The latest volume of "The Steve Ditko Archives" collects the late 1950s horror and sci-fi stories illustrated by this comic legend.
Steve Ditko is a comic book artist most noted for, in the early 1960s, co-creating with Stan Lee for Marvel Comics both Amazing Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts. But before that, Ditko spent the 1950s honing his artistic ability drawing dozens and dozens of comic book stories for various publishers. Fantagraphics Books, publisher of "The Complete Peanuts," "Prince Valiant" and many other pristine compilation series, have been collecting Ditko’s early work and presenting them chronologically in "The Steve Ditko Archives."
The current release, Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3, presents the work that Ditko did for Charlton Comics from 1957-58. Charlton Comics, according to the introduction by "Ditko historian" Blake Bell, was known as a producer of the lowest-quality comics. They relied on bad paper, low pay ($6.50 a page!), low-quality stories and art. So why did Ditko work for a company that clearly didn’t care about comics? The answer is simple: As long as the content didn’t hurt sales (and was approved by the newly established Comics Code Authority), he had all the creative freedom he craved.
The stories and covers in this volume are from the comic anthology series "Tales Of The Mysterious Traveler," "Out Of This World," "Mysteries Of Unexplored Worlds," "Strange Suspense Stories," "Unusual Tales," and "This Magazine Is Haunted." As you can probably tell by the titles, the tales have a "Twilight Zone"-like feel with twist endings that usually feature some nefarious character getting his or her comeuppance. Because of the generally poor writing and even worse editing, many stories are bland and not very satisfying but the Ditko artwork holds your attention.