Over on his blog, the lovely and talented Dean Haspiel shares his favorite DC Comics cover of all time: it's a weird and wonderful choice. But I think my favorite DC cover is weirder and even more wonderful...
I mean, really, how can you beat Jimmy Olsen as a Giant Turtle Man? It's the entire Silver Age of DC Comics boiled down to one majestically absurd image (which looks like the work of the great Curt Swan to me).
At the other end of the spectrum is my favorite Marvel Comics cover, a work of drama and dignity, wonder and awe, illustrated by the incomparable Jack Kirby...
The first time I saw this image—in an ad, before I ever read the issue—my twelve year old mind created my own story to go with it (one I'd love to actually write some day)—and that's what a great cover should do: stimulate the imagination. Make you hungry to see what's between the covers.
What are your favorites?
My ALL-TIME favorite comic cover is the cover to Doctor Strange # 169.ReplyDelete
Check it out here:Doctor Strange # 169
EVERY time I see that Dan Adkins illustrated piece, it just sends me.
I have other faves, but that one is my all-time A-#1, top-of-the-heap, pick.
Other than that, I have a peculiar fondness for any cover that has that old silver-age-color-separation style covers where it looks like muted tones of an almost watercolor nature.
Of course, I can't think of a single one now... but that Doc issue does also have that quality so it'll work as an example.
Mine is probably this one:ReplyDelete
This encapsules perfectly what the book was all about: sci-fi, bold, different, graphic and mature. Actually, Giffen's whole run had such amazing covers, so different and striking that it is painful to see whatever came afterwards.
Yeah, that's a terrific cover, P. Dan Adkins was a wonderful artist...and he was a great match for Doctor Strange.ReplyDelete
That Giffen kid has talent, Ricardo. I think he's got a real future in this business!ReplyDelete
But, seriously, if you're a fan of Keith's art, you'll be happy to know that he's picking up the pencil again, for a few different projects, including an upcoming issue of our BOOSTER GOLD run. I, for one, can't wait.
On the Marvel side, my favorite cover is probably WOS #32.ReplyDelete
Zeck stripped KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT down to its bare essence here, and the cover says it all:
If anyone thinks KLH is just a story about madness and death, I point them to that.
Close runners up:
This is kind of a cheat, because it wasn't originally a cover, but I love the image that made its way to LOST YEARS #0--Ben Reilly, slumped, defeated, caught in a torrential rain, desperately clinging to the identity he's lost one last time. Breaks my heart.
ASM 238, the debut of the Hobgoblin. I defy any fan from that era to say they weren't sucked in by that cover. It isn't easy to work with a classic design, much less to improve on it, but JR, Jr. might just have pulled it off. And it hits to the heart of what made Norman Osborn special. He wasn't Spider-Man's greatest enemy because he was locked in an eternal struggled with Peter Parker. No, it's because Peter Parker was locked in an eternal struggle with Norman's LEGACY. (Which is why, if you ask me, the guy who's been running around since REVELATIONS is a clone.)
ASM 246: Jonah Jameson decks Spider-Man. Yup, it's a dream sequence, but what a cover! And it's actually one of the best (but overlooked) issues of the time.
On the DC side:
GREEN LANTERN (VOL. 2) #49. That's the one where Hal Jordan embraces his insanity. The image of Hal grinning and showing off the rings he's stolen from his fallen comrades is striking, to say the least.
As soon as I post this, I'm sure I'll think of others!
The Zeck cover really is a classic, David. One that seems to get better with time. And I have to agree about that Ben Reilly image from JR, Jr., too (but I would, wouldn't I?).ReplyDelete
Speaking of Romita, Jr.—I never saw that ASM cover before, but you're right, it's a terrific image.
Yeah, I could really go on and on about JR, Jr.'s cover work from that era.ReplyDelete
ASM 254's a good one, too, with the image of Spider-Man peering through the rain at a mystery villain, exclaiming, "NO! NOT YOU!" Better than the story, actually.
If you ever find yourself so inclined, check out ASM 246. Basically, the entire issue is devoted to Spider-Man and his supporting cast daydreaming. Good stuff. Now that I think about it, this ish would probably work pretty well with "I'm Only Sleeping" blaring in the background.
You should combine your great loves and come up with a list of comics best read to specific Beatles tunes...
Now there's an idea, David: How about KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT...read while listening to "Tomorrow Never Knows"?ReplyDelete
Yeah, I think "Tomorrow Never Knows" would complement KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT pretty well.ReplyDelete
I'd probably sleep with the lights on that night... :)
I'm actually working on part four of my upcoming Kaine-Kraven story right now, David. Maybe I should be listening to "TNK" while I write.ReplyDelete
On the flipside of that match-up, I suspect Kaine is rocking out to some SKYNRD.
