Doug: Here's another economic decision to make -- you have a dollar, only a dollar. Spend it here, on comic books with photo covers!
Smile for the Camera: Photo Covers and the $1 Challenge
Mike S.: Take a look at these covers. What do you see? Do you see creativity, an early sense of cosplay, photographic interplay years ahead of its time, and your greatest imagination brought to life? Or do you say, “Meh, this is an empty attempt at marketing and uninspired pandering”?
I have to say I am plowing new ground here on this latest challenge of “If I Had A Buck…” because these covers do not appeal to me. Yes, it is true; I am a photo snob. If I am buying a comic I would like to see comic artwork. Give me Kirby, give me Romita, and Byrne, and Perez, and Kane! This photo trend in American comics left me uninterested and a little heavier in the pocket, because I did not spend a dime on these comics! And I did that based on the covers alone.
I understand completely that I may be wrong. I understand that I may have entirely missed the boat here. Was this any portion of the inspiration that led to photo realistic art like the work of Alex Ross? Or was it a misguided attempt to do something different? Did you love it? Did it jump off of the rack for you? Or is it best left forgotten?
Now, obviously there are two types of covers here. There are a set of covers from Marvel’s exploration into realism. And there are a set of covers reflecting the adaptation of television or film adaptations. The second set interests me more. I liked reading comic adventures of my favorite television heroes, whether that was the Six Million Dollar Man, the Bionic Woman, Adam 12, or the Man From U.N.C.L.E., and it made sense that some of those comics might have the actual actors emblazoned on the covers. Though it is interesting to note that some of those mentioned above leaned toward traditional pencil and ink rather than photography; even Neal Adams illustrated Steve Austin.
I am not sure what drove Marvel to attempt this on a handful of covers. Surely it could not have been cheaper, could it? With costume development, set design, models, lighting, and photo sessions it had to be difficult. But what drove them to go down the photographic path? I cannot find any examples where DC tried this; do they exist? And even as much as I loved the Bullpen Bulletins and Not Brand Echh!, could I stomach a whole issue of Marvel Fumetti?
I have to recognize that photo covers were definitely a large part of the Silver Age for adaptations, and that trend edged into the Bronze Age as well.Does it have a place today? If I saw Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson on a cover for the Avengers would it surprise me? Probably not. Would I like it? I just might. Does the modern era of comic super realism on film make this more palpable? Maybe. Or do I just disdain the old model because the costumes were just weak? Very possibly.
So tell me, would you spend your money here? If you walked into my shop and saw only these nine books, these nine oddities, would you bite? On what comics would you spend your single dollar? Or would you buy Marathon Bars, Twinkies, Snowballs, RC, and Fruit Stripe Gum instead?
Was it a Photo Bomb or a Photo Shop?
Dazzler #21; $1.00
Spider-Woman #50; $1.00
Marvel Fumetti Book #1; $1.00
Happy Days #6; $0.40
Beneath the Planet of the Apes #1; $0.25
The Mod Squad #8; $0.15
Amazing Spider-Man #262; $0.60
Marvel Team-Up #128; $0.60
Star Trek #8; $0.15