Monday, October 26, 2020

Ditko Runs Amok!

Back in the 90's when Steve Ditko was winding down his mainstream career in comics you had a hard time telling when he'd pop up next. One place was in a nifty four issue reprint series edited by Mort Todd called Monster Menace. Of the four issues Ditko drew two of the covers including the one above featuring not only himself and Stan Lee hard at work but an avalanche of monster mugs from the mighty Atlas/Marvel monster years. 

Here's a look at a raw version of the artwork Ditko turned in before it was menaced itself by logos and branding imagery. 

And here it is again with some of that identifying copy in place. Notably missing still is the little Jack Kirby blurb at the bottom. 

Ditko also did the cover for issue three of Monster Menace and this one is bit more typical of the work he was doing at the end of his career in the halls of Marvel. Dismayed and frightened regular folks (Ditko's bread and butter) are scared of an oozing green gelatinous monster as it appears on the sidewalk. The copy at the bottom announced the monster "Zuztak", but this is no Zzutak my friends. 

Zzutak was a delightful monster penciled by Kirby and inked by Ditko who appeared in an issue of Strange Tales and some years later in the third issue of Fear where I first encountered him. He's always been a favorite. He was an ancient Mayan monster recreated by an artist given three dimensional paint by a mad Mayan priest who lusts for power and an army of Zzutaks. The artist instead paints up an enemy to do battle with Zzutak and the Mayan priest's plans are foiled. It's one of my favorites. 

I had hoped to do more this month with the Marvel mystery and monster work Ditko did, but time has got the best of me. Look for another go at Ditko's Marvel years in months to come. 

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  1. I remember the Zzutak strip when it appeared in Fear issue 3 very well as it was one of the first non superhero Marvel comics I recall picking up. Zzutak and that cover has stuck with me for years and I smile every time I see it

    1. Those early touchstones are the mightiest. Zzutak! One of Stan's
      best oddball names!