Just to clarify, this type of fetish artwork is not necessarily my cup of tea. But that said I'm not going to deny that Eric Stanton and his partner Steve Ditko don't create some evocative and erotic images in Sweeter Gwen -- Captive of Bondage Manor, a slapstick yarn about an innocent but beautiful naif assaulted by a cadre of villains who want a map she's unaware that she even has. (I happens to be in a place she might not see it all the time.) The point of these stories is to get lovely buxom women into situations of bondage as swiftly and as handsomely rendered as possible. Ideally they will be in some state of undress, and that's key for the very specific audience for these "serials". It's not nudity that makes these types of fetish comics effective, but the promise of potential nudity stopping short with much evocative lace and leather. I was a bit gobsmacked by the prices paid for these pages, which were delivered a few pages at a time for five bucks or so a pop. (That's 60's money by the way.)
Sweeter Gwen -- Captive of Bondage Manor is an homage to John Willie, a groundbreaking fetish artist who was one of Stanton's artistic heroes. Willie had created a character in his The Adventures of Sweet Gwen who was effectively identical to the lovely damsel in distress we find in this comic.
While gazing upon lovely dames in pretty much any state of dress or undress is not unpleasant to me, I confess little interest in this form of kinky presentation, and at the risk of protesting too much I think like many this has perhaps caused me to overlook something quite obvious. Steve Ditko was a fetish artist. He was not as I had previously thought a colleague who helped touch up an image here and there for his studio mate who was a fetish artist, but instead he was part of an artistic team which intentionally created narratives within the confines of the fetish field. It's a bit of a surprise to find this out about a guy who despite his reclusive nature has had his work work feverishly examined for decades now.
Looking at Sweeter Gwen it's obvious that Ditko has inked Stanton's lush pencils, bringing a focus and edge to the work not apparent in Stanton's work alone. The team of Stanton and Ditko is a pretty darn good and I can only have hoped to have seen them work together in the traditional comic arena in which I spend most of my time (or maybe I did and didn't know it). Ditko zealously claimed that his work spoke for him and in the instance of Sweeter Gwen - Captive of Bondage Manor it does so in spades. To bad he was ashamed of it apparently.
I wonder if the name "Gwen" ever came up in other comics Ditko worked on?