Saturday, May 11, 2013

Steve Ditko Archives goes Digital via Comixology

It's been a long time since we've posted here, and that's because I've been working: A) through the final stages of production on my three books that will come out in the second half of this year; B) planning the next two (yep, more on this soon); C) watching translations come to life for a couple of my older books; and D) seeing my back catalogue venture into the digital realm.

The first of two on the e-docket now (more on number two coming soon) is the most appropriate. Volume one of my Steve Ditko Archives, Strange Suspense, has been sold out from Fantagraphics and Amazon, etc. (plus I never see it pop up on e-Bay) for quite a while now.

But Fantagraphics and Comixology (the leader in comics on the digital platform) have delivered on a digital version! 238 pages of pre-Comics Code Authority Steve Ditko horror comics (plus a Western and Romance story!)

Still want a print copy? 

Yes, I still have a "stash" of about 10 copies of the $39.99 hardcover. If you'd still like a paper version, send me an email at I am only asking for the cover price plus any shipping and handling costs to your location. (Correct, I'll charge you just exactly what it costs to bring it to your door, and no more.)

I'll spend the next 9 days updating everyone on each of my current projects, which include Heroic Tales: The Bill Everett Archives vol. 2, The Secret History Of Marvel Comics, and Impossible Tales: The Steve Ditko Archives vol. 4, and we'll see what I can reveal about the yet-to-be-revealed ones! Now, let's take a deeper look at some of the quirks of Ditko's earliest work that is included in Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives vol. 1...

Steve Ditko Minutiae

One of the great authorities today on Steve Ditko and the Silver Age of Marvel Comics is Nick Caputo. Nick was actually "in the house" when the very first copies of my Strange And Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko were unboxed into our hands (delivered to the MoCCA museum for the same-named festival back in June of 2008).

He's written for publications like Alter Ego, Jack Kirby Collector, Comic Book Artist, Comic Book Marketplace, Jack Kirby Quarterly, Ditkomania and Marvel's Omnibus and Masterworks collections. This past week, he's published two entries on his Marvel Mysteries and Comics Minutiae blog that talk directly to the contents in volume one of my Steve Ditko Archives series. Here's the first:

Early Ditko and the mystery of the Utah Kid

Remember that Western story I mentioned above? It's one of the first jobs that Ditko ever drew: Blazing Western #1 (Jan '54). You can read those details on Nick's blog, but that Utah Kid mystery of which he speaks triggered something in my memory, so I ran to my files and found the black-and-white stats of the story (how rare is that?) and solved said mystery.

The genesis of Nick's post is that one can tell in the word balloons that another name for the character was erased and the Utah Kid was placed in its stead. Here's the published version from the original comic (buy the digital version and see how well Fantagraphics cleans up the source material for the Steve Ditko Archives series!) beside the original B&W version (followed by the splash page panel containing the balloon - click on all the images to see larger versions)...

So, the mystery of the Utah Kid is that he was originally the Silver Kid. Even more intriguing, though, is that, nine months later, a Silver Kid character appears in Silver Kid Western #1 from Key Publications. As Nick says in his blog post, "'Range War' was an eight page story published by Timor publications, one of a group of imprints, including Stanmor, Gilmore and others, under publisher Stanley P. Morse...Some of Ditko's earliest sales were to Morse, including 'Paper Romance' in Daring Love # 1 (Sept-Oct 1953), with others sold to Ajax-Farrell. Some stories may have been produced for other companies, but eventually saw publication through Morse." And who owned Key Publications? Stanley Morse, of course.

What's also interesting is that, in the published version of "Range War", they blacked out the white streak of hair from the original that would later be the "trademark" of the Silver Kid character in the Key Publications' book...

There's no obvious reason why the Silver Kid was changed into the Utah Kid, and then brought back in his own comic. Was Morse planning a Silver Kid comic, didn't like the story (but liked the character and the name "Silver Kid"), and dumped it into one of his Western genre books? Or the Silver Kid book was delayed for some reason (or abandoned, at least for 9 months) and Morse wanted a return on a story that he had paid for? (The eventual Silver Kid comic had a different name and look for the sidekick, so changes were made for the "long-awaited" debut).

We'll be back Monday to look at the alterations that Nick mentions in his next post from Black Magic #27, and then we'll get to my projects' updates. God bless, everyone (John 3:16).


  1. Is that Silver Kid version a later restoration back to its original form, or the version as originally produced? If the latter, the word 'Silver' seems to be an alteration, as it isn't perfectly in line with 'Kid'. Looks like the Silver Kid was originally going to be called something else. Or did Nick already say all that and I've forgotten?

  2. Hi Blake,

    Just got into reading Vol. 3, Mysterious Traveler, and I'm wondering what the significance of the yellow numbers on the ToC are. Talking about "s1842," "s1843" and so on. Didn't see them in vols. 1 and 2. Forgive me if I've missed the description about them somewhere!

    Thanks again for the lovely books!

  3. Whoops, just read the Intro and the numbers are detailed. That's what I get for jumping right into the first story. -_-