September 8, 2010

Unusual Tales - Cover Gallery (1 of 3)

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

 As previously discussed, Ditko drew 20 covers for Charlton during his first stint there, published in 1954 and 1955. Ditko covers resumed in 1957, and he drew some great covers during the rest of the 1950s, mostly for Charlton, like the dozen below.  More appear in this post.

Note the the recent Ditko/Snyder co-publication THE COVER SERIES includes a dozen Ditko covers from the 1950s (none of the ones below), as well as a good sampling from the next 50 years of Ditko's career.

My comments on the covers below, click on the thumbnails or title links for larger scans

Some links to check out:
New material and classic reprints, including THE COVER SERIES
New issue out now
Slightly short of complete Doctor Strange colour reprint later this year
Scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Just small images from three of the interior stories on this cover, including one of the two Ditko stories inside, "The Man Who Could Never Be Killed". The other two stories aren't by Ditko, though he does eye-catching images to illustrate them, images which don't have much to do with the actual stories.

The cover is the only Ditko content in this issue, which is relatively uncommon in the 1957-1959 era compared to 1954, and it's unrelated to any of the interior stories. Just a great looking image, and very well coloured, one of my favourite 1950s Ditko covers.  There is a story which appeared a few months later, "The Thing From Below" in OUT OF THIS WORLD #5 [1957] does look like it could be related to this story (although with a very different looking sea-beast, but as seen in the previous cover the cover images weren't always representative).

A very simple and dramatic cover, unrelated to any of the Ditko interiors.  It looked really good in black and white on the cover of Robin Snyder's 1989 OUT OF THIS WORLD collection, where it was the first of these covers I saw.

A nice cover to go with the other dimensional abstract art masterpiece "A World Of His Own" appearing in this issue, some of Ditko's first work with some imagery we'd see again in later decades.

Ditko's first Mysterious Traveler cover, and an excellent one (someone else thought so, too...). Of the three stories promoted on the cover, only "Secret Mission" is by Ditko.  I have to say, I'd love to see a Ditko story titled "The End Of The Medium" based on that cover image.

An image for the Ditko story "The Man Who Painted On Air" from this issue.  While the interior story looks nice, the detail on the cover image is really a whole higher lever, whether because of the superior printing or the added importance given to strong cover images in that era.

An image to go with "The Forbidden Room", one of two Ditko stories in this issue.  Very nice detailed image.  I especially like Ditko's placement of his signature on this and many of the other 1950s covers.

Two of the three stories depicted on the cover are by Ditko, "Will Power" and "The Decision", pretty faithful to the actual stories, the other is a non-Ditko story.  Interesting that Ditko seemed to use a different technique for the shading on each of the three images.

This great cover doesn't really have anything to do with any of the five Ditko stories inside, though it does have some superficial resemblance to the lead story "Live For Reunion".  A shame, that looks like an amazing story.

Two of the four Ditko stories in this issue, "The Man Who Lost His Face" and "The Scar", appear on the cover, but while Ditko did do two stories in the 1950s titled "Escape" he did not do the one in this issue, though he did come up with a simple but strong cover image for it.  But the highlight of the cover is definitely the striking image for "The Man Who Lost His Face".

All three Ditko stories from this issue (none of them posted here yet) are represented on this cover, with images unusually consistent with the interiors, surrounding a very good image of the Traveler.

One of the four Ditko stories from this issue, "The Night Of The Red Snow", gets the solo cover image on this issue.

Some great covers, hard to pick a favourite from them.  I think either UNUSUAL TALES #6 or MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER #3.  What do you think?


  1. I don't have my copy of The Cover Series in front of me, but isn't Strange Suspense Stories #33 included in TCS (you state none of the covers you show are included in TCS)? Maybe I'm misreading your statement.....

  2. Thanks for the catch. This was kind of weird, STRANGE SUSPENSE #33 is in THE COVER SERIES (so I've removed it from the selection above, replacing it with #32). The odd part is, the version in THE COVER SERIES has "#32" on the cover where the published version has #33, which is why I indexed it wrong. I wonder how that happened?

  3. I especially like MYSTERIES OF UNEXPLORED WORLDS #4 [1957] -- Ditko's architectural creations are always fascinating: the mirror, the bust, the bookcase, etc etc -- all in support of the main image. Just terrific!