Tag Archives: Steve Ditko

Steve Ditko is 84

A recent photo of Mr. Ditko in his studio.

I could spend the day talking about Steve Ditko.  Half of you know him as the co-creator of Spider-Man (along with Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, depending on who’s telling the story), and half of you know him as the crazy as a shit-house rat genius of comics that are too weird to be readable.  Delightfully, he’s both, and if you’ve never seen In Search of Steve Ditko, you’re about to spend some time doing just that:

That’s just part one, but you’ll be continuing on to the other parts after it’s over, trust me.

Twenty some-odd years ago, I got to speak to Ditko on the phone once or twice, about a Ditko story we published in Vortex Magazine back when I was editor of the book.  It’s a story I’ll keep private, as neither Steve nor I come off especially well in the story, and you don’t need to hear about two jackasses while both of us are still alive.

Instead, watch the documentary began above, and recall his magnificent contribution to our biz.

Happy Birthday Mr. D.  You are one of the originals.

Ty the Guy OUT!

Here now, a fairly obscure piece of Bonus Ditko:  A page from THE DESTRUCTOR, a short lived Ditko series for the spectacularly failed ATLAS comics of the mid-70s.  Ditko inked by Wally Wood!  A little bit of heaven for those in the know…

MORE UNKNOWN MARVEL, and some UNKNOWN WRITING

Because I’m penciling and inking some stuff for Marvel at the moment, all last week we devoted this blog to unseen artwork I’ve done for Marvel comics in my career.   I still have a million more things to show you in that area, but today, I thought I’d spend a little space talking about some WRITING for Marvel that a lot of people don’t know I did, simply because it was for the Marvel younger readers line, and the average fan simply IGNORES them. It’s a pity, because some of the creators who worked for that line were deserving of more attention.  Graham Nolan, Norm Breyfogle, and Tom Grummett worked on some of the issues before and after my brief run, just to name a few.  And of course, Jeff Parker (now doing well with Hulk office gigs) wrote a SLEW of the Marvel Adventures Avengers books before I got to ’em.  But here’s the three I wrote:

The premise for the issues, as asked for by the editor, was to tell stories about Avengers that were NOT part of the regular team…new members joining, or old members showing up for a visit….as a way of introducing the newer readers to these characters.    If anyone recalls a post from a couple of weeks ago, I consider the ROY THOMAS/JOHN BUSCEMA Avengers period in the late sixties/early seventies the pinnacle of comics excellence from that period.  Silver Age Marvel is Roy and John to me, even SLIGHTLY more so than Stan and Jack, or Stan and Steve, simply because it got inside my brain first.   So when given a second chance at these Avengers characters, I went right back to that well of inspiration again and went for the characters originally from that era.  Quicksilver, Hercules, and of course THE VISION. Amusingly enough, they ran the stories in the opposite order from which I wrote them.

The Quicksilver story was a fun script.   Quicksilver has been kidnapped and forced (in a roundabout way) to betray the Avengers to a super-villainess, the creator (in this continuity) of the Super-Adaptoid.  The art was by my good friend Stephen Molnar, with whom I’d later do my STAR TREK GRAPHIC NOVEL.

I’d had the idea for the Hercules issue in my head for years:  If Hercules was immortal, why hasn’t he been part of human history?  Where was he during World War 2, or the American Revolution.  Or heck, ANYWHERE in  history?  It didn’t make sense to me that so outgoing a character would have stayed hidden for centuries.  But what if he had no choice?  What if he’d been imprisoned for a few thousand years…buried in lava rock beneath the streets of Pompeii?  Perhaps his cousin, Pluto, sent the lava from the center of the Earth JUST to mess with the demi-god.  Sucks to be from Pompeii and get stuck in the middle of it, but from there it was easy to extrapolate a story.

For the last story, this lazy, unscrupulous, thieving bastard went after Roy and John’s original Vision two parter AGAIN!  Last time (in Avengers United) I re-worked the second part, where the team figures out what to do with the killer android in their midst, so this time, I reworked part one of the original story, and set the killer android against the Avengers for the first time.  But instead of ULTRON creating him, this time he’s a creation of Pym’s robotics, Stark’s security tech, and the life force from a bolt of lightning from Ororro/Storm.  (Thor was my first choice for the lightning bolt, obviously, but he wasn’t on the team at the time).  I’m very happy with how this issue turned out, and would love to re-visit this version of our red and green robot pal, but the series eventually ran out of steam and  finished up.  Sigh.

