Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ditko's Early Issues of The Amazing Spider-Man

I'm so busy working on THE NEW ECOLOGY OF DEATH that it may be a week or so before I can take the time to do any detailed blogging.

For now, I'll post scans that I'm making of my comic collection that I'm storing away for security reasons. Today: my first five copies of Steve Ditko's THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

This is my copy of #1. I can't afford higher grade books of some of the titles I collect, so I settle for what I can comfortably buy. (Besides, I like to actually read my old comics, which is a no-no with high grade comics.) This one has had some restoration and is autographed by the corporate thief who claims to have created Steve Ditko's work. The dealer who sold it to me knows how I feel about that creep, and so he told me up front. "Sorry, but it has his autograph in it." I bought it anyway.

The guy I bought this from claimed it had no restoration. However, when I examined it at my leisure, I found that it has quite a lot of restoration work done to it. But that's okay. Again, I land the copies that I can afford to buy.


Kirk G said...

Just what is "restoration" and how does one spot that it's been done to a book that you're thinking of buying?
I'm very fortunate to have purchased a copy of Spider-man #5 in a used comic box for just 10 cents back in 1967! True story! It look just about like yours does.

James Robert Smith said...

Restoration is the work done to repair damage, or perceived damage to an old comic. It can be something as simple as the removal of tape, or dabs of ink or paint to cover over bare spots, to the replacement of staples, repair of tears, addition of covers, etc. Restoration is considered as undesirable in the collecting community these days so as a rule it's not something you want on a collectible book.

However, some books are getting so pricey that the only way to afford a decent copy is to buy one that has had some measure of restoration done to it. This copy of Spider-Man #3 has had several things done...mainly the repair of tears, some color touch, and what appears to be the professional removal of tape that was on the spine at some point.

Lawrence Roy Aiken said...

Ditko's draftsmanship and command of perspective on issue #2 actually gave me a twinge of anxiety for the height. There is a strong sense of a non-flying superhero suspended WAY THE HOLY JESUS GOD FUCK over the city. They don't draw 'em like that anymore. Shit, they haven't drawn 'em like that for a long time gone now. The world, as Stephen King noted, has moved on.

James Robert Smith said...

The man was so very talented. There was nothing like Ditko's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN on the racks and it hasn't been equaled in superhero comics.

The more I read about the history of Marvel and his career,the more I discover that it was Martin Goodman trying to push Ditko out at Marvel so that they could put an artist/writer on the book that met with Goodman's overall approval. Since Ditko had established the iconic hero as Marvle's number two best-selling book, they tried to make life just miserable enough for Ditko that he would leave.

Every issue of the book that he delivered was stunning. I never get tired of looking at how he delivered each story and every panel.

Henry R. Kujawa said...

Bob, I flipped over to your blog just now. I'm VERY impressed with your issue-by-issue commentary on Steve Ditko's SPIDER-MAN covers!! This is the sort of thing I like to do (at least, starting with the DD blog pages I wrote).

I'd like to suggest (if you can figure out how to do it) that you add "continued from" and "continued in" links at the top and bottom of blog pages like these. I find on my blogs they make it easier to read straight through a series of connected pages, especially if there's other, not-related pages in between.

ASM #1 -- I found this to be the MOST downbeat and depressing Ditko issue of ASM. Yes, more so than the story where Uncle Ben gets murdered! Spidey goes all-out to save a public hero (an astronaut) and he's ATTACKED in the press for it. WTF????? This-- well-- ONLY RARELY ever happened to the F.F.

ASM #2 -- I found an eerie parallel to the design of this cover on an old, early-50's DICK AYERS cover of GHOST RIDER, where he fought a winged baddie named The Vulture. They both even had RED backgrounds.

ASM #3 -- I'd completely forgotten Doc Ock's origin until I re-read it a few years ago. Whatta ya know? He was a decent person before this accident turned into a RAVING, POWER-MAD SUPER-VILLAIN!!! Yet, unlike Norman Osborn (who Romita & Lee played up for far more sympathy than the bastard deserved), from the moment Ock went NUTS, nobody remembered that Otto Octavius had been a decent man who-- MAYBE-- deserved at least SOME sympathy. (At least he was treated very well in the movie.)

