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From the archives: Steve Ditko’s 1957 take on CEOs and capitalism

From "Director of the Board," by Steve Ditko

The excellent blog Ditko Comics routinely unearths some rarely seen gems from Steve Ditko’s immense bibliography, and one last week really caught my eye.

Inside the pages of Charlton Comics’ Strange Suspense Stories #33 from 1957, Steve Ditko wrote and illustrated a five-page highly charged boardroom drama called “Director of the Board.” As the site owner describes it, it’s a “strange little story about an executive turning down a job applicant but encouraging him with the tale of a dream he had as a struggling young job-seeker, dreaming about taking the initiative and risks to rise in the company through any number of unethical actions.” Read on here for the full story.

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Norman Osborn’s Secret Origin!

Kind of a stumper, isn’t it? Like, tonally, the comic delivers its conclusion with a wink, as if to say “here’s your handy lesson, reader!” but I’ll be damned if I knew what that lesson was supposed to be. “Don’t dream about being an unscrupulous corporate aspirant, otherwise you will rise to prominence through an unrelated endeavor, only to be overthrown by an unscrupulous corporate aspirant?” Is that it? Am I warm?

One of the things that bugs me is that there are no visual cues to signal when the perspective moves into the dream. It makes me think maybe the whole “dream” plot was tacked on after the drawings were completed. I suspect that the original plot involved the boss figure relating his true history to the prospective employee. For one, if the boss “got into the legal division” as he says on page 4, why does he care on page 5 whether the “jet power project is producing”? All in all, the setup makes perfect sense for a “what goes around comes around” type of morality tale, or at least a heckuva lot more sense than “what fictitiously goes around in a dream comes around in real life.”

A lot of those Ditko Charlton stories have twists that don’t quite make sense – but did Ditko write this? More probably Joe Gill.

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