February 26, 2009

Texas Rangers in Action #77 [1970]

While the vast majority of work Ditko did for Charlton in the 1970s was in the fantasy/horror titles, he did dip his toe in a lot of the other genres that Charlton continued to produce.

TEXAS RANGERS IN ACTION #77 [1970] has an 8-page Ditko story called "Enemy Ground", which opens up with the outlaw Lopez and his men gunning down ranger Hyte Tolliver in the streets of a small Texas town.  After the ranger's body is carried away, Lopez and his men continue to run roughshod over the town.  After they threaten the local barkeep, his daughter asks Tolliver (still recuperating in secret in a local widow's basement) for help, and being a gallant ranger he goes to confront the bad men, prevailing with some help from the barkeep.

Pretty standard story, but it's always good to see a Ditko western, the action and characters fit nicely with his style.

The cover of this issue is also partly Ditko artwork and part Pat Morisi, although just taken from the splash pages of their interior stories, as was often the style at the time.

9 comments:

  1. I love the silent panel, no. 3. Ditko uses such panels to great effect in many stories.

    Imagine if written by Marv Wolfman -- you'd see a large sound effect -- CLANKCLANK! JINGLEJANGLE! (Just take a look at how his writing on Machine Man wrecked many a well-designed page).

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  2. Mike,

    I agree with you. Sound effects are not always needed and Ditko could producce some fine silent panels that "speak" for themselves.

    Nick Caputo

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  3. I often noticed and liked those occasional silent panels in Ditko's 1970s Charlton ghost stories. I think "Verdict from the Grave" (Dr. Graves #22?) had one silent panel per page, if memory serves.

    The possibility for using silent panels could perhaps be added to the list of freedoms that Charlton offered an artist like Ditko that the other companies perhaps didn't. (I don't recall many silent panels in his 1980s Marvel work. Maybe Speedball had some.)

    If Ditko worked from full scripts, though, with detailed panel descriptions for each page, does this mean that the scripter decided that some panels would be silent, or was that Ditko's doing? It would be interesting to compare actual scripts to what was printed, to see how well the scripts were translated into comics pages. Such a compariosn would likely add a new dimension of appreciation for what Ditko contributed to the finished product.

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  4. Yeah, that's a really nice panel that in too many comics would have been partly covered by effects of the outlaw laughing and the coins wooshing and jangling, while here it nicely captures a moment in time. This whole story just has one sound effect, where it serves as a nice bit of punctuation, all the other shots and blows are perfectly clear from Ditko's art (I always like that little effect he puts at the point of impact when his drawing is set a split-second after a punch lands).

    From what little I've heard, most of the work for Charlton in this era (when Ditko wasn't plotting the work) was done full script. It would be curious to see if some of the more visually inventive ones had hints to that in the script or was all Ditko.

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  5. I have been looking at this page and really think it is a great example of pantomine -- every body posture and bit of business builds the sense of who these men are.

    I would LOVE to see an original Joe Gill script of a Ditko story to see how they worked. But, Ditko certainly used these sorts of silent panels in work he wrote himself. Ditko's use of "silence" is quite eloquent -- just check out the last page of the masterful "The Safest Place".

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  6. From what Joe Gill has said, Ditko had the freedom to interpert the script anyway he felt and Gill was churning out stuff so quickly he didn't care one way or the other. My guess is that, while Ditko followed what was in the script, he would add panels, such as the silent ones, to stories whenever he felt like it.

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  7. Sorry, I meant to sign the previous post.

    Nick Caputo

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  8. Nick,

    Of course ALL of the panels would have likely been "silent" when Ditko penciled them, so perhaps Ditko designated certain panels to be silent by making a note on the page margin or in an accompanying note, etc. to indicate that a particular panel should be silent.

    For the Halloween issue of Ditkomania, I wrote & penciled a 4-page Charlton-style ghost story (hosted by Mr. Dedd) which Martin Hirchak will be inking and lettering. One particular panel in the story I deliberately had silent (no lettering or balloons penciled in) and so to make this clear to Martin, I wrote on the side of the panel ("wordless panel") and pointed to the panel, just in case he wondered if I'd forgotten to put in the dialogue, etc.

    I wonder if this is what Ditko himself did in such circumstances. If he didn't make it clear that such a panel ought to be wordless, it's possible that Joe Gill could have written dialogue for the panel, the letterer could have written the words on the penciled panel, and then by the time the pages came back to Ditko for his inks, the writing and lettering might be all over a panel that he had intended to be wordless.

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  9. It's also possible that Ditko recieved the script, marked it up with his changes, such as making a six panel page seven panels (an added silent panel) or moving dialouge baloons or captions to the next panel, then sending that back to the letterer, if that makes sense.

    Nick Caputo

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