Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Witches' Tale - Stretching Things

Another Black n' White shocker for you ghouls! From WITCHES' TALE #5, a tale of elongating your terror...STRETCHING THINGS!


Tim Lucas said...

This story doesn't appear to be signed, but it's obviously the work of Steve Ditko. He did some of the most beautiful work of his career in black-and-white horror comics like this.

Tim Lucas said...

On second look, the third and fourth pages also seem to feature the additional input of Jack Davis. Interesting collaboration!

David A. Zuzelo said...

Good snag Tim, I love this little is some background on it. I think there is more Davis inspiration on show than input as far as I can tell.
I probably should include more stuff on these comics, but I get very little feedback on 'em as is. Just nice to share some stories and get folks interested in the real classics.

From Ditko Looked Up:

Equally powerful was an unsigned reprint that I stumbled across in FMZ #1, an obscure fanzine from 1970. The story was ''Stretching Things'', written by Bruce Hamilton and illustrated by a very young Steve Ditko. It originally appeared in Farrell Publications' Fantastic Fears #5, January 1954.

''Stretching Things'' is often called Ditko's ''very first comic book story,'' but if so, it wasn't the first one printed. In any case, echoes of Ditko's early influences abound in this atmospheric five-pager. Will Eisner's patented deep black shadows and kinetic camera angles blend with Jerry (Batman) Robinson's strong page and panel composition to forge an exceptionally strong horror tale. Not unexpected, since Ditko studied Eisner's published Spirit pages for ideas when he was young, and actually took courses from Robinson when he completed his military service after World War Two.

Historically, ''Stretching Things'' is notable, as it represents the formative work of a cartoonist whose contributions to the field of comic books cannot be overstated.

Tim Lucas said...

Interesting research, David -- thanks! As far as I know, Ditko's first published comics art appeared in the first issue of a romance comic called DARING LOVE.

David A. Zuzelo said...

Thanks for the link Tim, and welcome new readers! I hope you poke around and enjoy. Using the labels on the front page you can find anything from comic scans like this (classic HEAP horror, air fighters and more), my beloved (by me at least) YOR week posts, Jess Franco, Bruno Mattei and other stuff I love.

Have fun and I hope you like the shares! said...

Thanks for sharing these great pages, David... I'm also not sure that Ditko needed anyone else's input to create pages that striking... in that era his B&W washes were flawless. Thanks, Tim, for pointing me this way. Comics should always be that gorgeous.

David A. Zuzelo said...

Thanks for reading and by all means try out some of the other shared scans. I'm a big Ditko fan myself and agree with you. I did look hard at the art again and I see the Davis influence in the monstrous faces (I always think of that 6 foot tall Frankenstein when I think of Davis). What I find most interesting is that it looks like Ditko, but is more linear than his later work. I can picture the panels without boundaries just OOZING over the pages if he had done this ten years later.

Hmmm..I'd like to get Neil's take on this. That man is a Ditkophile to say the least.

Thanks again Lance, I'm grateful to have the conversation!

SRBissette said...

This wasn't Ditko's first comics story -- I once had an issue of BLACK DIAMOND WESTERN in my collection that I gave to my Kubert School roommate Larry Loc for his Ditko comics collection, featuring a Ditko western story that ended with a remarkable panel of a the dressed-in-black 'bad guy' drowned in a pool of water. It was a compelling image, as Ditko had evidently blown the wet ink into a strange pattern to evoke the spread the dead man's hair in the water. I also have some Ditko Charlton work (most famously his contributions to THE THING comic) in my collection that predates "Stretching Things."

No Davis collaboration, Tim, but Ditko may have cribbed a bit from Jack's seminal EC work of the time. Early Ditko work also evidences the influence of Joe Kubert's '40s and early '50s art, including Joe's TOR. There's some pretty remarkable lifting of character and faces from Joe's work in early Ditko art. This was a stylistic borrowing Ditko soon matured beyond -- but which may account for the negative reaction Joe Kubert once demonstrated to Ditko's work while I was a student at Kubert School.

Great site, David, and I hope to make time to explore all you've done here more often! Thanks for steering me to it, Tim!

SRBissette said...

PS: Note two other things, here, too, please:

1. The tone work is NOT Ditko's -- it was added for the b&w zine reprint. This zine publisher (Myron Fass) added tones and often ridiculously clunky splashes of black blood/ink to Pre-Code horror comics art. At times the tones were well rendered; more often, though, they were slapped on with little attention to detail or atmosphere, no doubt the product of tight deadlines met for impoverished paychecks (Fass was a notorious cheapskate publisher, famed in the '70s for carrying a magnum with him in the offices. Go ahead, make his day!)

That noted, Ditko's marvelous use of pen, brush, ink and wash in the early issues of CREEPY and EERIE for Warren indeed demonstrated a skill Ditko excelled at which was, sadly, rarely showcased in any other venue, save for his collaborative work on adult-only Eric Stanton bondage comics of the late '50s early '60s.

2. The original Pre-Code (pre-1954) Ditko inks were sharp, crisp and entirely linear (pen, brush and ink, no tones). They were quite different from the Ditko stylization of his later work for Atlas/Timely/Marvel (on the monster & fantasy comics and superhero comics), or the sometimes deft, sometimes sloppy shorthand that defined his later work for Charlton, DC, Marvel and Ditko's own ventures (MR. A, AVENGING WORLD, etc.).

David A. Zuzelo said...

Thanks for all the input guys...Steve it is great to see you here. That is a great bit on Myron Fass-nothing says editorial like THE LARGEST HANDGUN KNOWN TO MAN!

Now since Steve is an artist and I have his autograph I have to share how cool it is. I have a groovy Bissette signature inside my HARDCOVER copy of DEEP RED which features a typically wild zombie head in the midst of the inscription. This day was double cool because I met Chas. for the first time. was TRIPLE COOL because I also landed my first published article from that day which popped up in Deep Red Alert.

Ah...good times. Hope you can poke around Steve and that some of the stuff is to your interest.

NiKT said...

thanks for sharing!
I'm surprised how gorgeous this early Ditko looks!