April 22, 2006

Fantasy Illustrated #1 [1982]

In honour of the recent reprint, here's something from the first Djinn story. The character actually predates Coyote, first appearing in a 15-page story in what would turn out to be the only issue of FANTASY ILLUSTRATED, a high quality black and white magazine published by New Media Publishing. Steve Englehart writes, Steve Ditko pencils and Steve Leialoha inks, hence the "All-Steve Squad".

The story opens with Anthony Coyne bringing Ali Pasha to Cairo. We later find out Pasha is returning to Cairo to kill the Djinn, leader of a Cult of Hashishin, and allows himself to be captured. Coyne ends up embroiled in all this intrigue as well, and he and Pasha wind up in an elaborate death trap which they manage to escape by working together and then plan to work together against the Djinn and his secret society.

Kind of an odd story, Englehart takes some getting used to, especially his scripting (he seems positively giddy at being allowed to including swearing in a comic script...), but it's some imaginative stuff. Ditko does a great job on a lot of the settings and action scenes, and Leialoha is probably one of the three or four best inkers Ditko ever had not named Ditko, so it really is nice to look at.

The magazine also has an ad for another book by the publisher, ADVENTURE ILLUSTRATED, which shows Ditko's Mocker character. That story would end up being published by Pacific the next year.

April 18, 2006

New Ditko - Coyote v3

Coming out this week, Coyote TPB #3 from Image, reprinting issues of the Steve Englehart series from the 1980s, including the Djinn back-up with art by Ditko. I'm not getting it, so could someone who does confirm how many of the four chapters and one pin-up the book includes.

April 12, 2006

Ghost Manor #65 [1982]

Charlton was almost all reprint by this point, this issue having a reprint of the 6-page "Class Reunion" from Ghostly Haunts #48 [1976], written by "Tom Tuna" (probably frequent Ditko collaborator Joe Gill, can anyone confirm?). The host this time is Winnie the Witch, the freaky stylish blue witch, but she just appears in the first and last panels this time.

The story has a man who has been a failure all his life, and decides to go to Europe to find a Satanic cult he's researched and get magic powers. Oddly his plan actually works, but then the cult leader looks kind of silly anyway. He uses his new powers, manifesting in Doctor Strange hands, to get ironic revenge on two of three people he was most jealous of, only to be foiled by the last who turns out to be an ordained priest who is immune to the satanic powers.

I was hoping for a better ending, and as I said the leader of the cult looks ridiculous, but a few of the other visuals are cool, including of course the hands and the sometimes weird angles.

"Class Reunion" D-7227

April 4, 2006

New Ditko - THE THING from PI

Shipping to comic stores through Diamond this week, the latest Pure Imagination book from Greg Theakston, reprinting some of Ditko's earliest work originally published by Charlton and St. John.

[Note I just got my copy and there are two additional stories not listed in the original post, "The Shadow" and "Oggo the Thinker". The backcover also has four Ditko covers in colour]

by Steve Ditko
The Thing! is one of the most sought-after series by Ditko and pre-Code fans alike. Packed with wild ideas and wilder images, The Thing! #12-15 feature some of Steve Ditko's earliest work in the field of comics. It's almost 100 pages of the kind of comics your parents didn't want you to see. Also included in this volume are some of Ditko's best work for the Charlton horror books. Save yourself hundreds of dollars and years of search for some of Ditko's most sensational work!
SC, 8x11, 160pgs, B&W $25.00
NOV053071 Pure Imagination

