December 25, 2008

Ditko in 2008 wrapup

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2008 was a pretty major year for Ditko related publications, including new illustrated Ditko material for the first time in a while, some publications full of rarities and some interesting reprints.

The big news, of course, are the new publications from Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko, three of them, with some fascinating essays and commentary and some new fiction, including new characters and the return of Mr. A, with a promise of more in 2009.

The fanzine DITKOMANIA also made a return under new publisher/editor Rob Imes, getting out six issues (plus reprints of several of the original issues), including lots of obscure Ditko art, articles about Ditko's work and some great fan art, including original work by Michael T. Gilbert and Dave Sim. Also more to come, with another issue due next month.

DC only had one small Ditko publication this year, but it was notable for being previously unpublished, a New Gods back-up he pencilled for the ORION series circa 2000 wrapping up a collection of post-Kirby New Gods material.

Dark Horse began reprinting some of the old Warren material, and Ditko first shows up in CREEPY ARCHIVES v2, which has "The Spirit Of The Thing" and "Collector's Edition".

And in an out-of-left-field reprint, Valiant emerged from the ashes and we saw a reprint of the early issues of X-O Manowar, including one issue Ditko drew. I haven't been keeping up, have they announced any other books which would include Ditko? I think Shadowman is the only likely one, as it didn't sound like they had the rights to the old Gold Key characters like Solar and Magnus.

Fantagraphics published STRANGE AND STRANGER, which included three complete early Ditko stories, plus lots of Ditko art from throughout his career, likely including at least a few things you probably haven't seen before no matter how extensive your collection.

Marvel had a variety of 1960s Ditko reprints in their hardcover MASTERWORKS and OMNIBUS lines, including some previously unreprinted fantasy stories and a rare inks-only job over Dick Ayers.

2009 is going to have a lot to live up to, but looks to be a contender. In addition to whatever Snyder/Ditko stuff comes out, and more issues of DITKOMANIA, we'll have some reprints of Ditko's CREEPER in black and white (though looking like it won't include his late-1970s return to the character). The Dark Horse line of Warren reprints should have all 16 Ditko stories scattered through five books by the end of the year. Marvel will have softcover editions of their MASTERWORKS line, which at the current publication rate should include three Spider-Man volumes, one Hulk (inks on one story, full art on another) and one FF (inks only) in 2009. And it looks like we'll get some early public domain Ditko from various sources.

December 18, 2008

--Link-- Ditkomania message board

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Rob Imes' revival of DITKOMANIA now has an official message board, right over here, where you can find out details about the next issue, coming out next month, and more.

New Ditko - Ditko Continued

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Ditko's latest, ...DITKO CONTINUED..., is now available, earlier than I'd expected, and includes a short new Mr. A story. Ordering info for it and other Ditko/Snyder published material is over here, and of course the next book OH, NO! NOT AGAIN, DITKO! could follow at any time.

November 29, 2008

It Stalks the Public Domain - Avery and the Goblins

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Over here http://tinyurl.com/ditko-stories for related posts.

The 8-page "Avery and the Goblins" is the third and final Ditko story from Charlton's THE THING #13 [April 1954], and is by far the best of them, and one of the highlights of his 1954 work. The story, about an old man determined that he can find a way to escape from a goblin haunted castle with untold riches where others have failed thanks to his years of planning, has a few lapses, but the Ditko creatures and atmosphere are really good, echoing a lot of his later work.  The repeated close-ups of Avery's face during various scenes are really nice.

Most scans in this series adapted to my personal tastes from those found, and available for free download with registration, at the Golden Age Comics Download site. For comics on paper, the way god intended, first head over here for ordering info on his available creator owned material co-published with Robin Snyder (including his new book, DITKO, ETC...) and head over here for info on recent and upcoming books with Ditko from all publishers, including the recently revived DITKOMANIA,  Halloween issue now available, and now accepting PayPal for subscriptions.

Click images to embiggenate.

