Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cover Comparisons

This is something I've been mulling over for awhile.  Obviously every character is different, and presents different challenges for the editor and cover artist(s).

The Atom, for example, is tiny.  So Julius Schwartz had Gil Kane create covers which presented the Atom in a difficult situation, often precisely because he was so small:

Obviously, no other character could find themselves in those particular situations--menaced by a Venus flytrap, about to be sucked down the drain, or sealed inside a wristwatch.  There were many other similar covers, with the Atom stuck to the tire of a speeding vehicle, or strapped to a grenade, or menaced by a cat.

With the Flash, at first the covers emphasized his incredible speed, as in the famed cover to Showcase #4:
He's running so fast that he's actually popping right off the film.

But there are limits to that approach, and so Schwartz and Carmine Infantino began emphasizing his colorful villains:
Indeed, of all of DC's superheroes in the Silver Age, the Flash had by far the most interesting rogues' gallery, while the Atom had hardly any costumed villains.  Again, some of this may be due to the nature of the superpowers.  The Flash's ability is so strong that it almost requires a lot of trickery, while the Atom's power is much more limited and thus he was more likely to encounter common criminals.

With Green Lantern, Schwartz and Kane went more with puzzle covers.  How can this be happening, and how can GL get out of this situation?
With Hawkman, Schwartz and Murphy Anderson tended to emphasize fighting scenes, particularly with the Winged Wonder using some of the medieval weapons and armor he favored:
I'll try to take a look at some of the Marvel covers next.


Doug said...

Great post. I never tire of posts that deal with different aspects of comic covers -- corner boxes, logos, similar lay-outs, etc.

Thanks for running this; looking forward to an examination of Marvels.


Kirk House said...

GREAT set of covers, Pat -- and great memories!
In his autobiography, Man of Two Worlds, Julius Schwartz relates how Carmine Infantino once asked to attend a meeting of higher-ups... I think maybe it was an editorial board, or perhaps the publishers were involved. Anyhow, Infantino unveiled drawings he had made redoing many of the DC covers for that month. They were all better than the originals, Schwartz reported, and Infantino wound up with the newly-created position of cover editor.

Dandy Forsdyke said...

A great cover really sold a book, fighting for attention on the newsstand, indeed the cover was more important than the interiors at the time. Carmine Infantino was a master at creating the best possible cover. My favourite of his was Brave and the Bold #70 which features a Batman and Hawkman fight, each trying to rip the other's mask off, a beat up Batmobile and bent lampost in the background.

Anonymous said...

I really miss the days when the covers tried to reach out and hook us. Sigh. As with the Marvel above, very interesting.

Flodo Span said...

Great observations. Following up on your comments I have noticed the Green Lantern covers often pose a puzzle that isn't dealt with the same way in the actual story. Who knew the practice of deceptive comic book covers began so early in the history of the medium?! :-)