Sunday, April 20, 2014


DITKO MONSTERS: KONGA! (Yoe Books/ IDW, 2013; Hardcover)

Collects Konga Nos. 1, 3-15 and Konga's Revenge No. 2 (cover dates June, 1960- November, 1963)

Writer: Joe Gill

Artist: Steve Ditko

This is the sister volume to Ditko Monsters: Gorgo! Instead of this being a book about a reasonable facsimile of Godzilla with artwork by Steve Ditko, this one is a reasonable facsimile of King Kong with artwork by Steve Ditko. Ditko's artistic idiosyncrasies, such as the eyes and hands, are here. In short, if you are a fan of Ditko or of Silver Age post-code monster comics then this should be right up your alley.

One of the things about the writing in this series that I enjoyed was the real sense of continuity from one issue to the next. Most Silver Age comics that were not done by Marvel had little to no real continuity going on. Each issue was almost a reset of the main premise. Not so here. Konga has a lingering fondness for the humans who accidentally mutated him into the giant that he is.

My favorite issues are the ones where Konga fights the giant squid, the one with the Atlas (Marvel) Comics flavored Ditko space aliens, and the one where he enjoys playing in the snow and causes an avalanche. Every issue is enjoyable but these are the standouts for me. #15's The Evil Eye is pure Ditko. Everything that a Ditko fan could possibly want is in that one issue. The tension, the paranoia...much like Ragu, it's in there.

I found this book to be way more enjoyable than Gorgo in spite of the fact that the scenarios are similar. Konga is a more sympathetic monster. He merely wants to eat and be left alone. Foolish humans seek to enslave, destroy, or exploit him, and that is when things go wrong. The stories run the gamut of typical Cold War fears. While this is an enjoyable read I found it best to be read in moderation. Any more than two issues in a row and I was nodding off. That is not a knock on the quality of these comics, merely commentary on these dense, text heavy reads. Everything in moderation.

LOVE those Ditko space aliens!
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This being an artist centric collection means that only the Ditko penciled covers are included. The covers for #4-11, The Return Of Konga 1962 one-shot, and Konga's Revenge #2. All of the covers are collected in the front of the book rather than before the individual issues.

DVD-style Extras included in this book: Konga! Introduction by Craig Yoe (8 pages).
The Clash! Konga and Gorgo: No degrees of separation. (2 pages)
King Cohen: Author Tom Weaver interviews the writer-producer of the Konga movie, Herman Cohen (2 pages)

Linework and Color restoration rating: 4.5 out of 5. High resolution scans. These are really cleaned up. The drawback to this method is that you can see all of the imperfections of the original comics. Line bleed, off register printing, and other such anomalies are present throughout the book. Many fans actually prefer this to the frame up restoration found in some lines of Archives-type books. Your mileage may vary. It's all subjective. Both methods have drawbacks and advantages.

Paper rating: 5 out of 5. This book has some stupid thick paper. It is quite possibly the thickest paper ever used in a collected edition.

Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Smyth sewn binding, 8 stitches per signature. While the book lays mostly flat, the binding sounds a bit creaky at times. There are one or two spots where you can see the crash (cloth) between the signatures. The liner paper came unglued from the crash but everything is overall solid and should last a lifetime so long as you don't handle your books like the Samsonite gorilla handles luggage.

Hardback casewrap rating: 5 out of 5. Beautifully designed casewrap with artistic flourishes which, while unnecessary, add a feeling of luxury to the proceedings. Highly durable and scuff resistant, Craig Yoe gets top honors in book design in my opinion. His books are not only books of art but are works of art themselves.

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