November 19, 2009

Ghostly Tales #55 [1966]

Shortly after Ditko's return to Charlton in 1965 doing Captain Atom stories his work also started appearing in Charlton's ghost/fantasy titles, where a large percentage of Ditko's work for the next dozen years would be featured. GHOSTLY TALES #55 [1966] has the first of those stories, the first issue of the title (taking its numbering from BLUE BEETLE). This issue features the 7-page "Great Caesar's Ghost", and is among the handful of stories from that era inked by Rocke Mastroserio. I have to say, I rather enjoy Mastroserio's inks the more I look at them, never quite as good as Ditko's own would be, but pretty on the mark, moreso on the fantasy stuff than the super-hero stuff he was also inking at the time.

This ghost story is narrated by Mr. L. Dedd, that pasty faced fellow in purple who seems to really enjoy his work. It's about a writer named Tony August who ventures into some catacombs beneath Rome to search for the coffin of Augustus Caesar. For some reason, because he's a distant descendant of Caesar, and his local guide is a descendant of a Christian martyr also buried down there, they both get a glimpse of the past revealing that Caesar wasn't guilty of one particular bad act. Yeah, it doesn't make much sense to me, either, but the moody art in the catacombs sure is nice...


  1. I agree that Mastroserio's inking is more effective on the mystery work than superheroes. He adds a crepuscular feel to Ditko's pencils. Aside from the Mastroserio stories, I don't think anyone else inked Ditko's mystery stories, aside from one or two by Pat Boyette, which was another interesting combo.

    Nick C.

  2. I recall a pair Marvel inventory stories drawn by Ditko whose inkworks would have matched this. One featuring the Shroud and inked by Steve Leialoha, and the other a Speedball story inked by Mark Badger. (I believe both stories were from the Marvel seasonal specials of the late 80's.)
    Both unusual combos, but I always wondered how much better suited each would've been with some manner of horror/mystery tale.

  3. Wouldn't it be interesting to see Steve Ditko's pencil art inked by Jerry Robinson. I think their work would be compatible. Steve Ditko is a great cartoonist. I am amazed there is not more outcry from his fans in regard him being properly credited as co-creator of Spider-man. Steve is a man of the highest integrity.

  4. Yeah, Boyette inked one Ditko story around the same time as the handful of Mastroserio stories. Then Ditko didn't do any of the short stories for about a year (during the time BLUE BEETLE was running), and when the action hero line wrapped up he was back to inking his own stuff on the shorts.

    One artist from the era I'd have liked to see on Ditko for at least one story is Jim Aparo. His cover (which illustrates the interior Ditko story) in SPACE ADVENTURES #8 is great.

  5. Aparo inking Ditko...would've been incredible!



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