Monday, December 27, 2010

Mr. Ditko and Mr. Kirby

December has been a good month for my burgeoning comic collection. One of the items I picked up was an EC science fiction comic. Way back when, I had a really good EC collection. Several hundred books strong. But, as with everything else I owned in my youth, I sold them off to survive or to pay medical bills. Since I'd had so many EC comics in my day I really had no terrible hunger to replace them. However, never say never.

When I was buying some old DC comics for a friend, I wanted to buy some more stuff from the dealer who was helping me out and write him a check with a nice round number on it. So I kept searching through his stock, looking for some more books to add to the stack. Finally, I noticed that he had a Weird Fantasy #11 which has a classic atomic bomb cover and was in really nice shape, so we came to an agreement on the price and I nabbed it. Will I buy more EC comics to go with this one? Yes.

Outside of doing my best to finish assembling all of the Steve Ditko created/written/illustrated issues of The Amazing Spider-Man (this being Amazing Fantasy 15 and Amazing Spider-Man 1-38), one of my collecting projects has been to buy up a set of all of Mr. Ditko's 1950s work for various titles. I've been really lucky this year in grabbing many of his early books, including a lot of the per-hero titles he did for Marvel Comics shortly before Mr. Ditko and Jack Kirby created and illustrated (and wrote) the various superheroes that would cement Marvel Comics as the preeminent publisher of comic books in the USA.
So here are just a few of those books that I was able to purchase in the closing month of 2010:

Journey Into Mystery #81. This was two issues from when Jack Kirby would create and introduce his superhero version of the character Thor, who is about to become the star of a major motion picture. Created wholly by Jack Kirby, no matter what else you may hear or read.

Journey Into Mystery #80. Lots of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko art.

One of the amazing things about Ditko is that he was often given the task of creating an entire book that was, essentially, an illustrated anthology. This book was a prime example of what he would do in his struggle to support himself in an industry not known for paying a living wage. This comic book is almost entirely illustrated by Ditko, with only a single one-page story on the last page possibly not being by him. His signature isn't on it, but it's possible that he did the layouts. But the other five stories in the comic are all by Mr. Ditko. And even though Charlton Comics (the publisher of this title) was not known for paying a fair page rate, Steve Ditko did not spare any effort to breathe life into each of the tales here.

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