Rare Find: Ditko Public Health Pamphlet from 1992!

Okay, so here’s the deal. It just so happens that, while researching for Out of the Vault, I found out that a prominent comics professional’s papers were being held in a special collection at a local university. So I went by and looked through the stuff, and found this amazing document.

Apparently, someone working in the office of Surgeon General Antonio Novella in 1992 decided it would be a good idea to educate young teens on safer sex practices with a pamphlet produced by a famous comics artist. Unfortunately, that famous comics artist was Steve Ditko, so the message turned out a little skewed.

The four-page story concerns high schoolers Alex and Melissa, who after a bout of underage drinking, end up having sex. Some time later, Melissa volunteers to donate blood at a high school blood drive, but when they test her blood, they discover she has HIV.

I wasn’t supposed to photograph or copy anything in the collection, but I couldn’t pass this up, so through a series of clever maneuvers, scared to death I was going to get caught any second, I managed to get a quick scan of just the last page.

Not actually a real pamphlet by Steve Ditko

Apparently, someone actually let this get out the door before they realized that its incredibly severe abstinence-only message risked making the entire department look foolish. They recalled the pamphlets, but inevitably some escaped. And I was one of the lucky few who got to hold the actual item in my hands.

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