  
 

November 17, 2008

Upcoming Ditko - Creeper reprints

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And speaking of upcoming Ditko, looks like DC will reprint some Creeper next year in SHOWCASE PRESENTS THE CREEPER, which will presumably be a black and white book, though slimmer and cheaper than the existing SHOWCASE PRESENTS books. Listed at 296 pages, my count of Ditko's stories, including the one intended for SHOWCASE #106 comes to 254. Add in the non-Ditko half of BEWARE THE CREEPER #6 and some non-Ditko covers gets us up to 269. On the other hand, there are some other non-Ditko stories (BRAVE AND BOLD team-ups, a JLA issue, some solo stories in ADVENTURE) which might be included, so I wouldn't take it as a given that all the Ditko, including the unpublished story, will be included, though that would be a big selling point. Book's not out until next summer, so details won't be out for a while.

[note, this appears to have been canceled, and a colour hardcover appears on DC's schedule for 2010]

Upcoming Ditko - More Snyder/Ditko pubs

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Announced in the most recent issue of Robin Snyder's THE COMICS, some more Snyder/Ditko pubs. Some images at the usual place. In addition to the two 32-page comics (with some familiar faces) Snyder lists something called "The Ever Unwilling" as coming soon, which from the format I think will be a new essay or series of essays running in THE COMICS (subscription info to that also in above link).

November 14, 2008

It Stalks the Public Domain - Die Laughing

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http://tinyurl.com/ditko-stories for a list of posts in this series.

"Die Laughing" is the second Ditko story from Charlton's THE THING #13 [April 1954], a 7-page story about a group of fraternity pledges sent into a haunted house as part of a hazing, with the usual complications. This is one of the less inspired of the early Ditko stories of this year, without too much for Ditko to work his visual magic on beyond some good but standard views of the interior and exterior of the decrepit house. And the story is pretty cliché. I know I've read at least two stories with the same basic plot, one of them an EC story that I'm sure pre-dates this.

Most scans in this series adapted to my personal tastes from those found, and available for free download with registration, at the Golden Age Comics Download site. To buy Ditko comics and things on paper, go over here for ordering info on some wonderful creator owned material and over here for info on recent and upcoming publications from all publishers. And subscribe to Rob Imes' revival of DITKOMANIA, now accepting PayPal.
  
 

November 7, 2008

It Stalks the Public Domain - Library of Horror

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List of early Ditko and links to those posted over here :  http://tinyurl.com/ditko-stories Link early, link often.

"Library of Horror" is the 7-page lead story from Charlton's THE THING #13 [April 1954].  Ditko actually does three stories for the issue, plus the cover, as it pretty much becomes a Ditko showcase for a few issues.

This is an excellent little horror story about a frustrated writer who can't seem to come up with stories any more. He finds a mysterious bookstore where he's offered access to the ancient books of the dead, but at the cost of bringing in bodies, dead or alive.  He chooses dead, and things spiral out of control from there.

Lots of stuff to like in this one, especially the demons and mystic realms, which might remind you of some later Ditko work.  I especially like the demonic desk on the top of page three, as well as all the mood creating spider-webs and smoke.  Also unusual in this story is the heavy use of mechanical tones, something seen in a handful of early Ditko stories, but not usually used this liberally. The top of page four is especially notable, I'd be curious if that effect was done by Ditko by hand on the original art or is some sort of post-production effect.

Most scans in this series adapted to my personal tastes from those found, and available for free download with registration, at the Golden Age Comics Download site. To buy Ditko comics and things on paper, go over here for ordering info on some wonderful creator owned material and over here for info on recent and upcoming publications from all publishers. And subscribe to Rob Imes' revival of DITKOMANIA, now accepting PayPal.


November 2, 2008

81 Ditko Splash Pages

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For obvious reasons, here's a slideshow of 81 Ditko splash pages from throughout his career. You'll find a little bit of almost everything in there, some iconic classics and maybe even a few things you've never seen before.

Check here if the embedding thing doesn't work for you or to get the code to put it on your own site, or here for a non-slideshow guide to the set.

October 31, 2008

It Stalks the Public Domain - Killer on the Loose

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List of all of these posts over here :  http://tinyurl.com/ditko-stories.

