STRANGE SUSPENSE STORIES #19 (1955)
STEVE DITKO

Steve Ditko has had a long and distinguished career, but his greatest moments as a cover artist came early on at Charlton, when Spider-Man and The Creeper were not even a dim gleam in his Ayn Rand-influenced brain. This cover, in particular, wrings maximum dramatic impact from the scene: Ditko chooses a tight close-up of the prisoner, his body obscenely constricted by the electric jolt coursing through his body. It's a picture most people would not soon forget, but he then juxtaposes it against a jagged panel intruding into the tableau as three desperate men attempt to get through to the death chamber in a effort to save the innocent man. EC's Shock SuspenStories had launched almost three years earlier with a similar cover by Al Feldstein, which was far less graphic (the prisoner was largely offscreen), but perhaps more politically savvy--letting the simple fact of the execution, and the audience reaction to the horror, speak for itself. For sheer pictorial impact, however, it is the Ditko cover that grabs you by the throat and will not let go.

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