September 30, 2008

It Stalks the Public Domain - Buried Alive

The popular series of early Ditko stories continues. See for the list.

Ditko's second story for the Simon&Kirby edited anthology published by Prize is "Buried Alive", a 6-page story from BLACK MAGIC #28 [v4n4], dated January-February 1954 (probably on sale around October 16, 1953, according to the pencil notation on my copy). I wrote about the story previously over here. I really like this story, it probably contends with only "Stretching Things" as my favourite of the six known stories Ditko did for publishers other than Charlton in the 1953-1954 era.

As I said before, Ditko really does wear some of his influences on his sleeve with this early work, in particular Eisner in this story.  He was also really into including a level of detail which you don't see as often in his work after a few years, and probably more detail that suited the level of printing of comics from the era.  Anyway, enjoy.

Most scans in this series adapted to my personal tastes from those found, and available for free download with registration, at the Golden Age Comics Download site. To buy Ditko comics and things on paper, go over here for ordering info on some wonderful creator owned material and over here for info on recent and upcoming publications from all publishers.

Comments welcome, and if you have a site of your own I wouldn't mind a link to these posts if you think your readers will enjoy them. I'm more likely to continue them if there's some evidence that people are reading them.

Enbiggening enabled via clicking.


September 28, 2008

Ace Comics Presents #1 [1987]

In addition to the four comic books that Ditko drew for Ron Frantz's publishing company in 1987, he also drew the cover for this comic, which sort of reprints two early Jack Cole stories from Lev Gleason's SILVER STREAK COMICS (the Daredevil story is redrawn by C.C. Beck, of all people, with varying degrees of fidelity to the original, the Silver Streak story appears to be reproduced from a printed copy).

Anyway, a nice little cover by Ditko. I don't recall ever hearing Jack Cole cited as an influence on Ditko, and perhaps he wasn't, but there does seem to be enough of a common ground to make such a link possible. Interestingly, around the same time as this cover would have been done, Ditko drew an unpublished image, perhaps for DC's WHO'S WHO series, featuring Cole's Plastic Man and Woozy Winks.

(see comments for a link to an article by Ron Frantz which gets into the background of Ditko's work for Ace Comics, including this cover)

September 25, 2008

The 3-D Zone #19 [1989]

THE 3-D ZONE was the catch-all title for various comics published by 3-D maestro Ray Zone in the 1980s, reprinting a variety of classic comics with 3-D effects. This issue the focus was on the long-running humour comic book CRACKED, including some classic work by the likes of John Severin, Bill Ward, Jack Davis, Bill Everett, Basil Wolverton and Russ Heath, as well as some more recent work. Oddly, Ditko's actually among the "more recent work" contributors, as this issue includes the first "Robot War" page he did a few years before, from CRACKED #218 [1986].

As usual for the feature, it's a wordless but sound-effect filled gag about the never-ending conflicts among some mechanical men. The full 3-D version, which I'm told works on computer monitors, is below (so whip out your 3-D glasses), I've "2-D-ized" the bit for the close-up. I really like the lettering of the sound effects in these pages, presumably done by Ditko since they're fully integrated into the artwork and resemble what you see in his independent work.

September 17, 2008

It Stalks the Public Domain - A Hole in His Head

Another dose of early Ditko.

BLACK MAGIC was a horror anthology published by Prize and begun in 1950 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, still the editors at the time BLACK MAGIC #27 [v4n3] was published, dated November-December 1953. It's the first of three consecutive issues with a story by Steve Ditko early in his career, probably drawn after the three previous entries in this series, though this one was probably (with the usual caveats about cover dates) published before some of them. In addition to his solo stories, Ditko also assisted Mort Meskin on inking the background of the Jack Kirby pencils for CAPTAIN 3-D #1 around this time, and likely some other unpublished 3-D comics.

The 6-page "A Hole in His Head" is a good example of early Ditko, already getting to a distinctive style, but a bit rough around the edges.  Compare the not-very-convincing rain effect on several pages, something Ditko would excel at soon enough. And is that a real gun there on the last panel of page 3? Still a lot worth looking at, the neanderthal man is really good (but possibly retouched/redrawn, maybe by Jack Kirby, in a few panels), and some of the faces are very evocative.

The last page of the story has a rather unsightly ad where there could have been another panel of story. Since it's long out of date, I've replaced it below with an ad which might be of more interest.

Most scans in this series adapted to my personal tastes from those found, and available for free download with registration, at the Golden Age Comics Download site. To buy Ditko comics and things on paper, go over here for ordering info on his available creator-owned works to see the opposite end of his career and over here for info on recent and upcoming publications that cover everything in between.

