January 26, 2007

--Link-- Question Website

Eric Newsom is opening up a new website devoted to all incarnations of one of the Ditko-est of Ditko creations, the Question, over at http://www.vicsage.com/ . Lots of stuff there already (see here for the Ditko/Charlton years), with more to come on the official opening this Sunday, including a contest for some free comics.

January 24, 2007

Upcoming Ditko - Alter Ego #68

In the comments to the previous post Nick points out that an upcoming issue of the TwoMorrows magazine ALTER EGO has a pretty major previously unseen Ditko item from some of his most celebrated periods.


ALTER EGO 68 remembers JERRY BAILS—the Father of Comics Fandom! Besides founding Alter Ego and spearheading the landmark Who’s Who of American Comic Books, Bails launched the first comics adzine and newszine—so we celebrate his momumental life with a special tribute issue, behind a gorgeous Justice Society of America cover by George Perez! Plus: A mountain of rare comic art by the likes of JOE KUBERT, CARMINE INFANTINO, GIL KANE, IRWIN HASEN, DICK DILLIN, MIKE SEKOWSKY, JERRY ORDWAY, JOE STATON, JACK KIRBY, and many others—a true feast for the eyes! Also: STEVE DITKO's never-before-seen notes to STAN LEE for a 1965 Dr. Strange story! And: Star Wars is 30, so ROY THOMAS reveals secrets behind the birth of Marvel's epic Star Wars comic, with never-before-seen photos and art, plus tales of GEORGE LUCAS, MARK HAMILL, HARRISON FORD, HOWARD CHAYKIN, STEVE LEIALOHA, and more!

January 19, 2007

Upcoming Ditko - Spider-Man Omnibus

Big Ditko publication coming up in a few months. It's also good to see a collection like this stopping at a logical place. Quite a bargain, too, given that it takes four volumes of MARVEL MASTERWORKS to get all of these, at $50 each, and this should look better than at least the earlier editions of the MASTERWORKS. Plus of course the letter columns and other stuff.

Variant Painted Cover by ALEX ROSS

In 1962, in the pages of a comic book slated for cancellation, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko gave birth to one of the most-enduring icons in American popular media: the one and only Amazing Spider-Man! Turning the concept of a super hero on its head, they imbued the young, guilt-ridden Peter Parker with the fantastic powers of an arachnid and the fantastic pressures of an everyday teenager. The combination was pure magic.
During the course of 40 issues of web-slinging, wisecracking wonderment Lee and Ditko built the foundation for 45 years of Spidey spectaculars — girl trouble; bill trouble; bully trouble; the Daily Bugle; and a cast friends, family and, of course, super-villains unlike any other!
Completing the entire Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Spider-Man run in one massive volume —including every page, every pinup and every letters column. Not to mention unused covers, critical essays and bonuses galore!
We went back to the Mighty Marvel Archive to restore each and every page in this volume for painstaking accuracy to the originals. There’s no kidding — this collector’s edition is the guaranteed be-all, end-all book for the Spider-Man fan!
1088 PGS. $99.99
ISBN: 0-7851-2402-0

January 17, 2007

Five by Gill & Ditko

A sampling of some of the Gill/Ditko collaborations over the years.

"Captain Atom on Planet X" from Space Adventures #36 [1960], as reprinted in The Action Heroes Archives #1 [2004]

Gill and Ditko created Captain Atom back in 1960, one of the earliest new super-heroes of the Silver Age, and it's a good combination of classic super-heroics, science fiction and early space-age standards. In this story, Captain Adam finds out that a recently launched US spy satellite, Planet X, is going to be targeted by rockets from unfriendly nations, and flies out to space to protect the satellite. A simple enough story, but with a few nice bits of humour and some room for good Ditko visuals. Although in retrospect you can't help but wonder how the Ditko of a few years later would have felt about Captain Atom helping to "negotiate a lasting peace". Negotiate? Why would a man knowingly take poison...

