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The Weekly Haul

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Roll on thunder, Shine on lightnin’, it’s time for another Weekly Haul! Holy Crabtits its hot and muggy out! I live an a swamp, which is essentially a subtropical hellscape this time of year. Alligators are fanning themselves on shady porches and birds are bursting into flame mid-flight. Here in the rambling mansion my family and I call home, Mr. Kittycat Jackson is stretching out on the cool, kidney colored linoleum floor of our kitchen and I am taking intermittent naps in a guest-room bathtub filled with ice. My lovely wife, the Widow Sunday, is nice and cool at her job, in the frigid halls of the Mortitian’s school down the road. If you’re not melting right now, let’s dive in and see what’s in the stash this week, eh?

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Ditko’s Not Dead.

Steve Ditko has transcended permanently to the astral plain. A second generation American from steel town, PA who grew up loving Batman and The Spirit. After the army, he studied under his hero, Batman artist Jerry Robinson in New York, and almost immediately went on to create comics that no one else possibly could have, in a style and voice wholly his own. Ditko was like a toy car, wound up until he was 26, then hit the ground and ran for 65 years strait.

Nobody drew, or told stories, or quite honestly saw the world like Steve Ditko. He crammed worlds, monsters, heroes, heartbreaks, triumphs, lives, and deaths, into ridged nine-panel grids, that somehow never felt cramped. I defy anyone to name a more efficient employer of space on a page than “Fandom’s Favorite Fiend” Steve Ditko. From the Day Superman rocketed from Kryptonian crisis to Earth newsstands in 1938 through 1962, every super hero looked like square-jawed, smiling cut-out paper dolls with swappable outfits… until Spiderman swung across the cover of Amazing Fantasy. With points to Bill Finger, simply no one thought to challenge that formula before Steve.

Not only do you not get Spiderman or Doctor Strange without Ditko, you don’t get the Charlton characters, like Captain Atom, The Question, or Blue Beetle. Without them and their nine panel worlds, you don’t get Watchmen. You don’t get Tim Sale, Ed Piskor, or P. Craig Russel, or any number of top tier illustrators of latter generations. Hell, I wouldn’t have my wordpress avatar. He was by all accounts, a quiet, and tightly wound man, but was happy to share lunches with his contemporaries like Len Wein and Marv Wolfman. Dr. Strange fans would mail him joints, and he, the unwitting grandfather of a thousand blacklight posters, couldn’t understand why. He created comics consistently through the 90’s, still occasionally resurfacing to publish the odd cartoon here or there, and hide from the spotlight of every single movie release based on his work. He was a living mystery to his fans and peers, a prolific talent, and the only name acceptable to be uttered in the same sentence as Jack Kirby.

Ditko is gone, and we’ll never see another like him.

-M

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