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CHAPTER SIX - PART THREE
"DIAL 'P' FOR PLEASURE!"
On the right side of Ditko-Stanton Manhattan studio (Robby's re-creation of the studio is re-presented below, just cuz it's so freakin' awesome) stood the desk of ERIC STANTON, pictured below. Eric Stanton did the "Dial 'P' for Pleasure" paperback cover at the top of this page! Who is Eric Stanton?
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XEric Stanton, born in New York on September 29, 1926, was a sickly child, and as a youth he spent a lot of time in bed -- and there was no television, and no internet. But there WERE comic books.

"I had nothing to do. I grabbed some comic books and did some tracings and things like that. That's how I started to learn and the first time I started drawing sexy girls, heroines, just for fun."

But the budding artist was secretive about his unusual artwork. "I didn't show them to anybody but, even so, my stepfather told my mother, 'He mustn't be drawing these type of things.' My mother said to him, 'Let him draw what he wants.' "

"I have always loved Amazons," Stanton once said. "The word itself is exciting. I've invented variations such as the Tame-azons, who tame men. Being short and a little shy as a young man, I loved the idea of big, strong aggressive women who would use their strength to wrestle me down."

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ABOVE: Wonder Woman bondage scenes by William Marston Moulton.
Stanton met Steve Ditko in art school, and from 1958-1968, a period that encompasses Ditko's entire Spider-Man output and much more, Stanton shared a studio with Ditko. He is pictured ABOVE with Ditko, and BELOW at his desk. Some of Ditko's work can be seen hanging on the walls behind Stanton.

In PURE IMAGES #1 (1990), Stanton said, "Every experience I had with Steve was terrific, as far as I was concerned. When I first met him... we just kind of hit it off right away. It was a nice, friendly thing, talking about art."

The picture of Stanton BELOW, probably taken by Ditko, gives us a great view of Ditko's desk, upon which we see a large drawing board, plastic triangle, bottle of ink and brush. A copy of The New York Times is sitting near the front of the desk, and it's thick enough to be the Sunday edition. It wouldn't be surprising to find Steve and Eric at work on a Sunday.
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XStanton was a baseball fan, so he probably listened to Met and Yankee games on the small radio seen among the ink bottles and art supplies near his drawing board.

Like Steve Ditko and Peter Parker, Stanton wore eye glasses, which he is holding in his left hand in the photo BELOW. He's got one brush in his right hand, and another behind his right ear!

To Stanton's right, you can see a striped jacket hanging from a hook on the door of the office closet, which contained dozens of long boxes of comic books. Stanton must have worn this jacket for quite some time, because it's also seen in the photo above, where Stanton has a goatee.

How do I know it's Stanton's jacket? Well, the unassuming Ditko would not have gone walking around Manhattan in such a loud pattern. He probably wore the modest black coat also hanging on the same hook.

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In the shot below, Eric is sitting at Steve's desk (!), and whoever took the shot (Ditko?) is standing on Stanton's desk, looking down. You can also see the exact same original art that appeared in the Ditko photos we saw earlier: covers for Adventure into Mystery and Strange Tales of the Unusual.
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BELOW: Book covers featuring fetish and bondage art by Eric Stanton
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COLLABORATORS?

For many decades now, the "official" story has been that Steve Ditko and Stanton never collaborated on anything.

Myth-busting time! This myth is easy to bust, because Ditko and Stanton shared a very small studio space for almost TENYEARS. As any artist who's shared studio space with another artist for even ten minutes will tell you, the answer can ONLY be: YES, Ditko and Stanton collaborated. Period.
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Oh, you don't believe me? Well, you must be new here. Because regular readers know that when Robby makes a flat assertion such as that, you'd better believe that he's got the PROOF to back it up, and in THIS case, he is ready willing and able to present it -- in graphic form! SEXY graphic form!

Pictured BELOW is an example of artwork often attributed to Eric Stanton, but actually drawn by Edmundo Marculeta.
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According to Eric Stanton, “I made ‘Sweeter Gwen’ from John Willie’s ‘Gwendoline.’ I roughed out (penciled) 30 pages and took them over to Burtman and he said ‘Great,' but then I got another commission, and I had to stop on ‘Sweeter Gwen.' "

"I asked Steve Ditko to ink it for me, and we’d split the money 50% - 50%. So then we story-boarded, like we used to do for Spider-Man. We gave ideas to each other. We came up with a very beautiful story."
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Take a look at the page below, from SWEETER GWEN. It does seem to have traces of that distinctive Ditko inking!
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Below, also from SWEETER GWEN, Stanton's version of the notorious Bettie Page, a pioneering fetish model who inspired Warren's Vampirella character, and appeared in Dave Stevens' Rocketeer comics and movie. Bettie's career in and out of comic books was covered in DBB #626.
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Hey, wait a minute -- Sweeter GWEN? Didn't Peter Parker have a girlfriend named GWEN? Why yes, I believe he did! And she wasn't as nasty to Petey as the other kids were, she was ... sweeter! Sweeter Gwen! And believe me, as seen in the panels below, drawn by Ditko, Gwen Stacy may have come off as sweeter, but in reality she had a mean streak a mile wide. She was almost ... domineering!
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BELOW: Another early 1960s drawing by Eric Stanton which shows clear and definite indications that it was inked by Steve Ditko. Ditko fans, you can see it a mile away, right? And dig this -- notice the "Spider-Sense" lines radiating from the woman's head in the last panel!
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Eric Stanton's BLACK WIDOW SORORITY (pictured below) also appears to have been inked by Steve Ditko -- and look at that Spidery outfit! Was this early 1960s femme fatale a female precursor to Spider-Man?
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Stanton once explained why he let Steve Ditko, and no one else, ink his work. "He was a better inker than me so I let him ink. He thought my stuff was funny. We'd laugh a lot. We'd give each other ideas and characters. My Aunt May is the Aunt May in Spider Man."

