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Fire and Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics

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70 years ago, a new publishing company named Marvel Comics stuck its toeinto the first waters of the comic book industry. Before they became a pop culture powerhouse publishing famous superheroes like Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man, Marvel s first ever comic book featured a daring newanti-hero named the Sub-Mariner, created by legendary artist Bill Everett. 70 years ago, a new publishing company named Marvel Comics stuck its toeinto the first waters of the comic book industry. Before they became a pop culture powerhouse publishing famous superheroes like Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man, Marvel s first ever comic book featured a daring newanti-hero named the Sub-Mariner, created by legendary artist Bill Everett. 70years later, Everett s watery creation continues to be one of the pinnacles of theMarvel Universe of superheroes, as attested to by its recent option as a majormotion picture. Bill Everett invented comics first anti-hero in 1939; an angry half-breed(half-man, half sea-creature) that terrorized mankind until uniting with the Allied Forces to conquer fascism s marchacross Europe during World War II. But the reasons to celebrate Bill Everett s monumental career in comics books don tstop with his water-based hero. Everett was a master of many comic genres, and was one of the pre-eminent horrorcomic-book artists in the 1950s (before government and societal pressures led the comics industry to censor itself withthe imposition of the Comics Code Authority), producing work of such quality and stature that he ranked alongside theartists who produced similar material for the justifiably lauded EC Comics. Bill Everett: Fire & Water is the latest book from Blake Bell, author of the acclaimed Strange and Stranger: The Worldof Steve Ditko, and is being produced in cooperation with the Everett family. It will feature the definitive biography ofthe man and his career, and how his personality informed his signature character, before his untimely passing at the ageof 55 in 1973. The main focus, however, will be the stunning display of artwork that few artists can match in breadthand quality. From the superhero and horror genre, to the mid-west, romance, crime, and suspense, Bill Everett was amaster of the medium all on display in this coffee table art book that is destined to ensure Everett s place at the tableof premier comic book virtuosos.


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70 years ago, a new publishing company named Marvel Comics stuck its toeinto the first waters of the comic book industry. Before they became a pop culture powerhouse publishing famous superheroes like Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man, Marvel s first ever comic book featured a daring newanti-hero named the Sub-Mariner, created by legendary artist Bill Everett. 70 years ago, a new publishing company named Marvel Comics stuck its toeinto the first waters of the comic book industry. Before they became a pop culture powerhouse publishing famous superheroes like Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man, Marvel s first ever comic book featured a daring newanti-hero named the Sub-Mariner, created by legendary artist Bill Everett. 70years later, Everett s watery creation continues to be one of the pinnacles of theMarvel Universe of superheroes, as attested to by its recent option as a majormotion picture. Bill Everett invented comics first anti-hero in 1939; an angry half-breed(half-man, half sea-creature) that terrorized mankind until uniting with the Allied Forces to conquer fascism s marchacross Europe during World War II. But the reasons to celebrate Bill Everett s monumental career in comics books don tstop with his water-based hero. Everett was a master of many comic genres, and was one of the pre-eminent horrorcomic-book artists in the 1950s (before government and societal pressures led the comics industry to censor itself withthe imposition of the Comics Code Authority), producing work of such quality and stature that he ranked alongside theartists who produced similar material for the justifiably lauded EC Comics. Bill Everett: Fire & Water is the latest book from Blake Bell, author of the acclaimed Strange and Stranger: The Worldof Steve Ditko, and is being produced in cooperation with the Everett family. It will feature the definitive biography ofthe man and his career, and how his personality informed his signature character, before his untimely passing at the ageof 55 in 1973. The main focus, however, will be the stunning display of artwork that few artists can match in breadthand quality. From the superhero and horror genre, to the mid-west, romance, crime, and suspense, Bill Everett was amaster of the medium all on display in this coffee table art book that is destined to ensure Everett s place at the tableof premier comic book virtuosos.

