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 Ditkos imagination.
Following up on Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, Blake Bells 2008 best-selling critical retrospective of Ditkos 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 Ditkos very first story to Ditkos short stint in the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby studio, to Ditkos 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 Bells insightful introduction, providing historical background and speaking to Ditko's influence and his unique craft.
Download an EXCLUSIVE 15-page PDF excerpt (5.9 MB) containing two terrifying tales!
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"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
Praise for Strange and Stranger:
"The book is an extremely satisfying archive of the artist's work, both famous and obscure, and... it intensely documents the twists and turns of his career." – Los Angeles Times Book Review
"An essential tribute to one of pop culture's most essential creators. [Grade] A+" – SciFi
"This is one handsome book. Handsome like the lead hunter character in a safari movie handsome." – The Comics Reporter
"[A] glorious celebration... beautifully designed. [Grade] A-" – Entertainment Weekly
"Insightful... excellent... [Grade} A" – The Onion A.V. Club
"Bell has inpeccable taste when it comes to his assessment of the high points in Ditko's art and career... Steve Ditko at his best is magic, and The World of Steve Ditko is filled with Ditko at his best... the book [is] a must for the old grouch's many fans, and should convert some new ones, too. Recommended and then some." – Minneapolis City Pages