Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.
Thursday, June 28, 2018
STRANGE AND STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO.
STRANGE AND STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO. Blake Bell. 2008; Fantagraphics.
Steve Ditko is the comic book artist and writer who is most famous for the co-creation of Spider-Man, as well as Dr. Strange, with Stan Lee. Ditko became obsessed with writer Ayn Rand -- especially her novel The Fountainhead -- and its principles, and it had a profound effect on his life and work. Like the architect hero of Fountainhead, Ditko felt he had to remain true to his principles, and was loathe to make money doing what he saw as crap -- anything that didn't smack of Ayn Rand. Unfortunately, most readers did not have the same interest in Rand, and Ditko rejected suggestions to make his stories more readable even as his art suffered, everything becoming subordinate to his "messages." Occasionally Ditko would try more or less mainstream work, such as Marvel's short-lived Speedball comic, as well as Hawk and Dove and Shade, the Changing Man for DC, but these did not necessarily sell in large numbers. Ditko could have made a fortune sticking to Spider-Man, but he wanted to take the strip in a direction that understandably did not sit well with the powers-that-be at Marvel, and he was also proven to be out of touch with the youthful readers of the time. Ditko is nevertheless a talented artist, and much of his work graces this beautifully-produced coffee table book with excellent text by Blake Bell, covering all aspects of his life and art. Frankly, Ditko was never my favorite comic book artist while I was growing up, but I came to appreciate his work as an adult, and Strange and Stranger explains in detail the man's artistic achievements and innovations. There is also a lot of backstage business about the comics industry. NOTE: Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay for the terribleLove Letters.
Verdict: Not just for obsessive Ditko fans, but they will appreciate this the most. ***1/2.