January 31, 2012

Unreprinted DC Ditko

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I've got my copy of THE STEVE DITKO OMNIBUS VOLUME TWO, and the full entries for it and VOLUME ONE are also up on Brian Franczak's Ditko Fever, along with the earlier CREEPER BY STEVE DITKO volume (Ditko Fever entry). Those three books combine to reprint 1102 pages of Ditko artwork published by DC between 1966 and 2008, which is impressive but unfortunately just a bit shy of complete, so an overview of what's missing.
  • [DC has also acquired some Ditko work originally published by Charlton, Tower and others. Most if not all of the Ditko comics they acquired in those purchases were reprinted in the ACTION HEROES ARCHIVES and THUNDER AGENTS ARCHIVES collections]

AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS #13 [1976] [DF]
"The Gnark Is Coming, The Gnark Is Coming"
This 4-page story written by Steve Skeates and inked by Wallace Wood was intended for PLOP, but remained unpublished until this issue of DC's promotional magazine. A cute little fantasy, Wood has a heavy hand in the inks but the Ditko still comes through, and this is an unfortunate omission since it's probably the hardest Ditko story at DC to find.

DC SPECIAL SERIES #9 [1978] [DF]
aka WONDER WOMAN SPECTACULAR
"The Cosmic Quest For The Disk Of Mars"
Ditko draws a 6-page chapter and 5 later pages for the 64-page story written by Jack C. Harris for this issue, with other art by Jose Delbo, Russ Heath, Dick Ayers and Vincent Colletta. I guess it's understandable not either including the full 64-page story or just excerpting the 11 Ditko pages, but it's some decent work. Wonder Woman doesn't actually appear on the Ditko pages, by the way, except as a chess piece on the God of War's board (with the other piece being Hitler).

THE UNEXPECTED #190 [1979] [DF]
A single page black and white illustration in the inside cover with Abel and Madame Xanadu on the occasion of their cancelled titles (HOUSE OF SECRETS and DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE) being folded into THE UNEXPECTED.  Written by Mike Barr, this is a doubly frustrating omission since Barr's intro to OMNIBUS v2 mentions the page and the fact that Ditko gave him the original art, so not only could it easily have been reprinted, but a superior copy from a fresh scan of the original art could have been used.

SUPERBOY & THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #257 [1979] [DF]
"Once A Legionnaire"
An odd omission, since the other six Ditko Legion stories were reprinted, this first one, a 7-page back-up written by Gerry Conway and inked by Dan Adkins, was not.

DETECTIVE COMICS #487 [1979] [DF]
"The Odd Man"
This 8-page story, originally intended to be a back-up in SHADE #9, actually was reprinted in OMNIBUS v1, in the version that appeared in CANCELLED COMIC CAVALCADE #2 [1978], in black and white and under the title "The Pharoah And The Mummies". The script was heavily revised in this printing, so if they were only going to include one version it's nice that they included the rarer one, but it does look much better in colour.

BATMAN #322 [1980] [DF]
And possibly some other DC comics out that month. DC ran short biographies of their creators for a while, and #58 in the series was Steve Ditko.  Rather than provide any biographical information, Ditko did an illustration of seven of his characters (The Creeper, The Hawk, The Dove, Stalker, Odd Man, Rac Shade and Starman) to "let his work speak for him".

WHO'S WHO - THE DEFINITIVE DIRECTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE #19 - #22 [1986] [DF]
Ditko did illustrations for four entries featuring his characters in this series, a shame they weren't included since they were all enjoyable. The Shade entry is just a great encapsulation of the graphic strength of the concept Ditko created. Romeo Tanghal's inks on the Starman piece are very strong, and Joe Orlando does an interesting job on the Stalker page.  The most missed piece is the Question entry, a brief return by Ditko to one of his greatest creations, and again one that Barr even mentions in his introduction, so really no good excuse not to include it.

ACTION COMICS #642 [1989] [DF]
"Where There Is A Will - Chapter II: The Decline"
Ditko pencils and Art Thibert inks an 8-page chapter to Elliot S. Maggin's 38-page story featuring Superman, Green Lantern, Deadman and Nightwing, all regular features in the 42 issue weekly run of ACTION COMICS that ended with this issue. Ditko's chapter only features Green Lantern, and doesn't really work as a stand-alone story, so understandable omission, I guess.  Other artists were legends Gil Kane, Jim Aparo, Curt Swan, Jim Mooney and Carmine Infantino (with inking by younger artists John Nyberg, Ty Templeton, Ian Akin, Brian Garvey and Kevin Nowlan), so it's a full story worth having a copy of.