Table of Contents

“Cinderella” from THE THING! #12 (Feb. 1954)
“Library of Horror” from THE THING! #13 (Apr. 1954)
“Die Laughing” from THE THING! #13 (Apr. 1954)
“Avery and the Goblins” from THE THING #13 (Apr. 1954)
“Rumplestiltskin” from THE THING! #14 (June 1954)
“The Evil Eye” from THE THING #14 (June 1954)
“Doom in the Air” from THE THING #14 (June 1954)
“Inheritance” from THE THING #14 (June 1954)
“The Worm Turns” from THE THING #15 (July 1954)
“Day of Reconing” from THE THING #15 (July 1954)
“Come Back” from THE THING #15 (July 1954)
“If Looks Could Kill” from THE THING #15 (July 1954)
“Family Mix-Up” from THE THING #15 (July 1954)
“Live for Reunion” from MYSTERIES OF UNKNOWN WORLDS #5 (Oct. 1957)
“Stranger in the House” from MYSTERIES OF UNKNOWN WORLDS #5 (Oct. 1957)
“Stowaway” from MYSTERIES OF UNKNOWN WORLDS #5 (Oct. 1957)
“A Dreamer’s World” from MYSTERIES OF UNKNOWN WORLDS #5 (Oct. 1957)
“Nightmare” from DO YOU BELIEVE IN NIGHTMARES? #1 (Nov. 1957)
“The Sonambulist” from DO YOU BELIEVE IN NIGHTMARES? #1 (Nov. 1957)
“The Strange Silence” from DO YOU BELIEVE IN NIGHTMARES? #1 (Nov. 1957)
“You Can Make Me Fly” from DO YOU BELIEVE IN NIGHTMARES? #1 (Nov. 1957)
“The Man Who Crashed” from DO YOU BELIEVE IN NIGHTMARES? #1 (Nov. 1957)
“The Elixar” from STRANGE SUSPENSE STORIES #36 (Mar. 1958)
“The Shadow” from STRANGE SUSPENSE STORIES #36 (Mar. 1958)
“Failure” from STRANGE SUSPENSE STORIES #36 (Mar. 1958)
“Oggo the Thinker” from MYSTERIES OF UNKNOWN WORLDS #11 (Jan. 1959)
“Confederate Girl” from UNUSUAL TALES #25 (Dec. 1960)

April 2, 2006

The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #33 [1986]

Yeah, I'm not sure why either, but Marvel had Ditko draw eight issues of INDIANA JONES in the mid-1980s. Hey, at least it was Harrison Ford he was drawing, better that than Chuck No... What was that? Really? Okay, never mind...

#33 is Ditko's second last issue, beginning a two-parter that takes Indy to Scotland in pursuit of a stolen amulet. "Magic, Murder And The Weather" is 23-pages, inked by Danny Bulanadi, who did most of Ditko's Indy stories. I find Bulanadi's inks over Ditko kind of flat sometimes, but this is one of his better ones. A few bits even looked like Leialoha's inks over Ditko. Other parts seem a bit heavy, but that might just be satisfying the Lucusfilm people. The opening scene, with Indy being harassed by two Scotland Yard types and doing one of those Ditko double-takes in six straight panels is kind of funny. I don't really get a heavy feel of the 1930s setting like I'd hope for, but that might just be because Ditko's characters always look a few decades in the past.

[see the comments for more on the inking, which might be an uncredited Art Nichols on the last seven pages, and John Romita on the Indy faces]

The story is pretty much serviceable pulp adventure from Linda Grant, with Indy pursuing Amanda Knight, who's stolen an amulet for a mysterious employer. After various fights and attempted poisonings, he find her held prisoner, and confronts the cloaked figure who turns out to be a sorcerer, and also the brother of a villain from an earlier issue.

April 1, 2006

ROM #68 [1985]

Surprisingly, ROM is probably the second longest run (in page count) that Ditko ever had on a character, drawing the last 17 issues of the series, as well as an annual, from 1984 to 1986 (I'm pretty sure 419 pages beats his Captain Atom total), all with Bill Mantlo, writer of the series from jump street. The run is also interesting because it was very much an "inker of the month" thing, with a dozen inkers over the course of 18 stories (P. Craig Russell did five scattered issues, no one else did more than two). Unfortunately part of the run had among the worst printing Marvel ever subjected us to, so you can't judge some of the inkers fairly.

Anyway, #68 has the story "Ad Infinitum", a 23-page story inked by Brett Breeding. This is a single issue story with ROM flying through space, following the end of his long war against the Dire Wraiths, and encountering a group of humans who are in a war against robots they created who turned on them and exiled them from their homeworld. ROM, being half-human/half-robot, tries to intercede in the conflict and convince the two sides to live in peace...

And completely fails, witnessing helplessly as they destroy each other. That was a pretty cool ending. A pretty fun book, far from any sort of high art, but a lot more interesting than a book based on a toy should be.

I liked Breeding's inks on this, solid, very clearly Ditko and very nice on the flying in space bits. Ditko did some nice design work on the design of the alien world and robots.


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