Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Who's the Best... Captain America Cover by Mike Zeck?

Doug: Thomas F. is back with another Who's the Best? covers post. And he has some beautiful offerings for your consideration today.

Thomas F.: Talented penciler Mike Zeck got his start in the comics industry at Charlton Comics in the early Seventies. Most of his subsequent work, though, was for Marvel, with the occasional cover or one-page job in an anniversary issue for DC. Most of us are most familiar with Zeck’s artwork in the pages of Secret Wars, GI Joe, Master of Kung-Fu, and the highly successful 1986 The Punisher limited series which ran for five issues.

Incidentally, the first Thanos solo story, featured as the backup tale in Logan’s Run #6, was also penciled (and inked) by a twenty-seven-year-old Mike Zeck in 1977. As for why the story was included in the pages Logan’s Run #6, of all places—and not in The Avengers—tight deadlines was the official reason cited.
But for me, some of Zeck’s best work was in the pages of Captain America. During his popular run on the book, which lasted from 1978 to 1986, Zeck turned out some truly striking covers, many of which would make fantastic posters or pinups. I couldn’t help but notice that the cover of Captain America #277 is obviously a swipe of Neal Adam’s Detective Comics #395, from 1970.I’ve selected a dozen of my own favorite Zeck covers here. (If I had to choose just one, it would be a tie between #332 and Annual #8.)

Which do you like most, and are there any you feel I’ve left out?



*Doug: Apologies to Thomas and our readers for the less-than perfect lay-out today. You know I wanted those covers to be justified on the margins. But it just wasn't happening!


Edo Bosnar said...

Zeck did a bunch of great covers in general, but yeah, many of the ones he did for Cap are standouts. Of those you have pictured here, I've always been partial to CA #284 and #286. Another one I've always liked is the cover to CA #281 (it's just too bad it's partially obscured by those blurbs and whatnot all around it).

By the way, Zeck only drew a single issue of Cap as a fill-in artist in 1978, so you can't really consider that the beginning of his run. He only became the regular penciler sometime in 1981.

Martinex1 said...

Zeck did a great job of depicting Cap in peril, so I like the rat cover #272 and of course the Deathlok cover. I also really like the two Ameridroid covers he handled in issues #262 and #263; those may be my favorites. They jumped off the racks to me.

Whoever colored the covers during this era of CA was really good. The art is fantastic but I think the coloring even added to it.

I also think Zeck did outstanding work on Spider-Man.

Redartz said...

Hard to pick a favorite from so many good choices, but that cover for issue 284 is a jewel. As Martinex noted, the coloring is a big addition to the success of these covers.

And I agree with Martinex regarding Zeck's work on Spider-Man. Zeck has a great feel for dramatic composition, a trait well represented in the covers Tom has shown us and also displayed in, say, "Kraven's Last Hunt"...

Doug said...

I really like that cover to Cap #224. The perspective, foreshortening, Cap's musculature, it's all top shelf. Great cover -- makes the viewer feel Cap's waterlogged weight as he's hauled to dry land.

And agreed on Zeck's Spider-Man. The Punisher mini was beautiful as well.


Anonymous said...

Got to agree with Doug about 224 - that's a tricky shot to get right, and Zeck makes it look effortless.
Also like the annual with Wolverine. Its more of a standard Marvel cover image, but has a sense of movement that few other mainstream comic artists seemed able to bring to their work in that period (and since!)
Zeck's work on Master of Kung-Fu was even better, of course...


david_b said...

I'm a fair-weather Zeck fan, he did some good Cap covers but when they came out in the '80s, I was still in my Englehart/Buscema mindset, collecting the older comics to fill my collection holes from the early Bronze.

I am drawn to the truly-impressive covers, like 284 (love the shadow work there), and ish 332, quite dramatic.

William said...

Some of my personal favorite Zeck covers:

1. Captain America Annual #8 (A true classic)

2. Secret Wars #1 (Love those multi-character covers)

3. Deathstroke #8 (Zeck does a great Batman)

4. Batman #417 (again love Zeck's Batman)

5. Master of Kung Fu #86 (MZ did some of his best work on MOKF)

Anonymous said...

I agree with William about Zeck's MOKF work. As for the covers you posted, I'd say #277 is my favourite. A few others I like: #282 (with Nomad and Constrictor); #283 (which reminds me of a Steranko cover); and I'm kinda partial to #259 (with Doc Ock), because I had that one as a kid.

Mike Wilson

Edo Bosnar said...

Oh, man, don't get me started on Zeck's MoKF work: I first started reading that title when Zeck was the regular artist, and his work there was truly wonderful. And man, the covers: William's right, the cover to #86 is quite nice, but there's also #s 68, 76, 78, 80, 82, 83, 97, just to highlight a few... (that's basically what I was referring to above when I said Zeck did great covers in general).

Unknown said...

My favorite Master of Kung-Fu cover by Zeck would have to be #71. The Ying Yang puzzle in the background, with the MoKF posed in readiness is outstanding.

Of course, the covers for Kraven's Last Hunt--Amazing #s 293 & 234, Spectacular #s 131 & 132, and Web #s 31 & 32 are all masterpieces.

I'm also a fan of Zeck's covers for the Batman four-part story, "Ten Nights of the Beast," running in Batman #s 417-420.

Zeck also drew a dozen or so covers for Marvel Tales, the reprint book. The cover to #209 is a nicely-done reimagining of Amazing Spider-Man #129, which it emulates. And the cover for #218, with a towering Punisher gripping Peter Parker from behind, was a very effective cover.

Karen said...

Mike Zeck -terrific artist. I got to meet him this year at Phoenix Comic Con. He had a bunch of nice big color prints of his covers available for sale (and autographing). I know he had that Cap 286 with Deathlok, and the annual with Wolverine. There were probably 12 or so different ones. I could really only get one so I picked up the Secret Wars #1 cover -I hated the series but loved the cover! I had a chance to speak with Mr. Zeck and tell him how much I enjoyed his Cap art. He said he had been a big fan of Cap growing up, so it was a thrill to get to draw him. I could just tell from looking at him that he wasn't kidding -he really loved drawing the Star-Spangled Avenger!

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