Sunday, November 13, 2011

Steamshovel Press Reviews

Kenn Thomas,

Beside Top Secret becomes the latest comic book to attempt to tell parapolitical tales. Rick Thomas in Montreal produced the first issue with hopes to raise money for a continuing series, putting down in four colors (well, on the cover at least) comics depictions of the rise of Disney-type theme parks and the fall of the 9/11 towers. It may be a self-portrait that adorns the cover, a bespectacled and goateed host of the comic with an alien skull cap declaring “Go ahead! Stay stupid! It’s not like I can’t see the appeal of stupid.” Portraits of other sub- hosts to the comic appear in a column on the side, much like an old EC comic. Beside Top Secret adds comic book geek charm to its exposes of conspiracy matter. It includes a comics code stamp in the upper right corner asserting “It’s All Code.” Pretty funny stuff, with some anger and confrontation but also ending on a note sincerely respectful to 9/11 survivors—handwritten yet with typos. Contact the publisher at:


How fortunate the world still finds itself with one of its finest comics artists still alive and producing fascinating work. Steve Ditko, with partner Robin Snyder, has just published A Ditko #14, new art and stories by the primary developer of Spiderman and Dr. Strange. Comics fans know who he is of course, but two things obscure Ditko's presence from the general public. The first is that glory hog Stan Lee, who provided some small editorial assistance in producing the first Spiderman comics but takes all credit for the property (as with Jack Kirby's other creations) in media today as the character continues to fuel major Hollywood movies (Spiderman gets a silver screen reboot soon.) The second is Ditko's own unfortunate turn to radical Ayn Randian objectivism, a rigid law and order mentality largely removed from human compassion and complexity. It's almost as if Ditko's wild, free flowing artistic form demanded that his psyche lash onto to something. It stunted his story telling capability but never his extraoridanry sense of design and comics art. In these latest productions--part of a small press that Ditko and Snyder have been doing for many years (3745 Canterbury Lane #81; Bellingham, WA 98225) -- provide excellent examples of that. Even at this advanced age Ditko is a Randian warrior, although stories in A Ditko 14 include a simple mob crime tale not often seen much anymore and a new superhero suited for the wild simplicity of Ditko's line called the Distorter. Agree with the philosophy or not, at four dollars, this is hands down the best value in comics today, coming from an unchallenged comics art master who has more often than not confronted serious conspiratorial corruption in a comic world. The current Halloween issue of the fanzine Ditkomania makes a good companion to A Ditko # 14, with in-depth discussion of the history of Ditko's career, only $2.50 from Rob Imes at:

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