Sunday, July 7, 2013

(Well...APRIL, really.)



And LO! - 'Twas FIFTY YEARS AGO that strode into our midst a sorcerer unlike many (or any) who had preceded him... 
No top hat or stage-magician's tuxedo.
No basic "Abra-Cadabra" spell-casting.
No earthly foemen.


For he was like his heralded marquee announced...

Cover-dated JULY 1963 (although actually released that April - April 9th to be exact) behind an unassuming cover featuring the Human Torch battling old Fantastic Four foes; the Wizard and Paste-Pot-Pete would quietly, and without fanfare, lurk the introduction of the character to whom I (and many a Mighty Marvel Mystical Maniac) would follow with eager anticipation...

So, please enjoy reading his very first chronicled adventure - and while I could have used flashier and more vibrant scans taken from a later reprint, I thought it better and more authentic to use scans taken from a vintage copy of

*RIGHT-CLICK into a NEW TAB or WINDOW to be better able to READ*


Of course, truthfully, comics back then were post-dated at least 2 or 3 months ahead, so that a month's old issue would not look as such on the newsstands, most likely STRANGE TALES # 110 would have been released in at least by MAY (though it has come to my attention that it was in-fact on stands in APRIL... April 9th, in fact - my very own date of birth! - how's THAT for cosmic coincidence?!?)... but the cover says JULY so in JULY do I post my official commemorative post.

Now, while Stan Lee may like to lay claim to creating most, if not all of the characters that he wrote, in point of fact, he did NOT create DR. STRANGE!

Certainly, in later years, Lee would repeat an oft-told tale of how when he was a youth, he would thrill to the radio-show adventures of a magician named; Chandu the Magician (replete with resounding gong sound effect), and that was what he used as inspiration in the creation of the Master of Magic.

However, while he may have used Chandu's exploits as inspiration in his scripting of the first few issues, it was well known that STEVE DITKO was the true creator of Doctor Strange!

I'll leave it to the plethora of comic historians greater than I who have already laid out the copious details of Ditko's mind-works in the storylines and visual references therein, and how these would have been far removed from LEE's usual stock-in-trade.

Better I merely let the words of Stan Lee himself  serve as proof.

Taken from a letter to a die-hard, early "professional" fan; Jerry Bails - in fact dubbed the "Father of Comic Fandom" - Stan Lee says all that need be said:


 Of course, without the Awesome Alliterative Assistance of Stan the Man, Doctor Strange may not have become the complex comicbook conjurer that he would turn out to be.

As the letter also reveals, the character was originally going to be called "MISTER STRANGE", but wishing to avoid confusion with "Mr. Fantastic" Stephen Strange was made a Doctor.
There's no telling if or how the lack of the "Doctor" title would have affected Strange's story, but it would seem likely his origin tale would be slightly altered.

Either way, there have been many writers and artists who have built upon the firm ground laid by STEVE DITKO and STAN LEE - and who knows... maybe in 50 more years, some other fan may look back and wonder at the magic and follow where it leads...

And don't forget to continue to follow my blog, dedicated to detailing many of the Master of the Mystic Arts adventures, history and swag...

Tamam Shud!


Anonymous said...

This is kind of a related question to this post...

Do you know where exactly it is revealed that Dreamstalker is the name of Nightmare's horse?

~P~ said...

Hello, Crystal-Waters.

The EARLIEST actual naming of Nightmare's steed is in:


That's the kind of detail that ROY THOMAS would be loathe to not fill in.
Especially, since every other appearance I've seen (and I dug through nearly them all for this question) only refer to it as his "dark steed", or his "Night Mare" or some such (if they even go that far.
Often he is just referred to as his "mount".

I would like to re-check the old William Rostler novel; NIGHTMARE! to see if he is named therein (I don't recall if it is), but otherwise, the answer is DS: SS # 39.

I hope that helped.

IF I find out otherwise (got to dig thru the longboxes for some of the more obscure appearances) I'll let you know.


Anonymous said...


I just read William Rostler's novel last week. Dreamstalker only shows up at the end for a couple paragraphs as Nightmare's "mount" and "steed".

Howard Hallis said...

Overstreet just listed a mint Strange Tales #110 at $6500 this year. Good luck finding one for that. A CGC 9.6 sold last year for over $42,000.00.

Thomas said...

This is great!

Henry R. Kujawa said...

Thanks for this post. The pages looks better than they did in the reprints I've seen.

While someone else "corrected" the info at the DS Wikipedia page, and the correction has been left to stand (so far), someone else REMOVED the Steve Ditko DS portrait I posted a couple years ago and replaced it with an Alex Ross one-- allegedly for "legal" reasons, but I don't buy it. (They have a labyrinthine set of rules governing what images are "allowed" or not.) In my view, EVERY comics character page at that site should have the top image be a piece of art by that character's CREATOR, not some decades-later person.

In the early stories, Ditko appears to have modeled DS after Vincent Price, who played a sorcerer in the movie "THE RAVEN" not long before the 1st DS story came out. However, after the "origin" story, he slowly changed to resemble Ronald Colman-- from "LOST HORIZON". I've since realized no less than 4 actors from that film served as models for Ditko's characters-- Colman, Sam Jaffee (The Ancient One), Jane Wyatt (Clea), and H.B. Warner (the Ancient One's business manager). The last one was a real shock when I realized it! Baron Mordo, meanwhile, appears to have been modleled after Torin Thatcher, specifically, for his role as the evil wizard in the film "JACK THE GIANT KILLER".

Many artists base characters they create on real people-- it's just not always obvious when they have (ahem) "cartoony" styles.

The Steve Ditko run of DS are the 60s Marvel stories I have read and re-read more times than anything else they put out.

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