September 30, 2009

Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #4 [1996]

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Back in the darkest days of the 1990s, there was an inexplicably popular kids TV show called MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS. Marvel did some comics based on the series, and Ditko drew [at least] four 10-page stories for them, among his last half-dozen or so stories he did for Marvel.

The 10-page story in this issue is "Revenge Of The Nerd", with inks by Tom Palmer and story by Tom Daning. The nerdy and pimply teenager with the unfortunately named Myron Zitzner is teased and bullied in school, only to be rescued by the some of the Power Rangers in their civilian identities.  Unfortunately his bitterness makes him unable to appreciate the help.  The Rangers then have to take care of an attack from a giant monster, as they often do, while the mastermind behind all those attacks kidnaps Myron and transforms him into a giant pimple which shoots out acid and attacks the Rangers.  They have to transform into other forms (no doubt more toys to sell to kids) to defeat him, with the rather unfortunate image of squeezing his mutant pimple form until he pops out, having learned his lesson, and later using his brains to win the admiration of some cute girls.

So, no surprise, not that good a story, although obviously I wasn't really the target audience (other than to the extent that "Ditko fan" was the target, and at that Ditko fans probably outnumber Power Rangers fans now, at least until the nostalgia wave hits them) either when it came out or now.  Ditko's art is solid, though Tom Palmer's inking is a bit heavy.





September 29, 2009

New Ditko - DITKOMANIA #75 available

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DITKOMANIA #75 is now available, with appropriately an issue devoted to Ditko's work in the year 1975, a year which saw two issues of his independent work, continuing a prolific run of stories for Charlton, the rise and fall of Atlas-Seaboard (with seven issues drawn by Ditko) and Ditko's return to DC. A nice selection of Ditko heroes on the cover at right. This is an extra-sized issue, so slightly more expensive than a regular issues, but if you subscribe you can get it for the same price as a regular issue. Ordering details over here.

Here are links to a few posts from this weblog on Ditko's 1975 work.  Expect a few more in the next little while as I'm sure this issue will lead to me pulling a few of them out for re-reading. 

The Destructor #1 [1975]
Tiger-Man #2 [1975]
Stalker #2 [1975]
Ghostly Tales #117 [1975]
Plop #16 [1975]

September 28, 2009

Ghost Manor #63 [1982]

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From deep in the heart of Charlton's long mostly-reprint era, a couple of minor Ditko pieces from just a few years earlier in this issue, starting with the cover, which is from GHOST MANOR #28 [1976]. A decent generic horror cover of a man being confronted by something seen only by its shadow in an attic.

Later in the issue is the single page story "Lost Mine" from GHOST MANOR #30 [1976]. A nice little vignette about two prospectors who find a rich vein of gold in the Grand Canyon back in the wild west, and what their greed caused. Nothing special, but interesting to note that there's a lot of the story not directly told in the captions that the art does a good job of filling in.

September 27, 2009

It Stalks the Public Domain - Addendum

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To close off our extended look at Ditko's 1953-1955 work, a few words on some other work that he may, or may not, have had an undefined hand in.

In addition to his BLACK MAGIC stories for Simon&Kirby Ditko worked on the CAPTAIN 3-D comic that S&K did for Harvey, and possibly other 3-D comics of the era (possibly unpublished), working with other artists on the backgrounds (as the process of creating 3-D comics was apparently quite labour-intensive)



I don't know how much Ditko there might be in that, but look for a newly coloured 2-D reprint in one of Joe Simon's reprints of the S&K material next year.

STRANGE FANTASY #9 [1953] had the story "Hair Yee-eeee", a story that Bruce Hamilton has identified as another (like "Stretching Things") that he sold to Stanmor and they re-sold to Farrell. Some people see a degree of Ditko in the art, though almost certainly not Ditko solo (there's a mark which might be an initial "SS" on the first page). This scene, for example:


 


Possibly related to the above, an artist named Sy Moskowitz briefly worked in comics around the same time as Ditko broke in, doing some work for Charlton, Gilberton (Classics Illustrated) and Marvel (including a few stories with Joe Kubert). I haven't looked at too much of it, but some people see a few signs of Ditko in a few of his stories, and Greg Theakston even included "The Mark of the Ripper" from Charlton's STRANGE SUSPENSE STORIES #21 [1954] in his book STEVE DITKO: EDGE OF GENIUS [2008]. I'm not 100% convinced it belonged, but judge for yourself.

