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Before the Amazing Spider-Man, before the mysterious Dr. Strange, before the black-and-white world of the Ayn Rand-inspired Mr. A, the legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko was conjuring all manners of horrors at his
drawing table. In his first two years in the industry (1953 and 1954), Ditko
drew tales of macabre suspense that were not yet hobbled by the imminent
Comics Code Authority (adopted in Oct. 1954). These stories featured graphic
bloodshed, dismemberment and blood-curdling acid baths as the ugly end to the lives of the dark and twisted inhabitants of Steve Ditko’s imagination.
Following up on Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, Blake Bell’s 2008 best-selling critical retrospective of Ditko’s career, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 features, for the first time, spectacular full-color reprints of every story from those first two years of his career. Beginning with Ditko’s very first story to Ditko’s short stint
in the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby studio, to Ditko’s eventual encampment at the Charlton Comics operation in 1954, readers
will see the initial works of an artist already at a level of craftsmanship that exceeded most of his peers.
The book also features editor Bell’s insightful introduction, providing historical background and speaking to Ditko's influence and his unique craft.
Now in paperback!
18-page excerpt (download 29.7 MB PDF):
"Fantastic... Raw and grotesque and beautifully drawn and presented." – Dave Gibbons
Top 5 comics of the year – Tom Neely, The Daily Cross Hatch, "The Best Damned Comics of 2009 Chosen by the Artists"
"It's fascinating to see [Ditko's] nascent style coalescing as he tackles a variety of material, already starting to work out the design genius that would mark much of his work, including – especially! – Dr. Strange and Spider-Man, for the next 20 years." – Steven Grant, Comic Book Resources
"...[T]he tales in this tome are sheer pre-Comics Code Authority horror, complete with stabbings, decapitations, mutilations and disintegrations. ...Ditko's talent jumps off the page and one of the benefits of reading the stories in chronological order is seeing his art evolve and improve." – Pedro Cabezuelo, Rue Morgue
"Strange Suspense offers page after lurid four-color page of Ditko’s weird monsters, rubber-faced crooks, and abstracted landscapes... The book is a white-knuckle trip through Ditko’s fevered imagination. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club