Comments welcome, and if you have a site of your own I wouldn't mind a link to these posts if you think your readers will enjoy them. I'm more likely to continue them if there's some evidence that people are reading them.

Don't squint trying to read these thumbnails, click and enjoy the embiggened versions.

September 12, 2008

New Ditko and Link - Ditkomania

Wasting no time, the fifth issue of the revived DITKOMANIA from Rob Imes is ready for mailing now. That's #68, cover of Captain Atom by Larry Blake over on the right, and as usual ordering and subscription information over here. The next issue should be ready to go in October, and Rob is always looking for contributions if you've got some words or images on Ditko you'd like to share.

And on a related note, with the permission of Rob and of Dave Sim, I've posted Sim's review of the recent Fantagraphics book about Ditko (as seen in DITKOMANIA #67) over here. Comments welcome.

September 11, 2008

Upcoming Ditko - Eerie Archives v1

As expected, Dark Horse's reprints of the Warren horror mags shifts over to EERIE for the next volume in March of 2009. Looks like this will be up to #6 (unless for some reason they're including all of the #1 "ashcan" which is reprints from CREEPY), so will include "Room With A View", "Shrieking Man", "Black Magic" and "Deep Ruby", great stories all, and "Black Magic" is probably the pinnacle of Ditko's ink-wash work.

Dark Horse also has a collection of the first dozen issues of Marvel's INDIANA JONES comic from the 1980s. If they do a second volume it could include as much as 178 pages of Ditko.

by various
On sale Mar 18
b&w, with some color, 240 pages
Hardcover, 8 3/8" x 10 7/8"

Slithering upon the heels of Dark Horse's archive collections of the seminal horror comics magazine Creepy comes its terror-filled cousin publication Eerie! Collected for fans for the first time ever, and packaged in the same amazing oversized format as our Creepy Archives, Dark Horse Comics has taken great, gruesome care in presenting this groundbreaking material to readers who have been waiting decades to get their claws on it. Eerie magazine, like its killer kin Creepy, features work from many of the masters of comics storytelling. For fans of spectacular spookiness, mind-bending sci-fi, and astonishing artwork, the Eerie Archives library is a must have.

September 6, 2008

Charlton Classics #9 [1981]

For the most part, Ditko did full artwork for his work for Charlton. The main exception to that is the 1965-1967 revival of Captain Atom, inked by Rocke Mastroserio and later Frank McLaughlin. In that same era, a number of Ditko's short stories for the various ghost books were also inked by Mastroserio.

This issue of CHARLTON CLASSICS, a series which reprinted Sam Glanzman's HERCULES series from the 1960s, also reprints one of the Ditko/Mastroserio stories, "The Ghost of Husfat", a 7-page story from GHOSTLY TALES #56 [1966]. This is your typical story of curses found in Egyptian burial grounds, with the younger of two archaeologists getting greedy for the forbidden treasure, which eventually seals his fate.

It's a pretty good looking story, with the inks maybe being a little softer and less detailed than Ditko's own of the era would be, but seeming to be true to the pencils, capturing a lot of the atmosphere and storytelling that elevate these little morality plays beyond what they normally are. And Ditko doing Egyptian imagery is always good to see (no mummies in this one, though).

September 4, 2008

Plop #16 [1975]

The 6-page "Love is a Dandy", written by Steve Skeates and inked by Wallace Wood, is Ditko's only official contribution to Joe Orlando's short-lived but fondly remembered DC humour anthology PLOP, although one other story intended for PLOP, "The Gnark Is Coming, The Gnark Is Coming", with the same writer and inker, appeared in AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS #13 [1976].

Rather strange little story about Hubert, a nerdy young man who has no luck with women so turns his affection towards plants, one day finding a dandelion which returns his affections (beating the human/vegetation relationship exploration of SWAMP THING by a decade). The exploration of the complications that ensue from this unusual pairing take up the next few pages (including the rejection of Hubert by Dandy's parents), until disaster inevitably strikes.

It's always good to see Ditko stretching fully into the humourous side, which often peeks out in his other work as well. There's some good slapstick and odd expressions in this story that re enforce the humour. Wood is always an interesting combination with Ditko. Heavy at points, bits of this remind me of some of his own humour work, but for the most part the Ditko pencils come through. I'm glad that on most important Ditko stuff he got to ink himself, but it's good to see some variety like this on some of the minor works.

Also of interest in this issue, a house ad for MAN-BAT #1, which would turn out to be the only issue of the series by the Ditko/Milgrom art team. Very nice image of the character, which outside of the ad I think only appeared in a smaller edited form on the text pages of MAN-BAT #1.


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