Kirby and Ditko Splashing Around

Yesterday I was counting pages and noting defects on books for next week’s eBay auctions. It was tough slogging but I perked up when I came across what I’ll describe as a three-issue set of dueling splash pages. I did a whole year’s worth of posts celebrating splash pages and that exercise is still paying off as it has helped heighten my awareness of these special pages.

In front of me sat a little run of three pre-hero Strange Tales, #80, 81 and 82. I found myself mesmerized by the, as I’ll call them, “dueling” Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko Splash pages. I would take each book and flip back and forth to the splash pages and compare. My first thoughts were just how sparse and clean Ditko’s pages are, a true minimalist. Kirby of course is all about motion. A weird thought then came to me, I imagined they sat in little cubicles or the 1960 version of cubicles and had competitions on who could complete their page quicker. “OK Jack, on your mark, get set… go!” And they’d both sketch away for the next 57 seconds to produce these little gems. Stan Lee would then walk by and look at the pages, walk away, and mumble to himself that he was paying these guys way too much.

I think I need to do more of this during the eBay prep; it was like stopping to smell the roses and the little time I lost gave me the pep and energy to see the job through. It also inspired this week’s post so yeah, I have to do this more often.

Speaking of heartbreak, our weekly internationalcollectiblesexchange eBay auction caused me quite the stress as my beautiful CGC 7.0 copy of Young Love #157 sold for $118.50 USD. I have another copy so I thought I’d sell this one: big mistake as I’m already missing it! Advantage Mom!

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. Wow! You must be reading my mind! Just yesterday I was reading a copy of Monsters Unleashed #2 from 2017 with Greg Land art. It was wonderful to see all those pre-hero Atlas monsters paraded through the pages, and I had fun trying to pick them all out by name: Fin Fang Foom, Zzutak, Sporr, Rommbu, Goom and Googam, among many others. A few of them seemed like totally new creations, and the few Kirby/Ditko critters I couldn’t identify sent me to my copy of Kirby 100 from 2017. Running along the bottom of pages 36 and 37 is Pete Poplaski’s amazing tableau of 17 pre-hero monsters (plus a selection of “The Helpless Humans!”) done in glorious black and white. These were after all the precursors of The Thing and The Hulk in the Marvel Age of Comics. I used to love picking up cheap copies at Now and Then of any of those books, but my heart was always set on Strange Tales #89 with Fin Fang Foom, who I first encountered in Fantasy Masterpieces #2. When I finally did find a copy, I sold every other one of those books just to get my hot little hands on the prize. Never once regretted it!

    So, thanks for that stroll down memory lane Walt!

    cheers, mel

  2. Fantastic stuff! I was an “Adams is God” guy as a kid, and these guys seemed like cartoonists, but especially in my later days I’ve come to appreciate them. I’d have to say I was and still am more of a Kirby guy, because I like my comics over-the-top. Just see the red dude at the bottom left of “It!” as one of Charlie’s pictorial explanations of my point. Also Gargantus’s face. I think Ditko was more about fever dreams and shadows – I’m more of a monster guy. I have a few high grade copies of these Kirby monster covers and I’m always on the lookout for more – a clearly-defined sub-Silver Age period whose importance to keeping the machine running to allow for FF #1 to come along will be more appreciated as time goes on.

    To Mel: I have a raw ~2.0 of ST #89 (from one of the late lamented captwhiz’s lots) and I think that’s about it for me. I would rather add another half-dozen of really nice copies of the “lesser” Kirby monster books than pay up for a decent #89. In this space quantity beats quality for me.

    Young Romance is probably Advantage Buyer but I just can’t handle the gulf between that one and the one you kept. I will be watching for a similarly-graded one to come along because I do love that cover. You didn’t mention the true Advantage Buyer for the evening but that’s okay, I don’t need to be reminded of my weakness for the Amazonian.

  3. Interesting… I just put up my winter display which consists of all pre hero monster books… including Amazing Adventures 2,3,6 as well as Amazing Adult Fantasy 7-14, and the other TTA, ToS, Strange Tales and JiM books culminating with Strange Tales Annual 1. Highlights include Man Inside the Beehive and the first appearance of Uncle Ben and Aunt May! Always loved those books!

  4. Hey Gerald
    I remember well that Aunt May and Uncle Ben story and thinking at the time, “So Spider-man has a sister (or cousin) who is a mermaid? How strange is that?!” I think displaying our comics is something more of us should do more often. I don’t want to be the only guy who gets to enjoy these books. It’s so cool that you are in the middle of a monster reverie this winter. We have a small storage closet in our apartment which I immediately appropriated for my comic collection, and I always have a number of goodies on display around my boxes. My niece was here once with her husband, who worked alongside Mark Askwith, and who immediately began snapping pictures and mumbling gleefully like a crazy man, “Wait till Mark finds out I got to see Mel’s secret stash!” I love moments like that!

  5. Nick Cardy sure can draw covers. See how mom is a little older, her form a little heavier, yet still as gorgeous as heck? My girls aren’t regular comic readers, but leave a stack of old soap opera Romance lying around, they sure thumb through them.
    The letter columns and love advice are a hoot too !!
    The Ditko spashes are amazing. But The Kirby splash pages have yet to be equaled. Pure magic.
    Chris, Adams covers are among the best ever. A big reason dominated the 1960’s. I didnt think his story telling was quite as good as Kirby, Buscema Kane and such. But still great. I wish he’d drawn more stories.

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