January 7, 2010

Unusual Tales - The Desert Spell

"Unusual Tales", a series presenting Steve Ditko's comics from 1957 to 1959 that are in the public domain.

I've been concentrating on the eighty or so never reprinted stories from this period up until now, but I'm skipping ahead a bit for this beauty, for reasons to be discussed elsewhere.  I figure some people might want to see all five pages...

"The Desert Spell" is a 5-page story, all of those pages appearing in Charlton's STRANGE SUSPENSE STORIES #34 [1957]. Opening with a lone WWII era German tank in the desert, we get the story of a high ranking Nazi officer who managed to escape at the end of the war and use a chemical to put himself in suspended animation.  Ten years later, he's ready to resume his dreams of world conquest.  Lucky for the world he's not that sharp.  Think Bouncing Boy's origin, for you Legion of Super-Hero fans...

A wonderfully drawn story, especially noteworthy for the rather unusual use of mechanical tones for Ditko. I'm not sure of the exact artistic terms for the stuff, but in addition to the dot-screen zipatone that shows up in some of Ditko's work from the era, there's also a different tone of tightly drawn lines.  Is that doushade paper, or some other technique?  Whatever it is, it's really expertly done, look at the monocle in that closeup, and all of page 3 for that matter.  Man, that's a good page.  Unfortunately the scans don't do it justice (though at least they're all there), but then I don't think any reproduction of the story based on the printed comic can do it justice, even moreso than most comics of the era. Man, I hope the artwork for this one survived and got back into Ditko's hands.

Some links to check out:
Buy Ditko's creator-owned work
With all sorts of unusual art techniques
Find out about the fanzine DITKOMANIA
New issue coming soon
Check out new and upcoming Ditko publications
Frequently including all the pages, even
Download public domain comics, likely including the one this story is from
Scans in this series generally adapted to my personal tastes from those copies

Click images to big-up.

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