In 1939, decades before it would become the powerhouse behind such famous super-heroes as Spider-Man, The X-Men, and Iron Man, Marvel Comics launched its comics line with a four-color magazine starring a daring new antihero: The Sub-Mariner.
As created and rendered by the great Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner was an angry half-breed (half-man, half sea-creature) who loathed and fought against all mankind until he joined the Allied Forces to defeat the Nazis during World War II. Seventy years later, Everetts aquatic creation remains one of the pinnacles of the Marvel super-hero universe (as attested to by the characters recent option for a major motion picture).
The Sub-Mariner alone, and his status as the original Marvel (anti-)hero, would have insured any cartoonists place in comics history. But Everett was a master of many kinds of comics: romance, crime, humor, and the often brutal horror comics genre (before it was defanged by the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s), for which he produced work of such stylish and horrifi c beauty that he ranks with the artists who kept the legendary EC comics line awash in blood and guts.
Written by Blake Bell (the author of the best-selling critical biography of Steve Ditko, Strange and Stranger) and compiled with the aid and assistance of Everetts family, friends, and cartoonist peers, Fire and Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner & the Birth of Marvel Comics is an intimate biography of a troubled man; an eye-popping collection of Everetts comics, sketchbook drawings, and illustration art (including spectacular samples from his greatest published work as well as never-before-seen private drawings); and an in-depth look at his involvement in the birth of the company that would revolutionize pop culture forever: Marvel Comics!
Praise for Blake Bell's Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko:
"The book is an extremely satisfying archive of the artist's work, both famous and obscure, and... it intensely documents the twists and turns of his career." – Los Angeles Times Book Review
"An essential tribute to one of pop culture's most essential creators. [Grade] A+" – SciFi
"This is one handsome book. Handsome like the lead hunter character in a safari movie handsome." – The Comics Reporter
"[A] glorious celebration... beautifully designed. [Grade] A-" – Entertainment Weekly
"Wow wow wow wow!!!!... an engaging and riveting read, covering ground virtually unknown heretofore. I want to pull it off the shelf and start reading it over again already. I will state right now, that this book will easily end the calendar year 2008 in my Top Five books of the year, if not Number One. Very highly recommended." – Brett Warnock
"Insightful... excellent... [Grade} A" – The Onion A.V. Club
"One of the most interesting (and visually stunning) biographies I have read all year." – Largehearted Boy
"Masterful... With passionate yet unremittingly objective scholarship, Bell chronicles the life and work of this notoriously reclusive and stubborn artist." – Barnes & Noble Review
"Bell has inpeccable taste when it comes to his assessment of the high points in Ditko's art and career... Steve Ditko at his best is magic, and The World of Steve Ditko is filled with Ditko at his best... the book [is] a must for the old grouch's many fans, and should convert some new ones, too. Recommended and then some." – Minneapolis City Pages
"In Strange and Stranger, Blake writes the kind of feature journalism that usually ends up in a newspaper like The New York Times or a magazine like the New Yorker... This truly special book examines the quest for artistic perfection on a personal level, while it reveals the life of a fiercely independent man who has always lived in interesting times. Bell gives us a history of American comic books and the history of an exceptional American comic book creator the complete package. [Grade] A+" – Comic Book Bin