The 1939 creation of the Sub-Mariner for the first issue of Marvel Comics assures Bill Everett a place in history. Co-creating Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, for Marvel Comics in 1964 gave Everett a link to one of the most popular superheroes of the past 50 years. And producing over 400 additional pages of superhero-related work in the very early days of the Golden Age of Comics (1938-42) makes Bill Everett a legend.
Heroic Comics: The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 2 collects over 200 pages of never-before-reprinted work from such titles as Amazing Mystery Funnies (1938), Amazing-Man Comics (1939), Target Comics (1940), Heroic Comics (1940), and Blue Bolt Comics (1940). These titles feature an endless array of vintage Everett characters such Amazing-Man, Hydroman, Skyrocket Steele, The Chameleon and many more, all produced by Everett’s shop Funnies, Inc. for such clients as Centaur, Novelty Press, and Eastern Color. This book also features, reprinted for the first time, the rarest of Everett material, his romance work from the early 1950s for Eastern Color on titles such as New Heroic Comics (1950/51) and Personal Love (1953). All of the stories within display Everett’s brilliant cartooning and energetic storytelling growing by leaps and bounds.
Edited by best-selling author and comic-book historian Blake Bell (Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko), The Bill Everett Archives is a stunning companion to Bell’s 2010 critically acclaimed Everett biography and art book, Fire and Water: Bill Everett, The Sub-Mariner and the Birth of Marvel Comics. This volume follows the format of Bell’s Steve Ditko Archives series; never-before-reprinted, beautifully restored, full-color stories from one of comic books’ greatest visionaries and most accomplished artists. This book also includes an introduction about the man, his art, the history of the era, and his relationship with Marvel Comics.
But you’re here for Blake’s Top 10 list right? Let’s get to it…
Blake Bell’s Top 10 Bill Everett Covers
The conundrum, when faced with the task of compiling a “Top Ten” anything, is whether to land on A) your ten favourite (“the heart loves what it loves”); B) the ten “best” (some reaching attempt at objectivity, generally fueled by some fear that others will render judgment upon you for not being erudite enough in your choosings and musings); C) ten that represent the arc of an artist’s career…and then D) just landing on only ten…the worst task of all.
“C” is generally tied up in “B”. You get into internal debates about historical or career “significance” and “importance” versus what is “objectively” your evaluation of the ten best. Invariably, if you pick a cover from “every” era/genre, readers will scream that you ignored Cover X that (rightly so) is better than a number of your picks.
I found this to be true with Bill Everett, mainly because of my affection for his early 1950s horror material. I’ve said it numerous times: if Everett hadn’t been so much of a “Marvel Comics Man” – i.e., reliant on editor-in-chief Stan Lee’s tolerance of Everett’s laissez-faire attitudes towards deadlines – a stint at EC Comics may have afforded him ever greater consideration as the preeminent horror genre artist of the decade.
This all meant that I had to monitor my objectivity to ensure that I didn’t lose site on the value of his non-horror work. Thankfully, Everett was very much the multi-dimensional genre artist, and there was a lot from which to choose. What speaks to Everett’s greatness is that the list covers, literally, the entire arc of his artistic life – from 1939 to his passing in 1973.
Sadly, it also speaks to the fact that an early death at the early age of 55 cost us many years of further greatness and enjoyment of one of the founding fathers in the comic-book business. His remarkable rebirth, after sobering up for good by the early 1970s, was hinted at in his last run on his signature creation, The Sub-Mariner (issues #50 to 57), and some of the Skywald material. Onwards…
[be sure to click on the images to see them in all their glory! -Craig]
#10 – Sub-Mariner #57 (Marvel, Jan ’73)
#9 – Blast #1 (G&D Publications, Feb ’71)
#8 – Menace #5 (Marvel, Jul ’53)
#7 – Men’s Adventures #22 (Marvel, Jun ’53)
#6 – Journey Into Mystery #9 (Marvel, May ’52)
#5 – Sub-Mariner Special #2 (Marvel, Jan ’72)
#4 – Venus #17 (Marvel, Dec ’51)
#3 – Spellbound #2 (Marvel, Apr ’52)
#2 – Venus #19 (Marvel, Apr ’52)
#1 – Amazing Mystery Funnies v2 #5 (Centaur, May ’39)
There’s two thousand words invested in a mad-dash exercise to rank my favorite Bill Everett covers. As my pastor-from-another-zip-code, Dr. James MacDonald once said, “I’ve narrowed down my favorite scriptures to ten…thousand.” If you want a good look at 344 Everett covers, click on this link at www.comics.org.
And, “MSC”, you win.
God bless you all.