A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
For fans of silver age comics there are few more legendary and respected artists than Steve Ditko. He’s most famous for the first 38 issues of Spider-Man, a character he created with a little help from Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. He’s also responsible for one of my personal favorite Marvel characters, Doctor Strange. There’s a lot more to Ditko though, including a long list of obscure horror and sci-fi comics that are now public domain and freely available.
Of these public domain works Unusual Tales #10, from January, 1958, ranks among my favorites. Inside you’ll find four Ditko comics, an anonymous (and ridiculous) short story, and an unsigned comic (probably drawn by Bill Molno) about an unfrozen caveman. It’s all good fun and perfect Outer-Limits-like Halloween reading.
If you’re new to Ditko then you’re in for a treat. No matter how cheesey the stories sometimes get, there’s always something compelling about Ditko’s choices. He can make a gimmicky twist ending seem poignant or create sympathetic characters in just a few panels. Of course, there’s also the art itself. You won’t be able to scan through the comic like any other. There’s something to linger over on nearly every page. Sometimes it’s more than just beautiful to look at too. The storytelling power of many panels would be impossible to improve.
Here’s a quick rundown of the four Ditko stories from Unusual Tales #10. “Never Again”—a wonderful nuclear apocalypse yarn with a nifty twist at the end. “The Repair Man from Nowhere”—a heartwarming tale of a TV repairman from another dimension and the young couple that help him out of a tough spot. “The Edge of Fear”—a story of father/son mad scientists and their super-intelligent machine. And last but not least, “A Strange Kiss”—a love story about a mining engineer and a beautiful subterranean dweller.
Review by Matthew
Downloading and Reading Digital Comics for the Perplexed:
If you’re new to the process, reading digital comics can be a tad confusing. Both of the best sources for public domain comics (Digital Comic Museum and Comic Book Plus) will require you to register an email and create a password before you can start downloading. However, both have a “preview” feature that will let you read the comic right from the browser without registering or downloading. If you do choose to download comics, you’ll notice that some of the comics are .cbr or .cbz files. These are kind of like the comics version of .epub and require an app to read. I use SimpleComic for Mac and ComicRack for Windows. Tablets will need different apps. Sidebooks is a good free option for the iPad and the same goes for Komik Reader on Android.