here is the 14-page untitled "Cannon" story drawn by Ditko, written and inked by Wood. As I mentioned before, Wood continued Cannon without Ditko for military newspapers in the 1970s, and various subsequent reprints, heavily increasing the "adult" content, especially nudity. I haven't read those later Cannon stories, but this one seems to have a partial move in that direction, no nudity but definitely a more salacious rendering of the female character, and a bit more violence, though often partially obscured or implied.

As you can tell by the page below, the story this time is Cannon versus Nazis, who have taken over a small South American country. Cannon falls into a trap trying to help a woman in distress, only to find out she's a Nazi official named Erika Meissner, and is captured by her team of Specialists with self-explanatory names, Gunner, Lash, Blade and Archer (not unlike the Enforcers from a previous Ditko comic). Taken to their gorgeous castle base in the middle of the jungle, Cannon proves resistant to persuasion by torture or drugs (as a nod to his double-brainwashing origin), but turns after some seduction by Erika. Or at least he fakes it long enough to get more information, radio in for back-up and then take the Specialists and everyone else out.

Pretty decent story, well worth picking up if you can find a reasonably priced copy. The Wood inks are a bit more overpowering on Ditko's pencils than in the first story, but it's still very noticeable, especially with the Specialists and the head Nazi.


DITKO PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE Kickstarter - one week left

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One week left on Robin Snyder's Kickstarter for the 2nd edition of THE DITKO PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE, the 112-page book first published in 1991 and long out-of-print. As I write this it's only a handful of backers away from 200, and well past it's $4900 goal. Spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested in knowing about it, especially those who would be interested in being in the acknowledgements or getting the limited numbered edition.

Here's another panel scanned from the first edition:


March 25, 2013

Eerie Greatest Hits [1994]

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The companion volume to CREEPY THE CLASSIC YEARS [1991], Harris comics reprinted this selection of stories from the first few years of Warren's EERIE magazine, mostly written by Archie Goodwin. It's not as good as the prior book. The choice of stories is fine, but overall the book is just cheaper looking, with thinner paper, weaker reproduction of the art and less relevant editorial material. There were two Godwin/Ditko stories.

"Room With A View" is a 6-page story from EERIE #3 [1966], the first Ditko story for Warren. It's a haunted hotel room story, where a traveler insists on taking the only empty room in a hotel, despite the desk clerks warnings that no one is ever happy there. Turns out to be a haunted mirror, which give progressively more terrifying visions. The story isn't one of Goodwin's better ones, but Ditko does a pretty good job with his imaginative renderings of the visions in the mirror. This one is drawn closer to the more common Ditko style, although more detailed than most of his colour comics.

The 6-page "Deep Ruby" is from EERIE #6 [1966], although the host framing sequences have Uncle Creepy instead of Cousin Eerie, so it seems to be taken from the prior reprint in CREEPY #25 [1969]. It's a quick little story about a jeweler approached by a decrepit homeless man, and being surprised by the red ruby the man shows him. His desire for the stone leads him into a horrific nightmare dimension, and of course Ditko's detailed renderings of that dimension are the heart of the story. He'd drawn some comics that evoked that kind of imagery before, but it's in some of these Warren stories that those concepts appear fully-formed. The combination of the lack of Comics Code restrictions and the freedom that comes with drawing for black and white, so the art that leaves the drawing board is the art that people see, really seems to have brought something out. This story uses the inkwash style that the majority of Ditko's Warren work was done in, and even in this lackluster reprint the attention to detail is impressive.


March 24, 2013

Heroes, Inc. #1 [1969]

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HEROES, INC. #1 [1969] features the debut of Wallace Wood's Cannon as the lead story, with a 12-page adventure drawn by Steve Ditko and inked by Wood. There's a lot of history behind the title, for which I'll refer you to this Wikipedia article. The short version is that it was a comic intended to be sold to US armed services members, and with ads targeted at that audience (mostly jewelry, plus land in New Mexico). For some reason the first issue was printed but got little or no distribution. Large quantities of uncirculated copies have turned up over the years, including a lot of about 70,000 copies (not a typo) auctioned off in 2005. That probably makes it one of the most common silver age comics.

Wood continued publishing Cannon stories in other venues, although I don't know if those use the same set-up as this story. They definitely seem to be more risque, with the last major printing of them being published under the adult Eros imprint by Fantagraphics. Another issue of HEROES, INC. was eventually published in 1976, with a second Ditko/Wood Cannon story. The other Cannon stories have been reprinted a few times, but I don't think the two Ditko stories were ever reprinted. Just searching now I see Fantagraphics has another edition coming out in 2014. It's 288 pages instead of the 144 pages of their previous "Compleat" edition, but looks like it's in a landscape format, so I'm guessing it's the same contents reformatted, so odds are no Ditko.

