Thursday, March 22, 2012

Memorable Covers

Karen: The cover of a comic book is the entry point, and frequently, the selling point of the book. A cover used to display an image that was representative of what you would find inside. Sure, it might have been a bit misleading at times, but it gave you a sense of what the book was about. But it also had a chance to dazzle you, to entice you with its art.

Karen: Every comics fan can rattle off the covers that have really stuck with them, for whatever reason. I'll get the ball rolling with a few. One of the earliest covers I saw that really blew my socks off was Tales to Astonish 93, by Marie Severin and Frank Giacoia.Take a look -I still think it's fantastic! The Surfer, hurtling towards the reader; the Hulk, grabbing him; and those flames all around them -if that isn't dramatic, I don't know what is! I first saw this in my uncle's collection and it's been ingrained in my noggin ever since. There's a real sense of power and majesty to it.

Karen: Another cover that's burned into my brain is the cover of New Teen Titans 13, with Robotman hanging apparently lifeless and damaged in an old ruin, with a warning sign hung around his neck, as Robin, Kid Flash, and Cyborg look on in shock and dismay. There's just something very visceral about that cover, seeing this old time hero hung up like that. Sure, he's a robot (cyborg? He has a human brain...) but even so, it's alarming and makes you wonder immediately what happened to him. It's a great way to hook someone into buying the book!

Karen: So what are some memorable covers for you?



Edo Bosnar said...

Definitely agree with you about that New Teen Titans cover; it's probably one of the best of the many outstanding covers during that initial Wolfman/Perez run.
I think I mentioned it before somewhere, but the cover to Marvel Team-up #38 is one of the most memorable to me; it's not just the nostalgic value (i.e., my very first MTU and one of my earliest Spider-man comics), there's something about the composition that I find really eye-grabbing.
And in connection with my comment from the preceding post/thread, the cover of X-men #137 is truly memorable - it's beautifully designed and drawn, and it tells you something bad or tragic is going to happening and you just have to read it. (Too bad the effect on the original comic book was diminished by one of those g*******d, ubiquitous - in 1980 - banner ads.)

david_b said...

Way TOO numerous to mention, but I agree with Edo on ish 137. NOT an X-Men fan, but I'd love to grab that issue just for the cover alone, despite the banner ad.

I've been heavy into 'Strange Tales' of late (ish 164, "Nightmare" is awesome..), so I'm leaning more into the Silver Age for the best covers. To me the onset of word balloons diminished some wonderful covers. Always a big fan of the Steranko covers, SHIELD issues 6 and 7 comes to mind. Just love the artistic surrealness, wondering how it looked next to the likes of Superman and Lois Lane comics.

FF 13, 49, 51,61, 73, 82 and 112 stand out to me as well. Just awesome composition, yet very simple.

Like Edo, my earliest issues like MTU 13 are the closest to my heart. The energy in Cap's expression bleeds off the cover.

On the flip-side, I can name some 'underwhelming covers' for gigantic events. I'm typically not a fan of 'multiple events' on a cover; to me, simpler single scene covers are preferred.

As odd as this might sound, I've always been slightly disappointed with Spiderman 121's cover, in conveying the outcome, as compared with the CPT Stacey death cover. It's not as iconic as that one or say, Spiderman 50, and I actually prefer ish 122's cover. You KNEW the Spidey/Goblin showdown would be outstanding.

humanbelly said...

Oh gosh, there are just so many. Incredible Hulk #118. Avengers #51, with that great John B Giant-man/Goliath shot. Similarly #57's monotone portrait of the Vision.

But I'm going to toss in a completely unexpected, delightful gem. Marvel Age #30-- the "Summer Fun" issue, by John Byrne. I just looked it up on CoverBrowser, and it still makes me laugh out loud. It's the perfect cover.

Most of the background: A large swath of the Marvel Universe (including Conan!) cavorting and relaxing at what would appear to be a company picnic-- in itself a fun & amusing scene.

Very tight and dominant in the foreground: Lurking behind a tree, a grey-metal-gloved hand (w/ a surrounding green cape) slowly unscrews the lid on a jar filled with. . . ants!!

In one perfect moment, it captures the entirety of an absurd, comic "story", so to speak. Not only is it funny in that moment, it also makes you consider the absurdity that led to that moment, as well as the predictably amusing consequences following.

I completely loved it the moment I saw it-!

Hey- big shout-out to Karen for submitting that great TtA cover-- just hits this ol' Hulkophile where he lives. . .


david_b said...

