Friday, January 13, 2012

Steve Ditko Omnibus Vol II


In my list of top comic book artists of all time, Steve Ditko would rate very high. I've always enjoyed his work and back when I was a working artist, I spent a lot of time looking at how Ditko constructed human figures. As writer Mike W. Barr points out in his introduction to DC Comics' Steve Ditko Omnibus Vol II, Ditko's knowledge of anatomy is textbook. You don't always see it, especially in his later work, but during his peak period of the 1960s you can really tell he knew his stuff. Don't let the quirky poses fool you. All the muscles connect where they should and that's especially impressive given the contortionist poses Ditko created for Spiderman, The Creeper, The Blue Beetle and the like.
There are some good examples in the first half of the Omnibus, with reprints one of Ditko's short lived 1970s DC projects, The Hawk and the Dove. Take a look at the physiques of the two sibling superheroes and you'll see what I'm talking about. This is some prime Ditko right here folks.
Unfortunately there's also a lot of not so prime Ditko in the second half of the book. There's a lot of stuff where Ditko did only pencils (and often, I suspect, very rough pencils) that are inked by other hands. Some of the stuff works and some...well, it doesn't. Of the stuff that does work, I was glad to get all of Ditko's Starman backup features together in one place. Looking forward to reading through those.
Perhaps some of the strangest art to me is Ditko's Legion of Super Heroes stuff. These characters are rather iconic to me, and somehow Ditko's unique approach just jars in these stories.
Anyway, much has been said about Ditko's politics, his reclusive nature and so on, and while I do find a lot of that fascinating, with this Omnibus (and the first volume) I'm just here for the art. In the last year or so I've been reading my way through a lot of the old Charlton Comics horror titles, such as Scary Tales and Ghost Manor. These contain tons of Ditko art that hasn't been reprinted since original publication. There are some Ditko gems in those comics. I've really come to appreciate Ditko's storytelling ability and the wide range of his art. There's plenty of that on view in the Steve Ditko Omnibus Vol II as well. Recommended.

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