August 29, 2009

Eerie #9 [1967]

From Ditko's run of 16 stories for the Warren mags CREEPY and EERIE, this issue features the 6-page "Isle Of The Beast", written by Archie Goodwin. It begins in mid-story, as a man named Amberson is run down to the point of collapse through a thick jungle, hunted by a barely human beast. Flashing back, we see how he was rescued from a shipwreck by a man named Rochefort, who it turns out is quite crazy, having mistaken Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" for an instruction manual, creating a formula which gives him the strength and cunning of beasts and using it to hunt men, as you can see from his wall decorations. Unfortunately for him, the hunt on this full moon is going to be foiled by Amberson's dark secret. Emphasizing the full moon there didn't give it away, did it?

While not the most original story by Goodwin, he at least does namecheck the big influence, and tells it well. The real point of something like this is to give Ditko interesting stuff to draw, which he does even more than normal here. Most of his Warren work used an inkwash effect that Ditko proved to be an absolute master of, but this one is probably the most extreme, not just using the various grey tones for shading but for the most part not using solid blacks at all and doing the full drawing in various shades of grey. It's really an unsettling effect, especially with the subject matter, and the scenes in the jungle, with multiples shades and levels, are very effective.

It really is one of those "what could have been" situations when you look at how quickly Ditko grew in this style in the previous year and realize that because of circumstances he'd only be there for a few more months.

Dark Horse has all of that era of the mags reprinted now, so all 16 of Ditko's stories are available now. Unfortunately, you need to get 5 books at $50 cover price each to get all of them. I guess you can write them to let them know if you'd like to see some artist-specific collections, starting with a Ditko book.

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