(and reading the description of the upcoming book, I see it is the same set-up on the later stories, only with a lot of nudity added)

In this story, Chinese communists attack a secret lab and kidnap Jean Voss, who has the secret to an anti-missile defense system. The President immediately sends in Cannon on a mission to find and kill her before she can talk. We get a very quick bit of background on Cannon, just that he was a top spy who was captured, brain-washed and returned to assassinate top US scientists. Fortunately re-captured by the US before he could follow through on that mission, they found they couldn't reverse the brainwashing, so they decided to brainwash him even more, leaving him devoid of emotions. Thus his response to the orders to kill Voss rather than even try to rescue her: a deadpan "Right."

The invasion force gets Cannon onto the island base of the communists  and he plays one man army, planting bombs, fighting guards and eventually finding Voss. Apparently he decides that since she already talked under truth serum, he will save her. I'm not sure I get the logic of that. He sticks around on the island while she takes his escape rocket, determined to destroy everything the whole base to keep the secret safe. He manages to do that, even adding a stolen secret enemy plane to his tally. Plus there's a pretty funny ending which I won't spoil.  Hey, it's easy enough to find a copy of this, with 70,000+ uncirculated copies out there...

Fun story, if a little goofy, I kind of like how it plays with and subverts the James Bond model of men's adventure stories. It's obviously Wood's show, so a lot of the surface elements of Ditko's pencils get buried in the inks, but you can still see it in the storytelling and body language, and especially in the hands.


March 22, 2013

Creepy The Classic Years [1991]

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After Warren stopped publishing around 1983 their titles were next seen after a gap of a few years from publisher Harris Comics. While Harris published about a million new and reprint Vampirella comics (approximate number, may be higher) they made far less use of the CREEPY and EERIE brands, with only a few new CREEPY comics and one reprint book of 1960s material for each title.

CREEPY THE CLASSIC YEARS [1991] came first.  Editor Richard Howell provides the introduction, which includes a few notes on each artist, including Ditko, and also the page header seen here which I'm still looking for information on. In the book are two Ditko reprints, both written by Archie Goodwin.

The 6-page "Second Chance" from CREEPY #13 [1967] has a spectacular splash page, and it's no surprise that Dark Horse is using a cropped and colourized version of that page for their upcoming reprint of Ditko's Warren stories. Trust me, the full page in the original black and white is even better. Featuring Edward Norton's descent into Hell, where he confronts Beelzebub and demands their bargain to give Nugent a second shot at life after his death. Ditko really lets his imagination run wild in the land of the damned, using similar concepts to his famous fantasy landscapes in Doctor Strange, but rendered in ways the Comics Code probably would have objected to. There's also an earthbound component to the story, set in a graveyard, which allows for a few more macabre backgrounds and looks of sheer terror that Ditko excelled in. The plot itself is pretty routine, but Goodwin keeps it moving along and lets the artwork do the heavy lifting on this one.


The book concludes with the 8-page "Collector's Edition" from CREEPY #10 [1966], which is, for those of you familiar with it, an appropriate story to finish a book. Howell's introduction mentions that some consider it "the single finest story Ditko ever turned out", and it's definitely a contender. The story features Colin Danforth, a collector of obscure and forbidden occult books, an obsession which forces him to do business with the unsavory Murch, who dangles the possibility of the rarest of artifacts, the Marquis LeMode's "Dark Visions". One of Goodwin's best, and Ditko was the perfect artistic partner for the story, rendering it in a detailed style, with some key parts using some very unusual technique that I can't quite figure out. I think it's some sort of mechanical tone, but used very delicate way, creating almost a wood-cut effect. And to top it all off, his detailed rendering never gets in the way of the storytelling.

March 21, 2013

Return Of The Skyman #1 [1987]

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The Skyman is a long-running Golden Age comic book hero, published by Columbia and first appearing in BIG SHOT COMICS #1 [1940] by creators Gardner Fox and Ogden Whitney. He appeared in that title until 1949, as well as four issues of his own title.  See here for more on Columbia's comics.

