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Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol.1 Hardcover – November 30, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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New York Times–bestselling author Box Brown untangles the complex history and role games play in art, culture, and commerce. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ditko is best known to comics fans as the co-creator of Spider-Man but was prolific before and well after his 1960s Marvel Comics heyday. To this day, he continues to turn out the occasional strip espousing his uncompromising Ayn Randian political philosophy. Befitting his legendary status, every aspect of his career is worth examining and preserving, which makes the launching of a series reprinting his vintage stories welcome indeed. This initial volume collects roughly three dozen of his earliest published (1954) stories, examples of the era’s most popular genre, the horror tale, for which Ditko’s idiosyncratic style was particularly suited, though he was also adept at romance, westerns, sf, and even humor. These blunt, one-dimensional tales, mostly done for the Poverty Row publisher Charlton, may lack the polish Ditko would bring to later work, but his visual approach, including his command of such storytelling basics as staging and panel composition, was fully in place. Every story here is immediately recognizable as the work of one of mainstream comics’ most distinctive artists. --Gordon Flagg


“This book is chock-full of intense faces and monsters and colors. Strong blacks, horror comics, mean revenge, strange surgery…It’s all horror comics from before Frederic Wertham illegalized good-time comic books. The cover is really thick and the hardcover is hard as hell.” (Nick Gazin - Vice)

“With the Fantagraphics logo on the sturdy spine, readers can expect―and receive―a top-quality package with crisp pages and handsome design. It's certainly attractive for some stories Ditko dismissed as 'junk,' but we all know there's treasure buried in trash.” (Rod Lott - Bookgasm)

Strange Suspense is an absolute must have for any student of sequential art history... It’s an excellent collection of long lost work from a man whose importance cannot be overstated. There’s really no other grade to give it than an A.” (Chad Derdowski - Mania.com)

“This just in! Steve Ditko book to be awesome: Seriously, just look at this thing. Wow!” (J. Caleb Mozzocco - Newsarama)

“[T]he tales in this tome are sheer pre-Comics Code Authority horror, complete with stabbings, decapitations, mutilations and disintegrations. ...Ditko's talent jumps off the page and one of the benefits of reading the stories in chronological order is seeing his art evolve and improve.” (Pedro Cabezuelo - Rue Morgue)

“These morality fables are seldom subtle or surprising... but it’s Ditko’s artistry that elevates these mostly standard comic book nasties. ... good value, and this is a weighty, hard-packed, deluxe package.” (Paul Gravett)

“This is a cracking collection in its own right but as an examination of one of the art-form’s greatest stylists it is also an invaluable insight into the very nature of comics. This is a book true fans would happily kill or die for.” (Wim Wiacek - Now Read This!)

“If you're interested in the history of the comics genre, this is a must-have.” (Seattle Geekly)

“One of the treasures of the year, filled with tons of the master's weird and wonky comics.” (Alan David Doane - Comic Book Galaxy)

“[F]antastic! ... [A]n amazing recap of Steve Ditko’s entire career in comics... It’s also one of the best designed books I’ve read recently... There’s a lot more to Steve Ditko than just Doctor Strange and Spider-Man.” (Marc Sobel - Comic Book Galaxy)

“If the infected, deformed teens of Black Hole inspired the reader to linger on each page of that magnificent book, Strange Suspense is worth a look. And for the Ditko-curious, this isn't a bad place to start.” (The Typing Monkey)

“It's nice to have a bunch of comics from this time period, particularly the grittier pre-Code or Fear of Code-Like Crackdown work. There are some truly repulsive pieces of throwaway pulp in this book's pages, and Ditko was more than up to the task of illustrating them.” (Tom Spurgeon - The Comics Reporter)

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)

“It's fascinating to see [Ditko's] nascent style coalescing as he tackles a variety of material, already starting to work out the design genius that would mark much of his work, including―especially!―Dr. Strange and Spider-Man, for the next 20 years.” (Steven Grant - Comic Book Resources)

“Man! are these some cool comics. ... Ditko... had no restraints, and the stories show it. This is pretty wild stuff. ... We really get a sense of a master at work in this book, even though it was so early in Ditko's career. ... It's totally worth the price!” (Greg Burgas - Comic Book Resources)

“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)

“[A] first-hand look at the singularly warped sensibilities of one of the artists that would go on to shape the modern superhero book as we know it. ...Strange Suspense is a treasure trove of weird excitement from one of the mavericks of mid-century comics.” (Brian Heater - The Daily Cross Hatch)

“[T]he work contained in this hardcover (and kudos to Fantagraphics on the excellent and handsome production work) constantly reminds you of just how stellar an artist Ditko would prove to be.” (Chris Mautner - Robot 6 (Comic Book Resources))

“Okay, I see a lot of books and comics passing my desk every week but ye gods this stood out―pre comic code Steve Ditko. Let me just say that again: STEVE DITKO!! ... And it's a lovely looking hardback edition, the sort you give pride of place on your shelves.” (The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics (November 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606992899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606992890
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,633,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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on November 17, 2009
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