30 review for Fire and Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner, and the Birth of Marvel Comics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Maybe not the definitive biography of Bill Everett that he deserves, but an excellent overview of this tragic and incredibly important person in comic book history.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This oversized book examines the life of one of the overlooked pioneers of the comics field. And though it never quite convinces the reader in its attempt to place Bill Everett as one of the giants in comics history, it presents a lively case for a reevaluation of this skilled--albeit uneven--artist. Blake Bell's writing is a bit over the top and repetitive. After a painful introduction comparing Everett to Peter Pan, the text settles down to a concise overview of the artist's life and career. Fo This oversized book examines the life of one of the overlooked pioneers of the comics field. And though it never quite convinces the reader in its attempt to place Bill Everett as one of the giants in comics history, it presents a lively case for a reevaluation of this skilled--albeit uneven--artist. Blake Bell's writing is a bit over the top and repetitive. After a painful introduction comparing Everett to Peter Pan, the text settles down to a concise overview of the artist's life and career. Fortunately the writing takes second place to the very prominent art. The production of this volume is lush, with wonderful and numerous art spreads that really show off the detail on his work, which ranged from very early superhero works to gritty 50s horror. Bell's research is solid, and the facts are well-founded, but the text necessarily glosses over the larger cultural trends, like a superficial take of the culture of the 50s to explain the popularity of the genre books of the age. Best treated as a museum catalog to an exhibit which never happened, but should have.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robert Adam Gilmour

    I recall being taken aback when Bell said that people should be wondering why there wasn't already books written about Everett, but after reading this I didn't understand why he felt this way, especially considering how few comic artists get this kind of book about them. My least favorite thing about the book is that a lot of it focuses on the earliest days of Marvel, yes it does say that in the title, it was part of the intent of the book and it will fascinate scholars of Marvel's beginnings but I recall being taken aback when Bell said that people should be wondering why there wasn't already books written about Everett, but after reading this I didn't understand why he felt this way, especially considering how few comic artists get this kind of book about them. My least favorite thing about the book is that a lot of it focuses on the earliest days of Marvel, yes it does say that in the title, it was part of the intent of the book and it will fascinate scholars of Marvel's beginnings but I think it should have been for another book rather than clogging up what is mainly a tribute to an artist. There's a good gallery and some of the stories about Everett are interesting but it doesnt add up to a satisfying book. I'd recommend it for the gallery mostly. Unfortunately, I think Everett only really hit his stride in the 50s and I dont think he did much great work outside that time. Even more unfortunately, Marvel owns most of his best work and I cant imagine they'll do it justice any time soon. Fantagraphics Bill Everett Archives 2 has some of that Marvel stuff but it's a very small sampling. If you don't know his 50s art, perhaps browsing cover art galleries and checking around comic blogs that publish short anthology stories is a good idea. Blake Bell's book about Ditko is superior.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    A long overdue book examining the life and art of Bill Everett, comic book writer artist who virtually invented Marvel Comics with his character the Sub-Mariner. Interesting fact, Peter Pan is mentioned as an influence on the Sub-Mariner's look. He was also influenced by the book A Dweller on Two Planets , supposedly written by an Atlantean via psychic medium Frederick S. Oliver. Everett's early work at Centaur Comics is briefly discussed, as is his post-war work doing horror comics and ultima A long overdue book examining the life and art of Bill Everett, comic book writer artist who virtually invented Marvel Comics with his character the Sub-Mariner. Interesting fact, Peter Pan is mentioned as an influence on the Sub-Mariner's look. He was also influenced by the book A Dweller on Two Planets , supposedly written by an Atlantean via psychic medium Frederick S. Oliver. Everett's early work at Centaur Comics is briefly discussed, as is his post-war work doing horror comics and ultimately a return to superheroes. Everett had a tragic life of alcoholism, and was never appreciated for his brilliance while alive. He had a brief revival in his career towards the end of his life, but by then the damage he had done to himself was too much, and he died too young. Great book, great info, with gorgeous illustrations. I could have used more reprints of his art, including a complete sequence that really demonstrated Everett's storytelling ability, but I can't complain about such a well research and rewarding book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carl Waluconis