For every pre-1987 Kraven appearance, I think I'll jam to some "Bungalow Bill"...
Kraven the Hunter and "Bungalow Bill"? That's very funny, David.ReplyDelete
This is similar to the Fantastic Four cover in some ways, and is also by Kirby, but this has always been my favorite:ReplyDelete
It's just so very dramatic and dynamic, and everything Kirby was best at, in one awe-inspiring image.
Can't think of an individual cover @ the moment, but I have to say that seeing that Jimmy Olsen cover makes me think of how awesome a new Jimmy Olsen series like that would be today. Show Jimmy getting into all kinds of wacky adventures, with or without Superman. Done as an all-ages title, with single-issue stories, it could be a great jumping-on point for new young readers.ReplyDelete
You know, I was going to point out the perspective on that JO cover is all wrong, at least as it relates to Superman and the bridge.ReplyDelete
But when you've got a giant turtle man on the cover, what's the point?
There are soooo many great covers...first one that pops into my head is Adventure Comics #475 by Brian Bolland, with an inside story by...J.M. DeMatteis!
That was a classic, old-fashioned cover...yet Bolland brought a modern sensibility to it. (Well, modern for 1980!) He's a sensational artist.ReplyDelete
One of the first stories he ever did for U.S. comics was a short science-fiction story I wrote called "Falling Down to Heaven." The art for that was extraordinary.
I hardly even remember that THOR cover, James, but, seeing it again...well, it's fantastic. Marvel era Kirby really could do no wrong...and his covers were almost always mind-blowingly good.ReplyDelete
Re: Kirby. Totally agreed that Marvel era Kirby is the master of covers. I intentionally took him off the table in my listings because I never saw his comics fresh on the newsstand. But he totally nailed the balance between artistic genius and commercial sensibilities--you want to frame his covers AFTER you've read the STORY.ReplyDelete
Modern cover artists could stand to gain a lot by going back to the King. I don't know why, but these days covers are mostly generic poses that tell me NOTHING about what's inside or why I should care. Seems like comics companies are operating on the assumption that their readers are already invested in the story--which, when you're competing for my dollar, IS NOT THE CASE!!
Take WEB OF SPIDER-MAN. It's been a good, and at times fantastic (re: ECHOES and NOBODY), title. But aside from the first issue, the covers have told me basically NOTHING about what to expect.
When I picked up WOS 5 for the Reilly story, I found that I enjoyed the FVL lead a lot. But I wouldn't have known that from the cover, because it was just a generic Vulture shot. Nothing about that cover screamed "Buy me!" And if I hadn't realized WOS 5 featured a Reilly story, I certainly wouldn't have figured it out. At the very least, an "And also in this ish: Ben Reilly!" blurb would do in a pinch.
I don't mean to be too critical, I just think that if a good cover can sell a weak story, then great stories ought to have sensational covers! More of a back-handed compliment than anything. WOS deserves no less.
Anyway, all these covers are terrific, and interest me in the stories behind them.
Never saw the Strange cover before, but that is sweet. Same for Turtle-Man. My only experience with TM was the watered-down 90s take that had Jimmy doing a kids show on the side. Yeah, defnitely not as interesting as Jimmy Olsen eating a bridge while Superman goes medieval self-righteous on him. Silver-Age Supes removes people from the planet like he's dishing time-outs to a toddler. :)
One thing I've thought about as I look at these covers. As a writer, it's a good idea to ask this fundamental question:
Could Kirby boil my story concept down into a single, sensational cover?
If he couldn't boil it down, I might need to simplify.
If he couldn't sensationalize it, I might want to spice things up!
GREAT questions re: Kirby's ability to boil an idea down to a cover, David. Perhaps every mainstream comic book writer should ask those questions before hitting the keyboard.ReplyDelete
The thing I love about the FF cover I selected is that it is, in many ways, the opposite of what we identify with Kirby. This isn't some cosmic slugfest. It's essentially a portrait of silent anticipation. But, in that anticipation, we see the whole story. It continues to amaze me.
I agree with you about the whole "portrait cover," thing. They can be very impactful sometimes...but when every cover is just a poster shot, with little or no connection to the story, it gets awfully boring awfully fast.
I hadn't even thought about why that cover's so effective, but you're totally right.ReplyDelete
I recently discovered that when TALES OF SUSPENSE began featuring Iron Man, Lee and Kirby were still writing sci-fi backups. That discovery whetted my appetite to see what those original Lee/Kirby sci-fi collaborations were like.
That cover seems to capture not only the story inside, but the whole TWILIGHT ZONE vibe fueled by post-nuclear fears. It's that dynamic tension between the Kennedy optimism and the Cold War/ Vietnam era terror that makes it work--there's a fine line, after all, between terror and awe.
