Ditko’s World #1 (1986), page 19. Steve Ditko.
Few careers in comics are as full of bizarre happenings and unanswered questions as Steve Ditko’s — and yet it often seems to me that the crowning strangeness of Ditko’s six decades (!) as a cartoonist is his popularity, the fact that even the most unadventurous of comics readers know his name and are at least familiar with his work in passing. Ditko’s work is almost aggressively non-mainstream, and grows more so with every passing year. He happened to be in the right place at the right time once, when an angular, surrealistic strip with a near-pathological lead character and the unlikely name “Spider-Man” hit it big with a generation of comics readers on the lookout for something different. But even Ditko’s most famous creation only really took off once he walked away from it, leaving John Romita to smooth the rough edges from a strip that Ditko lanced through with menacing shadows, an urban landscape on the brink of decay, and an attitude that danced between aspiration and hatred, pulling back the curtain on the dark side of youthful energy.
Sometimes it’s been hard for me to process the New 52 as anything but an amorphous mass of, well, Newness. In this respect, DC’s October solicitations are helping to define that mass, with details like the five-year timeframe and Superman’s work boots.
Still, despite the promise of widespread change — and the somewhat-irrational implication that those who aren’t curious now will be left behind later — it’s been fairly easy for me almost to ignore the solicits, and just buy the books when they come out. After all, presumably DC is after new (or returning) readers who don’t follow the solicits and aren’t attuned to the spoilers.
Besides, the October solicits also include some attractive reprints; so let’s get right to it, shall we?
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To see what Tom and the Robot 6 crew have been read, click the link below.
Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
If I had $15:
There are a lot of great periodicals coming out this week, so I’d have some hard choices to make. With only $15, I’d concentrate first on those with the cheapest prices: the first issue of Dark Horse’s new Mighty Samson ($3.50), Atomic Robo and the Deadly Art of Science #2 ($3.50), and Mouse Guard: Black Axe #1 ($3.50). I’m already a huge fan of both Atomic Robo and Mouse Guard and – based on its concept and vague memories of stories I read as a kid – hope to become one of Mighty Samson too. I’d spend the last of my money on Northern Guard #1, because I’m a sucker for Canadian superheroes.
If I had $30:
I’d add Doc Macabre #1 ($3.99), John Byrne’s Next Men #1 ($3.99), and Strange Tales 2 #3 ($4.99). “Doc Macabre” is an awesome name and I love Steve Niles’ pulp stuff, I’ve been waiting 16 years for that Next Men issue, and the Strange Tales book has a Kate Beaton story in which the Avengers go to a carnival. I’d pay five bucks just for Beaton’s deal, but it’s also got a Thing tale by Harvey Pekar (and yes, Harvey Pekar is in the story).
Here’s another nice catch by blogger Corey Blake, who spotted the Trouble collection on Amazon last month — Blake points out listings for upcoming omnibus collections from DC featuring the works of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
Unfortunately there’s little information on either collection. The description on the Jack Kirby one, due at the end of July, focuses on his Green Arrow work: “In 1957, following the dissolution of his partnership with Joe Simon, Jack Kirby returned to DC Comics. Among his new assignments was the Green Arrow feature that ran simultaneously in ADVENTURE COMICS and WORLD’S FINEST COMICS, pitting the Emerald Archer and his sidekick, Speedy, against a plethora of foes.”
The Ditko one, meanwhile, doesn’t have a description, but the cover artwork (which likely isn’t final) features Shade, the Changing Man … so it’s probably a safe guess that it’ll contain Ditko’s eight-issue Shade series from the 1970s.
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately. Today our special guest is Bill Reed, who contributes to our sister blog Comics Should Be Good!. To see what Bill and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click the link below.
Hello and welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew talk about the comics and graphic novels that they’ve been enjoying lately.
Today’s guest is Zom from the Mindless Ones blog. To see what Zom and the rest of the Robot 6 team have been reading, click below.
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.
Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1
Edited by Blake Bell
Fantagraphics Books, 240 pages, $39.99
I am in no way an expert where Steve Ditko is concerned. My knowledge of him and his work is pretty much equal to that of the average comics fan my age (co-creator of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, also did Creeper and Shade, big Ayn Rand fan, has a thing for drawing hands). So I don’t feel I can offer some kind of quantitative analysis about Strange Suspense, a new compendium of pre-Code Ditko stories, and how it compares to his most famous and even current work.
I do, however, have a few thought that sprang to mind while reading the book that I thought worth sharing …
Retailing | Could Disney’s planned $4-billion purchase of Marvel signal the return comic books to the mass market? “I see the Marvel acquisition by Disney helping to expand the genre of comic books and remove it from the dusty basement of the world,” says direct-market retailer Creswell. “I do see Disney stepping in and offering retailers outside of the direct comic book market incentives for selling Marvel products,” Creswell said. [Reuters]
Publishing | Long-struggling e-book site Wowio reportedly has informed publishers that payments for the second quarter of 2008 will be made by Nov. 15. Wowio, which was purchased last year by Platinum Studios, was sold in July to a holding company formed by Platinum President and COO Brian Altounian. [Bleeding Cool]
Conventions | The inaugural Long Beach Comic Con kicks off today at the Long Beach Convention Center in California. Guests include Berkeley Breathed, Stan Lee, Tim Bradstreet, J. Scott Campbell, Amanda Conner, Geoff Johns, Dave Johnson, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Scott Lobdell, Dustin Nguyen, Darick Robertson and Mark Waid. The Long Beach Post and Gazettes Town-News have previews. [Long Beach Comic Con]
Events | 24-Hour Comics Day will be held Saturday at locations around the world. [24-Hour Comics Day]
Conventions | Heidi MacDonald posts her Small Press Expo round-up/wrap-up/photo parade. [The Beat]
• Over at Big Hollywood, Batton Lash posts an recent essay by Steve Ditko on comics and the alleged moral bankruptcy of modern pop culture:
So what is ignored/evaded is that there is a long, ongoing “status quo” in Marvel Comics company’s very existence and publishing that needs to be “broken”, “smashed together”.
There are periodic operational changes in the company’s “status quo” with different editors. But while these new editors create different personal styles, they all maintain the same editorial “status quo”, that same anti-hero premise.
• Really Ken? EW’s Ken Tucker declares Flash: Rebirth and Secret Warriors the “two best superhero comics written right now”:
For my money (at the comic shop most Wednesdays), both Bendis and Hickman write the best dialogue in comics. (Also check out the banter Bendis bats out in the equally-good Dark Avengers.) So there you have it, writers at their peaks: Johns a master of humanizing comics mythology, and Bendis and Hickman creators of conversation that seems real no matter how “super” the action is.
Although you’ve probably already seen Brendan McCarthy’s ” script doodles” on an old Doom Patrol script from Grant Morrison, as Rich included them in his column last week, McCarthy shares them and some news on his Dr. Strange/Spider-Man project on his site:
“My Spider-Man/Dr Strange story is now at the half way point. It’s a three issue mini-series that will appear under the Marvel Knights banner, probably in the early summer. It’s been great fun drawing and writing the series, and Marvel seem to love what I’m creating so far. I’m coloring the book with Steve Cook, who designed the SWIMINI PURPOSE book for me a few years ago.
If Fantagraphics can’t have Dr. Strange, as Eric Reynolds suggested in August, this is equally as awesome.
McCarthy says he can’t show any art from the book yet, but he does share this piece, proclaiming he’s from the lineage of Ditko: