Via TwoMorrows Publishing:
Available now from Amazon, 'Ditko Shrugged: The Uncompromising Life of the Artist Behind Spider-Man" is billed as the first in-depth of Steve Ditko, the artist who co-created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange among many other characters.
Details from the publisher:
Steve Ditko was the last of a sturdy generation of American comic book artists who produced iconic, modern day mythology and was among the most influential and original creators of the 20th Century.
A prime architect, together with Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, of a universe of heroic characters that took Marvel Comics from an underdog New York publisher in the 1960s to the world-recognized brand of comic book superheroes and multi-million-dollar movies of today, Ditko co-created Spider-Man but walked away from the character he designed over 50 years ago, to never again return to the enduring superhero and retreating completely from the public eye thereafter.
Seeking his own individualistic paths for creative and personal expression would lead to condemnation from some, restricted work opportunities from others and a reclusive life peppered with memories of interfering editors; original artwork that had been stolen from him and a life-long adherence to his Objectivist convictions.
With the book sourcing a decade-long correspondence between Steve Ditko and its author David Currie, the history of the formative years of American comic books and the rise of Marvel Comics is revealed, illuminated further by interviews with many other comic book creators from all periods. It's an intrigue-filled story of heroes and villains, both fictional and real; visionary artists on zero-hour contracts and one man's artistically productive and diligently uncompromising life.
Details from Marvel Comics:
Concluding Marvel's once-in-a-lifetime Omnibus collection of every astonishing tale of suspense by the inimitable duo of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko! Their collaborations birthed the Amazing Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, and in these pages you'll find the concepts, the themes and the very creative origins of those iconic super heroes. They're packed inside tight five-page thrillers, stories covering everything from aliens with outsized agendas to down-on-their-luck gutter bums. Stories that sought to raise the bar for comic book storytelling. Stories that plumb the human condition, expand the language of comics - and shock your pants off . Extensively researched and painstakingly restored, this, True Believer, is the collection you've dreamed of - and a testament to two of Marvel Comics' greatest creators.
COLLECTING: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY (1952) 74-96, STRANGE TALES (1951) 92-109, 112-113, TALES TO ASTONISH (1959) 27-48, TALES OF SUSPENSE (1959) 25-44, 46, AMAZING ADULT FANTASY (1961) 7-14, AMAZING FANTASY (1962) 15
Review: "Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said!: The Complex Genesis of the Marvel Universe, in its Creators’ Own Words"
Ask the average moviegoer who created the Avengers, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange or the X-Men and you'll more than likely hear "Stan Lee."
And that drives some comic book fans nuts. "What about Jack Kirby?!! What about Steve Ditko?!!!," they scream.
And they have a point.
The early Marvel stories were collaborative affairs and it's hard to pinpoint when the creation of a particular character took place and who all was involved. Not only did Kirby and Ditko develop the look of many of the superheroes we know and love today, they also were involved in plotting the characters' adventures and in shaping their personalities.
To truly get a handle on the creation of the Marvel Universe, you'd need to re-trace the steps of the various creators and characters chronologically and look for clues as to who did what and when. And that's exactly what John Morrow has done in this new book, which includes hundreds of quotes from Lee, Kirby, Ditko and others that shed light on the creative/collaborative process involved.
Over the course of the book, we come to see that, not only did these creators differ on who deserved credit for creating a particular character or writing a certain story, they differed on what terms such as "story," "script" and "plot" even mean. For Lee, coming up with a concept for a superhero was creation. For Kirby, a character wasn't fully created until he or she appeared on paper in visual form.
It could also be argued to that a character isn't really defined until he or she appears in a story. And, in this book ,we see how Kirby and Ditko, and the other Marvel artists who followed, deserve much of he credit for the plots, and sub-plots, contained in many classic Marvel tales.
By Lee's own admission, many comics created by these two artists followed "plot conferences" in which Lee provided very few, or no, suggestions. For example, Lee might simply tell Kirby that "Doctor Doom should be in the next issue." Kirby would then plane, pace out and draw the complete Fantastic Four story that included a battle with Doctor Doom, but also a lot of other stuff he'd come up with. And then Lee would add in finished captions and dialogue to the nearly completed result.