 

No reasonable way of knowing at this point what role Ditko might have had in some of these stories, but speculation clearly labeled as such can be fun. Any other stories from that era you see something Ditkoesque in? Feel free to comment, and include a scan or two of a likely panel or two if you can.

September 23, 2009

Upcoming Ditko - Mr. A, new essay, What If and more

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Couple of recently announced upcoming Ditko publications. The biggest news is that there's some sort of Mr. A book coming from Ditko and Robin Snyder. No details yet on exactly what it'll contain, but no doubt news will follow soon. Snyder also informs us that his newsletter THE COMICS will feature a new essay by Ditko soon, titled "The Ever Unreachable". Ordering info on the many Ditko/Snyder co-publications (including the previously announced upcoming A DITKO ACT TWO) and the newsletter are over here, as usual.

What If? Classic v6 from Marvel will feature the short 7-page back-up Ditko drew for #35 of the series, "And Thus Are Born The Cat People".

Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Tales To Astonish Vol. 3 continues reprinting that series, with a Ditko 5-pager in each of the 10 issues (notable in this run are "It Happened on the Silent Screen" and "Dream World").

The softcover volumes meanwhile have some classic material in Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man v3.

Dark Horse's Creepy Archives will presumably have some more reprints of reprints in volume 6.

September 21, 2009

Upcoming Ditko - Creeper hardcover

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DC has scheduled the long-anticipated reprint of Ditko's Creeper material as a colour hardcover coming out in February 2010.  It's pretty much all of Ditko's stuff with the character (plus some art by others at the end of the original series), except for the unpublished issue of SHOWCASE which was only released as part of the photocopied package CANCELLED COMIC CAVALCADE #2. Other than that lapse (and it's not too late to change your mind on that, DC) it looks like a pretty good package.

[Update, it seems DC did see the light, the issue will include the CCC #2 / "Showcase #106" issue, in black and white, so the book will be 288 pages at the same price]




THE CREEPER BY STEVE DITKO

Written by Steve Ditko, Don Segall, Dennis O'Neil and Michael Fleischer; Art by Steve Ditko and others; Cover by Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man, struck again in 1968 with the strange hero The Creeper. Now, for the first time, DC collects Ditko's Creeper epics from SHOWCASE #73, BEWARE THE CREEPER #1-6, 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #7 and short stories from WORLD'S FINEST COMICS #249-255.

* DC Universe
* 256pg.
* Color
* $39.99 US


On Sale February 24, 2010



September 19, 2009

ROM #66 [1985]

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"The Day After!" is a 22-page transitional issue of the long running series. The previous issue wrapped up the war with the Dire Wraiths which was pretty much the titles focus up to this point, with a resolution very steeped in Marvel continuity and involving the Avengers, Defenders, X-Men and others. There's just some clean-up to do, with ROM banishing the rest of the now powerless Dire Wraiths who threatened Earth, plus a lot of recap of the background of the characters to explain ROM deciding to leave Earth and his friends behind.

So a bit exposition heavy and not much room for visual creativity, so not the best issue of the series if you want a sample, but not bad for regular readers.

Steve Leialoha inks this issue, and that's always a pleasing combination. The final double-page splash of ROM in space, apparently quite quickly going to a system with some freaky looking planetary configurations, is really neat.

The letter column also has a comment about a cameo by Spider-Man in an earlier issue, which the editor clarifies was added by the inker. There's also a circulation statement, apparently ROM sold about 155,000 copies an issue back then.



September 17, 2009

Mr. A Bibliography

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Courtesy of Robin Snyder, here's a draft of an on-going attempt to document all of Ditko's Mr. A material. Not an easy task since so much of it appeared in very low-run limited distribution fanzines, so any corrections and additions are appreciated. Most important are the publications (if any) which ran the two 1968 pieces which ran in THE DITKO COLLECTION that haven't been identified and the five fanzines from circa 1969 which have been listed in places as having Mr. A but copies haven't been located. Also, any advertising which may have appeared for the unpublished 1990/1991 series from AAA would be interesting.

