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Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3 (Vol. 3) (The Steve Ditko Archives) Hardcover – May 28, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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  • Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 3 (Vol. 3)  (The Steve Ditko Archives)
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  • Impossible Tales: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 4 (Vol. 4)  (The Steve Ditko Archives)
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The latest entry in the series reprinting the early work of celebrated comic book artist Ditko is devoted to horror stories done in 1957 for bargain-basement publisher Charlton Comics. The tales, with titles like “The Thing from Below” and “The Forbidden Room,” are mostly hackneyed stuff, but that barely matters, since the whole show here is Ditko’s distinctly off-kilter drawings and boldly potent compositions. Charlton’s comics suffered from muddy printing on cheap paper, but meticulous restoration means that the stories look far better here than they did upon their original appearances. --Gordon Flagg

Review

“Fantastic... Raw and grotesque and beautifully drawn and presented.” (Dave Gibbons)

Strange Suspense offers page after lurid four-color page of Ditko’s weird monsters, rubber-faced crooks, and abstracted landscapes... The book is a white-knuckle trip through Ditko’s fevered imagination. [Grade] A-.” (The Onion A.V. Club)

“This exhilarating collection of stories by the comic-book artist who co-created Spider-Man captures all the glorious chills and blood spills from the first two years of his career.” (Entertainment Weekly)
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Product Details

  • Series: The Steve Ditko Archives (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics (May 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606994980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606994986
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lewis Forro on August 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book to support getting more Steve Ditko reprint books done despite the fact the last page of "The Forbidden Room" was missing. I've just started reading the book and discovered so far that 2 Ditko covers are missing. "From All Our Dark Rooms" is missing the Ditko cover to the issue this story appeared in, "Out Of This World" #4. Also the story "Menace Of The Maple Leaves" is missing the Ditko cover to that issue, "Strange Suspense Stories" #33.

Maybe the publisher, Fantagraphics, didn't think veteran Ditko fans like myself would notice mistakes like that. I sent Fantagraphics an email asking if a corrected edition of this book is going to be published but I'm not holding my breath waiting for a reply.

In the future, I am going to very careful about ordering any more Fantagraphics books until the Amazon reviews indicate the book is complete. Take heed Fantagraphics, you are doing yourself a great deal of damage with this type of sloppy work on your books.

Lewis Forro
Virginia Beach, VA
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Format: Hardcover
This book is missing two pages!! Fantagraphics will gladly send you a pdf of the missing pages. Gosh that's swell of them!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a showcase of early Steve Ditko art, and it's great. The stories are ridiculously bad, and demonstrate the difference between a story that's simply well-structured vs one that makes sense. A prisoner in a federal penitentiary develops an invisibility serum, and the police aren't joking! A researcher comes to regret using sea-monster bait, as maybe does the captain of his vessel, but luckily they were sailing into an atomic testing area anyway. A forgetful old codger's mysterious lust for destruction drives him to plug up volcanoes with boulders. Near-electrocution gifts an apple-cheeked boy with super-intelligence, but luckily a nervous breakdown turns him happily normal. I once read an interview with Leonard Starr explaining that back in the day, the more highly-regarded artists would be given "dead" stories in the belief that good art would liven them up, while the mediocre artists would get the better writing! It's a back-handed tribute to Ditko.

The art is practically hallucinatory in classic Ditko style. It's so wonderfully weird that it would make up for the worst writing in the world!
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Before his glory days at Marvel illustrating Spider-Man, Steve Ditko worked for poverty-row publisher Charlton. Toiling long hours for low page rates, he produced some amazing work, including the stories reproduced in this volume. According to Blake Bell's introduction, Ditko turned out a staggering 500 pages of art -- both pencils and inks!-- and 26 covers during 1957 alone. This volume reproduces about half of those pages.

The stories are in the fantasy/sci-fi genre that will be familiar to readers of the pre-super hero numbers of Marvel's "Tales to Astonish," "Strange Tales," and "Tales of Suspense," to which Ditko also contributed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As near as I can tell from Bell's introduction, Ditko was probably not responsible for most of the scripts for these stories; Bell believes that Joe Gill probably was. But given the very loose editorial control exercised by Charlton, my guess is that Ditko had free rein to do pretty much what he wanted with Gill's scripts. The result is some really quite striking visual images -- the equal I would say to anything he did later in his career with Marvel, DC, or back with Charlton. The stories differ in quality, with some being pretty weak, but Ditko's art is uniformly superb.

The stories vary in length and some come to rather an abrupt conclusion. Bell offers the opinion that it sometimes appears that "the writer just ran out of pages to finish a story and figured the editors at Charlton wouldn't notice." As I write this, there is only one other review and the reviewer is upset that the final page appears to be missing from the story "The Forbidden Room." The story does seem to be missing a conclusion, but it is eight pages long, so maybe this is a particularly bad example of abruptly ending a story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was intrigued by the Action Heroes archives (particularly volume 2), and decided to purchase more of Ditko's work. Of the volumes available in hardcover, this one was definitely the cheapest (as a new book, it came in just north of nine dollars, including shipping!), so I decided to give it a go. As for that price, it's obviously great value, despite the flaws I will list below. However, at the original cover of forty dollars, I'm not as convinced. In any case, here are my observations.

First, the physicals of the book. The cover is a sort of "soft: hardcover, with no dust jacket, not unlike some of Dark Horse's video game guides. As such, it damages easily; shelf wear shows pretty strongly on these books, so expect a corner crease in your lifetime. I think this book should have shipped with a slipcase. Further, the book has a permanent bar code on the back (again, not unlike Dark Horse's video game guides). It's unfortunate - it looks very ugly, and I think a sticker would have been just fine (the stickers come right off of this material, with no residue). Finally, you will notice in the image a man walking in what appears to be rain. As far as I can tell, the rain is actually not part of the drawing, but rather an added effect by the publisher; in particular, there are regular streaks of glue that, when they catch the light, look like raindrops. It's not a bad effect.

The book opens well (much better, e.g., than DC's archives). The pages are nice enough, although I immensely prefer the pages in the DC archives. The reproductions are pretty good. I would guess that the colors here more properly duplicate those found in the original comics, so if that's your thing, that's probably a plus for you.
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