December 26, 2005

World's Finest Comics #253 [1978]

Ditko both wrote and drew a brief run of 8-page Creeper stories for WORLD'S FINEST in 1978/79. One of the few times he was both willing and allowed to go back to a character he created, oddly enough. Not a classic run, but some good goofy fun (Ditko would later do a character named "Shag" who has some resemblance to the Creeper, which may be inspired by where he intended to take the series).

"The Wrecker" is a typical story from the run. I mean, look at Rollo the robot, how weirdly designed and attractive. Pure Ditko. How it finally gets defeated is even funnier, pounding its own "head" in. Anyway, in this story a building that the security team Jack Ryder works for is threatened by the robot controlled by a disgruntled designer upset that his own building was torn down to make way for the new one (I'm sure there's some literary allusion there I'm missing). The Creeper, along with Ryder's co-workers, have to defeat the robot. There's also some fun with Ryder's overall attitude towards his co-workers (scheming to get assigned a better job).

"The Wrecker" J-5315

December 20, 2005

Hercules #2 [2002]

The rights to some of the Charlton comics went to Avalon Communications of Quebec, which reprinted them under various imprints. This Hercules series reprinted Sam Glanzman's 1960s series, along with a few other stories.

"Self Portrait" is reprinted from Ghost Manor #20 [1974], a 6-page story written by Joe Gill, hosted by Mr. Bones. Gargoyles and sculptors feature in quite a few stories Ditko drew, and both of them are in here, as we get the tale of an artist in Renaissance era France, reknowned for his hideous creatures. Pushed to ever more horrible creations by a nobleman, he reveals the source for his work is an actual pit into Hell.

I love the ominous shading that Ditko used when drawing these kinds of creatures.

"Self Portrait" D-6043

December 18, 2005

Adventure Comics #473 [1980]

Ditko drew the "Starman" serial that ran for a year in ADVENTURE COMICS in 1980, with Paul Levitz writing and Romeo Tanghal inking. It was a pretty good space opera, with lots of weird aliens and space battles as the story went from cliffhanger to cliffhanger among tales of imperial intrigue in an interstellar empire. It was also among the first places I ever saw Ditko's work (I think I had read a few reprints of his Doctor Strange, and maybe a Spider-Man or two, before this, but not much). I don't really expect it'll ever be reprinted, though stranger things have happened, and it would be nice to see it on some better paper than the poorly aging newsprint of the era.

"'Twixt Hammer and Anvil" is the 7th chapter of the series, 8 pages long. It features Starman trying to save the recently rescued Empress, who is also (unknown to her) his sister, who had his execution ordered sometime earlier. First they face off against Imperial ships, seeking to avenge the Empress, then against the odd alien ship which originally held her. Meanwhile, back at the empire, various maneuvering by the villainous Lord Oswin has put the throne in his reach, dooming our heroes. They used to pack a lot of plot in eight pages

"'Twixt Hammer and Anvil" J-6621

December 11, 2005

Ghostly Tales #97 [1972]

Ditko did original work published by Charlton horror comics all through the 1970s, several hundred stories in all. Unfortunately almost none of them have seen modern day reprints, except in one good collection from 1999, and they'd all look much better in black and white than the increasingly hideous printing that Charlton supplied.

Ghostly Tales #97 [1972] featured the 8-page "Journal of a Hanged Witch", art by Ditko, writer unknown. Mr. Dedd, who always had the some of the funkiest hair among the horror hosts, tells us the story of Kenneth Gadsby, a young man in a small New England town who searches through the house of a woman who was hanged on charges of witchcraft three hundred years earlier and reads her own account of the events, eventually clearing her name to lift her curse from the town. Which I guess means she was a witch.

This is a good story for sampling a lot of common Ditko visual themes that crop up in both his commercial work and his personal stuff. Panels of hands raised in anger and in peace, the proud, defiant heroic characters contrasting with the snide, cowardly villains, never very hard to tell the good from the evil in a Ditko story. Plus things like that weird profile view of an eyeball that no-one else does quite the same.

Ditko also drew the cover to this issue, oddly enough based on one of the other stories, "The Eye of the Cat" drawn by Don Perlin (who seemed to have a slightly ditkoesque inkline at the time). It's a very nice cover with minimal detail and very good use of shadows and contrast.

"Journal of a Hanged Witch" D-2983
Cover 00658


Modelled after my Jack Kirby Comics Weblog, this will be an attempt to post on every single comic publication I have with Steve Ditko artwork (currently about 500 out of about 2000 eligible books, both numbers will probably grow by the time I'm done). At first I'm only going to be posting here about once a week, but after the Kirby weblog has exhausted its supply of material (sometime in 2007) I'll probably go up to daily.


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