Saturday, November 23, 2013

Charlton Sustains Ditko

I used to refer to Ditko's work in the 1970s and 1980s as his later period. Of course he has continued to work without interruption ever since, so I need to stop thinking of that period in his career in those terms. When Charlton Comics ceased publication, it had to be a tremendous blow to Ditko. He had worked for them since he had become a professional comic artist until they closed their doors. Their page rate was notoriously low, but Ditko could always be assured of steady work at Charlton. He did a lot of covers for them, and since they must have paid more for covers than interior art, Ditko could generate some income by doing those in quick order. You can see that the creativity and dynamism of his art was not affected by the corners he was obviously cutting when compared to his earlier work. But the fine detail was missing. A smart move for a draftsman seeking to finish a job and get on with the next task.
The books he did for Charlton during this period have been relatively easy for me to locate and purchase at reasonable prices in even higher grade. But I suspect that situation will change in the future, so I continue to buy the issues I need whenever I encounter them.

8 comments:

Ac Edwards said...

Great post.. A lot of People dismiss charltons out of hand.. and they are missing a lot..

James Robert Smith said...

I agree. They published a lot of good books by many talented creators.

Mark Gelbart said...

I've never read a Charlton Comic Book. Never saw them on the racks in the 1970's and 1980's.

I wonder, if they had distribution problems.

James Robert Smith said...

I don't know the details of their distribution network. The company made most of its money as a printer, being the preferred printer for many magazines, only some of which Charlton's parent company published themselves. I've read in a number of places that they were the printing press for Hustler Magazine. I read that from a number of sources, so it's likely so.

One article I read about Charlton stated that the comics arm never made them a lot of money in the best of times, and that they continued to publish to keep the presses going between running off the magazines that were their bread and butter. This is because it's easier to maintain an operating press than it is one that has been dormant, even for just a few days.

There are all kinds of strange stories about the final days of Charlton. One is that the buildings and basements were just bulldozed under, buried in earth, with tons of production art and original comic art just stacked in place, buried and destroyed.

Kirk G said...

How did Ditko come to decide to enter the comics field in the first place?

James Robert Smith said...

I'm not sure how he got started. As I understand it, he just wanted to become a comic book artist. Why he chose that field is a question I've never seen him answer in the few interviews I've seen from him.

Henry R. Kujawa said...

If I ever run out of Kirby covers to do restorations on (HAH!), I'd love to tackle more Ditko.

I did a really NICE one of the 1st CREEPER cover at my blog.

http://professorhswaybackmachine.blogspot.com/2012/02/steve-ditko-part-2.html

James Robert Smith said...

Ditko was every bit as brilliant as Kirby. Just not so productive. Also, constricted by that Fascist philosophy to which he is enslaved.