Saturday, October 24, 2020

Ditko - Impossible Tales!

The Steve Ditko Archives Volume 4 is titled Impossible Tales and as this collection of Ditko tales from the latter part of 1957 and into 1958 show, the title is well chosen. Long gone are the space operas and the gruesome horror tales. They have been replaced by light and bouncy stories of science fiction and fantasy which focus on the destiny of one man. This is a collection filled with tortured souls looking for explanations for why they suffer of who they are. We have misguided robots, time travelers, befuddled scientists,  mutants and more.

These are stories mostly from Charlton and magazines such as Tales of the Mysterious Traveler and This Magazine is Haunted. It's the latter that really stands out in my estimation, the host of that comic Dr. Haunt has become a real favorite of mine in these readings. He's visually provocative and Ditko increasingly uses him in more and more creative ways fusing him into the stories. He does it with the Traveler as well, but somehow Dr. Haunt is a bit more engaging to my eye. I should also say that two stories from the earlier volume in the series are reprinted yet again because of some pages dropped in that first outing. 

One comic seems to be all Ditko, the St. John comic title Do You Believe in Nightmares. This is a heady book, almost in many ways to my eye what Dikto will do when he turns his sights on Marvel. There are two issues of this comic, the second features work by Dick Ayers and apparently both were the result of Al Fago, longtime Charlton editor selling these tales to St. John's when he was fired by Charlton. 

The rest of the stories appeared in Charlton comics such Unusual Tales and Out of this World. Ditko is exceedingly well represented in the Charlton line at this time but his covers do seem to diminish as he spends more and more time on the stories within. The covers he did produce though are real winners. 

The next volume will continue with Ditko's 1958 work and will also bring to light one of Ditko's most whip snapping aspects, his days as a pornographer. 

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