Strange Suspense The Steve Ditko Archives Volume 1 Hardcover – Nov 10 2009
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
I'm only half-way through as I write this review, but it's only getting better and better.
A must-read / must-own for any serious fan of Steve Ditko