KID SHIRT

Saturday, September 04, 2004

ENGELS SWIMSUIT SPECIAL

Yes, you're quite right. It wasn't Engels, it was Ditko:



Finally cut adrift from from the Editorial control that kept him partially leashed at Marvel, DC and Charlton, Ditko was finally free to produce comics like Mr. A that focused on his Ayn Rand-influenced brand of Right-Wing Objectivist 'Libertarianism' (with a soundtrack no doubt supplied by Part-time Fascist Prog-Knobs Rush) wherein: the world is conveniently and readily partitioned by moronic/lazy Dualistic thinking into 2-D compartments labelled: Black/White...Good/Evil... Kapitalist/Kommunist..."You're either with or us or against us": Does that sound familiar?

The comics produced by Ditko in this era are, quite frankly, bonkers: the sort of demented semi-paranoid ramblings you find in pamphlets produced and distributed by Millenium Cults. (And you know I just love those...) As odious as I find Ditko's Objectivist 'philosophy', these comics are as fascinating and strange as a copy of The World Weekly News; a guilty pleasure choc-full of Red-baiting, deranged Reductionist thinking and grotesquely contorted human figures. Everything is rendered in thick murky lines and is heavily over-inked, lacking the grace of Ditko's earlier work: it's like he's putting a visual exclamation-mark on top of everything, as if his art is shouting...

I'm guessing, but maybe Ditko suffered some sort of progressive breakdown...perhaps continual frustration, creative differences and lack of credit for his work finally caught up with him. People who worked with him at Charlton in the mid/late-Sixties say he was a quiet, poilte guy who kept to himself. He never gives interviews, so who knows what really lead to him producing tormented images like this:


Or maybe he just had his own personal Damascus moment. PKD Found God; maybe Ditko found a personal philosophy that helped him focus his inner rage or deal with the disappointment in his life.

Shame I don't have a bigger scanner: the image above is part of a nightmarish double-page spread worthy of Bosch. Still, there's always another day.