THE RETURN OF STEVE DITKO!
I really gotta hand it to that Ditko guy. Here he is, one of the most respected names in comicdom, co-creator of SPIDER-MAN and DR. STRANGE, artist on THE HULK, getting more fan notice and accolades than you and I ever will, and right at the height of his talents he turns his back on all of it and skedaddles back to Charlton who certainly were not on any kinda roll like at home-sweet-Marvel. 'n not only that, but Ditko had the nerve to flood the fanzine market with his "moral avenging" MR. A. comics which were so full of the anti-good vibes Objectivist philosophy he's pretty much swallowed hook line and metaphysics thus alienating all of those by-now mellowed out pot smoking comic book readers who certainly weren't getting this kind of hassle reading the now-youth movement friendly stories that Marvel and DC were cranking out!
I really have to admire a guy like that who was doing his very own brand of METAL MACHINE MUSIC-styled career-wrecking, not just for the pure idea of it but because it seemed that Ditko was doing the only thing that he could do by leaving a successful if stifling career for relative obscurity if not scorn to "do his own thing" as those definitely anti-Ditko hippies woulda put it. I'm a guy who can sorta relate to that considering the number of people I've turned off (mostly inadvertently if you can believe that) with my own well-thought-out opines, and yeah, I really can also identify with a man who hadda put up with a lotta the flack he had for spouting off truths that were bound to rankle the peace/love rank/file not only then, but for years afterwards.
If you're still in the mood to be "offended" these might not help. Gotta admit that the octogenarian Ditko of 2009 ain't the fortyish one of 1967 and these stories do lack a lotta the bite of those early Mr. A.'s and Avenging World sagas. Not that Ditko's toned his rhetoric down per se, but if you remember those old stories of his where Mr. A. would pretty much crowd out an entire panel re-reiterating philosophical tracts, usually while the bad guy is bleeding to death, these do come off comparatively tame.
The artwork isn't up to his late-sixties height either, and is even simpler than his already down-to-basics early-nineties work. But I guess getting Ditko is getting Ditko, so consider it akin to going to a late-period Sinatra concert with all of the mistakes and bum notes because we were there for the aura of the master instead of what he might have been able to do a good fortysome years earlier.
But for the Ditko fan these books really do sate even if nothing here approaches The Question or any of his other late-sixties fanzine work. Mr. A. makes his grand return even if the story he is in sure lacks what one might call an exciting premise or plot. Not only that, but it's split up between two issues even though the entire story tallies in at a good ten pages with four panels per page, a far cry from those stories in MR. A. #2 where Ditko crammed about sixteen dialogue and plot-laden panels on each page saying about as much in one-tenth the time what Ditko now says in a whole issue.
The same themes and morals that Ditko has pumped into the fandom consciousness continue, surely much to the chagrin of those who think that Ditko more or less ruined himself and his image with those "personalist" comics. I would be tempted to say that if you've read one Ditko you've read 'em all, but considering his fervent rah-rahing for individual rights and rationality what else would you expect? Thankfully Ditko directs some barbs at yet another venue we haven't heard much about, at least from his pen, mainly fandom itself and especially the lies and distortions being spouted off by him that he's read over the internet. And I guess he does have a good point...after all, how can a person who doesn't even know him and has formed his impressions via mere hearsay be any real judge of what kind of a man Ditko really is? A lesson that I'm sure will fly right past the consciousnesses of both a Mr. Dave L and Mr. Jay H, but I guess they're both too busy practicing their libertarian poses in front of the mirror to really examine themselves ifyaknowwaddamean...
Steve Ditko is one of the last of the Silver Age greats still in operation (at least somewhat), and giving him and his books the support they need may really be the message that we'd want to send to the bloated new generation of comic book publishers. Latch onto these (and a whole lot more) via Robin Snyder, 3745 Canterbury Ln. #81, Bellingham WA 98225 and please, don't tell 'em I sent ya!
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
THE RETURN OF STEVE DITKO!