We’ve always thought of artist and writer Steve Ditko as the Brit Hadden to Stan Lee‘s Henry Luce. Now a new book spotlights the reclusive co-creator of Spider-Man who abandoned Spidey, Doctor Strange, and mainstream success to chronicle the adventures of such characters as Mr. A, an Ayn Rand-inspired character of his own creation. Blake Bell‘s Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko (Fantagraphics) is a coffee table book retrospective of Ditko’s career in 14 chapters, from his youth in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and 1950 arrival in New York City through his time at Marvel and subsequent fallings out with both Marvel and DC Comics and ultimate dedication to work fueled by Objectivism.
Ken Tucker‘s review of Strange and Stranger in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly highlights the unique style Ditko established in the early 1960s with The Amazing Spider-Man: “expressive, shoebox-shaped faces; long, tapered fingers with meticulously penciled knuckles; rubbery arms and legs. These visual tics gave Spider-Man a distinctive look. Where other superheroes were chunks of muscle, Spidey was an elegantly elastic figure.” And hard-core comics fans still can’t get enough. Comic-Con International, which opened today in San Diego, on Saturday evening features both a “World of Steve Ditko” panel and a screening of the 2007 documentary In Search of Steve Ditko. Bell will be on hand to sign copies of his book at the Fantagraphics booth throughout the convention.