December 31, 2009

Unusual Tales - The Only One

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"Unusual Tales", a series presenting Steve Ditko's comics from 1957 to 1959 that are in the public domain.


The 5-page "The Only One" is one of the few westerns not starring a horse that Ditko did in those early years, from Charlton's TEXAS RANGERS IN ACTION #8 [1957]. It features the story of "King" Anderson, a cattle man who rules his region of the west with an iron fist, ruthlessly chasing off anyone who tries to settle in the land he claims for his cattle.  After we find out exactly what events early in his life made him so hard and cold, he then encounters the one thing that can change his ways.


A nice heart-warming story, and Ditko does a great job with the characters in this one, especially "King" Anderson. As I've said before, Ditko's westerns are generally pretty strong, and I wish he had done more of them.

Some links to check out:
Buy Ditko's creator-owned work
100+ new pages in 2009, plus lots of classics available
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
New issue in January on Ditko's independent work
Check out new and upcoming Ditko publications
The Creeper inches ever closer
Download public domain comics, likely including the one this story is from
Scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click images to big-up.


 

December 25, 2009

Unusual Tales - The Dancing Cat

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"Unusual Tales", a series presenting Steve Ditko's comics from 1957 to 1959 that are in the public domain.

From Charlton's STRANGE SUSPENSE STORIES #37 [1958] comes "The Dancing Cat", a 5-page story about a  TV writer who goes to Egypt with his wife to do some research on a series he's hoping to sell.  As a gift for his wife he buys a music box in the shape of a dancing cat, not realizing that if you're in a comic book story set in Egypt you really should listen to that old beggar on the streets trying to warn you of a curse.

A simple but effective story, the floating musical notes are a nice design element around that ominous looking cat.  That bit across the top tier of page four works really well.

Some links to check out:
Buy Ditko's creator-owned work
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
Check out new and upcoming Ditko publications
Download public domain comics, likely including the one this story is from
(scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies)

Click images to big-up.


 
 

December 19, 2009

Unusual Tales - Menace From The Moon

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"Unusual Tales", a series presenting Steve Ditko's comics from 1957 to 1959 that are in the public domain.


"Menace From The Moon" is a 5-page story from Charlton's SPACE ADVENTURES #26 [1958], and it seeks to explain the great Luna/Atlantis atomic war, shamefully absent from most approved textbooks.  If we don't learn the lessons of history, we're doomed to repeat it, people!

Anyway, cute little story, Ditko's design of the Lunar city on the first panel is nice, and the six-panel depiction of the final battle on the last page, with no characters, is quite memorable.  I also really like the resigned look on the face of the leader of Atlantis on page 4.

Some links to check out:
Buy Ditko's creator-owned work
Waiting for news on the next new release
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
Order a set, hours of fun reading
Check out new and upcoming Ditko publications
Download public domain comics, likely including the one this story is from
scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click images to moon-size.


December 18, 2009

Unusual Tales - For Amusement Only

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"Unusual Tales", a series presenting Steve Ditko's comics from 1957 to 1959 that are in the public domain.


"For Amusement Only" is a 5-page story from Charlton's OUTER SPACE #18 [1958].  In it, the entire planet faces the menace of accelerated plant growth, starting gradually at first but quickly reaching crisis levels.

Of particular note in this one, that first big panel is a nicely laid out image to represent the story.  The water tower falling over is a nice touch.  And dig that crazy alien hairdo!

Some links to check out:
Buy Ditko's creator-owned work
Stock up now, they can't stay in print forever
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
New issue out soon, see the big-name artist doing the cover of one of Ditko's newest characters at the link
Check out new and upcoming Ditko publications
Lots of stuff out in 2009
Download public domain comics, likely including the one this story is from
scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click images to big-up.


 
 

December 16, 2009

Ditko in 2009 wrapup

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Well, barring last minute surprises it looks like all the Ditko that's going to come out in 2009 is now released, so  here's the summary post, still in time for all your Winter Solstice gift exchanges.  Nothing says "thinking of you" like the gift of Ditko.

As usual, new books are listed as they're announced and released over here.  If you want details on the contents of any of these publications, I refer you to Brian Franczak's invaluable Ditko Fever site.

