ITEM! Welcome back to “Things You Must Buy At Your Local Comic Shop This Week, Part III.” Next up is the best up! Though not featuring Yours Truly per se, there’s lots to read about how ol’ Sturdy Steve and I collaborated, co-plotted and collided in Blake Bell’s scholarly study, Strange and Stranger: The Worlds of Steve Ditko!
This well-researched recount of the life and times of everyone’s favorite raconteur and randy Randian makes an ideal coffee table companion to Mark Evanier’s Kirby: King of Comics. And it’s in comparison to Madcap Mark’s Kirby book that Blake Bells’ work really shines! As much as I enjoyed Evanier’s Kirby book, it contained little that I hadn’t read, heard or seen before. Blake’s Ditko book is a much denser and more complete essay on its subject than Evanier’s. (That's review pull-out quote #42 in a series, by the way... collect 'em all! — Studious Stan) Bashful Blake really delivers the goods on Sterling Steve Ditko, including details of the Lee-Ditko collaboration that even Yours Truly had either forgotten or never knew. For example, I never knew that when Ditko quit Marvel he wrote Kirby a letter trying to get him to leave at the same time! Fascinating.
My only nits were the ones that you’d expect from an editor-type like moi. At one point in the story, Marvel apparently released a “title wave” of books onto the newsstands, which is either a typo or one really titanic pun! And speaking of titles, I kinda wish Sturdy Steve hadn’t thrown a fit and more-or-less forced Mr. Bell to change the title from his original “The Mysterious Traveler: The World of Steve Ditko.” Steve Ditko was a mysterious traveller, and Blake Bell’s doctoral dissection of the Ditko dichotomy is well worth your discretionary-income dollars! Go get this one pilgrims!