Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives v1 hits comic-book stores this week (although, in true comic-book fashion, some slipped out to the East Coast last Wednesday, and it doesn't hit bookstores and Amazon.com until next Monday).
It's 240 pages of all Everett Golden Age goodness featuring rare and never-before-reprinted work from titles such as Amazing Mystery Funnies (1938), Amazing-Man Comics (1939), Target Comics (1940), Heroic Comics (1940), and Blue Bolt Comics (1940). Join us in Toronto on Wednesday, February 29 at 7pm for the Book Launch Event hosted by The Beguiling.
The reviews are coming in and are superlative regarding the production of the book, and reveal the fascination of watching Everett's style evolve. Oddly enough, some of the reviews use language that contradicts the expressed purpose of how I organized the book - by "action hero" versus strict chronology. In other words, I included works of Everett from 1940-1942 to highlight the change in Everett's style in 1940 to that well-known slick, polished style, so that readers who buy this, or the subsequent, volume would have a sampling of his work from 1938-1942 to compare.
If I had gone strictly by chronology, you would have only seen the more raw material from 1938-39, plus you wouldn't have a sampling of virtually all of Everett's creations in each volume. Alas, I don't envy a reviewer's workload when it comes to absorb 240 pages of this volume plus every other product that came out in the given week. Rest assured, though, that while the first half of volume one is Bill's comparatively raw style, you do get a huge sampling in the book's second half of his more polished work. Volume two will also take this to the next level, as it will include his super-rare 1950s romance and adventure work for Eastern, plus some unexpected Everett goodness! Here are snippets of the reviews to date:
Comic Book Resources - "What’s exciting for me about this book is watching Everett develop as an
artist and storyteller and figure out the medium in relatively rapid
fashion. His lettering, clunky and stylized in his initial Skyrocket Steele story,
quickly more straightforward and easier to read. His composition
becomes more assured and dramatic. He clearly starts thinking of the
page as a unit and not a bunch of unrelated panels as they stories start
to seem less cluttered and more refined.
Publisher's Weekly - "This volume provides an illuminating look at the artist’s numerous
attempts at catching Sub-Marineresque lightning in a bottle for a second
Comics Bulletin - "For fans of comics from the dawn of the comic book era, this book is an indispensable gift from Blake Bell and Fantagraphics."
Booksteve's Library - "Presented chronologically, one can witness Bill's design skills develop by leaps and bounds even as his storytelling skills just seem to have come naturally to him. Compiled by Blake Bell, author of the still recent Bill Everett biography, who provides some insightful text and art samples throughout, fans of Golden Age comic books in general and key artists in particular have a treasure trove here similar to Vanguard's recent Wally Wood volume. Lots of fun, colorful stories with some of the best artwork of the late 1930's and early 1940's."
Michael T. Gilbert - "The reproduction is absolutely superb, shot from the original comics
but really cleaned up nicely. It's truly a pleasure to look at, and
Blake's insightful commentary on Everett's life and career is
fascinating. Early efforts like Amazing-Man and Skyrocket Steel, reprinted here,
display Bill's early efforts when he was still learning the ropes. But
even then Everett had an uncanny knack for telling an exciting story
with unexpected twists and fascinating characterization. For my money,
Bill was as great a writer as he was an artist (and more's the pity he
wasn't encouraged to write more of his own material in the 60s!).
This is the collection hardcore Everett fans have always wanted to see,
but never dreamed they would. The incredibly rare stories in this book
aren't as slick as say, Lou Fine or Will Eisner, but the stories
themselves are really terrific and very readable."