February 21, 2006

Black Magic #28[v4n4] [1954]

"Buried Alive" is one of the earliest Ditko stories, and really shows off his young talent. This is extraordinarily good work for anyone, much less someone who only had a couple of dozen published pages prior to this, still showing some of his main influences (a few clear bits out of the Eisner playbook here) but already distinctively Ditko. Click below for a bigger scan and look at all the little bits that he put in this page, like the small gargoyle on the house, the details in the trees, the shadow of a rat in the mausoleum, the coffin. It almost seems that Ditko's early training as an artist was learning what details not to include given the print quality and page rates (especially the print quality from his other publishers. The Prize books I've seen from the era do seem to be better printed than the Charlton or Marvel books of a few years later. I can't imagine a lot of this linework surviving in those books).

This is a solid 6-page story about a man, Carl, who has a family history of people being mistakenly presumed dead and waking up to find themselves buried alive. He's justifiably paranoid, so he rigs a coffin with an alarm that'll go off in his room, and asks his friend Abel to hang around in the house for a week if he dies so that he can be rescued it he's buried alive.

Abel agrees, but is worried about what this death obsession is doing to both Carl and Carl's sister Angela, and tries to get Angela to leave. Unfortunately she suddenly dies soon after and is placed in the alarm-rigged coffin. Carl refuses to sleep, sure that she'll wake up, but finally falls asleep and has a nightmare about the alarm sounding and being unable to go help her. He checks the coffin and finds out she was alive and struggling in the coffin before dying, leaving Abel feeling guilty as he had slipped Carl a sleeping pill that prevented him from waking up to help her.

1 comment:

  1. A very nice early page. As you noted, you can see the Eisner influence in shots of the building, the outside scene and the use of lighting, but there is enough Ditko here to tell he is getting into his own personal identity already.

    Nick Caputo



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