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Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko Hardcover – July 17, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1560979210 ISBN-10: 1560979216 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics; Reprint edition (July 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560979216
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560979210
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 9.1 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[An] effervescently written history about this peculiar and tremendously talented writer and artist. With additions of reprinted strips and un-inked pages, Bell strips away the heavily-shaded areas of this man’s life and helps the reader better understand him.” (Steven M. Bari - Weekly Comic Book Reviews)

“The portrait that emerges here is of an artist whose principles have ossified into bitter perversity.” (Douglas Wolk - The New York Times Book Review)

“This fascinating tale of a bull-headed individual who gave his all to the masses and then withdrew from their adulation offers a stark twist on the American Dream.” (R. C. Baker - The Village Voice)

“A must have for both fans of the artist in particular and comic book history in general.” (Rick Klaw - Sfsite.com)

“Blake Bell does the impossible and explains Steve Ditko.” (Alan David Doane - Comicbook Galaxy)

“Now even the comics newbie can experience the full range of Ditko’s accomplishments, thanks to Blake Bell’s masterful, copiously illustrated biographical study. With passionate, yet unremittingly objective scholarship, Bell chronicles the life and work of this notoriously reclusive and stubborn artist.” (Paul DiFilippio - Barnes and Noble Review)

“Bell’s insight into Ditko’s work and its enduring appeal combine with an abundance of powerful artwork to make this lavish volume indispensable to comics fans.” (Gordon Flagg - Booklist)

“Ditko’s life, like that of R. Crumb or Harvey Pekar, has enough obsessive oddity and outside struggle to be a tale told wide. But Bell goes the opposite direction, getting as narrow as the lines Ditko used to restrain the action in the old Marvel and Charlton comics.” (Geoff Boucher - Los Angeles Times)

“A personal and professional portrait of the brilliant storyteller and polemicist.” (Richard Pachter - Miami Herald)

“Ditko is one of the most enigmatic, mercurial talents in comic history.” (Newsarama)

“His legacy is undeniable…visually he was revolutionary.” (Macleans Magazine)

“Ditko remains widely recognized as one of the comic world’s most admired visual stylists.” (The List)

“Peculiar and tremendously talented writer and artist.” (Steven M. Bari - Weekly Comic Book Reviews)

About the Author

Blake Bell is the author of Strange & Stranger (a retrospective of Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko); The Secret History of Marvel Comics, Fire & Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics; Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives; and Strange Suspense and Unexplored Worlds (two volumes in The Steve Ditko Archives). He lives in Toronto, Ontario, with his son.

More About the Author

Author of multiple books on comic-book creators:

* Co-author of the upcoming book, "Secret History Of Marvel Comics: Jack Kirby and the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Goodman's Empire", coming out in the Summer of 2013.

* "Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko" - a biography/artbook on the co-creator and original artist of Spider-Man - published in June '08 by Fantagraphics.

* Editor of the ongoing "Steve Ditko Archives" reprint volumes from Fantagraphics. Vol. 3 - "Mysterious Traveler" out in May '12; Vol. 2 - "Unknown Worlds" out Dec '10; Vol. 1 - "Strange Suspense" out Nov '09. Vol. 4 - "Impossible Tales" coming in Summer of 2013.

* "Fire & Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics" - a biography/artbook on the co-creator/artist of Daredevil, plus the creator/artist of the Sub-Mariner for the very first issue of Marvel Comics (#1, 1939).

* Editor of "Bill Everett Archives" reprint volumes from Fantagraphics. Vol. 1 - "Amazing Mysteries" out in Feb '12. Vol. 2 - "Heroic Comics" coming out in Summer of 2013.

* "I Have to Live With This Guy!" - stories of the wives and partners of famous cartoonists like Will Eisner, Stan Lee, Howard Cruse, Alan Moore, Dave Sim, and more, published by TwoMorrows in Oct '02.

* Multiple essays/articles/interviews/linear notes for Marvel and DC Comics and various publications.

* Father to my son, and best friend, Luke.

