Friday, March 25, 2011

Strange Tales Here!

Of the old Marvel anthology titles, STRANGE TALES is likely the cheapest one to purchase when it comes to the post-hero numbers. The most valuable issues are #101, which was the beginning of the stories featuring the Human Torch--Jack Kirby's version of the Carl Burgos character, and #110 which was the issue that was used to introduce Steve Ditko's creation, Dr. Strange. Since I only want the pre-hero issues featuring the work of Ditko and Kirby, and the ones containing Dr. Strange chapters by Steve Ditko, this will likely be the easiest to complete of my Marvel titles. I already have the toughest to purchase Human Torch/Dr. Strange issues, so now I just have to concern myself with buying up the books preceding #101.

Annual #1. This is a very cool book. Square-bound and packed cover to cover with Kirby, Ditko, and Don Heck artwork. And tremendously silly stories purportedly "written" by Stan Lee. His hilarious names are painted on the title pages of each of them--that alone is almost worth the price of admission.

Issue #96. These multi-panel covers were common on Marvel titles in the late 50s and very early 60s. I have to assume that they were Kirby's idea, as so many of them were illustrated by him. Of course it could have been an editorial request--much the same as DC's common use of gorillas on the covers of their science-fiction titles. It must have increased sales since it was used so often.

Some of the most childish superhero stories occurred in the changed anthology titles. Obviously thrown together under heavy deadline pressure by the likes of the overworked Jack Kirby and with dialogue tossed in haphazardly and in a hurry by editor Lee. It's a rare story here that wasn't goofy beyond belief. These certainly were for young kids. Quite often the artwork was by the likes of Dick Ayers over very spare Jack Kirby layouts.

This issue is kind of difficult to nab in an auction. Fortunately my main back issue source, Earl Shaw, landed me a copy at a good price. One of the first cover appearances of Capt. America since the mid 1950s during an earlier attempt to revive superheroes at Marvel/Atlas. When you read the story, however, you learn that this guy is not Capt. America, but merely a criminal acrobat pretending to be Cap.

Ditko did not get a chance to do very many superhero covers other than The Amazing Spider-Man. I've never figured out why this was so, unless he just wasn't prolific enough to do covers for other titles, or if Lee didn't like Ditko's covers, or if he was just too darned busy doing other work. My suspicion is that Lee just didn't care much for Ditko's cover work.

And speaking of strange can get my new zombie novel THE LIVING END at your favorite online bookseller or have your local bookshop order a copy!

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