Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Atlas shrugged

Having talked a bit about Steve Ditko last time, I just have to put in a quick plug for Strange and Stranger, Blake Bell’s book on the great man’s life and work.

There’s not much point in me critiquing Ditko’s work here. It’s all been said better already (by Bell, for one) so I’ll just add that when I was voraciously consuming Marvel Comics the way modern kids do Twilight and alcopops, the official line had Jack Kirby as king of the artists - but, for me, Ditko always had the edge.

To this day, no other comic artist is so breathtakingly cinematic in his storytelling, nor as visually inventive and consistently surprising. I loved seeing Thor knock chunks off rock trolls with his uru hammer, but it was Ditko who kept coming up with new ways to amaze. You know in the Spider-man movie, when you first see Spidey swinging from building to building? The way the sheer momentum flings his limbs into extreme poses? That’s pure Ditko.

So, look: the guy was a genius. Blake Bell’s book is a large-format, lavish production on quality paper, so not cheap. But it’s a glimpse at genius. And it’s cheaper than a bottle of flavoured vodka. So go ahead and treat yourself. Me, I’ve already put in my order for
the follow-up.

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