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Unexplored Worlds: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 2 [Hardcover]

Steve Ditko , Blake Bell

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Book Description

December 2010 Steve Ditko Archives
As the original artist and co-creator who brought the Amazing Spider-Man to life in 1962, artist Steve Ditko's talents varied far beyond the realm of the superhero genre. Tales of unexplored worlds, of spine-chilling suspense, mystery, and horror dripped hauntingly from the pen of Steve Ditko over half-a-decade before he would bring to the world famous wall-crawler to life. Unexplored Worlds continues the showcase of the artist's 1950s work that began with editor Blake Bell's 2009 best-selling Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1. For the first time, spectacular full-color reprints of stories are on display from the peak period of his career as an artist. After a bout of illness forced Ditko to disappear from comics in 1955, the artist came back with a vengeance, marking 1956 as his first stint at Marvel Comics with his Spider-Man co-creator, Stan Lee. And in 1957, Ditko renewed his association with Charlton Comics, a partnership that would see Ditko produce almost 500 pages of completed artwork in that year alone. The leap in the quality of the legendary artist's work during this period is stunning. A few scant years into his career and Ditko was already the most unique artist in comic-book history and one of its most prolific. The book also features editor Bell's insightful introduction, providing historical background and speaking to Ditko's influence and his unique craft.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books; Reprint edition (December 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606993801
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606993804
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 0.3 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 816 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #384,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vol 1 was much better March 3 2012
By grafdog - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Let me say that without a doubt vol 1 which includes a very diverse line up of stories and continuous experimentation by Ditko in art style, has much more zing than the pedestrian stories in vol 2 which were written under the comics code.
Similar to EC comics extra, are the post code ditko stories.
Nothing shocking or wild in the stories, and other than a couple of bold artistic masterworks, they are very mundane and downright forgettable.

That being said it provided a modest momentary diversion on occasion. But with the overall cookie cutter short story format I tended to start reading stories twice before I realized I had read them already.

Format wise its excellent, with nice paper(a bit thinner than in vol 1) and great reproductions right from the original comics.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing!!!!!! Jan. 9 2012
By SALRUNARAT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
the stories are very unique, the artwork will literally take you into another world. I love Steve Ditko, I seriosuly reccomend him to anyone, you'll be treating yourself to a truly unique experience. Get this and volume 1, volume 3 will be released soon. you'll enjoy them!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is far better than Volume One. Oct. 27 2011
By Red Eyes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It is far better than Volume One. Whilst the first volume has consistently great artwork, the stories, narrative and prose styles are really poor for the most part. In the second volume, all the stories are from the stage when comic books were under the thumb of the comics code regulations. Popular wisdom says that when the writers and artists had to give in to these conservative code restrictions, the integrity and value of the work was gone, to be replaced by 'safe', dull stories.

There is a lot of truth in that statement of course -- so much of the inventiveness and wit and art disappeared from comics when the new control mechanisms were in place.However, the opposite is true here -- clearly, Ditko did feel restrained -- but he reacts by producing some clever, thoughtful , reflective artwork for the stories here, to compensate for the limitations placed on him by the comics code and the authors,and the art work is astonishing on every page.

One to buy and value and read again and again. Looking forward to Volume Three for sure.
5.0 out of 5 stars Ditko vs The Comics Code Feb. 8 2012
By Hwy61Joe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Two interesting things about this volume which continues the representation of the early works of Ditko's career: First, these stories happened after the Comics Code Authority tightened its grip on the comics community forcing a dramatic change in content. Interesting to see the results of Ditko's creativity within these guidelines. Second, this volume presents Ditko's work in the order they were produced, not necessarily the order in which they were published. I wondered about the seemingly random order of the stories in volume one, now it might make a little more sense! Anyone who loves comics SHOULD love Ditko and therefore this collection is must reading!!!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice to look at, difficult to read Dec 19 2012
By Michael Grabowski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
These comics, mostly from 1957, mostly from Ditko's work for Charlton, are plain awful to read for the most part. The stories are junk and nonsense, written largely in a far too serious a tone but with no attempt at logical plotting to support it. This is true of other 50's comics, of course, not least some of the EC work that is otherwise revered, but in this collection there are so many terrible stories that it is difficult for me to read more than one or two at a time.

The saving grace is the purpose for the book's existence: Ditko's art. This early in his career he had already developed his unique style. Do you ever freeze frame an athlete in action? A pitcher just after a throw, a boxer about to punch, a hurdler in mid-jump? We see heroic leaps and gestures and poses in the photos that get published, but if you ever see the rejected pictures taken of the transitional moments between "poses", or the still frames in a video, you'll see a human body under exaggerated exertion look all distorted, awkward, and just plain wrong, and yet for the instant that image shows, that person had that position. Jack Kirby's art gives us the glorious classical, powerful poses. Steve Ditko's focus is on illustrating that awkward moment, even when power is exerted. Fingers splay, arms flail, eyes are wide. The only characters who move with confidence are the villainous ones shortly before their newly-inflicted Comics Code-mandated comeuppance.

Another strength is his characters' faces and features. Distinctive, unusual hairstyles--no Toth glamour here--especially women's hairstyles and men's facial hair. For perhaps a hundred lead and supporting characters in dozens of stories cranked out in roughly a year's time, I don't think he ever repeats a single face in different stories. Every one is a new face. Compare to (for instance) several of the EC artists who seem to have casts of recurring players in different roles in their comics.

In those faces Ditko powerfully illustrates people in the midst of desperation, obssession, paranoia, panic, maniacal glee--so much so that when he draws someone happy, as in the occasional romantic conclusion in some of these stories, it actually looks forced. His approach to using the face and eyes to express a character's degree of anxiety as they weigh events and motives to make decisions to action is an aspect that is key to so much of his work.

Then there are the strange worlds he takes us too. In this collection there's not a whole lot of that but it is there is some stories and we see creative attempts to suggest invisible events in "this" world as well as impossible things out-of-this-world environments. Ditko's imagination in creating these places and images is unforgettable, a lasting contribution to comics art.

But the stories for which this art was created are a waste of time. It's difficult to justify even the Amazon discount price for this book, let alone the full cover price, for a book that works best if you can ignore the words. The art is well-reproduced, including the coloring, though I wish many of the off-register bits copied from the originals had been tidied up. I am curious about the other volumes in this series but I can't say I really want to pay for them, though I do believe this series is important for archiving Ditko's early and easily disposed Charlton work.

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