As ACE Comics publisher Ron Frantz discusses in the latest DITKOMANIA, he acquired the rights to Columbia's The Face and The Skyman from publisher Vincent Sullivan, and first published three issues of WHAT IS... THE FACE with art by Ditko. Then in 1987 he published RETURN OF THE SKYMAN #1, with an 18-page story penciled by Steve Ditko, inked by Rick Altergott and written by Mort Todd. It begins in 1949, with Allen Turner, the Skyman, a decade into his career and considering retirement with his recent marriage and a baby on the way, gets a call that prompts him to check in on his mentor and uncle, scientist Peter Turner. He finds his uncle being interrogated by a Nazi war criminal looking for the secret to time travel, which ends up bringing the Skyman into 1987 and the immediate aftermath of a nuclear disaster.

This is only the first chapter of a longer story that never did continue, but it's an intriguing start, and The Skyman is a pretty interesting and well-designed character. Ditko does a solid job, with a lot of nice visual bits like the time machine (especially the fate of the Nazi criminal) and the post-disaster future world. Altergott's inks are very much in the slick Wallace Wood inspired vein, which works well.

This issue also features an Ogden Whitney cover from SKYMAN #1, the 3-page Fox/Whitney recap of the origin from that issue, a 1965 fanzine article about the feature and a long article by Frantz about both Whitney's life and Frantz's search for information about Whitney.  That includes some panels from a 1965  Herbie the Fat Fury story (Whitney's most famous creation) which features a Skyman cameo.


Upcoming Ditko - FOUR-PAGE SERIES #2

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From Robin Snyder:


The first FOUR-PAGE SERIES was a collection of the following five Ditko essays published as part of THE COMICS V23 #9:

“The Knowers & the Barkers” [reprinted from #17]
“The Silent Self-Deceivers” [reprinted from THE COMICS V23 #7]
“A Newspaper Article, A Reporter's Report”
“A Deadly Fantasy”
“Why Out Of Their Way?”

Will THE FOUR-PAGE SERIES #2 be more of the same? Something different? With Ditko, you never really know until you have it in your hands.

To order it direct from Snyder you can get his contact info on this page. I should have more on this soon.

And a reminder, two weeks to get in on the PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE 2nd Edition Kickstarter. Spread the word if you know any Ditko readers who might be interested but might not have heard of it yet.

March 20, 2013

Creepy #16 [1967]

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"The Sands That Change" from CREEPY #16 [1967] is the final Ditko story published by Warren, and the only one of the sixteen Warren stories not written by Archie Goodwin, with Clark Dimond and Terry Bisson scripting.

This time around we have comic book artist Tom Newman and his new wife honeymooning in the Mojave Desert, ignoring some warnings from the local Indians about thee dangers of the territory and "drawing the desert only as it really is". Turns out that whatever he draws comes to life, unfortunately they only figure that out after he designs a new monster for an upcoming comic.

Nice story with a clever visual hook for Ditko to play with, and a pretty decent twist at the end.

One of the interesting things about Ditko's work at Warren is the variety of art styles he used. The inkwash ones are the most famous, and the tight rendering on "Collector's Edition" make that a favourite of many, but this one has a pretty interesting technique that I don't think I've seen Ditko use elsewhere. I'm not sure, it looks like he might be using some sort of charcoal or crayon for the shading, or maybe drawing on a different kind of paper with some texture, definitely not the pen or brush of his typical work.


March 18, 2013

New Ditko - DITKOMANIA #90 available

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DITKOMANIA #90 is now available, an extra-length issue featuring a detailed essay on the brief life of ACE Comics from publisher Ron Frantz. He didn't publish much, but there was a lot of Ditko among his books, and some more planned unrealized Ditko projects discussed in his essay, including a project with Jerry Siegel with some concept art.

I'll post more on the published ACE Ditko comics soon, here are some previous posts about them:

What Is... The Face #1 [1986]
Ace Comics Presents #1 [1987]
Return Of The Skyman #1 [1987]

Single issue and subscription information are over here, and the Ditkomania mailing list is down this way.

Eerie #10 [1967]

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Archie Goodwin and Steve Ditko bring us the 8-page "Warrior Of Death" from Warren's EERIE #10 [1967], where the barbarian warrior Zahran finds himself mortally wounded after a lifetime of bloody combat and convinces Death to let him live and continue battling in the service of Death.  You know that's not going to end well for anyone but Death.

This is the last published of the fifteen Ditko/Goodwin stories for Warren in 1966/67 (with one more Ditko story written by others). It's obvious why these stories are remembered so fondly, with a lot of vivid imagery by Ditko (the face of Death is great) and some nice detail in the grey inkwash shading that you hardly ever see in the colour comics of that era. Goodwin does a nice pulp story without overwriting and letting the art speak for itself.


March 17, 2013

More on Ditko at Warren

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With the recently announced reprint of Ditko's Warren work, some more about that stuff.

