Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Creativity of Ditko

OK, this is not a review. This is yet another blatant plug. How could I be expected to impartially review a book that's dedicated to me? Yes, me! I was surprised as all get out when I proofread this for author Craig Yoe some months back as I hadn't expected that in the slightest. Especially since I actually had less to do with this particular book than with most of Craig's recent volumes until that point! Wow. I am humbled and honored. The eternal seven year old me remembers sitting on my Aunt's stairs seeing Ditko's Spider-Man lift that enormous piece of wet machinery and being affected by that imagery for life. And now to have a book about that man dedicated to me. Just...wow. Thanks, Craig.

But there's more to THE CREATIVITY OF DITKO than the dedication! If you're a Ditko fan, you know that he's on record as wanting his work to represent him. And here it does. From Paul Levitz's deferential intro we go through many of Ditko's lesser-known short sci-fi and horror tales of the fifties and sixties, interspersed with original art pages from the likes of BEWARE THE CREEPER and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS.

There's a long and wonderful DOCTOR GRAVES story here that compares favorably to the artist's best DOCTOR STRANGE work.

A highlight of the book is a remembrance from the daughter of Steve Ditko's one-time studio-mate, Eric Stanton, accompanied by some collaborative naughty artwork as well as some hitherto private photos of the pair taken more than fifty years ago, thus raising the number of known photos of the reclusive artist considerably!

Topping off the volume is a lovely appreciation by blogger Mykal Banta and some previously unpublished art from a later unrealized Ditko project! Jack C. Harris discusses the latter.

As always with this type of collection, and as Steve himself would want it, it's about the art, not the stories. One can pore over the nuances of this great, eccentric master of the comic art form for hours here. The fact that many of the stories are pretty good, too, is a bonus.

Craig's classy cover design makes this a must-add to the shelves of Ditko fans everywhere where it will fit comfortably beside his earlier THE ART OF DITKO and Blake Bell's wholly separate series of Ditko reprints!  

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