So take a look, and please feel free to pass around a link or copy of this list around to anyone you may know who collects old fanzines or rare Ditko material to see if they can fill in any of the questions or maybe even have leads to unknown Mr. A material.

Any info can go in the comments, or contact me in the address in the sidebar, or get contact info for Robin Snyder (and ordering info on those two most recent publications with Mr. A and much more by Ditko) over here.

Mr. A, 3rd draft

September 14, 2009

September 13, 2009

Stalker #2 [1975]

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"Darkling Death At World's End Sea" is the 18-page tale of Stalker, the Man with the Stolen Soul, penciled by Steve Ditko with inks by Wallace Wood and a story by Paul Levitz, the creative team for all four issues of this short-lived series. Following his origin last issue, where Stalker sold his soul to the demon Dgrth in exchange for various powers, he is now trying to confront Dgrth directly, and and quest takes him to World's End (literally, this is a flat fantasy world with a waterfall at the edge). After a sword fight with a four-armed monster he tries to infiltrate the cult that worships Dgrth, only to get captured, managing to escape being sacrificed at the edge of the world and rescuing the enslaved girl who helped him.

Ditko and Wood are a solid combination at this point, with some really good action scenes and fantasy landscapes. The story by Levitz is comparatively a bit of a weak mix of fantasy standards, but it has its moments.

Ditko and Wood also provide the cover for this issue, a nice rendition of the opening battle.


September 8, 2009

Ordering new Ditko

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Robin Snyder just updated his shipping on the new Ditko material from 2008/2009 he has available if you're buying a set. You can now order the five new books for $20 plus $5 shipping in the US, $7 in Canada or $11 foreign. When the next book is ready the pack of six will be $24 with the same postage.

Ordering info here as usual. Still no PayPal payment direct from Robin, but you'll see a set occasionally on Ebay.

Robin's also given me some info to add to the page that I think will make some people very happy. See if you can detect it.

September 4, 2009

Ghostly Haunts #25 [1972]

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Ditko does the cover to this issue, a slightly busy but effective set of horror elements to illustrate the 7-page story that he draws to close the issue, "I'll Never Leave You". Winnie the Witch is the host for this ghost yarn, as stylish and freaky as ever.

The story has newlyweds Bert and Ursula Weaver getting getting a prophecy on they honeymoon in Haiti that she will never leave his side. As we're privy to Bert's thoughts, we know he's doubtful about this, as he's already planning Ursula's murder. They return to her home, a mansion she has to keep living in to keep collecting from her family fortune, and eventually Bert goes through with his poisoning plot, but then the ghosts of the house chase away the lover he planned to run off with and he finds that Ursula still plans to spend the rest of time by his side, only as a ghost.

A serviceable but unspectacular story, the random portraits of Winnie throughout the story are a lot of fun.



September 3, 2009

Konga #13 [1963]

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In the early 1960s, Steve Ditko drew a total of fifteen comics for Charlton featuring KONGA, based on the British science fiction movie of the same name about a chimp who gets mutated into a giant gorilla. You know, I can accept the giant part, but what's the logic of the cross-species transformation?

Anyway, #13 features the 20-page story "The Peacemaker", written by Joe Gill and drawn by Ditko. It begins with Konga in the Arctic, where he fishes for killer whales (with an amusing panel of the relatively tiny whales nibbling on his giant fingers). The climate gives him the chills, though, so he heads down to South America, where he encounters the forces of El Presidente, the tyrant of the small nation of Moderno, who is planning to blow up a bridge to stage a train accident as a pretext for a communist backed takeover of a neighbouring nation. Kind-hearted Konga foils that plan, lifting the train across the gap, earning the ire of the tyrant. Various attacks on Konga only serve to destroy all the military equipment that was intended for the invasion, and finally Konga faces El Presidente himself, stopping the tyrant's attempts to escape and in the process returning some of the wealth of the nation he planned to steal to the people. Finally he can relax in the sulfur springs in peace to get rid of his cold.

A very funny story, with a lot of moments of slapstick humour and sight gags. Konga is a great twist on the giant monster formula, with his kind and playful nature contrasting with the "force of nature" aspect that his size makes inevitable.

This story, along with three other Konga stories and another amusing Gill/Ditko short from KONGA #8 were reprinted in crisp black and white by Robin Snyder in the 1989 collection THE LONELY ONE, still available from the publisher.


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