Very big year for Ditko releases, no less than 30 publications listed below. Biggest year for new Ditko comics since 2000, and among the reprints are many things that have never been reprinted before.




Most important, of course, was the continued release of material published by Ditko and Robin Snyder.  Three new comics, cover to cover Ditko,  plus a gorgeous reprint of a Ditko classic, the 1973 MR. A. comic. We should see some more in 2010, with one new comic (A Ditko Act Two) already announced.

Oh No! Not Again, Ditko! [Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko]
Ditko Once More [Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko]
Ditko Presents [Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko]
Mr. A. [Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko]




There were also a few Ditko essays in the year.  One in the usual forum for such things, Robin Snyder's monthly newsletter, and one available online (courtesy of Batton Lash).  Some interesting reading in those.

"The Ever Unwilling" in The Comics v20 #3 [Robin Snyder]
"The Ever Unreachable" [Big Hollywood, original on-line essay, no longer on-line]




And for Ditko from the fan perspective, Ditkomania continues to come out at an even faster rate than its already generous bi-monthly schedule (plus with some extra-sized issues this year).  You get a focus on a wide variety of Ditko work in the 2009 issues, from some of his most popular works to largely overlooked periods, plus reviews of the new Ditko material and some nice fan art.  Doesn't look like editor/publisher Rob Imes is going to slow down much in 2010, so order some back issues and subscribe now.

Ditkomania #70-76 [Rob Imes]




Part of Dark Horse's business model now seems to be in picking up the rights to some old comics from publishers who are either no longer around or whose licenses to that material has lapsed, and got some Ditko in the deal.  Their second book of Marvel's Indiana Jones comics of the 1980s only has Ditko's first story, so their upcoming third volume should have his remaining seven.  And along with the second volume of Creepy from last year, all sixteen of Ditko's stories for Warren (most with Archie Goodwin) are now in print, spread across five $50 hardcovers.  A few upcoming books will, oddly, reprint full issues that contained reprints of earlier issues, so expect some redundant Ditko in those.  And yes, I know, you want to see a single all-Ditko book with all sixteen stories. Tell it to Dark Horse.

Indiana Jones Omnibus: The Further Adventures #2 [Dark Horse]
Creepy Archives #3 [Dark Horse]
Creepy Archives #4 [Dark Horse]
Eerie Archives #1 [Dark Horse]
Eerie Archives #2 [Dark Horse]





Big thing for Marvel this year was the new softcover line of Masterworks. It's all stuff that's been reprinted multiple times in multiple formats in the last few years, but still, nice affordable books.  The first Spider-Man volume does have some photos of the recently made publicly available artwork to Amazing Fantasy #15. Anyway, expect a few more volumes with Ditko content in 2010, most importantly Spider-Man v4 and Doctor Strange v1 (sadly they'll probably follow the lead of the hardcover for that and stop short of Ditko's full run).

Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man v1 Tradepaperback [Marvel]
Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man v2 Tradepaperback [Marvel]
Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man v3 Tradepaperback [Marvel]
Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk v1 Tradepaperback [Marvel]
Marvel Masterworks: The Fantastic Four v2 Tradepaperback [Marvel]

Some stray Ditko in a few other Marvel books did manage to include a few minor but previously unreprinted works, like a Speedball story in that Pet Avengers books.


What If? Classic v6 [Marvel]
Pet Avengers Classic [Marvel]
Spider-Man: The Sinister Six [HC] [Marvel]
Marvel 70th Anniversary Collection [Marvel]




And lastly, various publishers continued or began reprinting copyright free Ditko stories, mostly from Charlton.  What a strange idea...  Anyway, some overlap among these books, and with prior reprints, I again refer you to Ditko Fever which has or soon will have full contents details with for each book.

Steve Ditko: Edge of Genius [Pure Imagination]
The Art of Steve Ditko [IDW]
Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives [FBI]
Crypt of Horror #6 [AC Comics]

Expect some more of that going on in 2010.




