Sunday, December 18, 2016

Pappy's Sunday Supplement #5: Gorgo #1 by Ditko

I saw the movie, Gorgo, when it was first released. There was also a comic book adaptation published by Charlton. In that way memory works — or doesn’t — I don’t remember anything about the movie, but I do remember being knocked out by Steve Ditko’s artwork in the comic book. I was (and still am) especially taken by those underwater scenes. Perhaps it is the comparison of Ditko’s art to the rest of the contents of Gorgo #1 that gives one the impression that the artwork for the back-up features seems indifferent, and serviceable at best. (Sorry, Charlton fans.)

There were a few more issues of Gorgo by Ditko out of the total series, which appeared through 1965. I only bought the issues he drew.


Unknown said...

I've come to really appreciate Ditko's work as I've aged and experienced a wider range of comics. I prefer his horror stuff to his Spider-Man, and his delineation is pretty good in this monster tale, which relates "one of the great disaster's in man's history." Hmm, why don't I remember reading about a giant-monster attack in the mid 20th century? Revisionist history books? You were around then, Pappy; what's up with that?

How fast was this story assembled? Ditko's art is high-quality, but the rest of the package seems rushed. Like with many movie-to-comic adaptations, there's a lot of truncating and not enough thought about how to compress things into a set page count. The first shot of Gorgo on page 10 should've been more momentous and deserved a bigger panel. On page 18, we had to be told of the shocking death of the bosun between the panels, and the important information from Professor Hendricks (an as-yet unintroduced character) was imparted off-panel and reported by Sam. There was no lead-up to the appearance of Gorgo's mother; she was just suddenly there, announced matter-of-factly by a caption. In order to get quickly through the conference between the army chief and prime minister (page 20), the writer used broken up, incomplete speech; I almost expected "blah blah, etc. etc." like in the golden age. And what should've been an epic battle scene between the military and Gorgo's mama was terribly abbreviated and related by caption text.

Adding to my theory that this was a rushed package is all the lettering mistakes (or maybe the letterer was just incompetent). Among other things, the two lead guys call each other Joe page 5, the Gaelic cove is "accured" on page 8, and Sean is a "stowawy" on page 16. (This brilliance continues in the succeeding strips: Wonders of the Deep! features a "giant sqid" and the idiosyncrasies in Fear are "hartless."

I was never fond of informational strips like Wonders of the Deep! I prefer it when such knowledge or trivia is slipped into an exciting narrative. I've learned a lot over the years from superhero comics, but these factual nature things make my eyes glaze over. There could've been a whole story that included the pearl diver and the giant clam on page 2.

Last comment in this long-winded critique: that Tom Thumb in Strange People Who Are Real is not three feet tall!

Pappy said...

Ryan, well, you just tell it like it is. I'm sure if you were grading this story you'd mark it down for spelling and also the other flaws you pointed out. Remember that Charlton was the publisher paying the lowest page rates, so we readers got what they paid for.

Right before I read your comment I was writing a future posting featuring a "true life" story in comic book form. I opined that I thought educational material was done so publishers could hold them up to critics and say what they published wasn't just blood and thunder. Not all educational comics were boring, but these were presented in a bland way with the indifferent artwork with which Charlton punished their readers.

If you think this movie adaptation was boring, consider the paperback novelization of the movie, published by Charlton under their imprint, Monarch Books. Monarch sometimes published soft-core, and I remember some not-in-the-movie tender scenes of lovemaking on a beach between a girl named Moira and one of the male characters. I was 12 or 13 at the time and thought it was hot! I loaned it to a buddy. Big mistake, I never got it back.

As to why we haven't heard about the attack by a prehistoric creature it's probably the government. It is always convenient to blame the government for a cover-up.

Anonymous said...

The issues that ditko didn't draw aren't worth shit.

Pappy said...

Tricks boy, you gave an opinion on the non-Ditko Gorgo in a succinct nine words! Thanks for your note.

Grant said...

It's funny to see that very little PSA kind of message at the end of "Fear," but kind of pleasant too.