Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mysterious Traveler Interiors

Good ol' Ditko!

I said that I'd try to post some interior shots from my latest acquisition to my Ditko collection, so here they are. I've picked out some striking images for review.

TALES OF THE MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER is classic stuff. The stories are all told from the point of view of The Mysterious Traveler. He's merely a foil, a dour character who recounts with impassive tone the things that he has observed. This kind of thing would appeal, I think, to the Objectivist tendencies of Mr. Ditko who was, I have been told, already under the influence of Ayn Rand's twisted philosophies by this time.

I was interested to see several things in this book. First of all, the inking is different from one story to the next (all penciled by Ditko) and I have to wonder if he inked them all himself, or if the pages were handed off to others to be inked. Or it could be just that Ditko wanted to experiment with various inking styles so that he could convey differing emotions from one story to the next. It's hard to say, since I don't have the critical eye, nor the knowledge of Charlton's artist stable at that time to say one way or the other.

One thing that I can say is that I'm really happy to have been able to add this book to my collection.

Ditko is well known for using the human eye as a motif in his work. Here we see that even in the mid-1950s he was already getting a lot of power by using this gimmick.

Ever true to his individualist tendencies, Steve Ditko managed to get his name featured in many of his stories and covers. It was important to him--unlike with many other artists of this period--to let the fans know who was creating this singular work.

The dour, emotionless Traveler as narrator. Just the facts, ma'am.

Ditko had a stable of interchangeable physical types that he used often over the course of his career in mainstream comics. Faces and forms that conveyed a certain kind of personality. This one, a precedent to the character we later knew at Frederick Foswell from The Amazing Spider-Man.

The character of "the old fool" was a deceptively simple display of Ditko's talent as an artist. Only someone with a great understanding of anatomy and physics could have so simply illustrated an old man bent by toil and years in so effective a manner. You can also see why this story would have appealed to a guy like Ditko and made him expend perhaps just a little more effort than Charlton's low page rate would justify. Here we see the individual as wise, while the masses are nothing more than a mindless mob: this attitude is the template of the fascist mind.

I have the impression that Ditko inked this one, but it's a lot different from the simpler style used in some of the other stories in this little volume. Once again, the comic art fan cannot be but impressed at the brilliance of Ditko when it came to putting emotion and power into each and every panel of a simple story.

No comments: