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Strange Suspense The Steve Ditko Archives Volume 1 [Hardcover]

Steve Ditko , Blake Bell

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Book Description

Nov. 24 2009 Steve Ditko Archives
Before Spider-Man, the legendary comic-book artist Steve Ditko drew horror comics that were not yet hobbled by the Comics Code Authority (adopted in Oct. '54). These graphic stories featured bloodshed, dismemberment and the ugly ends of the lives of the twisted inhabitants of Steve Ditko's imagination. Following up on Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, Blake Bell's 2008 best-selling critical retrospective of Ditko's career, The Best of Steve Ditko Vol. 1 will, for the first time, feature spectacular full-color reprints of every story from those first two years of his career. Beginning with Ditko's very first story, readers will see the initial works of an artist already at a level of craftsmanship that exceeded most of his peers'. The book will also feature editor Bell's insightful historical notes.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books (Nov. 24 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606992899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606992890
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 18.3 x 3.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 907 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #461,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unique Steve Ditko Nov. 17 2009
By Harry Mendryk - Published on Amazon.com
Steve Ditko is best known as the creator, along with Stan Lee, of the popular Spider-Man. However he had a long history as a great comic book artist before that. Blake Bell has brought together works by this prolific artist from the first of years of his career. I am not an expert on Steve Ditko but it looks like this book has all the public domain works that Ditko did that were released in 1953 and 1954 plus one piece from 1955. These are great works, not only because they were done by Ditko but also because they appeared before the devastating effect of the Comic Code. Most of the stories are from the horror genre but this volume also includes a romance, a crime story along with some science fiction and humor. Frankly romance was not Ditko's forte but he did quite well with crime. For Ditko fans, this books is a must have. For those that are not that familiar with Ditko's work, read this book and I am sure you will also become a fan.

In the spirit of disclosure, I do comic book art restoration myself (I restored the work that appeared The Best of Simon and Kirby published by Titan). Further the introduction of this book includes a page from Captain 3-D that I restored. However I neither requested nor received payment for that page and I have never worked for Fantagraphics. I do have strong beliefs about how restorations should be done. As a restorer and a customer I am interested in the actual artists who created the work. When the original art is no longer available, which is almost always the case, reprints should be done using scans from the original comics. I have little interest in books based on recreated art that some publishers, particularly Marvel, use. No matter how pretty such books might look, you are not getting really getting the work of the authentic creators but a reinterpretation by modern artists.

Fantagraphics has been coming out with marvelous reprint books and this book is their best production yet. This is a beautifully packaged hard cover book with superior art restoration. These are not scans of the yellow pages and faded colors that the years have subjected the original comics to. Instead the colors have been gloriously restored on nice clean backgrounds. I know that opinions vary on questions of restoration so be sure to take advantage of Amazon's "Look Inside" feature to see examples from this book. But as far as I am concerned, kudos to Fantagraphics for another job well done.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding artwork; very bad story lines. June 18 2011
By Red Eyes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I will offer a different view from those who are raving about the book -- I didn't like all of it overall. Ditko himself (quotes included in the book's introduction) dismisses a lot of these early efforts as complete junk, done whilst he was a struggling student, running from agency to agency, hustling for any work he could find, and cranking out some pretty low grade work.

Perhaps he is right to distance himself from them.

Don't get me wrong -- the artwork is really excellent, imaginative, edgy and very representative of its time, much of it evocative of early 50's TV shows, cult movies, and avant garde styles influenced by German expressionism and cinematic styles of Fritz Lang etc. That is a very worthy aspect of the volume -- without doubt. If you are buying it for the art, you will not be disappointed. It is amongst the best of its genre, and Ditko's mastery is apparent in almost every frame. The colouring is excellent too, with beautiful shading and tones. Ditko was a visionary in that regard, predicting and foreseeing many of the aspects that would drive later art movements, such as Warhol's pop art, and the cinematic styles of the 60's and early 70's.

But, the stories, plots and narratives here are just very low grade stuff.

Comic book fanatics know very well, that there is 'bad' comic book writing -- yet it actually works, and is sought after, precisely because it is so bad, it is off-the-wall crazy in its eccentricity. Much of the pre-code comics meet that definition of 'bad.'

And then, comic book fans know equally well that there is comic book writing that is... just...well...really, really bad: and these Ditko stories are the latter.

In the end, it completely brings down the overall charm and quality of these Ditko nuggets.

I wouldn't fully recommend the book without some reservation. Ditko's art skill is outstanding, for sure; that is beyond doubt -- but ultimately, most of the stories' plots, prose and sense of continuity are junk : hurried, rushed, charmless, and with very few redeeming qualities, and with very little wit and intelligence.

If you are after pre code horror, you are way better off buying "The Horror the Horror", "Four Colour Fear" and the "Mammoth Book" first.

So -- five stars without a doubt for Ditko's flawless artwork -- but one star for the stories.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have for Comic Book Fans! Dec 17 2009
By Mark Darcourt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an awesome collection of pre-code horror comics by one of the master illustrators of the genre. The stories and artwork still hold up quite well nearly 50 years after their initial printing, and for those of us not QUITE old enough to remember This Magazine is Haunted and tales from The Thing, this volume is stuffed with colorful, exciting entertainment. It is beautifully bound together, and the illustrations brilliantly restored. I recommend for any comic book afficianado, and for any aspiring artist, Ditko is definitely a guy to emulate.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weird tales of suspense and horror April 15 2010
By Johnny Heering - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book reprints most of the artwork that Steve Ditko drew for comic books in 1953 and 1954. Ditko himself has described his work from this time period as "junk", but he's being too hard on himself. This art may not be quite as good as his later artwork on Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, but it's quite good in its own right. Most of the comics are horror stories, but there are also romance, western, crime, science fiction and humor. These horror comics are from the Pre-Code era and are sometimes quite gory. Fun times! The art seems to have been shot directly from the old comic books. Most of the comics were published by Charlton Comics, which were notorious for having the lowest production values of any comics. Some may feel that the comics should have been recolored, which no doubt would have resulted in a better looking book, but this way is more historically accurate, coloring errors and all. If you're a Steve Ditko fan, you need to get this book.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars scans of classic ditko comics Feb. 14 2010
By Michael Dobey - Published on Amazon.com
This book features scans of the great Steve Ditkos' early art. The comics they are scanned from were in very good shape. This isn't a reconstruction though like you might see on other archive series from other sources. However it does allow you to read these classic comic stories from a a master artist cica 1953-54. It has many horror comics , a romance story, a crime comic and a western comic from that era and all scanned cleanly into this volume of Steve Ditko archives. Steve Ditko wrote many of the horror stories too evidently and he lets his immagination run wild on those. Until someone does a restoration of this material you are well served with this one. If you tried to buy the comics that this book is scanned from you'd spend many hundreds of dollars and unless you bought near mint comics they wouldn't look any better. So this is worth the money and a good read even though it's not cleaned up like a marvel masterworks series edition.

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