Creepy Presents Steve Ditko (2013)
By: J.R. McNamara on November 13, 2013 | Comments
The Inky Depths

Creepy Presents Steve Ditko
Credits
Art: Steve Ditko
Writer: Archie Goodwin
Publisher: Dark Horse
Many people in the comics industry have the word 'legend' attached to their names, but very few actually deserve it. Steve Ditko is one of the names that does deserve it. He had an innovative drawing style that cemented the look for popular Marvel Comics characters such as Spider-man and Dr Strange and gave us some wacky DC characters such as team Hawk and Dove and Shade the Changing Man, and that's not to mention his Charlton Comics output on characters such as his own Captain Atom and The Question, of which the superhero archetypes were used by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons when creating the ground breaking Watchmen maxi-series.

Ditko's style though was really in tune with the macabre and the weird, so in the late sixties, after leaving Marvel Comics due to creative differences with Spider-man scripter Stan Lee, Ditko teamed up with Archie Goodwin at Warren Publishing, where he illustrated 16 tales for the horror comic magazines Creepy and Eerie. Even though the mighty Warren no longer exists, Dark Horse comics have managed to collect an amazing hardcover book with all these stories bound within.

And they are spectacular!

Whereas his previous comic work was strictly pencils and inks, the black and white magazine format really gave him an opportunity to expand his artwork in different ways, and a lot of this work is done in delicate ink washes which give his images a sense of depth not really seen previously.

The stories appeared in Creepy from issues 9 to 16 (the last one being the only story not written by Goodwin and instead penned by Clark Dimond and Terry Bisson) and Eerie issues 3 to 10, and mainly consist of horror stories of the Twilight Zone type, with a twist 'shock' ending. Those that weren't horror though were fantasy tales in the form of Conan type warriors fighting magicians and the monsters held in their thrall.

The book itself opens with a foreword by Mark Evanier, writer of the book Kirby: King of Comics, who expands on what I stated about Ditko above, but really breaks down what made his art so special and unique. Men like Ditko and Jim Steranko and the mighty Jack Kirby weren't forced to draw in a 'company manner' like those of today ( look at DC's New 52: everyone is trying to draw like Jim Lee!) and individual styles were really embraced by the comics community.

Dark Horse have really outdone themselves with the books presentation as well. It's an extraordinarily classy black square bound with a coloured piece of interior Ditko art, from the story Second Chance, which shows the typical Ditko ' man trapped in an alternate universe being threatened by hoards of demons in a forest of human flesh and webbing'. You know, your run of the mill limbo stuff.

What particularly impressed me though in the presentation was the fact that Dark Horse's masthead for the book. You would imagine on a book titled Creepy Presents Steve Ditko that the 'Creepy' would be more pronounced but no, the artist is the one highlighted here, and deservedly so!!

Horror comics fans need this in their collection! It's such a wonderful example of the work Ditko could do when he was really allowed to let loose. It's also a great time capsule of the type of horror comics were doing at the time, and of Archie Goodwin's skill in weaving masterful tales of the macabre.

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