Steve Ditko: Spaceknight

Sal Buscema is fucking great! 
                             -But that has nothing to do with anything. 

A friendly rebuttal to: http://romspaceknightart.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-emperors-new-clothes.html

Let me explain: I love Sal Buscema's artwork.  Always have.  I have every issue of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man that he drew, and have since a very young age. That's the title I was first introduced to him on.  -And continued to get monthly from there... 
I have every issue of any Spider-Man title he has worked on.  And in my opinion; not only was Spectacular continually the best Spider-Man title, but NO ONE does Spider-Man (or his rogues) better than "Our Pal" Sal!  I'm currently working on getting all of his Incredible Hulk issues.  And of course- I have just about every ROM: Spaceknight issue...  BUT just because I love Sal Buscema's art so much- does not mean I'm going to, or should, hate Steve Ditko's... 

 -Steve Ditko / Brett Breeding, ROM #63

Why? -Just because he followed Sal Buscema on ROM?  I don't hate John Buscema just because he followed The King: Jack Kirby on Thor. I don't hate Erik Larsen's art JUST BECAUSE he followed a far-superior run by Todd Mcfarlane.  -Because that's just silly.  Good art is good art.  Klaus Janson does not suck because he took over for Frank Miller on Daredevil.

 Steve Ditko / Ian Akin & Brian Garvey, ROM #62:
ROM: Spaceperv
(Steve Ditko penciled ROM: Spaceknight #59–75 and the Annual #4, from 1984 to 1986)

There is nothing begrudging in my saying I preferred Sal Buscema on ROM over Ditko on ROM.  That's not admitting to anything.  -Because if we're playing the "let's compare" game- you'll always be able to compare one artist's work to someone else's who happens to be better.  Just because something is not greater-than does not automatically mean it must suck...  If you try to say it does- then you're really just playing favorites... ADMIT TO THAT!

 Steve Ditko / P. Craig Russell, ROM #71:
(Right-click/View Image, or center-click, to embiggen any panel)
And that's fine- we all have our favorites.  But don't give in to hate. That leads to the Darkseid.

-Steve Ditko / KimDeMulder, ROM #70

When it comes down to ROM: Spaceknight, or even something like The Micronauts (which I am admittedly not a fan of); they were comic-properties based off of a toy-line.  -That's the look I feel Ditko was going for:
 -Steve Ditko / Al Milgrom, ROM Annual #4

-It's like a ROM cartoon. Those character-designs could be used to model a cartoon series as they are. Everything; the colors, the poses, the eyes- It looks like a cartoon of the time-period:
-Steve Ditko / P. Craig Russell, ROM #71

-Yes, it was a different take on the material than his predecessor had.  And I feel he did some interesting things with panel layout, composition, juxtaposition, and perspective.  It was a change-up in his own style as well. He wasn't just trying to ape what he had done before.  Maybe you don't think it worked, and that's fine- art is subjective anyhow- but it worked fine for me.  I got it. 
Do I love and adore it?  No.
Am I ONLY saying I like it because it's Steve Ditko and I respect what he has done/given to the comics industry (because he IS responsible for one of my childhood favorites: Spider-Man, not to mention Doctor Strange, Speedball, one of my all-time favorites: The Question, and nobody's favorite superhero: Captain Atom) out of some loyalty I feel for the man's legacy?  No.  Not at all.
If I hated his art- I'd fucking say I hated his art.
Yes, if that were the case: I would feel bad about hating on him... but his legend-status is NOT keeping me from voicing my opinion.  I'm saying I like it fine- because it was fine.  He's clearly NOT just showing up to collect a check.  -He's a workhorse, and he's doing what he does- what he could do in his fucking sleep.  Say what you will about his effort... but it definitely doesn't suck. 

: Steve Ditko / P. Craig Russell, ROM #69:

So why am I so vehemently defending something I'm just a little over lukewarm for? Two reasons: I hate seeing something so unjustly criticized, and because I love ROM: Spaceknight.  -It was one of the first comics I ever owned.  ROM was one of the first Super-heroes I ever sat down and seriously tried to draw.   (It was that sweet Bill Sienkiewicz cover to the second Annual.)
-I wish I still had the drawing... 
And even though I wish Sal had stayed on the book for the entire run- I AM glad that the book continued under Bill Mantlo. If you love ROM; shouldn't you be glad the book continued too, above all else? Because make no mistake- it was constantly on the verge of cancellation.  It was just scraping by each and every month. And you're kidding yourself if you think Ditko's mere involvement did not extend that run for the next year and a half... It's not some "bullshit caveat"- it's a fact.
So, even if you don't prefer Ditko's art- there is worse I can think of (*cough*Mark Bright*cough*).  And if you still want to hate on all of that so adamantly- how can you really even say that you're a fan of the title??? 


