April 17, 2007

The Thing #17 [1954]

Paging Doctor Strange. Looks like someone is messing with the Black Arts again.

It's been said (by me, if no one else) that a lot of Ditko's early education in comics was learning what to leave out, with his heavily detailed early work being all wrong for the level of pay and print quality that comics of that era offered. Here's a textbook example of the level of work he did in that period, one of the last published pieces from his brief first stint at Charlton. He tossed everything into this. Multiple spider-webs, chains, a skull, potions, books, the shadow of a gargoyle, curtains, scraps of paper, a crazed wizard in flowing robes and a drooling demon with a sharp tongue emerging from the smoke. I don't know what Charlton was paying back then, but it certainly wasn't enough to justify getting this in return. And while it looks good on the cover (though I'm sure we still lose a lot from the original art), half of this wouldn't come across on the interior printing of the day.

This is another contender for the best of Ditko's cover-only books. It's also has a strong argument for the best of the less than two dozen pre-code covers he did. Just brilliant stuff.

I have to admit, I was tempted to take this scan, strip off the colour and Charlton trade dress, replace it with some Marvel splash page elements from circa 1964, with a blurb about Hoggoth, the Vishanti, Agamotto and all that jive, a few words like "effendi" and a title like "The Menace of the Other Ancient One" and pass it off as the splash page of a lost Doctor Strange story. But that felt too much like work. If anyone does that, feel free to post it (I can send you a larger scan of the cover if you need it) and I'll give you a permanent link over on the side-bar.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, this is Howard Hallis. I'm the guy who did the Strange Tales Custom Covers Project. Figured I would try to put Doc into the Thing #17 cover.

    HERE'S THE RESULTS. Hope you like!



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