The stories are:


Room With A View - Eerie #3 [1966]
The Spirit Of The Thing - Creepy #9 [1966]
Shrieking Man - Eerie #4 [1966]
Collector's Edition - Creepy #10 [1966]
Black Magic - Eerie #5 [1966]
Beast Man - Creepy #11 [1966]
Deep Ruby - Eerie #6 [1966]
Blood Of The Werewolf - Creepy #12 [1966]
Fly - Eerie #7 [1967]
Second Chance - Creepy #13 [1967]
Demon Sword - Eerie #8 [1967]
Where Sorcery Lives - Creepy #14 [1967]
Isle Of The Beast - Eerie #9 [1967]
City Of Doom - Creepy #15 [1967]
Warrior Of Death - Eerie #10 [1967]
The Sands That Change - Creepy #16 [1967]

All but the last are written by Archie Goodwin.  The last one is written by Clark Dimond and Terry Bisson.

I posted about a couple of them here:

Creepy #16 [1967]Eerie #5 [1966]
Eerie #9 [1967]
Eerie #10 [1967]
Creepy The Classic Years [1991]

Look for a few more soon.

I've asked this before, but still don't have an answer. The following illustration appeared in a previous collection of reprints when Harris had the rights to the old Warren stuff, CREEPY THE CLASSIC YEARS [1991]:


Looks like it could have been intended as a letter column header or some similar purpose.  Does anyone know if it actually ever appeared in the magazine, or anywhere else prior to the 1991 book?

And, big longshot here, but someone once sent me a quote from a later Warren editor (maybe Bill Dubay?) about what Ditko replied when the editor tried to commission some more work from Ditko for Warren years after the sixteen published stories. I can't find the e-mail now, and I don't want to quote it from memory without a citation. Anyone else ever see that quote?

March 13, 2013

Upcoming Ditko - Wait for it...

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Making a lasting mark on comics as the co-creator of Spider-Man, Steve Ditko veered away from the mainstream and into darker territories at the end of the sixties, especially with his work in Creepy and Eerie! Warring wizards, paranoid goons, persistent heroes, and otherworldly domains dominate the diverse tales in this handsome hardcover collection—with fifteen of the sixteen stories written by fellow comics icon Archie Goodwin.

* New introduction by Mark Evanier!

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: Steve Ditko
Cover Artist: Steve Ditko
Genre: Classic, Horror
Publication Date: August 07, 2013
Format: b&w, 128 pages; HC, 8 3/8" x 10 7/8"
Price: $19.99
ISBN-10: 1-61655-216-6
ISBN-13: 978-1-61655-216-9


PUBLIC SERVICE Kickstarter hits goal

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Well, ten days and 143 backers later, and the Kickstarter for the new edition of THE DITKO PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE stands at:



Hey, that's higher than the goal, so as they say at G. Ness Publishing:



Still 22 days to go, so we'll see how high it goes. Sounds like the makings for a contest. What do you think it'll finish at, dollar total and number of backers? You can check here for some analysis on the trends so far. Post a guess in the comments. No prize, except bragging rights.  Or if the winner wants, I'll send out some Ditko doubles I have, mostly 1970s Charltons.

PUBLIC SERVICE nears goal

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As I write this, the Kickstarter for the new edition of THE DITKO PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE is about six average backers from reaching its goal, with three weeks to spare. So if you want the satisfaction of being able to say you helped put it over the top, instead of being labelled a johnny-come-lately bandwagon jumper (not a distinction Kickstarter makes, I think), now is the time to act. Join the ranks of, looking quickly down the backer list, Stephen Bissette, Neil Gaiman, Elaine Lee and Roger Langridge.  That's some good company to keep.



March 12, 2013

--Link-- Your PUBLIC SERVICE reminder...

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Another panel from soon-to-be reprinted THE DITKO PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE, order now on Kickstarter. And a reminder, if you don't want to wait for it, there's some 1600+ pages of other Ditko available from Robin Snyder right now, including some classic MR. A, long complex narratives in STATIC and THE MOCKER and much more..

March 9, 2013

March 7, 2013

Upcoming Ditko - Public Service Package 2nd Edition

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Okay, I guess it's redundant at this point, but I like to be complete in these "Upcoming Ditko" posts.  Kickstarter site for the 2nd Edition of THE DITKO PUBLIC SERVICE PACKAGE over here.  Looking to make its funding goal in a few more days, but spread around the link so people know about it. For people who don't do Kickstarter, whenever I have details on alternative buying options they'll be over here.

It's a very strange book, by the way.  In all the best ways. I'll have more about it over the next month.  If you have the first edition, feel free to talk about it in the comments.

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