Oh, check out the Silver Age Superboy covers by Neal Adams. He did better work on these than most of his other memorable covers. Look at 160, 164, 168 as examples.

Oh, and a big Nick Cardy plug for Teen Titans 16 and 22. Just beautiful, memorable covers, I'd easily matte/frame these around my house.

Anonymous said...

All the usuals; Silver Surfer#4, Avengers#4, Thor#126 etc...but also Cap#183(still shocking),Tales to Astonish#79 and what about Thor#171 and FF112 and Hulk #107and ...aaarrrggghhhhh!!!! so many more, so many more....

Mark said...

Avengers #161

Doug said...

I have always loved John Buscema's cover to Avengers #79 -- just how villainous can five super-uglies get?

Alex Ross's four covers to Marvels (shoot -- toss in the perspective on the Spidey/Goblin battle from Marvels #0, too) are all outstanding, but my favorite is the cover to the fourth issue. Just chilling...

I love Neal Adams Batman/Man-Bat standoff on Detective Comics #400. Great coloring to add the right mood to the piece.

Kirby's Thor/Galactus tilt on Thor #168 is another standout effort. The foreshortening on the Big G's left hand and arm gives us an idea of how much he dwarfs the Thunder God.

Quite a while ago I reviewed Superboy #167, with a cut Superbaby story. Adams cover is fun and showcases a key scene from the story inside.

Lastly (for now), George Perez's cover to Avengers (vol. III) #19 with a full-face close-up of Ultron is a beauty. Too bad all of the words on the cover spoiled it to an extent. Tell me that image wouldn't have sold the magazine without even a title on the cover!


david_b said...

Whoah, Doug, yet ANOTHER classic, Thor 168.

When I'm looking for classic covers to buy, I clearly don't have enough Thor's. I picked that one up last year.

Back to Adams, his covers always seem to encompass the best coloring/shadowing techniques, especially on his Supes covers.

Inkstained Wretch said...

The artist that always blew me away was Gil Kane. His early 80s covers for DC really jumped off the spinner racks.

Some favorites were: Superman #386 with Superman and the Daily Planet menaced by a giantic Lex Luthor; Green Lantern #184 with Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner and John Stewart all charging up their power rings while a Guardian of the Universe hovers above them; and Sword of the Atom Special #2, just a great image of Ray Palmer at his baddest ever.

I'd also like to throw in a nod to what was the creepiest cover I ever saw as a kid: House of Mystery #282. Joe Kubert draws a scene of woman about to be attacked by the skeeviest-looking serial-killer ever ... only he doesn't know that he's about to be attacked by a vampire! It packs a lot of punch into a single image.

Inkstained Wretch said...

The artist that always blew me away was Gil Kane. His early 80s covers for DC really jumped off the spinner racks.

Some favorites were: Superman #386 with Superman and the Daily Planet menaced by a giantic Lex Luthor; Green Lantern #184 with Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner and John Stewart all charging up their power rings while a Guardian of the Universe hovers above them; and Sword of the Atom Special #2, just a great image of Ray Palmer at his baddest ever.

I'd also like to throw in a nod to what was the creepiest cover I ever saw as a kid: House of Mystery #282. Joe Kubert draws a scene of woman about to be attacked by the skeeviest-looking serial-killer ever ... only he doesn't know that he's about to be attacked by a vampire! It packs a lot of punch into a single image.

Garett said...

Master of Kung Fu #100 I love. The story inside is good, but when I look at the cover I imagine all sorts of great stories, and it helps that it's a big double-sized event issue! The pose, the faces, the colors--it all makes me want to open this up:

Teen Titans #1 is my screen saver. : )

Garcia Lopez on DC Comics Presents #3--love the figure drawing of Adam Strange here, like he should be on the Sistine Ceiling or something. Inside comic is excellent Lopez art too. Adams Strange has never been a favorite, so it's gotta be the art.

Irv Novick's Pep Comics #9:
I want to see a whole comic drawn this way.

Garett said...

I picked up Sword of the Atom TPB a couple days ago, based on recommendations here for Gil Kane story--great stuff. Read through the whole thing, good story, and excellent Kane art. Thanks!

Ray Tomczak said...

My favorite cover of all time, and I've written about this on my own blog, is Brave and the Bold #124, featuring a masked terrorist holding a gun on artist Jim Aparo and demanding that Aparo draw guest star Sgt. Rock killing Batman or the terrorist will kill Aparo. It's a great image that really made me want to know what was behind that cover.
The really crazy part is that that scene more or less actually occurs in the story. Writer Bob Haney and editor Murray Boltinoff show up as well.
From the cover to the last page, "Small War of the Super-Rifles" is my favorite Batman story.

