November 1, 2012 at 8:45 am By:

The history of comics is brimming with mysteries and enigmas.  Did Alex Raymond kill himself? Why did DC cancel the Jack Kirby penned Fourth World series so early in its run? Is it really a true story that Gwen Stacy’s death got published because Stan Lee was out of the office for the month and couldn’t stop it ? Why did Jack Cole take his own life when he seemed to have everything he’d ever wanted?

We can speculate and wonder and gossip and even investigate these topics (and dozens more!) and that is part of the charm and excitement of any long history of any art form filled with quirky and talented individuals.
And there are few names in comics that are as enigmatic as the co-creator of Spider-man, Doctor Strange, Iron Man’s iconic orange and yellow armor, Captain Atom, The Question and The CreeperSteve Ditko
A new book has just been published by YoeBooks! entitled The Creativity of Steve Ditko and the book is a real treasure trove, but it doesn’t even begin to solve any of the mysteries surrounding this very private, very extraordinary man.
Editor Craig Yoe enlists several essayists including Paul Levitz and Mike Gold to talk about this elusive genius. And only one thing becomes clear– nothing is clear about Steve Ditko.  The artist himself summed  it up in the profile below:
So in order to let the work speak for itself, Mr. Yoe has assembled a few hundred pages of Ditko’s horror comics from the late 50s (pre Spider-man) to the Charleton published horror comics of the early 70s.
The Creativity of Steve Ditko-– published by those good folks at IDW–is beautiful to behold (all stories in full color on terrific reprint paper) fun to read, worthy of study and (as an added bonus) is very well priced at only $39.99.
This is yet another text book of the art of story telling.  The earlier examples from the late ’50s are 6 page stories with approximately 6 panels on every page.  Most of the stories are quite mediocre.  It seems as though the un-credited writer (not Ditko) came up with a terrific Sci-Fi or horror plot and then abandoned it for a quick wrap-up by the end of page 6.  HOWEVER, Ditko’s art and storytelling are so good, it sucks you in and then you are left a bit high and dry by the abrupt endings, but you feel no worse for the wear because of the outstanding craftsmanship of the art.
In the later, longer stories for Charleton (Ghostly Manor etc.) the panels explode off the page with a creative force as Ditko takes advantage of the better stories and added page length.  Especially of note is his use of color, design and negative space to create very exciting alien worlds–very much a continuation of his ground-breaking work on Dr. Strange.
If you are a budding comic historian or if your favorite era of Spider-Man are the first 38 issues (I’m looking at you–Shelton!) or if you’ve heard the name Ditko and wondered what all the fuss is about, then The Creativity of Steve Ditko is the book for you!!  And when you pick up the book over in the Shelleyville-section of the store (Hi Shelley!), take a moment and focus on the cover.  It is a black and white masterpiece.


Filed Under: DISCUSS, Now Read This!, Reviews

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