While mostly working on the horror and sci-fi books for Charlton, Ditko did have the occasional foray into other genres, like this story from CRIME AND JUSTICE #18 [1954].  The 7-page "Killer on the Loose" features officers Tex and Barry of the Radio Patrol.  The feature (with the same leads) was a regular in the title, pre-dating this sole Ditko story.  I haven't been able to figure out yet if there's any relationship to the long running comic strip of that name, which appears to have ended shortly before the first comic book story, but which had a different lead character. If anyone has some more information that might enlighten the situation, it's always appreciated.

Anyway, cute little story.

[Full story now available in the Snyder/Ditko publication MURDER #22, so only first page included below]

Most scans in this series adapted to my personal tastes from those found, and available for free download with registration, at the Golden Age Comics Download site. For comics on paper, the way your grandparents read them, first head over here for ordering info on his available creator owned material co-published with Robin Snyder (including his new book, DITKO, ETC...) and head over here for info on recent and upcoming books with Ditko from all publishers, including the recently revived DITKOMANIA,  Halloween issue now available, and now accepting PayPal for subscriptions.

Click images to embiggen.



  

October 24, 2008

It Stalks the Public Domain - Homecoming

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Have I mentioned lately you can go to http://tinyurl.com/ditko-stories to get links to all of these as they're posted?  I thought so...

"Homecoming" is a 5-page story from Charlton's SPACE ADVENTURES #10 [Spring 1954]. As previously discussed, that "Spring" date makes it a bit ambiguous if if came out before or after February's THE THING #12 and which has the distinction of being Ditko's first work for Charlton and his first cover. Unlike THE THING #12, the cover here isn't related to the Ditko story, featuring instead alien robots on the rampage, a scene slightly related in spirit (but not really) to the Dick Giordano / Art Cappello story which closes the book.

And both cover and story are just signed "Ditko", so still no print evidence of his full name beyond the "S. J. Ditko"on the THE THING #12 cover.

This is also Ditko's first science fiction story, a genre he'd frequent often in the next few years.

Fairly average story, overall, with a clever though somewhat cliche twist. There's really no strong visual hook for Ditko to shine at, but the storytelling is good, the future tech looks believable and he's getting increasingly more consistent with the faces than in some of his earlier work.

Most scans in this series adapted to my personal tastes from those found, and available for free download with registration, at the Golden Age Comics Download site. To buy Ditko comics and things on paper, first head over here for ordering info on his available creator owned material co-published with Robin Snyder (including his latest, DITKO, ETC...) and take a look over here for info on recent and upcoming books with Ditko from all publishers, including the recently revived DITKOMANIA coming fast and furious, and now accepting PayPal for subscriptions.

Embiggening of images accomplished via clicking.

October 21, 2008

Upcoming Ditko - Spider-Man Masterworks softcover

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Marvel is beginning to re-issue their Marvel Masterworks line in softcover for a very reasonable price. The first release is the early adventures of Spider-Man. Noteworthy in this release is that they're going to have the artwork for the first story shot from the original art recently donated to the Library of Congress.  Two cover designs, the one shown below for most retailers and a cover that emulates the original Masterworks design also available to the direct market.




MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN VOL. 1 TPB
by STEVE DITKO and STAN LEE with JACK KIRBY
Cover by JACK KIRBY & STEVE DITKO


Celebrate Marvel's 70th anniversary by experiencing the tales of the world's most-famous super heroes from the very beginning! The Marvel Masterworks have brought readers deluxe hardcover collections of Marvel's classics from the Golden Age, Atlas Era, and the mighty Marvel Age, and now you can join in the Masterworks excitement with our new, monthly Marvel Masterworks trade paperbacks. And where better to start than where comics' most robust line of archival comic collections began-the Amazing Spider-Man! In 1962 in the pages of a comic book slated for cancellation, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko gave birth to one of the most-enduring icons in American popular culture-the one and only Amazing Spider-Man! Turning the concept of a super hero on its head, they imbued the young, guilt-ridden Peter Parker with the fantastic powers of an arachnid and the fantastic pressures of an everyday teenager. The combination was pure magic. So join us in the following pages as we present stories of spectacular web-slinging adventure from Spidey's very beginning including, the tragic origin that started it all, the first appearances of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson, Doctor Octopus, the Sandman, the Vulture, Electro, and guest-star nods by the Fantastic Four and Human Torch. And to top it off, we've packed this volume full of bonuses galore, including the complete original artwork to Spider-Man's Amazing Fantasy #15 origin from the Library of Congress archives!