"The reason ROM was right for Steve is that Steve refused to work on “flawed” heroes!  No feet of clay permitted.  His philosophy was (and probably still is) that heroes should be noble.  Period.  I asked him about Spider-Man, some of whose flaws were Steve’s ideas.  -He explained that when he drew Spider-Man, Spider-Man was still a kid; still learning, and therefore, allowed some foibles.  Fine, then.  ROM, the noble Knight it was!" Editor-in-Chief  Jim Shooter

-Steve Ditko / John Byrne, ROM #74

Sure, Ian Akin & Brian Garvey's inks enhanced Ditko's art. That's what good inkers do. They are embellishers. But, I'm sorry; the best inker in the world could not make crap-pencils look good.  They build off of what's there. Contrariwise- I think P. Craig Russell's finishes were horribly lazy, and actually took much away from Ditko's art.
And that's the other thing- Ditko was not the only artist on his run (as you may have noticed on the captions.) Most of the time he was not JUST inked- but his breakdowns were finished- by several different artists- to varying effect.   So if you STILL want to trash-talk him: Then you have to trash more than JUST Steve Ditko.  -Or you're really just saying you have some weird, unwarranted grudge- aren't you?

 Steve Ditko / P. Craig Russell, ROM #65:
Steve Ditko was inducted into the comics industry's Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990, and into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1994.  He is also an Eagle Award winner, and 8 time Alley Award winner. 

-Steve Ditko / Bob Layton, Rom #72
In 1987, Ditko was presented a Comic-Con International Inkpot Award in absentia, accepted on his behalf by Renegade Press publisher Deni Loubert, who had published Ditko's World. Ditko refused the award, phoning Loubert to say: "Awards bleed the artist and make us compete against each other. They are the most horrible things in the world. How dare you accept this on my behalf." At Ditko's behest, Loubert returned the award to the San Diego Comic-Con organizers.


In the end- the moral of The Emperor's New Clothes is that people should articulate what they feel, and should have their own views.  So, in that we are both correct- and there's no changing each other's minds here. -As I've said before: We're just going to have to agree to disagree.  -But you really should try it with a little less vitriol. 

Steve Ditko / Brett Breeding, ROM #63:
 Dire Wrape!

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-Steve Ditko / P. Craig Russell, ROM #64

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  1. Good post bro.
    I too dont hate on Ditko on ROM. Yes I preffered Sals art but that does not mean I dislike Ditko. I think what our blog brother is saying is he wished someone else took over when Sal left ROM.Well thats all fine and but It didnt happenn. Conjecture. Not a reason for hate (though this artist change up effected him as a faithful reader of the mag back in the day and that does hold weight on his opinion) We got what we got. I personally was glad Bills story went on after Sal. Do I love Ditko for that? No but the last 3 issue's as well as that SHAME story ended up being some of my favorite ROM comics.

    1. i hear ya Joseph but i wanted Bill's story to continue to be complimented by awesome art work. comic books art not newspaper articles or reading novels. they rely heavily on the art work to tell a story as well as make the experience of reading them enjoyable. i'm gonna break this down in one final posting on this and then that's it.

    2. @Joseph Thanks! Hey we all PREFER Sal's art, you know? I don't think we'll ever get any argument there... I'm just trying to point out that should have nothing to do with liking or not liking Ditko. "We got what we got." -Exactly. And I'm okay with it. I'm not taking it personally.
      Shame was awesome- that opening panel/caption alone is soooo badass!
      And we DID get another artist- for 1 or 2 issues between Sal and Ditko we got Mark Bright and he was fucking terrible! -That's what I mean; it could have been bad...

      @Shlomo -I know you did, man. I prefer when one artist stays on a run with the same writer too. But it doesn't happen that way all the time. And if- let's say: Mark Bright had stayed on the book... it would have been canceled almost immediately. -Let's be real.
      And there are some comics out there with truly AWFUL art- as a lifelong comic reader: I have seen them. I have owned them! This is just not one of them.