"The Peacemaker" from Konga #13 [1963], as reprinted in The Lonely One [1989]

Konga was based on a movie about a monkey who mutates into a giant gorilla. The original adaptation by Gill and Ditko was pretty good, but what I really enjoy are some of the later stories which feature some unlikely but fun continuing adventures of our misunderstood hero. Quite different from the typical "giant monster on the loose" story, there's a lot of humour in the stories, and Konga comes across as a very sympathetic character. It's one of my favourite Gill/Ditko works. In this story, Konga heads down to South America to escape the Arctic chill which gave him a cold, and finds himself foiling the plans of a communist dictator.

"Escape" from Ghost Manor #15 [1973], as reprinted in Steve Ditko's 160 Page Package #3 [1999]

Gill and Ditko did a lot of one-off stories in the 1970s Charlton comics, many reprinted in this 1999 collection from Robin Snyder. It's a good variety of stuff, quite a few with some visually inventive little bits, some less serious and others more horror based. This story is about a WWII prisoner of war camp, where the commander and his men are excessively cruel (to the point that they even have to fake reports of the deaths of prisoners to their Nazi superiors). A spy is put among the prisoners and reveals their escape plans to the camp commander, leading to the death of four prisoners. Fortunately, in horror stories death is never the end, and the ghosts of the prisoners exact some fitting revenge.

"Freedom's Star" from E-Man #5 [1974]

This is a fairly goofy back-up story presented as a "pilot" for a possible ongoing series featuring Liberty Belle, a super-heroine who also runs a modelling agency in her identity as Caroline Dean. In this story she's called in by the President to prevent the hijacking of a space mission, and ends up replacing the potential hi-jacker and going up to Skylab III to prevent an attack by space pirates. Boy, almost hard to believe this didn't get picked up for a series, isn't it? Anyway, Gill pretty clearly played this concept for laughs, and that combined with Ditko's sense of 1970s fashion make for a potent brew.

"A Man Possessed" from What Is... The Face #3 [1987]

ACE Comics reunited Gill on scripts (over plots by Ron Frantz) and Ditko on pencils with three issues of this title in 1986 and 1987. More on the first issue here. In this issue, Tony Trent continues to fight crime under the identity inherited from his grandfather, but finds himself framed for a murder. He also finds out that that there's more to the Face mask than he knew, as a vision of his grandfather leads him to a Chinese temple and some clues about never-revealed secrets, and eventually fights the bad-guys in a foggy airport where a big drug-buy is going down. Gill writes a good script, with a lot of opportunities for Ditko to draw some good action scenes.

Ditko did the following drawing for Robin Snyder's History of the Comics v3#2 [1992], along with a short note on Gill titled "First Choice" (both reprinted in Steve Ditko's 160 Page Package #3 [1999]), where he said "I know Joe's scripts made my stay [at Charlton] and the work enjoyable and worthwhile. Our efforts are worth saving and still enjoyable in reviewing with a long list of favorites."

January 16, 2007

Joe Gill R.I.P.

Mark Evanier reports that Joe Gill passed away recently. Gill of course had a long collaboration with Ditko, primarily at Charlton, including the original Captain Atom stories. I highly recommend the recent CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT #5 for a look at Gill's career.

Look for some posts on Gill/Ditko comics later this week.

January 13, 2007

Marvel Super-Heroes #5 [1991]

Speedball short stories plotted and pencilled by Ditko rattled around in various Marvel anthology books after his series was cancelled. One of the odder looking ones was this 11-page story inked by Mark Badger, who put his own style pretty heavily on the pencils, and scripted by Jo Duffy.

"Jolly Roger" begins with Robbie Baldwin's high school class going to a preview of a pirate exhibit at a local museum. They're surprised to see a man dressed as a very flamboyant version of a pirate robbing the museum. Some of Robbie's classmates decide to go down to the old pirate coves, where Robbie plans to join them later (after a break for some unresolved sub-plotting involving catching the cat which might hold the secret to the control of his powers). Arriving at the cove, he saves his friends and fights the pirate aboard a sinking pirate ship.

The story isn't the best, it feels like a bit of a victim of the "Marvel method" where the scripter wasn't quite clear on how everything was supposed to tie together. The artwork is odd, kind of nice in the "would never want to see another Ditko story inked like this, but not sorry we got this one" way that overpowering inker combinations can be.


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