Collecting AMAZING FANTASY #15 & THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1-10.

272 PGS/All Ages ...$24.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-3692-7


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN VOL. 1 TPB - DM ONLY
272 PGS/All Ages ...$24.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-3693-4

October 17, 2008

Upcoming Ditko - Ditkomania #69 out next week

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Courtesy of Rob Imes, here's a preview of the Michael T. Gilbert cover for DITKOMANIA #69, which will be mailed out to subscribers next week Tuesday.



In addition to the Gilbert cover, the 32-page issue will have:

- A back cover by Dave Sim
- Rob Imes reviewing the new DITKO, ETC...
- an article by DITKOMANIA founder Bill Hall
- a 2-page article by Will Murray
- an article by Nick Caputo reviewing a Ditko-drawn Charlton ghost story
- a 6-page lettercol (including letters by Dwight Decker, Sam Kujava, Tristan Lapoussiere, and Mike Tuz)

Ordering details, as always, over here. Note that PayPal payments are now available, which should be especially welcome to international Ditkomaniacs who were reluctant to pay via money order before.  All the issues since the revival (#64-#68) are still available for US$1.50 plus appropriate postage, as are many second printings of the original run for various prices.

It Stalks the Public Domain - Cinderella

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Continuing the series, bookmark http://tinyurl.com/ditko-stories to see them all.

You'd think it would at least be easy to answer a question like "What was Ditko's first story for Charlton?", but clearly those guys in Derby CT wanted to make life difficult for the people who would care about such things over 50 years later.

One contender is THE THING #12 [Feb 1954], likely released in late 1953. The other reasonable contender is SPACE ADVENTURES #10 (coming next week). Unfortunately, SPACE ADVENTURES for some reason went from bi-monthly to quarterly just then (then back to bi-monthly), so that issue is dated "Spring 1954". Thanks a lot, guys...

Unless more evidence turns up, I'm going to go with this issue, since I like it a bit more. Ditko did both the cover and lead story for this issue, so it would also be his first cover. And unlike in his stories for other publishers preceding this (unless I missed it in a corner somewhere), he signed the work, so I guess it's the first appearance of the name "Ditko" in comics, too. In fact, the cover is signed "S. J. Ditko", a pretty uncommon use of his middle initial. Hm, wonder when we'll first see his full first name...

Anyway, 8-page "Cinderella" is, obviously, a re-telling of the fairy tale.  Only this time, with vampires!  Pretty gory little story, with some unexpected twists.  Ditko's artwork is quickly getting much more confident and imaginative.  The bottom of page 3, with the demon horses pulling the carriage, is really good.  The vampire step-sisters killing their rivals on page 4 (the scene also used on the cover) is very creepy.

Most scans in this series adapted to my personal tastes from those found, and available for free download with registration, at the Golden Age Comics Download site. To buy Ditko comics and things on paper, go over here for ordering info on his available creator owned material (including his latest comic, DITKO, ETC...) and over here for info on recent and upcoming publications from all publishers, and don't forget to subscribe to Rob Imes' revival of DITKOMANIA, now accepting PayPal.


October 16, 2008

Ghostly Haunts #37 [1974]

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Ditko draws the 7-page story "The Ancient Mine", written by Joe Gill. At the end of an Alaskan summer, oil man George Rabb is determined to sink some promising wells in an area of the tundra despite warnings from some of the locals that it's an old burial ground. The diggings come up with some odd stuff, including some beasts that come to life (oddly that pterosaur in the background of one panel isn't actually mentioned by any of the characters). Finally they unearth an ancient man who comes to life, confused by his surroundings.

The story just kind of meanders to an end, but has some pretty good Ditko action and designs. The ancient man is for some reason coloured green with a purple loincloth, which kind of makes him look like the Hulk...


October 10, 2008

It (Doesn't) Stalk the Public Domain - Madame Cyanide and Mister Tricks

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Number six in a series, bookmark http://tinyurl.com/ditko-stories to see them all.

This story is still under copyright, so just a few samples here.