There's this fear, but also the sense that maybe the layers of the world we know are being peeled back and something better, something fantastic is about to come rushing to the surface.
Simply put, the question I feel like everyone is asking here:
"Is this the end of the world or the beginning of a universe?"
Absolutely. Now let your imagination go and write your own story to go along with the image.ReplyDelete
Spoiler alert: It's always "THE BEGINNING."
I don't know why, but this one had my ten-year-old brain racing.ReplyDelete
I couldn't wait to find out what was going on in that story!
And with this next one, I'm not kissing your butt here:
That was one of those covers that just had me sold in one glance.
I think what makes the X-MEN cover work, Nicholas, is the expression on Havok's face. Is he ashamed of what he's done? Is he freaked because he DIDN'T do it? Does he really have to go to the bathroom? A facial expression, when done right, can open up levels of interpretation. And speaking of facial expressions...ReplyDelete
No one does 'em better than Kevin Maguire. That JL cover is an absolute classic -- it's probably been riffed on more than any other cover I can think of -- and deservedly so. I suspect the idea for it came from Andy Helfer, our JUSTICE LEAGUE editor, but Kevin made it come alive. Looking at that, you just wanted to read about those guys.
I'm not a comics expert. I read the ones my husband (Nicholas West) recommends and usually enjoy them. However, the most fantastically bizarre comic I have ever read, (and I'm sure Nick would agree), has an equally bizarre cover: Fletcher Hanks' I Shall Destroy All Planets! I flip through that when I'm having a bad day because it is SO absurd.ReplyDelete
Not familiar with I SHALL DESTROY ALL PLANETS!, Libby...but I'll be sure to scour the web for that cover. I'm a big fan of the fantastically bizarre.ReplyDelete
It's "I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets!"ReplyDelete
This is the cover that Libby, and I, think is hilarious
Kind of looks like a panel from a 1940's comic book, Nicholas. What's it about?ReplyDelete
It is a 1940's comic!ReplyDelete
It's a hyper-fascist superhero basically; starring "The Super Wizard Stardust."
Stolen from wiki: Stardust is an alien from an unnamed planet (in some stories, a star), whose "vast knowledge of interplanetary science has made him the most remarkable man that ever lived." He arrives on Earth vowing to clean up crime, and uses the powers that his knowledge has given him to fight all evil-doers.
It was incredibly bizarre and inventive. However, being the 1940's, it features such chapters as "Gyp's Clip" and "Slant Eyes" (yeesh).
It's all public domain now, but Fantagraphics recently collected a couple of volumes. They are definitely worth a read!
That's funny. Here I thought someone was aping a 1940's style. The book sounds like something I'd get a kick out of. Thanks for filling me in.ReplyDelete
As these comments had briefly drifted ever so slightly into the realm of "music to read (or create) comics by" - specifically, BEATLES transcendental/ psychedelic tracks - I offer forth this old post of mine - wherein I discuss the nature of "magic" in comics, Dr. Strange, comics writers who understand mysticism (JMD being one of the greatest)and "Within You - Without You" by George Harrison.ReplyDelete
Sanctum Sanctorum Comix : Within You - Without You
Great piece on your blog, ~P~. And reading Doc Strange stories while listening to "Within You, Without You"? Genius. I'd also throw in "All Things Must Pass." In fact, there are a number of other Harrison numbers that are perfect for Strange reading.ReplyDelete
While my Eye of Agamotto Gently Weeps, When We Was Sorcerer Supreme, For You, Wong, Give Me Clea, Old Brown Ancient One, I Me Mordo...ReplyDelete
Great stuff, Jeff. I may have to pitch Marvel on a new Doc Strange story, just so I can use "I Me Mordo" as the title: it's a classic!ReplyDelete
Don't forget the one which could apply to either Doc or Ditko: Don't Bother Steve...ReplyDelete
There's also My Sweet Orb, Beware of Dark Dimensions, Cloud Strange Tales 169, You Are the One(with the universe)...
Can't think of any which might apply to the Defenders yet, but gimme time..
You really made me laugh with this batch, Jeff. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Today's my birthday, and the notion that I've entertained one of my favorite writers is a terrific present!ReplyDelete
As for the Defenders song: Here Comes the (elf with a)Gun
Or we could go the Lennon route with "Happiness is an Elf with a Warm Gun."ReplyDelete
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Jeff!
Working Class Bozo (stopping now!)ReplyDelete
I'm heading out for dinner now...but thanks for putting a smile on my face with this silliness.ReplyDelete
Hey. J.R. LeMar— I just found some lost comments here at Creation Point and yours was one of them. Sorry it's taken so long to post it! And, yes, a monthly JIMMY OLSEN wackfest would be fantastic. Great idea!ReplyDelete