"I am like a priest or a doctor," Stanton once admitted, "I can't say anything about my customers. I've just learned that, if one has a fantasy, lots of others usually share it."

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A Stanton self-portrait revealing the unspeakable fantasies must have been running through the artist's mind as he sat at his desk in the Ditko/Stanton studio.
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More soft-core porno/bondage art by Stanton...
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"I always worked with water and tempera. I never liked oils. I can't stand the thought of taking more than an hour or two on a piece. The cover illustrations were in no way connected directly to the text of the novels. Sometimes Malcolm would describe a specific scene, but the titles -- Strange Hungers, Pleasure Bound, Something Extra -- never had anything to do with the story."
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"To make an exciting face, one has to make two impressions on the same face. This way you get more life to the face. I learned not to try to make both sides of the face the same. Drawing the figure, you learn on your own. I don't draw from photographs. Photographs are very dull."
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BELOW: Stanton takes a break from grinding out bondage art, and stuffing envelopes. Stanton published a private, mail-order pamphlet featuring his fetish/bondage cartoons, called STANTOONS.
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BELOW: An ad for STANTOONS. These illustrated pamphlets were like bondage comic books. Stanton did dozens of them, and each one was around 20-30 pages long.
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BELOW: A sampling of Eric's Stanton's "STANTOONS." You can find lots more here. As you can see, they featured sketches of men and women in various sexual situations. Hey, wait a minute! Doesn't that masked, hooded guy look an awful lot like DR. DOOM?
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Let's get a closer look at him... Wow! Look at that! It definitely IS Dr. Doom. And his name in the Stanton story is even DOCTOR Golem! Was Stanton inspired to draw this character after seeing Steve Ditko's version of Dr. Doom in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #5? Let's take a look at the two, side-by side...
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And what about Doctor Golem's pal? Who does HE remind you of? His name is ROBOTUS, and he's got the ARMS of Doc Ock, plus the HELMET of The Looter!
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There are also traces of Stanton's sensibilities in Ditko's work, especially when Spidey uses his webs to tie up villains, or fashion a disciplinary bondage mask, as seen below in ASM #7! Safe word: "MMPFF!"
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In my opinion, Eric Stanton HIMSELF also showed up in Spider-Man, in the guise of the Human Torch! The scene below looks like Torchy and Spidey just busted into the Ditko-Stanton studio! There's even a small radiator in the foreground, along with an empty picture frame on the floor.
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The Human Torch liked to hang out with adoring female admirers, and apparently so did Eric Stanton, pictured below with two bondage models in the 1960s.
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For some reason, when Johnny Storm (aka the Human Torch) guest stars in Spidey's book, he keeps getting tied up!
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And then there's THIS, from ASM #19 -- Spidey and Torch getting caught in the same web. Like Ditko and Stanton caught in the same web?
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XOK, reader, I think it's safe to say that Eric Stanton and Steve Ditko influenced each together! If two artists shared a studio for a decade and did NOT influence each other, it would be bizarre, and not plausible.

OF COURSE Ditko and Stanton influenced each other. If you think the answer is anything else, you have never worked in a small space with anyone for even ten minutes, let alone ten years.

So, why have we not heard more about the Ditko-Stanton collaborations? Because comic books were held in very low regard at this time, following the publication of Fredric Wertham's SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT and a Congressional investigation.

As discussed in DBB #376, the Comic Code Authority was created in 1955 in an attempt to censor overtly sexual or violent comics. Sex and violence had almost killed the entire industry. So creators of blatant fetish-bondage art such as Eric Stanton knew they had to keep a low profile, never talk about their work in public, and never discuss who may or may not be Xassisting them. Certainly, revealing that one was sharing a studio with the co-creator of Spider-Man was out of the question.

There's another very good reason we haven't heard more about the Ditko-Stanton collaborations, and it will hardly come as a surprise to Ditko fans.

"Steve doesn't like me to talk about him," Eric Stanton said in a 1988 interview with comic historian Greg Theakston.

Pictured LEFT: A panel from a Ditko Charlton story called "Ghost Artist," that ran in GHOSTLY TALES #101 (1973), depicting two comic book artists who share a studio, just like Steve and Eric.

You can also see Mr. Dedd, the white-faced, horned host of the comic, lurking in the window. Though it looks a lot like them, this particular story is NOT a thinly-veiled portrait of the Ditko/Stanton studio -- it's actually a satirical look at two other artists, namely Leonard Starr and Wally Wood.

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Eric Stanton and Steve Ditko went their separate ways when Stanton remarried in 1971. Stanton, the world's first and foremost bondage artist, passed away in Clinton, Connecticut, on March 31, 1999, at age 73. He is survived by two sons and a daughter. And Steve Ditko.
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Spidey and Doc Strange . . . Steve Ditko and Eric Stanton
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