Inkstained Wretch said...

By the way guys, sorry about the double posting above. Don't know how that happened.

humanbelly said...

Bear with me while I toss out a few more, 'cause many are from a kids' memory, and I don't have issue numbers to go with them. If you recognize the description, it may even reinforce their argument for inclusion-!

The Silver Age Flash cover where a skeleton in a Flash uniform is about to be discovered by some kids under a bridge (or similar). CHILLING-- totally made you want to pick up the book!

Weird War. . . #2? A Joe Kubert cover showing a prematurely aged soldier, wondering what everyone's looking at-- very harrowing. (Kubert had a lot of great Weird War covers, I believe).

"Doc Ock Wins"-- Spidey #52-ish? Spidey's image reflected in Ock's goggles-- a GREAT image that has been "homaged" countless times.

Hawk & Dove #2, I think. Where Hawk is Dead, and an enraged, teary Dove is about to take names and deal some serious retribution. Another great Kane cover.

FF #82--- Inhumans and the FF are about to charge at a target somewhere beyond our right shoulder.

We've discussed the issue recently a bit (not favorably, IMO)-- but the cover to Spidey #141 (Dead Gwen's boot dominant in the foreground)is an extremely dramatic eye-catcher.

The Avengers cover w/ Hawkeye about to shoot Antman into action on an arrow.

A MUCH later Avengers cover w/ the Wasp framed by Cap's chest symbol.

Oh man, Tower of Shadows #1. That cover creeped me out so much, that I had TURN IT FACE DOWN in the middle of the night, 'cause I could barely see it in the moonglow through my window (when I was, like, eight. . . ).

An old Dr Strange cover (when he wore a head-mask for awhile), where he's rising out of a grave. . .

Boy, it doesn't take long to rack a bunch up, does it?


Anonymous said...

That cover with a masked Dr. Strange rising from a grave sounds like Sub-Mariner #22 (1969 or '70). The one with Hawkeye and Ant Man was probably Avengers #223 (1982 or '83). It may or may not have been an homage to Atom #31.

Doug said...

How about a couple of memorable covers, but that I don't care for? Fantastic Four Annual #3 and FF #236 are eye-catching for me because they are way too busy! I appreciate what Kirby and Byrne, respectively, were going for, but for my eyes it is too much of a good thing.


Redartz said...

Love to look at covers; and lots of good lookers have been mentioned! May I add:

Star Spangled War Stories 138- Magnificent Kubert cover of Enemy Ace. Dramatic blue head shot overlooking battling planes.

Amazing Spiderman 65- Our hero running along a jail wall and right off the page. Romita does it again!

Avengers 184- Perez really sets up Absorbing Man...

Strange Adventures 207- Adams' first Deadman cover, and one of the best.

Ahh, one could go on and on...

david_b said...

Doug, agreed on your FF Annual 3 comment. I preferred the '73 King Size reprint, even the Spidey-Goblin reprint from the same the original covers. I STILL remember walking into the store that summer, seeing 'em both side by side, and only having money for one....

(I went with Spidey..)

Anonymous said...

A favorite cover theme in the Silver and Bronze Ages was where the heroes were about to be ambushed and didn't know it, or where they thought they were escaping when they were really jumping from the frying pan into the fire, or when one had already been kidnapped and the rest didn't realize it: Batman #249, Brave and Bold #92, Teen Titans #27, Detective #383, even Jerry Lewis #124. It was especially popular in the war comics; Pat Curley's blog (April 2010) called it DWTANEH (Don't Worry, There Are No Enemies Here). Our Army at War # 195, GI Combat # 160 and # 192, Tomahawk #113, Star Spangled War # 174 and #180. It was used so often for the Losers in Our Fighting Forces (e.g., #138, 141, 144, 160, 173) that it became a cliche. But then, probably no more so than clash covers (JLA #56, X Men #100, Avengers #53 and 130, Defenders #119) or Pieta scenes (Batman #156, X-Men #136, Thor #127, and, most famous, Crisis on Infinite Earths #7).

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I have to say that cover with the Silver Surfer and the Hulk was first read by me in re-print form. I wish there were more classic reprints. The Marvel Essencials series are the only way you can read the classics without a high price tag. The new ones are nothing but pinups for artists to sell at conventions. I used to toss it up to me being old. But I do have to say the stories are nothing like they used to be. If your not reading an independent comic your restricted to the super hero genre.

