Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko

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Click for availability and more information Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, by Blake Bell
Perhaps best known to the public as the co-creator of "Spider-Man", artist Steve Ditko has produced a vast amount of work since the 1950s, yet remains a mystery to the general public. Starting out doing horror comics for obscure companies like Charlton, Ditko quickly became known for his moody, dark storytelling and offbeat depiction of characters. But it was his work for Marvel Comics in the early 1960s, where he co-created Spider-Man with writer/editor Stan Lee, that Ditko made his mark. Author Blake Bell details the progression of Ditko's storytelling processes, how he began to project the uncompromising "Objectivism" theories of Ayn Rand in his work, his departure from Marvel in 1966 due to artistic and financial differences, and his failure over the ensuing decades to recreate his earlier success. Bell also goes into how Ditko's Randian outlook alienated readers and publishers, with the result being his producing half-hearted work for Charlton, DC Comics, and (after 1979) Marvel, while saving his more artistic and personal work for self-publishing. Relegated to obscurity and near-poverty, Ditko, now in his 80s, recently resumed publishing his own work this year, his inflexible attitude resulting in his denying (or being denied) the proper financial rewards/royalties for his more famous and accessible work. Bell convincingly paints a picture of an artist refusing to abandon his principles and the unhappy results (lack of offered work; inability to work with other professionals who don't share his views) that happen when someone like Ditko limits himself to only one medium (comics) to promote his beliefs. Bell also provides a detailed history of Ditko's other work, including his lesser-known super hero stuff (fans of "Dr. Strange", "Captain Atom", "Blue Beetle" and "The Hawk and the Dove", among others, will be in heaven), his surprisingly good (from the 50s, before he discovered Rand) humor comics, and his innovative use of wash inks on his black and white work for horror magazines in the 60s like "Creepy" and "Eerie" as well as lots of cover and interior page reproductions. Despite the tragic aftermath of Ditko's professional life, Strange and Stranger is nevertheless a celebration of the best of Steve Ditko's still-influential contributions to the comics field.

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This page contains a single entry published on December 9, 2009 4:52 PM.

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