Monday, May 23, 2011

Steve Ditko Archives v3 cover and title revealed!

What could top the first two volumes of my Steve Ditko Archives series (v1 = Strange Suspense; v2 = Unexplored Worlds)? Volume 3, of course! Preparation has begun in earnest for my next book, due out in November of this year from Fantagraphics, entitled Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives v3 (click on the cover image to your left for a closer look).

Steve Ditko didn't just bring to life the Amazing Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Mr. A, and the Creeper. His career began almost 10 years before the birth of Spider-Man, and the Steve Ditko Archives series reprints his 1950s work in chronological order for the first time ever.

You can follow updates on the new volume at the newly-created Steve Ditko Archives Facebook Page (with information about the contents and how to order for all the volumes in the series) and you can also follow along on my @blake_bell Twitter Feed.

Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives v3 features over 210 full-color pages of Ditko in his early prime. What makes this volume of The Steve Ditko Archives so noteworthy, and what makes Steve Ditko a giant in the industry, is that he was producing his best work to date, and of his career, at a time when few would have been paying attention.

Picking up where volume two left off, in 1957, the shy Johnstown, Pennsylvanian artist that came to New York City in 1950 (toiling away for three years before he was published) was fully ensconced at Charlton Comics. What makes this volume so special is that meteoric improvement in Ditko’s work as he toils in obscurity for a company that treated their comic books like toilet paper for their more profitable magazine and song books. Such is the irony of one of the great living artists of the 20th century – working with stories churned out for an audience of children, Ditko produced the highest quality material in the industry with no editorial oversight at an amazing pace (all the stories within were produced in 1957 alone).

Another reason this volume ranks as the most superior in the Archives series to date is the inspiration Ditko took from comics related to old radio shows and that had hosts who narrated the tales. Comics like Tales of The Mysterious Traveler and This Magazine is Haunted saw an explosion in Ditko’s ingenuity with manipulating the traditional comic-book page layout. This filtered over to his work on other books like Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds, Out of This World, Strange Suspense Stories, and Unusual Tales marking this third volume as the best example yet of the Steve Ditko that would later craft with Stan Lee at Marvel Comics in the 1960s.