The name Steve Ditko is known for his co-creations Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, and rightly so, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find an entire separate world of work by this man. One of the biggest contributions he made, is his work for Charlton comics. In the past, I’d been dismissive of this company simply because their books don’t have the shine and attractiveness Marvel and DC had during this time period. Well, after finally giving them a try, I was astounded to find the awesome artwork of Pat Boyette, Tom Sutton, and Steve Ditko, to name a few.
In this issue, there are three stories that all have something to offer. The first, “Hocus Pocus,” shows a stage magician named Zarko, as he obtains an ancient book of spells and incantations that will make him the real deal! He finds out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be though! Written by Steve Morisi, art by Pete Morisi.
“The Man Who was Twins,” is the second story. This one is centered around a devious man that had a twin brother, but now he lives the lives of himself and the dead brother! He even marries his brother’s fiancee’! This scoundrel knows no limits! Written (possibly) by Joe Gill (unconfirmed), with art by Charles Nicholas and Vince Alascia.
Lastly, we have the gem of the book. “The 3RD Victim” shows one of the most creepy things ever in horror comics or cinema – a ventriloquist dummy! The puppet maker gets killed by a greedy man, and at first, it seems as if the dummy is helping this murderer. But as the story moves along, it is the murderer who will pay for his crimes! Writer (again, unconfirmed) Joe Gill, art by Steve Ditko (cover art as well), and letters by Charlotte Jetter. The fantastic cover is also by Ditko, and is really something else!
There are certain creators that invoke a feeling of excitement for me. One of those names for sure, is Tom Sutton! Of course he’s one of those guys that mainstream comic book fans might not recognize, but the old school/hardcore fans know it well. His work in the horror genre is legendary, and rightly so, but he’s also drawn superheroes, war, westerns, etc., but horror is his forte. At Marvel comics, you saw his excellent version of Ghost Rider, all sorts of horrific scenes in the black and white magazines, and more. The same over at DC, as he did solid work on House of Mystery (I, Vampire) and other titles.
The focus of this week’s post will be not on the work Sutton did for the big two, but for Charlton comics. Some may not recognize the work when compared to what he did at Marvel, but they kept a house style and smooth lines for their artwork. The work is fantastic (see episode 9 of Into the Weird for some thoughts of mine and The Longbox of Darkness), but again, isn’t his developed style. Once he started working at Charlton though, he really brought his own unique work to the horror genre. These images are just a small sample of what Sutton did there, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them!
The giants are leaving us. There is no two ways about it, and a small part of me gets angry about that fact for a couple of reasons. First, because I didn’t get to meet most of them, and secondly because not enough attention is given to these brilliant creators until they pass away (except in the small community of hardcore comic book fans). A great bit of sadness fell over me when I hard of the passing of Steve Ditko.
Whether you believe it or not, the man created Spider-Man (with a bit of direction from Stan Lee), and all the classic villains that were a huge part of making the hero what he was in the comic books. He also created (co-created, depending on your opinion) my personal favorite character Dr. Strange. Not to mention The Creeper, Hawk and Dove, Speedball, The Question, Mr. A., and so on. To call him a genius is no overstatement, and just a glance at his creativity on paper is all the proof you’ll need. Monsters, Superheroes, Science fiction, horror, humor, etc., he did it all.
Why he left comics doesn’t matter, nor his personal beliefs. He was a kind man, that kept to himself and hurt no one. He gave us his imagination for a long time and we should all be grateful for that! Godspeed, Sturdy Steve!