This practice came to be called the "Marvel Method," and Lee claimed the artist-first approach in resulted in more visually exciting stories. Which is hard to argue. But is "dialoguing" the same as "writing"? It's easy to see why the artists believed they deserved more credit.
On the other hand, it's hard to imagine classic Marvel stories without Lee's hyperbolic captions and engaging dialogue. Even if his contributions to a story may've been less than that made by Kirby or Ditko, his work was unique and vital.
Lee did sing Kirby and Ditko's praises. We see him doing that throughout this book. Oftentimes, he essentially gives them equal credit in the creative process and in Marvel's success. But then, a page or two later, Lee will say something that again puts himself in the spotlight - it's almost as if he can't help it. His gloryhound tendencies would almost be funny if it didn't come at the expense of artists who deserved at least just much acclaim as he received, not to mention a bigger cut of Marvel's profits.
Morrow has done a tremendous service to comics history here. This book is fascinating reading and should serve as a resource for anyone doing further writing about the creators it covers and the work they did.
It's nice to have all these quotes and background in one place, whether its as fodder for further arguments over whether Lee gets too much credit and Kirby and Ditko not enough (or vice versa), or to more deeply appreciate, and understand, the contributions all of these guys made. One thing that, I think, can't be argued is that Marvel wouldn't have been Marvel without all three of them.
You can oder "Stuf' Said!" here.
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Just in time for summer: Plaid Stallions has your Tarzan inflatables.
Diversions of the Groovy Kind spotlights the Steve Ditko's The Creeper. (I wonder if they'd name a superhero the creeper is this day and age).
There's a coverless early 1970s issue of Batman or Detective Comics in my collection, likely picked up at a garage sale. I was a big Batman fan, thanks to reruns of the show. I think the first comic I (or, rather, my parents) bought off the newsstand is World's Finest #208, which came out in October 1971, when I was 5 years old. My first Marvel comic was probably Amazing Spider-Man #106, which hit the spinner rack a couple of months later.
But, apart from that Spidey book, my primary interest was in DC, and that's what I read for the most part. Lots of Batman, Superman and Justice League.
I only became aware of Marvel as a unique entity when a comics-reading big brother of a friend down the street started talking about how cool Marvel was. And he ended up giving me a copy of a mag he probably didn't think too much of at the height of the Bronze Age, but which made a huge impression on me: namely Journey Into Mystery #10, which came out in January 1974, and was probably pretty new when I received it.
Journey into Mystery reprinted the monster and suspense stories created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others before Marvel got into the superhero biz with the Fantastic Four.
I still have the comic in my collection and haven't looked at it in years. The only story I remember from it, and the one I'll likely never forget, is "The Threat of Tim Boo Ba," which introduced me not only to Ditko's art, but to the concept of irony. Many of these tales were in the O. Henry-by-way-of-"The Twilight Zone" mold, specializing in trick endings. And this tale had the coolest. As not to spoil it, I've shared the story below.
The story was originally published in 1962, under the title "The Terror of Tim Boo Ba," in Amazing Fantasy #9.Maybe they changed the title due to Comics Code restrictions. I don't know.
Anyway, whenever I think of Ditko, as I have been a lot over the past week since his death, I recall this story - just one examples of the many memorable moments Ditko was responsible for among comics readers worldwide. It's not the best story Ditko ever did, but the first one I read. And everyone's first story by Lee, Kirby or Ditko is special.
Godspeed, Sturdy Steve.
We've paid tribute to Ditko many times here at Pop Culture Safari and a selection of his iconic art appears below. We'll have more later in the week, too.
Numerous folks from across the Web also have paid tribute, including comics writer Tony Isabella, Marvel, DC and Spider-Man actor Tom Holland, along with fellow pop bloggers Marvel Mysteries, Rip Jagger and Slay, Monstrobot.
Ditko's status and contributions to American comic books can't be understated. We'll be talking about his work - the surreal landscapes of Doctor Strange, the insect-like action poses of Spider-Man, his fascination with and depiction of hands - and his personality - his sudden departure from Marvel in the mid 1960s just as Spider-Man was really taking off, his devotion to Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy and his desire for solitude - for many years to come. Just untangling, if possible, Ditko's contributions to the creation of Spidey versus those of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon could be a book in itself.
But the best thing, as with any artist, is to look at and appreciate the work he or she left behind. Here's a small bit of it.