    Bill Everett has been an unsung important comics creator. His one lasting creation, the Sub-Mariner, though an important fixture in the Golden Age and Marvel Rebirth eras in the history of comics, still has not been included in any of the Marvel films. So, it is great to see Fantagraphics focus one of their lavish coffee-table kinds of books on Bill Everett. Blake Bell scours the relatively small amount of material available, and describes Everett's personal life and position in comics in each d Bill Everett has been an unsung important comics creator. His one lasting creation, the Sub-Mariner, though an important fixture in the Golden Age and Marvel Rebirth eras in the history of comics, still has not been included in any of the Marvel films. So, it is great to see Fantagraphics focus one of their lavish coffee-table kinds of books on Bill Everett. Blake Bell scours the relatively small amount of material available, and describes Everett's personal life and position in comics in each decade. Fantagraphics utilizes its usual daring and exciting page layouts in compiling Everett's published and unpublished work during those decades. The book is missing a sort of central idea on Bill Everett's work, which Bell's Fantagraphic book on Steve Ditko did provide. Also. though there are only about sixty pages of prose on Everett's life and career, those pages have enough people and other detailed material that an index would have been nice for this volume. It's a little ironic that the company that provided wonderful indexes for their celebrated Peanuts reprints does not include one for this historical perspective.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Though the biographical elements are a little light, this book is still a nice tribute to a Golden Age great. Lots of reminisces from Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, as well as Everett's kids. Everett's alcoholism is referenced often, but until the 1960s, we don't really see much about how it affected Everett or his work; Bell fawns a little too much over his hero in that respect. Lots of great old art. An intriguing if not quite great book. Though the biographical elements are a little light, this book is still a nice tribute to a Golden Age great. Lots of reminisces from Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, as well as Everett's kids. Everett's alcoholism is referenced often, but until the 1960s, we don't really see much about how it affected Everett or his work; Bell fawns a little too much over his hero in that respect. Lots of great old art. An intriguing if not quite great book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    An interesting and well-done bio of Everett, all told. Still, it was heavily padded-out by full page reprints of artwork and graphics to almost double its word-related page counts. As it's a book about an artist, that's to be expected (and actually added a star to its rank for me). The fact that much of the art hasn't been seen in good reproductions in 40+ years also adds to its relevance in the book. My primary gripe about the book is its graphic design--NEVER print white on black unless you're An interesting and well-done bio of Everett, all told. Still, it was heavily padded-out by full page reprints of artwork and graphics to almost double its word-related page counts. As it's a book about an artist, that's to be expected (and actually added a star to its rank for me). The fact that much of the art hasn't been seen in good reproductions in 40+ years also adds to its relevance in the book. My primary gripe about the book is its graphic design--NEVER print white on black unless you're using a very very legible typeface at an easily-viewed size. Sheesh. I'm only 43 and I had to strain to read the far-too-numerous pages of white-on-black type.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jon Holt

    This is a dud of a book. Eventually I did my own research and realized I wanted to read Everett's 1950s Subby from Atlas. This book could, at the very least, offer an annotated bibliography, but it doesn't. I guess Blake Bell doesn't want us to enjoy the comics he reads and writes about. This is a dud of a book. Eventually I did my own research and realized I wanted to read Everett's 1950s Subby from Atlas. This book could, at the very least, offer an annotated bibliography, but it doesn't. I guess Blake Bell doesn't want us to enjoy the comics he reads and writes about.

  9. 5 out of 5

    William J. Meyer

    Just a gorgeous book about Everett.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Allen Jones

  11. 4 out of 5

    David T.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shane Green

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  15. 4 out of 5

    John Siuntres

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brett

  17. 5 out of 5

    roblox fan (search salmonsamuel )

  18. 5 out of 5

    Peter Sanderson

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eugene booker

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sherm Cohen

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dunkindean

  22. 5 out of 5

    Moby-Nostromo

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  24. 4 out of 5

    Camhayden

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hoskin

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tim Schneider

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dana

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Interior

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joe

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