Comic Legends: Steve Ditko's Mystery Christmas Comics!

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and eleventh installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the weekly three legends.

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Steve Ditko did Christmas comics for his Charlon co-workers that were never published



Steve Ditko passed away earlier this year and a lot of the coverage of the comic book icon by fandom has shown how difficult of a person he was to figure out. He was often termed a "recluse," but his behavior, in general, was anything but that of a recluse. The guy's addressed and phone number was printed in public phone books for years! People who worked with him routinely recalled the guy spending plenty of time talking to other creators for long periods of time when he visited Marvel's offices during the 1960s and 1980s. What it boiled down to is that the guy didn't give interviews and he didn't like getting his picture taken, and that was enough to term him a "recluse."

One of the more amusing stories about Ditko's jovial interactions with others came early in his career, when he was working for both Marvel Comics AND the smaller, Connecticut-based Charlton Comics regularly in the late 1950s. This is before the Marvel Age of Comics took off in the early 1960s, when his work on the popular series Amazing Spider-Man and Strange Tales made it so that Ditko no longer had time to work for Charlton (that lasted for only a couple of years as Ditko just couldn't stay away from Charlton. He committed totally to his hit Marvel Comics series in 1963 and yet was back at Charlton in 1965 and ended up leaving Marvel, the much bigger, more successful company, by the end of 1966, to work primarily for Charlton).

Ditko was a fan of Christmas, as you can see from this Journey Into Mystery story he did with Stan Lee in 1961...

That love of Christmas would show up at Charlton, as well.

The late Dick Giordano recalled to Jon B. Cooke and Christopher Irving in Comic Book Artist #9, "During the Christmas season one year. Steve would go back to New York for the weekend and draw this one page horror Santa Claus story. It was the funniest thing. By the fifth week of Christmas, everybody on Monday morning would be waiting to see it, flocking in. He would put one page up in the small hallway that led to the ladies room, by the time the fourth or fifth page came, we all knew it was coming and we'd be hanging out waiting for Steve to come in. I don't remember any of the details, but I remember that it was very funny, very well drawn, in color, and that he had the whole office anticipating those pages."

Blake Bell later explained in Dripping with Fear: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 5 that what Ditko did was that he would first display the comics on the walls at Charlton in the time leading up to Christmas, but then when the holiday came about, he would take them all down and bring them with him to his hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania and give them as Christmas presents to his family there.

As far as I know, they've never been seen again. However, I have no idea what the deal is with the stuff from Ditko's family in Johnstown. Perhaps we will come across a whole pile of fascinating stuff in the years to come, as his estate settles out. I honestly have no idea. Either way, though, it is a cool Christmas story?

Speaking of a cool Christmas story, here is a Christmas tale by Ditko and writers Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn from 1979's Time Warp #3 (a science fiction anthology DC Comics had at the time)...

Great stuff.

Check out some Christmas-themed entertainment legends from Legends Revealed:

1. Did Vera-Ellen’s Neck Have to be Covered During the Filming of White Christmas Because it was Ravaged by the Effects of Anorexia?

2. Was Jon Bon Jovi’s First Professional Recording a Star Wars Christmas Song?

3. Was There Originally a Coca-Cola Ad Mixed Into A Charlie Brown Christmas?

4. Was the Original Ending to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Changed Due to Viewer Complaints?

Check back tomorrow for part 2 of this week's legends!

And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either brianc@cbr.com or cronb01@aol.com!

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