“Ghost Story” is from Amazing Detective #13 (1952), and Everett, as he did so well, pulls out all the stops on his rendition of the supernatural entity. Not content to show a more traditional ghost, Everett’s ghost is something out of a nightmare’s nightmare. Being me, I must say that showing it in the splash panel is a mistake, a spoiler.
Bill Everett’s salad days
As a very young cartoonist in the very young days of the comic books, Bill Everett showed a knack for the medium. While his early artwork could be somewhat crude compared to his later, slicker style, what was possible was already showing. The book by Blake Bell, Amazing Mysteries, subtitled The Bill Everett Archives Vol. 1, shows how quickly the potential of Everett as a major comic art talent developed. Examples shown were published orignally from 1938 to 1942.
Although there is a section devoted to Everett’s Western creation, Bulls-Eye Bill, the whole comics industry moved where Superman took it, so Everett’s earliest work mostly involved superheroes. He worked on such features as Hydro-Man, Sub-Zero Man and The Conqueror.
This is a page from The Conqueror (Victory Comics #1, 1941), which shows Everett’s slicker inking, and his command of storytelling, comic book style.
Covers were a place where Everett was able to show his skill in creating instant eye-appeal. His early covers for Centaur’s Amazing Mystery Funnies have a poster-like quality.
Author Blake Bell includes biographical information on Everett, who came from an upper middle-class Massachusetts family, and Bell also tells us of some of the things that cut his life short. Everett had tuberculosis at an early age (he was sent to Arizona to recover in the dry climate, hence his interest in the Old West and cowboys), began drinking at age 12, and smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. It is almost an “amazing mystery” how he managed to live to just a couple of months short of his 56th birthday.
Bell also includes some pages of original art, including some concept sketches for comic book covers that never were. It is the kind of fascinating ephemera I really appreciate.
Fantagraphics Books did an excellent job with this book, and it gets my highest recommendation. The printing and binding are attractive and durable. It is available from the usual outlets, and is listed with a retail price of $39.99.
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