So by my count we could have used another 44 pages in these books, or 129 if you want to include the full Wonder Woman and Action stories.  Hey, I wouldn't say no to a slim OMNIBUS v3 to catch everything else. There are also a few other known unpublished things it would be nice to see, including a few short anthology stories ("Woro and the Liquid Man", "The Robot and... The Ghost"), a Plastic Man illustration (possibly for WHO'S WHO) and some work for a Green Lantern colouring book.

January 29, 2012

Unusual Tales - Imagination

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

"Imagination" is a 5-page story from Charlton's OUT OF THIS WORLD #8 [1958]. A very odd little story about a young boy and his imaginative view of the world, with a lot of room for some memorable Ditko visuals.  Some great birds make this a highlight of Ditko's 1950s work.

But before the story, some links:
Over two dozen publications in print
Back issues and subscriptions available
CREEPER hardcover available from DC
Scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click to embiggen


   

January 27, 2012

Unusual Tales - The Silver-Tip Outlaw

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

"The Silver-Tip Outlaw" is a 7-page story from Charlton's ROCKY LANE'S BLACK JACK #27 [1959]. It's a human free story of the legendary horse, and not a great one. Pretty much just Black Jack protecting his herd from a bear. Some pretty drawings, though, one benefit of the lack of humans is that there's no dialogue, so you get some nice unobscured pictures.

But before the story, some links:
1970s Charlton reprints in STEVE DITKO'S 160-PAGE PACKAGE: FROM CHARLTON PRESS
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
Back issues and subscriptions available
Lots of rare Ditko in the two DITKO OMNIBUS books
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 to embiggen


  

  

January 26, 2012

Unusual Tales - The Great Escape

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

"The Great Escape" is a 5-page story from Charlton's SPACE ADVENTURES #27 [1959], wherein a man finds a small meteorite and it tells him the story of the destruction of the planet Bala and the escape plan of the Balarites. All this leads to him making a questionable decision. Some striking visuals on the flashback to doomed Bala by Ditko.

But before the story, some links:
Classic MOCKER graphic novel available
Back issues and subscriptions available
Ditko's Legion of Super-Heroes stories in DC's DITKO OMNIBUS v2
Scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click to embiggen


   

January 25, 2012

Unusual Tales - The Vision Came

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

"The Vision Came" is a 5-page story from Charlton's TALES OF THE MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER #8 [1958], telling the story of a sad blind girl named Susi living in an orphanage in the Bavarian alps. Little sappy but entertaining, I especially liked the Traveler's background appearances on the bottom of page 4.

But before the story, some links:
1980s graphic novel STATIC available
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
Back issues and subscriptions available
Ditko/Levitz Starman and more in DC's DITKO OMNIBUS v2
Scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click to embiggen

   

January 24, 2012

Unusual Tales - The Greater Jovians

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

"The Greater Jovians" is a 5-page story from Charlton's OUTER SPACE #20 [1958]. A very amusing little trifle about the inhabitants of Jupiter, the tiny Lesser Jovians and giant Greater Jovians, and how they work together to solve their food shortage. Ditko does a good job as usual with the designs, and pay particular note to page three, which nicely uses a large full-page panel with several inset images to give a feeling of scale while still moving the story along in the brief number of pages available.


Click Lesser Jovian images to embiggen to Greater Jovian size:


 


Now that you've enjoyed the story, some links you might want to check:
Over two dozen publications in print
Back issues and subscriptions available
Various DC hardcovers include almost all of Ditko's work for DC, Tower and the Charlton "Action Heroes" line
Scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

January 23, 2012

Unusual Tales - Failure

0 comments

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

"Failure" is a 5-page story from Charlton's STRANGE SUSPENSE STORIES #36 [1958]. An entertaining little science fiction parable about scientist Karl Phalen, who has been working on a device to see the future with the help of three wealthy backers, and the choice he has to make on the cusp of success. A few really good images by Ditko, especially in the glimpse of the near future.

But before the story, some links:
Next new release A DITKO #16 coming soon
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
Back issues and subscriptions available
Ditko's 1980s INDIANA JONES stories in print from Dark Horse
Scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click to embiggen


   

January 22, 2012

Unusual Tales - The Phantom Spring

0 comments

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

"The Phantom Spring" is a 5-page story from Charlton's ROCKY LANE'S BLACK JACK #26 [1959], another of just over two dozen western stories that Ditko illustrated.  In this story, the famed ebony horse helps out an old prospector.  Some decent art in here, always good to see a few silent panels, and the big action sequence on the last page is fun.

But before the story, some links:
Over two dozen publications in print
Back issues and subscriptions available
Most of Ditko's 1980s THUNDER AGENTS tales in DC's ARCHIVES v7
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 to embiggen


 

 

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