One thing we didn't see in 2009 was a reprint of Ditko's Creeper stories from DC.  A black and white volume, which wouldn't have included all of Ditko's 1970s stories, was on DC's long-range schedule for a while, but pulled in favour of a full colour hardcover which should come out in 2010, and which will include not only all of the officially published Ditko stories but the story intended for Showcase #106 which fell victim to the DC Implosion.  Sadly, looks like they'll be printing it in black and white, but still, a complete Ditko Creeper book.

Ditko was also missing from the hardcover Marvel Masterworks line in 2009, but next year he'll at least be represented with various shorts in the third Tales to Astonish book.



December 15, 2009

Unusual Tales - The Strange One

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"Unusual Tales", a series presenting Steve Ditko's comics from 1957 to 1959 that are in the public domain.



"The Strange One" is a 2-page story from Charlton's MYSTERIES OF UNEXPLORED WORLDS #10 [1958], about a man who comes ashore on an uncharted island after a shipwreck, and what he sees there, or doesn't see, that scares him off.

An odd little story, with an ending that, as you'll see, doesn't really use Ditko's skills, but he does good with everything up to that.  The splash of the man washing up on the beach is really good, with those ominous black clouds in the background.

Some links to check out:
Buy Ditko's creator-owned work
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
Check out new and upcoming Ditko publications
Download public domain comics, likely including the one this story is from
(scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies)

Click images to big-up and really appreciate the details on the last two panels.



December 13, 2009

Unusual Tales - The Man From Time

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"Unusual Tales", a series presenting Steve Ditko's comics from 1957 to 1959 that are in the public domain.


Charlton did like their variations on time travel stories in the late 1950s, didn't they?

The 5-page story "The Man From Time" is from THIS MAGAZINE IS HAUNTED #16 [1958].  Behind the Iron Curtain a scientist named Georgi Karenska has managed to secretly perfect a time machine built inside an armchair.  He wants to use it to visit the future and get knowledge to rule the world. Fortunately for the world, he finds the future is waiting for him.

It's a nicely dense little story. The visual of the narrator, Dr. Haunt, in the middle panels of every page, work nicely to add some visual flair.

Some links to check out:
Buy Ditko's creator-owned work
Busiest year for new Ditko in a while
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
Good reading on all eras of Ditko
Check out new and upcoming Ditko publications
Look for the "Year in Ditko" windup post soon
Download public domain comics, likely including the one this story is from
(scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies)

Click images to big-up.


 
 

December 8, 2009

Unusual Tales - Such A Strange Case

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"Unusual Tales", a series presenting Steve Ditko's comics from 1957 to 1959 that are in the public domain.


"Such A Strange Case" is a quick little 2-page story from Charlton's STRANGE SUSPENSE STORIES #40 [1959]. While there's no strong visual hook in the story, and its mostly in the service of a gag ending (a rather clever one), it is a nice look at some of Ditko's character types from the time, within the confines of middle-aged white professionals.


Some links to check out:
Buy Ditko's creator-owned work
Many great things available
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
New issue available now
Check out new and upcoming Ditko publications
Lots of ways to buy Spider-Man
Download public domain comics, likely including the one this story is from
scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click images to big-up.


December 4, 2009

Unusual Tales - His Fate

1 comments



"Unusual Tales", a series presenting Steve Ditko's comics from 1957 to 1959 that are in the public domain.


"His Fate" is a 4-page story from Charlton's THIS MAGAZINE IS HAUNTED #12 [1957].  It's a little bit of a goofy story with an overly dramatic story about the star of the ventriloquist act Nip and Tuck, with pretty much the twist ending you'd expect when you're told a story about a ventriloquist has a twist ending.

Lots of interesting Ditko touches.  The design of the characters is nice, from the ventriloquist and his dummy to the beautiful woman who serves as the catalyst for the tragedy, and the images of Dr. Haunt ripping through the page as he tells the story provides some nice visuals.  The first page does read a bit confusing, I'd be interested in how many people read the words on that in the right order the first time they look at it.

Some links to check out:
Buy Ditko's creator-owned work
Get Ditko straight from the source
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
New issue on 1960s Marvel now available
Check out new and upcoming Ditko publications
Wow, it's been a big year for Ditko reprints
Download public domain comics, likely including the one this story is from
Scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click images to big-up.


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