The Hulk was a good title in the eight years Herb Trimpe was on the title in the 1970's. Peter David had a good ten years on the title. That's unheard of today. At most you are looking at a year of the same creators on a title. I can't stand the new stuff. It's like all the artists and writers are auditioning for the next Marvel movie.

Guys like Kirby, Kane, The brothers Buscema, John Bryne and George Perez, Gene Colon are all sadly figures of the past. But I can relate to very few of the new ones.

Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek's "Kingdom Come" was really my last paperback that I truly enjoyed the story from. I mostly look at my old paperbacks and DVD's for the old days. I still have my Fantastic Four DVD of the first 500 issue which will take me forever to finish. I also got the Star Trek first 500 issues from five or six differnt companies for $6 on Amazon. I figure by the time I finish I'll be ready to ritire.

Back to the covers. I loved a lot of the Tresury Editions of the 70's and DC's 100 Page Specials because you got reprints for such an economical price. Today I think video games have pretty much replaced comics because the action is instant and in some cases there is hardly no story!

Rip Jagger said...

I was lucky to show up at the table when I think covers were at their artistic peak. Neal Adams was doing covers at DC over Infantino designs and Marvel was in that wonderful period just before Gil Kane became the go-to artist.

The SHIELD covers are awesome, and likewise the Avengers covers by Buscema.

The champ though might be Hulk Annual #1 by Steranko (with head adjustments by Marie Severin). It's a blast!

Rip Off

vancouver mark said...

Best cover ever: Aquaman#42 by Nick Cardy, with #38 a runner up. he did a lot of beautiful covers.

I also love Kirby's first issues of Kamandi and the Demon and New Gods#7 (except for the very unfortunate word balloons), Starlin's Captain Marvel#29, and Romita Jr.'s X-Men#183.

Wrightson's Swamp Thing covers were awesome too.

Edo Bosnar said...

Rip, any cover by Steranko is a winner. They're all beautiful, and I guess memorable because of that.
And Garett and I appear to have many of the same tastes. Totally agree about DC Comics Presents #3, and would add that the covers to the first four issues of that title (all by Garcia Lopez) are all top notch.
Garett also makes a great point about Shang Chi #100, and I would add that the covers leading up to that issue, starting with #96, are all just as good. In fact, pretty much all Shang Chi covers done by Mike Zeck are real eye-grabbers; other personal favorites are the covers to #s 68, 78 and 83. Although I'm wondering if at this point I'm mixing up memorable with beautiful...

Anonymous said...

Artistically, Jimmy Olsen #139 and #141 were not Kirby's best work, but they piqued my curiosity and got me to buy the comics. And that, after all, is what a cover is supposed to do.

William said...

This was a daunting task, but Amazing Spider-Man #135 stands out as one of those covers that I always remember. Spider-Man leaping out at the reader with a giant Spider image behind him dividing up the page with images of scenes from the interior depicted in the space the spider's legs. Great design. Awesome stuff.

Other great one's are...

Avengers #57 with its proclamation "Behold The Vision".

Fantastic Four #51 "This Man, This Monster".

Amazing Spider-Man #50 "Spider-Man No More".

I also always like the cover to Uncanny X-Men #135 with Dark Phoenix crushing the X-Men logo.

Those are just the tip of the iceberg. Let's face it, you could fill a book or two with great comic and memorable comic covers.

Karen said...

A nice assortment of responses! Heck, you could have a whole blog dedicated to comic book covers -in fact, I'd bet there are several. But there are certain covers that just stick in your head, that elicited a strong emotional response when you first saw them. It's amazing how powerful imagery can be, especially at an early age. There are scenes from comics, movies, and TV shows that I can call up with almost no effort. I'm sure everyone here is the same way. These are the things that shaped us.


Anonymous said...

I'm with Rip on DC here. Silver-into-Bronze was an incredible time for covers at DC. Carmine Infantino was never one of my favorite artists. But according to him, he designed most of the covers during this period, and they were sensational. He was certainly smart enough to use Adams, Cardy, and Kubert for as many covers as he could. Along with Aparo and Kirby (during his fourth world phase at least), DC's covers were consistently eye-popping.

What did Marvel have? The great Gil Kane! I bought many an issue of Marvel Team-Up due to his dynamic covers. And he and Dave Cockrum literally introduced us to the "New" X-men with the cover to GS X-Men#1.

I bow to the majesty of Steranko as the king of the covers, though. His Nick Fury covers represent everything I wanted the 60's to be.

James Chatterton

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