The late, creator-owned and self-published, works of Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko and his partner and collaborator Robin Snyder are being released in collected editions available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, giving the work its largest-ever potential audience. Ditko, who passed away last year, found himself working outside of corporate comics for much of his career, and distributing his own books via mail order in a way that felt decidedly artisnal. In the digital age, Ditko never embraced it -- nor did he put together any kind of arrangement with Diamond that would have allowed his works to reach the direct market.
While Ditko's eccentric and often experimental self-published work obviously does not have the commercial appeal of the mainstream superhero universes he helped to shape as a younger man, seeing much of this work available to readers for the first time will likely change the way his career and body of work is discussed, stealing some of the mystery away from these stories but also allowing them to be evaluated and contextualized within his legacy rather than, as they often have been, dismissed with a single line: "More recently, Ditko has taken to publishing his books himself and distributing them through the mail."
Called The 32 Series, Snyder and editor Rodney Schroeter lay out a five-volume set to bring the vast majority of Ditko’s “lost” work back into print. While Snyder will keep fans updated on Facebook as to releases and how to order them from her, Schroeter will tackle bookstore distribution. Incidentally, he suggests ordering from Barnes & Noble, “because they actually have stores…and I want to see them continue!” The few details we have come from a look at the back of The 32 Series Vol. II: Opening Acts, which is in spite of its name, the first one to become available (out on March 30, according to B&N and Amazon). Vol. I is presumably still being assembled. The reason for the out-of-order numbering seems to be that the five volumes will eventually collect everything in chronological order. Beyond the current release date and a rundown of the ideas, the pair have little to say. “Steve always wanted to let his work speak for him,” Snyder says. “Well and good,” Schroeter replies. Let’s continue in that spirit.”
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