Saturday, November 21, 2015

Preview P1: Images from "Outer Limits: The Steve Ditko Archives vol. 6"

Just leafing through some of the original comic books that will be included in my next book, "Outer Limits: The Steve Ditko Archives vol. 6" and it's great to see that, even at volume six, the book leads off with a bang. 

Check out page three of "The Time Chamber" from Out Of This World #11. It was published by Charlton Comics, with a January 1959 cover date, meaning that Ditko likely drew the story five-to-six months in advance of that date. Is it difficult to see how Ditko would go on to create those amazing alternative dimensions in one of his signature strips, Dr Strange?

The work in this volume of the Steve Ditko Archives series coincides with Ditko starting back up with Marvel Comics and Stan Lee for their uninterrupted run of 7+ years which encompassed the creation of the Amazing Spider-Man, as well. Truth be told, Ditko's favourite work of mine is the period of 1959 to about 1961 on these five-page "Twilight Zone"-type stories, with the shock endings. His line work, under the influence of his study of John Severin's inking, is so detailed, yet the layouts are so fluid, so easy to interpret; perfect comic-book storytelling.

And, in the late 1950s, not a lot of artists, especially on these non-superhero books, were breaking apart the traditional 6 or 9-panel page grid. As we know, however, Ditko was not "a lot of artists" and he was doing this frequently during this late 1950s period to great effect. Click on the image below to enlarge...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"Steve Ditko Archives vol. 6" in new Fantagraphics Winter Catalog

We posted on Wednesday the news about my next book, Outer Limits: The Steve Ditko Archives vol. 6 - the cover, release date, and some notes about what to expect.

Almost surreptitiously, Fantagraphics then followed my post with the online release of their Winter catalog which features a spread on volume 6. Click on the image below to expand...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Preview: "Steve Ditko Archives volume 6"

Anyone who says "half of writing is rewriting" is about one-third correct. Today is a good example of that. I was set to hand in the introduction for my next book, "Outer Limits: The Steve Ditko Archives volume 6" (to be published by Fantagraphics Books, Inc.), so I sat down in front of my computer for one last read...and then completely tore up the first twenty percent.

I still plan on getting it out today, and that should close down my work on this one. I would guess-timate that it will be in stores come March 2016. (Book #12 for l'il old me.)

This volume should be of particular interest to all Ditko fans, because it's really the close of the first (big) chapter of his career (1953-59). The work represented in the 200 pages of remastered Charlton Comics artwork lands in the second half of 1958 time frame, just when Ditko is headed back to Marvel Comics and Stan Lee. Sure, it would be another four years until the two men would create Spider-Man, but the groundwork for their working methodology (i.e., the "Marvel Method"), and its seeds of discontent, are first sown during this period.

I say that the work within volume six represent closure on that first big chapter of Ditko's career also because the final stories mark the first unbroken string of work provided by Charlton Comics since late 1956. Ditko would focus on Marvel work exclusively for about 6 months before pulling double-duty with both companies...and on Ditko's first superhero character, Captain Atom (a Charlton comic, not a Marvel one).

But it isn't just the shift in narrative focus; the stylings of the work also takes a turn once he starts at Marvel. And it appears in that "second phase" of his Charlton work too.

Of course, all of this plays out in a Manhattan studio that Ditko started to share with Eric Stanton, the (in)famous fetish artist, in 1958, as well. If that isn't enough of a dichotomy - the buttoned-down, straight-laced, shy Ditko stepping over half-naked models, bound and gagged on his studio floor - then imagine Ditko the superhero artist dipping his pen into the murky ink of Stanton's pornography. Explain that one, Ayn Rand!

We explain it all in "Outer Limits: The Steve Ditko Archives volume 6", out in stores ~March 2016.