  2. K.o.T, you described Dikto's work as being "charmingly awful" in that video with the Speed Ball issue. now i wouldn't presume to speak for you but i'm going to go out on a ledge here. if i was a telepath like Professor Xavier and could reach into your brain and remove all the Dikto nostalgia from it i would dare say your assessment of the art in that Speed Ball issue would have the word "charmingly" absent from it. today's posting is the last word i'm going to have on the matter and then i'm getting back to talking about shinny happy stuff again from Rom.

    1. Yes, in Speedball it was. It was terrifi-bad. It was a 'it's so bad it's good' movie... Nothing wrong with that. If we're talking Speedball I will fully admit to playing favorites and having the nostalgia-glasses on. -It was one of the first comics I ever bought at The Dirt-Mall.
      That video was also right after I got back from The Flea Market. -Now, there is a later video- after I had actually read the comic and I went on about how fucking awesome it was! Because it turned out to be very entertaining. I was shocked.
      Now- if I have nostalgia. Then you have anti-nostalgia. You are carrying this hate you felt back in the day for Steve on ROM and it is clouding your vision!

  3. I definitely see where King's coming from and respect his opinion, as well as the points he made. That being said, the example you chose to highlight as exhibits of Ditko's work.....Hmm. Out of the examples you've shown, you definitely highlighted inkers or finishers that made Ditko's work that much better than when it was just him. Brett Breeding ,as well as inkers Ian Akin/Brian Garvey seem to be the best choice in inkers, since they seem to really keep his work style, yet make em', idk, less wonky? John Byrne seemed to fit well, and I 'd have to say the P. Craig Russell too, I know you think his inks were lazy, but they seemed on point to me, compared to say Ditko's rough breakdowns in some issues. I guess the point Shlomo was making, was that he didn't care for Ditko's ROM work, while you don't have that big of a deal with it. Hey, I figure either way, both you guys love ROM right? Right. Like I said, I'll always respect Ditko and his accomplishments, but his drawing-style in the 80's and 90's were not inspired, not vvery new or revolutionary-looking. But then that same argument can be made about Jack Kirby's later works after leaving Marvel again in the late 70's

    1. -All opinions are respected here! ...unless you like the DCnU.
      Are you seriously not digging those examples? -He's trying so many different things in each of them! How could you not find something to like there?
      Now if you like the Breeding and Akin/Garvey panels- then you like Steve Ditko. -They only inked him. Where the rest pretty-much shared in the art duties. I like Byrne, but I did not think he worked well here... and Russell *shakes head*
      But- exactly- we all love ROM! So it really does not matter. Again- we're just going to have to agree to disagree. -I was just taking the piss.

  4. Like R.Kelly? "Piss, piss, piss!" I love Dave Chappelle. I miss you man. Come back!

    1. "Haters wanna hate, lovers wanna love- I don't even want none of the above: I want to piss on you. Yes I do, I'll piss on you- I'll pee on you!"

  5. Well....tomato/to ma to ... either way you got to have some to make good spaghetti sauce. But it's the meat of the writer that's going to shoulder the character and the book. A mediocre artist can roll with a damn good writer much longer than a Hellava artist can roll with sorry story telling.

    What would you prefer?

    1. I absolutely agree! ...and am now hungry for pasta.

  6. well in regards to the issue of the writing vs the art i've experienced both scenarios. i'm more inclined to hang in there for a book that's well written or otherwise has a story line going in a direction i like even if i hate the art. obviously even though i hated Dikto's art i still stuck it out with Rom till the end. although i have to admit i wasn't that sad about the series coming to an end at the time largely because the art work had caused my enthusiasm for the series to plummet quite a bit. Infinity pissed me off so bad despite the art being good and there even being good aspects of the story but the treatment alone to Galador and it's spaceknights was enough to make me not buy it any more after the first issue.
    in the case of the Suicide Squad from old DCU i am also a huge fan but i despise the New 52 version of the Squad and the relaunch in general. despite the art work having been good i dropped that book after issue 10 because i hated the direction of the writing. it's a real shame when a comic is drawn well but not written well and vice versa because ultimately to me i feel like either the artist or writer kinda put a lot of time and effort into something that was kind of a flop. but when you've got a well written book that is complimented by great art it's absolute magic!