I bet a lot of people who went to see the Sam Raimi movies thought Doc Ock's origin was a swipe of the Green Goblin's origin-- when in truth, it was the OTHER WAY ROUND.

I noticed a very odd thing about the Ralph Bakshi-Gray Morrow cartoons. They started with the origin. (But NOT the Steve Ditko version-- no! They adapted, rather faithfully, the 1968 retelling which had art by Larry Lieber & Bill Everett! Stan Lee needlessly altered every bit of dialogue, and Bakshi translated the 1968 dialogue to the screen ALMOST VERBATIM!!!) The 2nd episode they did featured Jameson (and The Kingpin). The 3rd-- which I believe was actually run out of sequence (it was run 4th) featured a FLYING villain (The Sky Master). The 4th (run 3rd) featured an INSANE nuclear scientist who TAKES OVER A POWER PLANT.

The above flipped me out when I noticed it. Bakshi's 1st 4 cartoons (eps. 21-24) actually paralleled the first 4 SPIDER-MAN comics (AF #15 and ASM #1-3). Isn't that WILD?????

Of course, "SWING CITY", featuring "The Master Technician", also seems to borrow elements from a Jack Kirby sci-fi story (about a city being ripped from the ground and lifted into the sky), and its villain bears a striking physical resemblance to "Rotwang", the mad scientist who tries to destroy the city in the Fritz Lang film "METROPOLIS".

ASM #5 -- I'm sorry, I just think Ditko's rendition of Dr. Doom SUCKS. There's your problem with "shared universes".


James Robert Smith said...

Yeah, I don't care for Ditko's Dr. Doom, either. Doom is, in many ways, a typical Ditko villain...but he just couldn't handle the design they way Kirby could.

I had never seen that Ghost Rider Ayers cover. Man, Ayers was GREAT when he was younger. I think he just had to face facts and realized that he could only make a living at comics if he turned out as many pages as he could in as little time as possible. Quality suffered, of course.

I was reading an interview with someone (I've forgotten who it was) who visited Ditko in his studio. They were looking at some of his older originals and Ditko commented on how much effort he had wasted in his youth putting in too much detail for what he was being paid. Learning shortcuts is what has kept him illustrating into his old age, I think. If he was still trying to do the kinds of things he was illustrating in the mid-60s, he wouldn't be able to work at all. But because he learned how to do more with less, he still comes up with new material (crazed propaganda though it is).

Henry R. Kujawa said...

To be honest, many times I'm not too thrilled with what Jack Kirby did with Dr. Doom, the longer he worked on him. My FAVORITE rendition of Dr. Doom remains FF #6. Doom's metal face-mask is a cold, unemotional shell. All you can see are the eyes. No feeling. And to me, that's SCARY! Later, Kirby kept putting more "emotion" into the mask itself, something later artists (like Rich Buckler) took to an absurd level.

I'm not thrilled with Ditko's versions of Thor, Iron Man, or Hulk, either. Some characters were just meant to be drawn by certain people. People also disagree with me when I say that Sub-Mariner by Colan, Buscema, Buscema, Heck, Romita, and several others is just awful. But Kirby did him good-- as did Wood, Adkins, Marie Severin, Ross Andru (!!!).

Then again, I was on another blog just looking at scans of the original DAREDEVIL #7. The Masterworks preprint I have doesn't do it justice. The only way it could have been better, though, is if Wood had written the dialogue himself (he did, after all, write the story UNCREDITED AND UNPAID), or, if BILL EVERETT had done the whole thing by himself instead. (He did create BOTH Subby AND D.D.) But Stan wouldn't let Everett write his own dialogue in the 60's, either!

This not only filled Stan's pockets instead of the real writers, it also diminished the reputations of everyone who worked for Stan, since fans all mistakenly believed they were ONLY "artists".

James Robert Smith said...

I get more and more angry over what Lee and Goodman did to the true creators as the years pass. Instead of just letting it simmer down, the crimes those two committed bring my rage to a boil.