Steve Ditko is best known as the co-creator, with Stan Lee, of Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and other classic Marvel and DC characters. But, in the context of Steve Ditko's 50-year career in comics, his creative involvement with Spider-Man is merely the tip of the iceberg. Strange & Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko is a coffee table art book tracing Ditko's life and career, his unparalleled stylistic innovations, and his strict adherence to his philosophical principles, with lush displays of obscure and popular art from the thousands of pages of comics he’s drawn over the last 55 years.
Tonight in Toronto: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO, a Canuckian book launch for Toronto author BLAKE BELL on Wednesday, June 18th from 7PM-9PM at the Lillian H. Smith Library (239 College St., Toronto). And yes, FREE.
Here's the full skinny from our pals at the Beguiling (almost certainly Canada's finest source for comics and graphic novels):
The Beguiling specialty bookstore is proud to present two great graphic novel events this June, appealing to the vast breadth of graphic novel aficionados in the city of Toronto! The first event features acclaimed Norwegian cartoonist JASON-currently serializing his newest work in The New York Times Magazine-as he comes to Toronto to launch his new work POCKET FULL OF RAIN. RAIN is a collection of early works by Jason, defying genre and style and showing his development into the internationally acclaimed author he is today. Jason will be interviewed on his life and career in an audio/visual presentation by The Beguiling's Peter Birkemoe at The Central, located directly adjacent to The Beguiling, on Tuesday June 10th at 8PM.
Then, the following week, The Beguiling will be working with The Toronto Public Library and The Merril Collection to officially launch THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO, the first-ever biography of the reclusive co-creator of SPIDER-MAN! Toronto author and comics historian Blake Bell has exhaustively researched the life and career of Ditko, and it's on every page of this lavishly illustrated book. Bell will be on hand to launch the book with an audio/visual presentation of Ditko's artistic career on Wednesday, June 18th at 7PM at the Lillian H. Smith Library, 239 College St. (at Spadina).
In addition to the book launch and presentation, we are proud to announce that U.K. television and radio personality Jonathan Ross, who debuted his hour-long "IN SEARCH OF STEVE DITKO" documentary on the BBC last September, has granted us the rights to show the documentary at the Toronto event! This will be the first official screening in Canada, and attendees will get to view it for free!
Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko is the first critical retrospective of Steve Ditko, the co-creator and original artist of the Amazing Spider-Man. The book explodes many of the myths of Ditko's career, and presents reams of rare and unpublished Ditko artwork. All at once, the book functions as a biography of the artist and an examination of his work (spotlighting over 300 images) with commentary on what makes Ditko one of history's greatest sequential storytellers. Following the June 7 premiere, the book will be widely available in stores later in the month.
TITLE INFORMATION: Strange & Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko By Blake Bell $39.99 Hardcover 220 pages, full-color, 9" x 12" ISBN 978-1-56097-921-0 PUBLICATION DATE: June 2008
LISTING INFORMATION: WHO: Noted Steve Ditko expert BLAKE BELL WHAT: The World Premiere of STRANGE & STRANGER: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO WHEN: Saturday, June 7, 8PM WHERE: Jim Hanley's Universe 4 West 33rd, NYC (off Fifth Ave, opposite Empire State Bldg.)
2008 is the year when Steve Ditko fans the world over will have the opportunity to celebrate the artist's 50-plus year career with this definitive volume from Blake Bell and Fantagraphics Books. And it all starts June 7 in Ditko's hometown of New York City.
With our forthcoming opus STRANGE & STRANGE: THE WORLD OF STEVE DITKO hitting in just a few weeks, I thought I would share a brief Steve Ditko story. About ten years ago we had the great fortune of publishing a new series by Mr. Ditko, STEVE DITKO'S STRANGE AVENGING TALES. This was incredibly exciting to me, having been a lifelong Ditko fan. Unfortunately, I did not get to interact much with Mr. Ditko. See, I do all of our promotion, and to say that Mr. Ditko is not big on promotion is like saying the Pope is not big on gay marriage. And, he preferred snail mail to phone. As such, I did not have many opportunities to interact with one of the greatest comic book artists of all-time. Except one.
At the time, the venerable fan publication COMICS BUYERS GUIDE was very excited about Mr. Ditko's new series, and CBG Editor Maggie Thompson was kind enough to offer us the cover of an issue to promote the book, but asked if Mr. Ditko would provide an original cover for CBG. As I recall, Gary Groth ran the idea by Ditko and, somewhat surprisingly, he was game. So, I mailed Mr. Ditko all of the appropriate specifications for creating an original CBG cover. A week or so later, I received the following postcard in the mail:
I have to say, getting a postcard in the mail from Steve Ditko was just about the coolest thing ever. I was jazzed. I of course promptly wrote him back with enthusiasm, hoping to cement our acquaintanceship, telling him that I looked forward to the piece.
Soon thereafter, as promised, Ditko delivered the cover, and it was great -- a beautiful, greytoned wash illustration tying into the new series.
And here's where I made my mistake. As I recall, I wrote him back even more enthusiastically, thanking him for the piece. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, and since we still had some time before CBG's deadline, I reminded him (in case he hadn't seen an issue recently) that CBG had just switched from a B&W newspaper format to a tabloid format with color covers , and so color did remain an option if he was so inclined -- I just wanted to make sure he wasn't limiting himself to B&W because he thought he had to.
Anyway, a week or so later I got this postcard:
Reading the card now, I'm not even sure if he was actually that upset. I mean, he still sent his "regards," so maybe he was just trying to be as clear as possible, but at the time, I was convinced I'd royally pissed him off and felt terrible about it. I still do. Shortly after this, Ditko quit the series over other disagreements with Gary Groth, and only the first issue was published. So I never got the chance to prove to Mr. Ditko that I wasn't a moron.
I suppose, given Mr. Ditko's philosophical worldview, I never should have doubted that B&W cover. Maybe it was the shades of grey that threw me off. Either way, the pure white, economic postcards should have been a reminder that Mr. Ditko knew exactly what he was doing and I never should have questioned him.
And 20/20 Club members, look for an exclusive 10-page downloadable excerpt in your weekly newsletter today! (If you're not a member, stay tuned: we'll be making it available to registered users in 2 weeks.)