    1. Yeah, if the story is good- I can stick with a title if the art is not... to an extent. If the art is amazing and the story is shit? -Big who cares... See most Image Comics from back in the day (I say most- not all). Comics with awesome art and a bullshit story are the equivalent to a big-budget, dumb action-movie. -I don't care how many explosions and fight-scenes you have: I'm just bored to fucking tears.
      From what I've seen- the only things any good from the Nu52 (which is really just Image Comics all over again) were the things they changed the least. -Green Lantern, Batman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing... I'll admit I enjoyed the Trinity War a bit. But I'm not buying any of it... They don't get my money anymore- they don't deserve it.
      I understand why Marvel pissed you off- but Infinity's not enough for me to write them off completely. At least they are putting out just as many good comics as they are bad ones. And the only history they've rewritten is Spider-Man's. -Which; how many years later, now? -I think has redeemed itself.

  7. Nice post King! I really like the comment you made about not liking artists because of the icons they follow. I always think David Mazzucchelli's art on Daredevil gets overlooked because Miller followed, but his art for Born Again produced many of my favourite comic panels ever.

    I get what Dave means though re the art putting you off a series. I was all keen to pick up the new She-Hulk, but the style of art in the preview pages has me scratching my head while a huge WTF rides through my mind on a hoard of elephants.

    In ROM's case, I'm exactly like you - I liked Sal's work best but didn't hate Steve's either. That scene where he is pulled into the sky where the heroes of earth are surrounded below him was awesome as a kid - and still seeing it again today.

    Great stuff!

    1. ya know Dan since you brought up that Dikto splash page i'd like to mention that it's not Dikto's scene compositions i ever had problems with. it's the way he draws the actual characters. the faces, the arms, the legs and even the poses they were in it just always comes off as amateurish to me. there was very often a lack of light values and detail that left much of his characters looking "flat" where as Sal's work especially when inked by Akin & Garvey had this bold look to them. when it came to Rom it made me absolutely nuts the way he drew his eyes. just these two expressionless red dots on his visor. Sal had a way of drawing Rom's eyes and "face" that gave him personality.

    2. @Dan: Thanks, mate! It's hard to get into any She-Hulk series not by John Byrne, though. And yeah- that scene was sweet! -I picked some of my favorite panels/scenes for examples here.

      @Shlomo: I love the way Ditko draws hands. As for the "flat" look- that was the style he was using- it was intentional. You can not like it- but stop comparing it to Sal, Akin & Garvey. -That does not mean anything.
      And I liked the eyes. Just like with Spider-Man- yes it's neat when artists would draw him with expressive eyes on the mask... but it really does not make ANY sense at all. Ditko brought more of an encased claustrophobia to it. Man- in machine. A knight's armor... it's not expressive. This was his take. Again- intentional.

    3. rather it was intentional or not I still hated it. and really it's not just when I compare his style to Sal, it goes for just about every other notable Marvel artist. it's like John Byrne or Michael Golden. they each have their own distinctive styles but I love em both. there's just certain principles in drawing that they and Sal adhere to that appeals to me. it goes back to many of the same principles in drawing that book How to Draw The Marvel Way observes. to me artists like Sal, Michael Golden, John Byrne, Alan Davis, Ron Frenz and John Buscema despite of their distinctive styles just got it. i can compare them to each other all day but i'll still love all just the same when the sun goes down. but when i look at Ditko's stuff i just don't feel that way at all. i just ain't feelin brother. but that's ok, Dann Phillips has some new Rom fan art that's pretty sweet. not to mention his comment (17th) in that last posting. oh boy it's a humdinger.

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    1. This is why we can't have nice things.

      Today this post got spammed with over 200 trash bot-comments like this. I do not require those horrible number/letter CAPTCHAs because they are fucking illegible 80% of the time and annoying as fuck to have to enter just to leave a comment. I refuse to add them- even with shit like this happening.
      I also never required you to have an account someplace JUST to be able to share your thoughts here- because again- I always felt that was annoying as fuck when I wanted to comment someplace and did not have an account that was compatible with the comment section to log into... But of the two options to try and stop this spam shit from happening again- from now on you have to log into whatever the options are to leave a comment.
      Sorry. I really am, but this was bullshit- they were all within three minutes of each-other too. While I was busy watching Snowpiercer. (AWESOME flick, by the way.)
      But, yeah- this was so aggravating. Never happened on my old blog, at least not like this- and here Google is usually very good at deciphering spam instantly. Not today it seems, though. Not today.

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