Still a GREAT gig for a few months.  And dig those crazy Grummett covers!

One last image for the lost Marvel today.  It’s an ad I drew for HEROCLIX last year.  Heroclix is sort of a game, sort of an action figure, sort of a desert topping.  Obviously, with Ultimates Cap and Ultimates Iron Man, standing next to Classis 616 Hawkeye and Wasp, with the Simonson Thor tossed in with the Witch and the Seventies Wonder Man, this Avengers team exists only for this ad…but wouldn’t that be a fun team?  Like much of the lost Marvel stuff, I’ve never seen where this ad ran, or what it looked like in colour.  If anyone has a copy in colour, I’d die to see it.  ALSO:  Since last week, I have been told there are Spanish X-Men comics with my art on the covers, taken from the many video covers, and have been promised scans .

Oh, this reminds me…I have a Heroclix story of EPIC scope that I’ll post later this week.  It has to do with my eldest son, and a mini-series I wrote that I NEVER thought they’d make Heroclix for.

Ty the Guy

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BIG PS:  As a lifelong Vision freak, I was excited and elated last week to receive an email from Vision artist RICHARD  HOWELL, who bought a page or two of Mike Parobeck Elongated Man stuff off me.  Richard wanted to know if I’d remembered him…?  Like I would ever forget anyone who worked on the Vision miniseries?  This fangeek is as fangeek as they come!  Here’s one of Richard’s covers below.  Thanks for the email, Richard, and best of luck with your current work at CLAYPOOL COMICS.

Thus endeth the shout-out.

Ty

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Hoverboy-Friday on SUNDAY! CURSES!!

Once more, knee-deep into the land of Hoverboy we go, fellow inter-tube travelers, and this time, we’re exploring the wonderful world of the infamous “HOVERBOY CURSE”.

Most fans of The Battling Bucket know that co-creator Bob Stark ran down both his dog and his gardener the day after he created Hoverboy, in an accident the police dismissed as “hi-jinx” in their official report.  But the death of his beloved dog Skippy, and his casual acquaintance, Carlos the groundskeeper, would haunt Stark for the rest of his life.   Often, Stark would wander to the end of his driveway on Stonebrook Terrace and stare intently at the trees found there, where he would then start to whistle violently, calling for either the dog to come “do his business” or the gardener to “Trim these damn shrubs!”.   These episodes increased as the creator got older.

Some consider this tragic car accident the official start of the curse.  Others cite the meteor strike that killed Stark’s parents the week later.  Certainly the meteor strike was more memorable, singling Stark’s family out so specifically from the  crowd like that at the baseball game.  Either way, from that month  forward, and until his death at the hands of overzealous mall security officers in 1982,  Bob Stark’s life and the life of his creation, Hoverboy, were surrounded by mysterious and bizarre tragedies with a frightening regularity.

As this is the fiftieth anniversary of “The Day the India Ink Died”, when most of the staff of Vigilance Comics was killed by a dose of weapons grade botulism toxin that was accidentally spilled into the machine that wrote out the company cheques, I thought I’d focus on the curse and the cartoonists.   (Steve Ditko, the only survivor of the famous Vigilance disaster, had refused to cash his cheque for Hoverboy #37 that month, as he claimed later it was “against the higher laws” to do touch money throughout all of February.  Famously, when Ditko co-created Spider-Man with Stan Lee two years later, he would insist on being paid entirely in trousers and butter.)

The twenty eight cartoonists who died on February 13th, 1960 were not the only Vigilance artists to die mysteriously.  In fact, the regularity with which these poor ink stained souls would pass away was so frequent, that amongst working illustrators, a Hoverboy job was known as “taking the last gig”.   So great was the fear of the curse, that creators such as Kirby, Adams, Steranko and Toth stayed away from Hoverboy throughout their lives.  Lucky for us they did avoid the curse, and got to spend long years working at their craft.  Well, except for Steranko, the lazy bum.

At any rate, let us now pay tribute to some of the other unlucky craftsmen who “took the last gig”.  This is but a partial sampling of the many Hoverboy artists and writers who died of suspicious circumstances.  The loss to the golden and silver age of comics cannot be calculated, but some experts estimate it at around eight thousand dollars in unpublished art.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolled for these guys…but good.

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Ty the Guy