Artist Spotlight on Bill Everett

by Blaise Tassone

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William Blake “Bill” Everett was a Golden Age comic book writer and artist best known for creating Namor: the Sub-Mariner. However, Everett was much more than the creator of Namor. An original who is the true grandfather of later Marvel comics, even if today we associate Marvel with Stan Lee and the bullpen, without Everett the later Marvel universe would have looked very different.

In this post, I put the spotlight on this talented man and his contributions to American comics.

Born May 18, 1917, Everett was active in comics from the 1930’s up until the 1970’s. During this time he helped produce some of the most carefully constructed and enjoyable stories in comics.

Everett’s career can be said to have started and ended with Sub-Mariner since he both created him and, after a long break, returned to the Sub-Mariner comic in the 70’s. But his formative years were actually spent not in New York, like so many other early comic creators, but in Massachusetts where he was born to an old New England family. He started his artistic career on the advertising staff of the Boston newspaper The Herald-Traveler. Eventually he took on freelancing contracts with Centaur Publications, selling his first page ‘Skyrocket Steele’ for $2.00. He quickly worked himself up to $10.00 and before long $14.00 per page.

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Unfortunately, the only thing Bill Everett liked more than telling great stories was having a drink. His drinking habit led his early death in 1973 (at age 55) and, since he was drawing almost till the end, much squandered potential.

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Amazing Mystery Funnies (August 1938) – First Everett Cover for Comics; Dick Kent Adventure story; Skyrocket Steele in the Year X on cover only

Everett’s detailed line work is distinctive and hard to miss. Already in his first major cover, his Skyrocket Steele cover, we can see these distinctive characteristics present. Only 201 of these exist in CGC form, but we’re lucky to have any of them. On 03/11/2019 a copy of this comic in 7.5 sold on ComicConnect for $6, 300.00.

 

 

 

 

 

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Marvel Mystery Comics #9 (July 1940) – Second Battle between Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch

The resolution of opposites is something that mystical thinkers discuss. Everett was a descendant of the English mystic poet William Blake, who he was named after. Blake was best known for illustrating his own fiery poems which are marked by weird and elemental imagery. Therefore it probably wasn’t a coincidence that Everett (as creator) tapped into a basic duality: Water and Fire when he created two of his most famous Marvel characters: Namor the Prince of Atlantis a water-born anti-hero and the Human Torch a fiery protector of the innocent. It was in the pages of Marvel Mystery Comics that the two contrasting characters would meet (and fight!). A rare comic; one of the last sales was a 1.8 on 06/05/2014 which sold at ComicConnect for $5, 600.00.

 

 

 

 

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All-Winners #3 (December 1941) – The Future Marvel Universe on a Single Cover

Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, it’s the Invaders! No it’s just early Marvel action before there was Marvel. Everett’s cover here captures the Marvel formula years ahead of the first issue of Fantastic Four. Stan Lee edited this comic and the dynamic cover art make it an all-winner in truth as much as name. On 07/25/2019 a 2.5 copy sold on eBay for $1, 500.00. How’s that for all-winning?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daredevil #1 (March 1963) – First appearance of Daredevil (Matt Murdock); Origin of Daredevil; First appearance of Karen Page; First appearance of Foggy Nelson

The development in Everett’s style is evident throughout the Silver Age and into the Bronze Age. His work on Daredevil is the bridge, as the co-creator with Stan Lee, Everett contributed this iconic Silver Age cover and the original Daredevil look (the yellow suit). His work developed to the point that the story and art work strong were strong to the end (check out his script work for The Incredible Hulk #105 for example).

Everett was a true legend and contributed to making American comic books what they are. In my opinion, these early Daredevil’s are highly undervalued. A 9.0 of Daredevil #1 sold on 08/01/2019 on Heritage auction for only $9, 300.00. Compare that to the price of any other Marvel Silver Age mega key in that grade.

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1 comment

father_fanboy August 26, 2019 - 10:52 am

Awesome coverage! I actually just sent a Bill Everett signed DD #1 to CBCS for verification and grading, so this was really cool timing!

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