Favorite Cover Artists Countdown # 28: George Wilson

I know this is going to be one of my posts where a lot of people say, “Who?”…. but most people ARE actually aware of George Wilson’s work, his name just didn’t get out there very well. He was a workmanlike artist, painting approximately nine buddha-million covers for Gold Key comics and various paperback novels. The man was a machine. A wonderful, wonderful machine.

Favorite Cover Artist # 28: George Wilson

I like how this cover just never stops. You can almost follow Wilson's line of thought.... Let's have the Phantom up on a rooftop, being menaced by some thugs. Cool. That works. Wait... let's throw in some guys on the ground shooting at him. Yeah. Awesome. Hell... I need something blowing up. Got it. Building in the background and... oh shit... you know what? Rainbow.

There isn't one of you out there that doesn't want an arch-enemy named King Cybernoid.

I could go on and on with talk of the use of colors on this cover, and the horizontal division of water / cityscape / sky that makes the vertical elements work so much better, but what really makes this cover work for me is the insolent way that Solar is saying, "Yeah... I'm all about smacking the planes, but I got time to sissy kick this little boat."Â

The black line of space bisecting the two yellow / orange suns is a sure attention grabber... using color to focus the art. And, yes, that's Solar flying out from Earth in order to physically hold apart two oncoming suns. Guess who's getting the ladies at the bars tonight? (Hint: Not you. It's Solar.)

I love how the big snake thing is mostly unconcerned about being in a fight. He's all like, "Dude... I'm just here eating garbage n' chilling. Do you play guitar?"

Wilson was known for his rather bizarre creatures, and here Turok is being confronted by something straight out of an entomologist's bad LSD trip. It happens.

And… to wrap this up, a little cover gallery to feast upon. George Wilson rules!

Parts you’ve probably read in earlier posts:

The Disclaimer:

You might not see your favorite artist during this countdown. That’s okay. Don’t get mad. Some of MY favorite artists aren’t here. Hugo Pratt, Bernie Krigstein, Mike Wieringo… these guys (and others) are fantastic artists, but their covers just don’t strike me. Some people need sequential panels in order to have their art sing… and that’s okay. Furthermore, this list is subjective to my moods of the moment, so if you disagree with me, then rest assured that I probably disagree with me, too. That said, I welcome any and all comments as this list progresses over time.

THE FINE PRINT: (Why I’m doing this)

Recently, on a trip to a comic store, I was DISGUSTED by the overall lack of design on covers. Most covers were nothing more than two or three characters punching each other and snarling, the exact kind of design that I would have worked out when I was eight years old, and spat on by the time I was ten. So, why do such covers proliferate the shelves? One reason is for trade dressing… so that any cover can be put upon almost any trade compilation, which is one of the reasons behind the other Far Too Common cover design… that of the character or team standing at attention, looking tough, staring at the viewer. Fuck that. I’m lucky enough to work largely with editor Nate Cosby, who does very good work at hiring talented cover artists and creating covers that don’t piss me off, but in consideration of my other less lucky friends, and the industry as a whole, I’m going to spend the next few weeks counting down my own personal Top 40 Comic Book Cover Artists… the ones who got it right.


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7 Responses to Favorite Cover Artists Countdown # 28: George Wilson

  1. (Mr.) Jan Stolz

    The first comic book I bought off the rack at the local convienence store when I was 12 was Spider-Man #28 (the Molten Man); Steve Ditko was still doing the art. And the reason I bought it was because of Steve’s great cover. You’re right; too many of today’s comics are formulaic and uninteresting not only to read but just to look at. Some of the most exciting covers, I believe, were those of Wallace Wood for EC Comics. His often told a story in a single panel and made the reader want to see what was inside the book.

  2. Paul Tobin

    Wow. That’s a great comic for a 1st buy. Ditko’s cover were always so well-presented. I think that’s the problem that I have with so many of today’s covers from Marvel and (especially) DC… just so much CLUTTER. It interferes with the visual impact, rather than lending anything to it.

  3. Jan Stolz

    I agree with you – too much saying too little and covering up the artwork. Even a con man like Victor Fox knew the value of a good cover and assigned great artists like Lou Fine and Edd Ashe to do them. Today, in the era of pre-ordering and comic shops however, it really doesn’t matter anymore. They know the collectors will buy them if the covers were left blank. Until they get back to mass marketing the quality will continue to suffer.

  4. Paul Tobin

    I really love a lot of those old Fox covers. Have several of the comics in my collection! Blue Beetle. Science Comics. Great stuff! (well… actually the comics are still terrible… but the art form was in its infancy and I love them.)

  5. You might be interested to know that Georges widow (a friend of mine) has had no income from his paintings as they “disappeared “from his estate at his death while they were separated..she is presently living on small retirement from teaching..I”ve tried to influence her to seek legal advise to acquire her share of George’s sales but she feels it is impossible..hope there is a lawyer who enjoys George’s work who would wqnt to go on a 50/50 basis to aquire what is rightfully belonging to my friend.
    Incidently altho I knew him on a cordial basis only George was a true gentleman..and also a kind friend..he drove us to Westhampton beach for a day trip altho he was exhausted (he worked at night) for a lunch and I had to practically force him to allow me to drive his car home for fear he would fall asleep at the wheel..when I took over and he went into the back seat he was asleep in 3 minutes..such a class act..long loved and missed by all who loved him..and his wife was at his side as he passed away..(she flew in from SanFrancisco at the last moment ..glad you enjoyed his work..I just enjoyed knowing him..a wonderful person!

  6. Paul Tobin

    That’s horrible about the paintings disappearing from his estate. All too common in the comic / illustration world, unfortunately. I’m not sure of the legality of all that. Often, with the comic book publishers of the day, artists had no rights to the original artwork at all. They signed away the rights in order to get the paycheck. Not sure how Gold Key worked, or George’s contracts, of course.

    That’s amazing that you knew him. Nice to know that he was a true gentleman! That’s always how I pictured him… as a debonair / blue collar mix, working at his boards, his vivid imagination coming to life day after day. Well, I suppose night after night, since you say he worked at night.

    Thanks MUCH for writing in these memories of George. Not as much written about him in the industry as there should be. Nice to have a little more knowledge of the man.

  7. Nice to put a name to those amazing covers, and the commentary dropped me!

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