While you may not know who Steve Ditko is, you have certainly felt his influence. He co-created Spider-Man and set the tone for the first four years. In addition to his work on Spidey, he also created Dr. Strange, The Creeper, Hawk and Dove, The Question, Mr. A. and many other superheroes (and villains). Not only have we always been a huge fan of Steve’s work, he is not only one of the main reasons why we still read comics; he is also probably one of the reasons that we became a writer in the first place, as one of, our first articles ever published was an examination of his work.
Well, if you like this writer are a fan of Mr. Ditko, then you’ll want to check out this very cool graphic album, Steve Ditko’s The Thing! (Pure Imagination). This extraordinary book serves up a total of 27 short horror stories as penned by Steve. This stuff is simply classic Steve. Sure, sure some of it can possibly read as trite in the cold hard light of today’s sensibilities, but that assessment is simply unfair, especially when you consider that when this stuff seems hackneyed and tired, you have to remember that these stories were all done several years ago, and well, you have to remember that Steve not only did it first he unquestionably did it much better!
That’s right folks, if any of his stuff looks familiar to you, it is because someone else saw it first, and replicated something similar to it later on either in another comic or on some TV show you probably saw (or more likely you saw the show or comic that was produced by the folks who saw the original, thus watering it down even more). Speaking as someone who has gone on record as not being a big fan of horror (even though we regularly partake in the genre, and am a regular contributor to a couple of horror publications), this stuff is simply outstanding. In just a few pages, Ditko is able to create mood, suspense, a fully-realized story, and some shocking turns — not to mention numerous characters about which we can care in order to make the stories work.
His stark, B&W artwork shines, for this is Ditko at his unparalleled best. If all you know of Steve is his superhero work, I recommend that you seek this book out and pick up a copy. Still, if not this one, than any one of the other Ditko collections that are also available (yes, even his superhero work). Steve is one of the true masters of this industry, and (thankfully) he is still with us. Sure he gave us Spidey, but that contribution is merely the tip of Steve’s creative influence.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.