"Madame Cyanide and Mister Tricks" is a 5-page story from Prize's BLACK MAGIC #29 [v4n5] [1954], the third and last consecutive issue of the Simon&Kirby edited horror anthology with a Ditko story (there's an odd temporal anomaly about seven years later that I write about here).

"Mister Tricks" is Nicholas Dana, a professional sceptic who exposes phony mystics and con-men. I was about to write that this was like a prototype of DC's "Doctor Thirteen" character, but I just discovered that Thirteen predated this story, in a brief run from 1951-1952. And drawn by Leonard Starr, who did some work for the S&K shop (though pre-dating Doctor Thirteen), and usually written by France Herron, who worked with Simon various times over the years. Hmm, there's definitely something to this. An unused script modified a year later and given to the new kid? Anyone familiar with Herron's writing from that era (a few of the Thirteen stories are reprinted in the recent SHOWCASE PRESENTS THE PHANTOM STRANGER v1 book) want to weigh in?

Anyway, Dana is called to investigate a woman accused of witchcraft, although of course he's having none of that nonsense. Very nice little story, Ditko's still a bit rough around the edges, with some of the figures being a bit stiff, but he really seemed to spend a lot of time on the establishing shots of the house. He'd quickly get a lot better at the fog effect, though he seems to have the Ditko smoke effect down solid already

Kind of makes you wonder what might have been. The comic book industry was in considerable turmoil in this period (leading to the establishment of the Comics Code), and BLACK MAGIC itself only lasted four more issues, so it's not too surprising that Ditko didn't get more work from S&K at the time and wound up at Charlton for the remainder of his 1954 work, while S&K launched their short-lived Mainline company at exactly the wrong time. Ditko and Kirby would cross paths a few years later, of course, but that's another story...

Most scans in this series adapted to my personal tastes from those found, and available for free download with registration, at the Golden Age Comics Download site. To buy Ditko comics and things on paper, go over here for ordering info on some wonderful creator owned material (including his latest comic, DITKO, ETC...) and over here for info on recent and upcoming publications from all publishers. And subscribe to Rob Imes' revival of DITKOMANIA, now accepting PayPal.




October 3, 2008

--Link-- Bissette on Ditko

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Steve Bissette has some comments and recommendations on the Ditko writings he's picked up recently, which of course you can order as well.

October 1, 2008

Upcoming Ditko - Ditko, etc...

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Coming soon (as in later this month) from Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko, some new Ditko comics in DITKO, ETC...

Cover is over there on the right, and now you know about as much about it as I do. Okay, those characters on the top half of the "H" appeared on the backcover of AVENGING MIND, and the hero might be named "Agent of Justice", or that might just have been a description.

Still, new Ditko comic book stories, for the first time this century (discounting that New Gods temporal anomaly). Ordering info for this and earlier Snyder/Ditko publications at the usual place.

September 30, 2008

It Stalks the Public Domain - Buried Alive

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The popular series of early Ditko stories continues. See http://tinyurl.com/ditko-stories for the list.

Ditko's second story for the Simon&Kirby edited anthology published by Prize is "Buried Alive", a 6-page story from BLACK MAGIC #28 [v4n4], dated January-February 1954 (probably on sale around October 16, 1953, according to the pencil notation on my copy). I wrote about the story previously over here. I really like this story, it probably contends with only "Stretching Things" as my favourite of the six known stories Ditko did for publishers other than Charlton in the 1953-1954 era.

As I said before, Ditko really does wear some of his influences on his sleeve with this early work, in particular Eisner in this story.  He was also really into including a level of detail which you don't see as often in his work after a few years, and probably more detail that suited the level of printing of comics from the era.  Anyway, enjoy.

Most scans in this series adapted to my personal tastes from those found, and available for free download with registration, at the Golden Age Comics Download site. To buy Ditko comics and things on paper, go over here for ordering info on some wonderful creator owned material and over here for info on recent and upcoming publications from all publishers.

Comments welcome, and if you have a site of your own I wouldn't mind a link to these posts if you think your readers will enjoy them. I'm more likely to continue them if there's some evidence that people are reading them.

Enbiggening enabled via clicking.

 

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