Steve Ditko is of course best known as the creator of iconic Marvel characters such as Doctor Strange and the co-creator of Spider-Man, but before he did that, he worked on a huge range of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and western material for a range of publishers, primarily Charlton and Marvel. Ditko's late 1950s work for Charlton is underrated vs the same type of material he was doing for Marvel in the same time frame. For example, around the same time, he was working on well-known Marvel titles like Journey into Mystery and Strange Tales (which eventually debuted Doctor Strange), Ditko also contributed similar material to Charlton's Unusual Tales. There's an interesting example of his work on this series in Unusual Tales #14 (Charlton, 1958) CGC FN+ 6.5 Cream to off-white pages up for auction in the 2022 April 10-11 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122215 at Heritage Auctions.
Ditko provided artwork for two of the five stories in this issue, likely from Joe Gill scripts. Although the cover of Unusual Tales #14 is by Charles Nicholas and Vince Alascia, the cover feature story is by Ditko and Gill. The story is based on (and references) an infamous hoax called the Cardiff Giant. One of American history's most infamous hoaxes, the Cardiff Giant was a ten-foot-tall, three-thousand-pound "petrified man" uncovered in Cardiff, New York in 1869. Both the original and a copy made by P.T. Barnum were put on display for money to a fascinated public. The inspiration for quite a lot of weird fiction in the 150 years since. The feature story of this issue, Giant from the Unknown, puts an additional science fiction twist on the tale.
The entire Unusual Tales series has surprisingly low census numbers and this copy of Unusual Tales #14 CGC 6.5 is the highest graded of the four copies listed. If you're a fan of Steve Ditko's iconic Marvel characters, then you'll definitely want to check out his earlier work for Charlton Comics. Unusual Tales #14 is a great example of the type of fantasy and horror material he was producing in the late 1950s. Unusual Tales #14 (Charlton, 1958) CGC FN+ 6.5 Cream to off-white pages is up for auction in the 2022 April 10-11 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122215 at Heritage Auctions.
Unusual Tales #14 (Charlton, 1958) CGC FN+ 6.5 Cream to off-white pages. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $63; VF 8.0 value = $122. CGC census 3/22: 1 in 6.5, none higher.