Customer Reviews

This book has so far been something of a treasure for me.
James Robert Smith
Ditko is best known as the co-creator of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, but he also created or co-created other heroes like Capt.
Johnny Heering
An entire chapter of Bell's book is devoted to the influence on Ditko of Ayn Rand and the philosophy of Objectivism.
Alex Lint

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Grant on August 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an incredibly entertaining book. Looking at the cover, one can tell they are not looking at just another comic book artist. Opening the book one sees the first glimpse of Ditko, a five page black and white story called "Stretching Things". The story is a look at a man grown bitter by his handicap, so much so that a possible cure to his condition doesn't bring a happy ending, but a descent into evil. This isn't your average "comic book artist". The book is a entertaining yet somber look at the career and art of Steve Ditko. The author touches lightly on his pre comic book days, perhaps too lightly in that the interesting tidbits of his life that the author gives us wets the appetite of the reader but leaves us wanting. The book quickly jumps into his career as a comic illustrator, Eisner, Foster and Jerry Robinson being his early inspirations.

The book has a nice balance between text and what most Ditko fans really want to see, his art. There are nice full page splashes of art opposite the beginning of each chapter. The chapters covering his time at marvel and charlton are laced nicely with art of Spiderman, Dr.Strange, Captain Atom, as well as his later Charlton work with pictures of Blue Beetle and The Question. There is a very interesting chapter on his time working at Warren, the publisher that put out the "Eerie" and "Creepy" magazines of the late 60s. This is interesting in that it shows some of Ditkos "wash" technique, a water/ink brushwork style of art of which Ditko was a master. The book covers his time at Marvel and the historic clashes with Stan Lee that drove him to work at other companies such as DC where he created characters such as "The Creeper" and Hawk&Dove and Charlton where he had more creative reign if less pay.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alex Lint on December 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Steve Ditko was one of the iconic yet unsung popular artists of the late 1950s and especially the early and mid 1960s. Before his groundbreaking work creating Spider-Man and Dr. Strange in the 1960s, Ditko spent the late 1950s honing superb visual storytelling skills by illustrating horror and science fiction tales in popular but disposable comic books of the pre- and post-Comics Code eras. There, he learned how to draw readers in immediately, how to use lights and shadows, the drapery of clothing, and unusual perspectives to create mood. When superheros returned to comic books in the early 1960s, Ditko used those skills to create moody pieces and offbeat heroes. Unlike most artists who drew heroes in long underwear, Ditko's strengths included drawing ordinary, often unattractive people with lackluster frames and wrinkled faces marked by life experiences.

Bell traces Ditko's early life and career, showing how even small motifs, like Ditko's penchant for showing the interiors of crowded curio shops, were often traced to his experiences as a young man, or how Peter Parker's high school mimicked Ditko's own high school layout.

In the early 1960s, Ditko created Spider-Man. Writer/editor Stan Lee got 99% of the glory, but nearly every feature of Spider-Man that is famous today came from Ditko, and Bell does an excellent job of tracing individual features of Ditko's style and artistic theories in the creation and evolution of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. In a similar fashion, he dissects another extraordinary Ditko creation, Dr. Strange, showing both in words and in superbly chosen illustrations how Ditko's unique visual style created a unique comic book character and world.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Outsider's View on May 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book in it's subject matter, art and storytelling about a unique and massively gifted artist, flawed only by the overlay of the writer's small-minded commercial vison of what HE wanted from the artist. If he truly understood Ditko's work or his story, the writer would understand that this is THE very issue that Ditko seems to be fighting all these years;
crass commercial exploitation and marginalizing an artist's vision in favor of what the industry seems to perceive as a mindless comic market, while remaining blind to the artist's true vision. Some of us simple-minded comic readers actually "got" the message in Ditko's work, and comic books have never been the same since without him.

I personally think that the world and the message Ditko creates is perfect in itself,and the real loss is that no-one in the industry just let go and let him share it with us, nor would pay him commeasurate with his genius, or honor his ownership of his work. There are copyright laws for the music business; they should apply retroactively to Ditko and all the other artists in the comic book world that have been exploited.

When I think about a lifetime spent creating such subject matter as the endless conflict between good and evil, the directions that Ditko chose make sense; jst as Ditko's Spider-man or the early Batman were conflicted loners trying to fight for justice in an unjust world, the unjust treatment Ditko received at the hands of Marvel set him on his solitary path to create his own unique vision and world where
there WAS justice for the oppressed, and penalty for the criminals.
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