Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Editing Michelangelo - IDW Artist Edition Review (cont'd)

Doug: Frequent commenter Martinex1 wondered aloud (well, he typed his mystification...) about the existence of an unpublished cover to Silver Surfer #2. I had made mention of that in my review of IDW's John Buscema Artist Edition, which you can see immediately below this post, or at this link. It was cruel of me to do so and leave everyone hanging, so I'm back with a couple of photos. The first one will be of the rejected cover, followed by the version you have probably seen online or perhaps on a reprint you own. I'd invite commentary from our readers on the merits (or demerits for that matter) of both covers. Those of you who might have been unclear on what I meant by "paste-up" in the first post today should have a better idea when you look at the published cover.

Doug: But in hindsight, it does seem a bit funny that someone would reject anything done by the Michelangelo of Comics. So fire away -- hopefully we get another lively conversation going.


John Buscema's original cover draft that was rejected for Silver Surfer #2
 
The published cover to Silver Surfer #2

The cover as it appeared on the newsstands, 1968

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey where is everyone? Just kidding. Sometimes editors decide to reject one cover and put another for various reasons. Looking at both covers, it seems like the second one was used because it didn't looked as cluttered as the first one - the saucer was perhaps deemed as unnecessary. Just my opinion.


- Mike 'editor at large' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Martinex1 said...

Like I said before, "Wow!" I have never seen that image before and that issue is a favorite of mine as it was one of the first comics a cousin shared with me. (The back up Watcher story in that issue with Colan art is very fun by the way).

Like you mentioned Doug, I am amazed that they rejected anything by Buscema back then. And to think about the time that must have been spent to get it "right" says a lot about the care and craftsmanship at Marvel in those days. There are things I like about both covers. The unused cover looks much more three dimensional with The Surfer swooping in, the ship in the background, and the civilians in the foreground. The speed and movement of the Surfer in that image seems apparent with the movement overlaying the masthead. I suspect that may however have been one of the reasons for a change; the title was new obviously and it seems they weren't as eager to obstruct titles in those days, but I think it is cool. I also like the Kirby crackle around the Badoon warrior. I like the Surfer as a smaller image but again I can see where that may be a concern in marketing the book if the thought is the hero should be front and center.

The used cover has a more central image, larger display of the lead, and less clutter. In print I absolutely admire the color scheme with the green villain against a not frequently used purple hued background. Really striking image.

I like both of course and cannot stop looking at the artistry. In general, I find busier covers more appealing; I like full and complex battle scenes more frequently than simple character poses or one on ones. For instance, a busy Avengers battle with rubble and background detail will attract my eye more readily than the same characters in battle against a solid background color. But in this case it's a toss up; both great in their own way. I'd love to see the unused version colored and see how the levels stand out.

Doug thank you for sharing. Much appreciated. Made my day.

Martinex1 said...

Also I'd like to believe that is Stan and Jack hanging out of the background window in the unused version. Who knows. It's interesting to look at how the civilian characters were changed, edited, or modified from version to version. Such detail and I'm not sure what thought goes into that.

Edo Bosnar said...

The unused cover is quite good, obviously, but I still prefer the actual published cover. As Martinex noted, the color scheme makes it even more striking.

William said...


Very cool! Both covers are awesome, but I think I prefer the first version with "Saucer" actually on the cover. That one just as more detail and more points of interest for the eye to land on. Which was probably what the problem was. It distracts from the main focus of the Surfer vs. The Alien.

However, I also wonder how someone could look at a Big John piece and go, "Yeah, it's nice, but it would be better if you did this, this and this…" I only hope it was another talented artist like Kirby or Romita who suggested the changes. At least then it holds some water.

I am a graphic designer and I used to feel a little bit bristled when a client would want sweeping changes to one of my designs. My first thought used to be something like "If you know so much about all this, then what do you need me for." But over the years you learn to develop a thick skin and take it all in stride. Funny thing is, a lot of times the client is right, and Ill be like "Man, why didn't I think of that?" LOL

Humanbelly said...

Say, doesn't the corner-box Surfer look a bit more like Kirby's pencil-work? Or is that just a fig-leaf o' my imagination?

The second cover isn't so much a re-drawn cover, though, as much as it's a HEAVILY edited version of the first, right? Those are the exact same images of the two primary figures, just with their sizes adjusted, and then all of that great background scenery has just been. . . removed. If I were to play editor here, I would agree that the problem with the first is that the title character (in only his second issue) is far, far too visually subordinate to the Badoon dude. I can imagine that the phrase "Whose book is it-?" was uttered at some point in the process.

HB

Colin Jones said...
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Colin Jones said...
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Doug said...

I agree that the Surfer in the corner box looks like a Kirby image.

Losing the Kirby Krackle is a definite detraction from the second cover.

I'd be curious to know who finished the civilians in the published cover -- Marie Severin, John Romita? Clearly the man in the lower right corner had to be expanded in terms of his upper torso.

It's also interesting how the Badoon warrior has been tilted in the second image, yet the Surfer remained at the same angle. The Surfer was also blown up on a copier to create nearness, but also I'm sure (as some above have suggested) because he is the title character.

I've added the published cover so everyone can see the color scheme that's been mentioned. To be honest, seeing it in color makes me like the unpublished one more.

Doug

Humanbelly said...

It's kind of a funny distinction, isn't it? I completely agree that the unpublished cover is definitely the superior piece of artwork-- a much better image, without question. Along w/ the loss of the Kirby Krackle (which leaves the Surfer's blasts looking vaguely like something Iceman would produce. . . or even PastePot Pete. . . ), the abrupt difference between detailed cityscape and then. . . nothing at all. . . is visually jarring to me. And yet-- I do get that a solid case can be made that, strictly speaking, the replacement is the superior "cover", because of what it's trying to accomplish. A simpler, colorful image that promotes the title character and catches the eye from the spinner rack. It's a neat example of how better art and better promotion don't necessarily coincide at all sometimes.

HB

Doug said...

Funny thing about the published version is that it trends more toward covers of modern books. Simple and colorful, as a poster or pin-up.

Doug

pfgavigan said...

Hiya,

I have to vote for the revised version as the better for cover art.

Stan Lee was probably the man who made the final decision on all the covers for all books at this time. I think he still held the title of Art Director in addition to Editor for the books.

Art Director wasn't a meaningless title. Stan rejected a lot of pages from his artists and no one was exempt or above his critique. Jim Shooter, looking to earn some extra money as an inker, was given an uninked Kirby Fantastic Four page to demonstrate his abilities upon. He states that this came from a large pile of unfinished works from a variety of different artists, all pages that Stan insisted be redrawn.

I'm not certain, so if anyone knows better than me please correct me, but I believe a 'kill' fee was paid for rejected art, not the usual page rate, but something so the artist had some compensation for time and labor.

Thank you for your indulgence.

pfgavigan

pfgavigan said...

Hiya,

By the way, Pope Julius II did edit Michelangelo, quite fiercely in fact. He never did forget that little incident regarding the marble.

John Buscema actually got a better deal than Michelangelo, Buscema got his original art back.

That's not my joke, blame Peter David for that one.

Please click on the link below if you want one of the best commentaries on Art Direction ever produced.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eAo_7EccVo

Thank you

pfgavigan

Colin Bray said...

Fascinating stuff.

I think the right decision was made to change the cover. The integrity of the original title header was restored (important for a new title) and the Surfer made larger/more the focus of the page.

However, the actual execution of the final page is disappointing. I wonder if the decision was made close to deadline which made it a rush job. Bear in mind all concerned were overworked as members of a small Bullpen.

Colin Bray said...
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