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Monday, March 11, 2013

Dash Shaw's Dr. Strange vs. Nightmare



Strange Tales (2009) was one of the most exciting things to come out in the last decade because of all of the amazingly diverse and original alternative creators doing their versions of the standard Marvel pantheon of heroes. And of all the great work presented in this anthology Dash Shaw did one of the most exciting stories of the bunch.



For his subject Dash Shaw had the good taste to pick Dr. Strange and his nemesis Nightmare who were created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the team that created the pop icon of Spider-Man.

Originally presented in Strange Tales (1951) #122

I say Dash Shaw had the good taste because Ditko’s Dr. Strange is among my favorite of the early Marvel comics with it’s wildly inventive and beautiful psychedelic landscapes and characters.
Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Dr. Strange fights Nightmare in the psychedelic realms of the mind.

In just 4 short pages Dash Shaw not only does an amazing tribute to the original work but he does it in his truly original  and energetic style.


In the first page we have a great picture of the Doc in his element with all of the awesome strangeness of the original Ditko version.



Dash inks his work in clumsy large black lines and crosshatchings that reminds me of a classic Chest Gould Dick Tracy page. But he quickly goes beyond anything Gould ever did when he mixes media and for the background does this abstract painting that looks like pastel and computer generated shapes and swirls.




Not only do we get a visual treat in these pages but they also convey an incredible sense of magic and spell casting that rivals the original works or any magicians in any medium. You really get a sense that there is a battle of the wits going on with Strange and Nightmare each concentrating to their limit in a battle field of the mind.

Dash ends the comic back in the physical realm trying desperately to stay wake and out of Nightmare's grasp.

These comics wonderfully bring together old comic masterpieces with the innovative creators of today. Though Dash is not one of the most subtle and delicate artists around, what he lacks in subtlety and delicacy he makes up for in energy, creativity and whimsy, and does it in spades!

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