Ditko Monsters: Gorgo

Collecting Ditko-drawn Gorgo stories from Charlton comics (1961-65)

Writer: Joe Gill

Artist: Steve Ditko

Edited and designed by Craig Yoe

IDW, $34.99, color, 224 pages

As a boy, I saw a Gorgo comic book somewhere (I didn't own any) and wondered how Charlton could possibly make a series out of the movie Gorgo. The big surprise of the movie -- SPOILER, if needed -- is that after the U.S. military manages to corral Gorgo, they discover that he is actually a juvenile of his species and his much-larger mother comes to the rescue, against which military muscle is utterly useless. Man can do nothing but breathe a sigh of relief when Gorgo and his unnamed mother return to the sea.

Knowing that, I wondered how any comic-book series could avoid getting into the rut of A) introducing Gorgo (his name's at the top), B) Gorgo getting in trouble, and C) unstoppable Mom coming to the rescue. I couldn't imagine a variance from this plot that wouldn't violate the few facts established by the movie. But, I reasoned, I'm just a lad, and I'm sure the adults at Charlton are smarter than me.

Actually, judging from the stories in this book, they weren't much smarter! This isn't a comprehensive Gorgo collection, just a collection of those Gorgo stories drawn by Ditko, so it kinda jumps around in Charlton's Gorgo books, Gorgo, Gorgo's Revenge and Return of Gorgo. And, for the most part, the plot I described above was the staple of these stories.

But I'll give credit to writer Joe Gill in that he would introduce humans, and their dilemmas, as the frame of the story. This resulted in some unfortunate repetition as well; Gill favored stories with a young man and woman who invariably fell in love. That happened so much you could see it coming as soon as age-appropriate pairs were introduced. But at least we met new people and new situations through which the Gorgo-and-Mom meme would flow through.

I'll also note that Gill fleshed out the mother-and-son act a bit, by showing the two frolicking, feeding and sleeping underwater. No mention is ever made of any others of their species, but the scenes of these two as a family unit bordered on charming.

And do I need to mention the art? That's why we're all here, and we know what we're in for. Ditko here is like Ditko everywhere; whether drawing Amazing Spider-Man or some throwaway three-pager, Ditko always gives his best and Gorgo is no exception. There are some panels good enough for framing, and some that aren't, but it's pure Ditko through and through, and that's worth my money.

Which brings me to my two complaints about the book. One is something about which nothing can be done, which is the mechanical lettering Charlton used. In small doses it's annoying, in large doses -- like this book -- it's downright aggravating, and cheapens the look even of Ditko's pencils.

The other complaint is more serious, and involves the money I mentioned. And that is: Ditko won't get any of it. I had just assumed, given all the attention given to how badly work-for-hire artists have been treated in the past, that today's reprint publishers would make sure the original artists got a taste. But as I learned on the Ditkomania Facebook page, Ditko doesn't get a dime from the Yoe books.

And that makes me angry. I won't deprive myself by NOT buying future Ditko collections -- Ditko Monsters: Konga is due in the summer -- but I will make mention of it everywhere I can that Craig Yoe and IDW owe Steve Ditko a payday. And I'd like everyone reading this to take up the banner as well.

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Somehow, I managed to live my life (up to a point a couple of months ago) without realizing Gorgo was a movie as well as a comic book. When I mentioned this collection on the main forum when it was solicited, someone set me straight and I immediately purchased this movie (and< i>Konga, too). Both of these seemed very much to me like what I imagine a movie version of a 1950s Marvel monster comic would be like. (The Konga collection was solicited for April 24 release, BTW, but I don’t expect it to ship on time.)

I am distressed to learn that Ditko doesn’t get a piece of the action. I really, really like Craig Yoe’s collections, and frankly, I would expect better of IDW, one of my favorite publishers.

The problem with getting money to Ditko is that he doesn't want anything to do with these books. Now how much they have tried to get a check to him, if at all, I don't have any idea.

If you want to get Ditko some money, he is still making his own comics. You can get them here.

I've been complaining for years that Mr. A hasn't been reprinted. I do already have most of this stuff, but I had no idea Mr. A was available. thanks a lot for the link (and checklist), Travis!

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