Lot 66 of 250:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25 * CGC 5.0 * Captured by JJJ * Ditko's Shades of Grey  

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$250 - $350





Marvel [Indicia: Non-Pareil Publishing Group]

June, 1965


CGC certified: VG/Fine (5.0). Off-white to white pages. Not cleaned and pressed. Cover: Steve Ditko pencils and inks, Stan Goldberg colors. Story: Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Art: Steve Ditko. Colors: Stan Goldberg? Lettering: Sam Rosen. GPAnalysis: A 5.0 sold for $415 in 6/22.

With this ish, Peter Parker's metamorphosis from yutz to stud is nearly complete. Liz Allen has roped Pete into tutoring her after school, hoping their study sessions will turn into something steamier (Pete: "G'nite, Liz! Hope you dig those formulae now!" Liz's thought bubble: "I dig YOU even more, Petey!"). Betty Brant, seething with jealousy, bum-rushes Pete's pad alongside Liz to force a confrontation, only to find yet another rival waiting in Aunt May's parlor: the mysterious Mary Jane Watson. MJ's face is hidden, but her curvy figure, and Liz and Betty's stunned reactions, make it clear that MJ's no plain Jane ("SHE'S a friend of Peter's? She looks like a SCREEN STAR!").

Ditko wasn't a big ladies' man, and the only known instance of him wooing a gal ended in humiliation (see lot 45). It's tempting to imagine that Peter Parker's plethora of lady friends was wish-fulfillment on Ditko's part. But how did the artist really feel about women, sex, relationships? The scant biographical data yields few definite clues, but the little that's known suggests that, where sex was involved, Ditko was conflicted.

Ditko shared a studio with fetish artist Eric Stanton in the 1950s and '60s. Stanton's specialty was bondage erotica featuring ample-bosomed beauties domineering wimpy beta-boys. Stanton, who once said that "Ditko was into cartooning and I was into girls," disliked inking his own stuff, and sometimes Ditko lent a hand. Ditko's inking on Stanton's sex stuff is easily spotted due to the singularity of his style. But in later years, when asked about his collaborations with Stanton, the artist became evasive and indignant, defying anyone to prove his participation.

According to publisher Catherine Yronwode, who quizzed Ditko about his sex stuff in the early 1980s when she was compiling a checklist of his published works, he became "severely agitated" at the very mention of his involvement. "Ditko denied that he had ever done that material. I was shocked. I felt that he lied." Artist Joe Rubenstein says he once asked Ditko about his sleaze stuff with Stanton, and Ditko flipped his lid: "I dare anyone to prove I inked that!" — See Blake Bell's Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, p. 51.

So what's it all mean? Ditko scholar Florentino Flórez says that Ditko "should not be seen as a repressed guy who worked on dirty comics when the opportunity arose and then adopted a mask of moral superiority" (see Ditko Unleashed: An American Hero, p. 66). That's good advice — the human sexual spectrum is drawn, they say, in shades of grey, so why try to pigeonhole a guy as complex as Ditko? Still, one can't help wondering what the black-and-white absolutist Mr. A would say about Ditko's apparent shades of grey.


Enjoying the Spidey Sale? Order a fully-illustrated softcover catalogue for 30 bucks. Only about 100 copies were printed and they're going fast. To reserve a copy, contact PBA's Director of Comics: [email protected]

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