Ditko’s Shorts edited by Craig Yoe and Fester Faceplant (graphic novel review).

It is not generally known that famous comic book artist Steve Ditko has a fine pair of legs and likes to show them off by eschewing long trousers in favour of a variety of shorts. It is not generally known because it isn’t true. ‘Ditko’s Shorts’ is not a fashion book with one model showing off his kit. Instead, it is the latest Ditksploitation book in which ancient, not very good comicbook stories are packaged into an expensive luxury format to convince you that they are somehow special. This is not a cynical trick of hard-nosed publishers, I think, but a labour of love by hard core fans who think you should like Ditko as much as they do.


To be fair, there are ninety pages of graphic storytelling here and the price, given the quality of the paper, hardcovers and so forth is not too steep. $24.99 is what you would pay for a hardback novel and, if you’re a real fan of Steve Ditko’s art and buy this as an art book, you won’t be too disappointed. There are thirty-eight stories and, in one sense, you get quantity but they are all one, two or three pages so in another sense you don’t. In the good old days of the fifties, many comics were anthologies of shorter stories and, if one book needed a couple of pages to fill it up, the writers had to dream up this kind of thing. Inevitably, these are twist in the tail tales so any description of them ruins them. Some are quite clever and even amusing, if you are young. The writers are not generally credited but, as these are all from Charlton comics, a few must be by Joe Gill.

Among the best stuff is the humour, surprisingly, two shorts of the type done by ‘Mad’ magazine, which was much copied in its day. ‘Car Show’ spoofs the eager salesman of vehicles. ‘Starlight, Starbright’ mocks the biographies of rags to riches singers. The other content is a mix of Science Fiction, crime, horror and westerns. Science Fiction lends itself to these kind of trick endings because you can conceal the true nature of the aliens until the last panel where they turn out to be invisible or the size of a dust mote or whatever.

Really, it’s an art book for collectors of Ditko’s drawings. That’s the market it’s aimed at and that’s who will buy it. Ditko is a good enough artist but his Charlton work had to be turned out quickly and it shows in the quality. It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that Steve did his best work in the early sixties at Marvel Comics. His other stuff is okay but pales by comparison.

Eamonn Murphy

March 2015

(pub: IDW Publishing, 2014. 112 page graphic novel. Price: about £ 10.00 (UK) if you know where to look). ISBN: 978-1-63140-153-4)

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Eamonn Murphy

Eamonn Murphy reviews books for sfcrowsnest and writes short stories now and then. Website:

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