Even as I begin this… the last of the “People I missed” specials… I’ve thought of a couple more who really should be here. But… the thing is, I’m going to forget so many people, and it’s time to put this to an end. So… keep those suggestions coming, because there may well be other “special looks” at cover artists in the future, but this week sees the end of the actual countdown. Today’s post will go into the Final Four of Cover Artists. Feel free to send in your guesses as to who they might be. I’ll give this one hint: two of my top four cover artists WOULDN’T make my list of the top 100 INTERIOR artists.
Today, though… let’s pay tribute to some other masters. Men like…
GENE COLAN: I love this photo of Gene. It has an ambiance of "I just got through drawing twenty covers, spanking thirty harem girls, and kicking the asses of forty punks like you. Let's roll."
These are the first three things that come to mind when I think of Gene Colan. Dracula, Daredevil, and Howard the Duck. It was actually a Gene Colan Daredevil page that was my first-ever purchase of original art. I bought it when I was just a teenager. I remember that I paid the princely sum of $15.00.
Original art for the cover of Iron Man # 1. Have fun spotting all the differences between this and the finished / printed cover, below.
Iron Man # 1. My cousin found a copy of this when he was cleaning a garage and gave it to me. It was the 1st Marvel # 1 I could remember having, and it sent me into a collecting frenzy where I had to have EVERY Marvel # 1... an obsession that finally ended when I was sitting in my room and REALLY started to wonder how life had led me to holding a copy of Strawberry Shortcake # 1.
Two of what I believe are Gene’s first covers for Marvel… at the very tail end of the first Captain America series. Two of my favorite covers from the time period. Gene started out rocking hard.
A classic cover, and Gene’s original art. The Falcon’s original costume, as you will note, would have shamed most Mexican wrestlers… especially considering that Falcon shaped pendant that’s flapping around his neck.
Another classic piece of original art. I read this comic to death when I was a kid. Another garage sale find.
Gene was far and away one of THE hardest guys in the business to ink, which is why I always felt he was best when he was on his own, especially in the Marvel magazines, the ones printed in black & white, where Gene could really cut loose with the wash tones.
A specialty piece by Colan. You can see what a nightmare it would be to ink this thing. Gene did SO many things with shading... lending the art his ethereal quality, that rendering his art in straight-up ink often meant a great loss of the original ambiance.
Another beautiful picture of Gene. Dude even photographed well.
The Red Skull is dead, and Sam Wilson, the Falcon... seems pretty okay with that.
And now, before I move on to the next artist… let’s get in a little quality / gallery time.
BETO HERNANDEZ: When I was making up my original list and putting it in order, I put on Beto & Jaime Hernandez, but then somewhere in the midst of moving people around and getting them in order, I forget to transfer Beto. I'm an idiot. I love Beto's work. There are about 10 pieces of Beto's work in my personal collection, because he has such raw power to his art. Sorry, Beto... I owe you a beer or something.
My personal favorite Beto Hernandez cover. It has such a strong sense of design, and for such a simple set of elements, it remains a very evocative piece.
One of the things I love about Beto is his ability to take very simple designs, sometimes even single elements, and make a cover of them. Here are two strong examples of what I mean… the unrelenting stare of a rooster, and the combination of resignation and defiance on the woman’s face.
Those who know Beto Hernandez, know that big-breasted Luba is his girl. This is the cover from "Luba Conquers the World."
Let’s get in a quick gallery. Instead of Love and Rockets, though… let’s do a cover run from Speak of the Devil, a series that I think was one of Beto’s strongest… cover-wise.
A simple piece, with a subtle story to tell.
Two more examples of Beto establishing mood with the fewest elements possible.
Beto's reduced elements and broad colorings remind me of the best of the post-impressionist crowd. This cover would look right at home on a gallery wall next to a Matisse or a Gauguin.
And… before we move on to the next person, let’s chomp into a big ol’ Love & Rockets gallery.
WALT SIMONSON: His covers have always been explosive, in-your-face images, and... Walt was the artist for Frog Thor. What the hell else do you need to know?
Let’s see a bit of that Simonson magic… gallery style.
Original art for the cover to Thor # 347, wherein Thor interrupts feeding time at the Zombie Zoo.
It would have been better if Fin Fang Foom would have been simply saying, "Guess what, dude? You are well and truly SCREWED."
Original art to the cover of Thor # 358, which we'll just call Beta Ray BOOOOOOM!
And then, to cap off the Simonson portion of this post, I invite you to observe another fine selection of covers in this gallery.
NEAL ADAMS: Yes... I forgot Neal Adams when I was compiling my list of Best Cover Artists. I apparently need to stop drinking so much when I'm at the strip clubs, and pay better attention to what I'm working on at any given time. May the gods (and the dancers at Sassy's) forgive me. To make up for it, I'm tossing in an extra big gallery section.
The first Adams cover I can ever remember seeing (another find from a cleaned-out garage) and it's STILL my all-time favorite Legion story.
Two classic villains. Two classic covers.
The Spectre fights the Menace of the Mystic Mastermind, and meanwhile Wildcat takes a dump in space for the same reason a bear shits in the woods. Because he can.
The original art to the above cover. You can pick up a great more detail in this piece. I really love the three-dimensional feel that Adams was able to attain, here, and the strange quality of Earth being so very far below, but still having recognizable streets / buildings in New York.
Hmmm. My guess for how to prevent the terrible tragedy is.... keep Wonder Woman in those hot pants. Yes!
Hear me, my people! Let a gallery commence!
An unused cover for Lois Lane # 87, depicting Superman having the time of his life and wondering if he can turn this into fighting to preserve, truth, justice, and the American Way!
One of Neal’s stranger, more experimental covers. I think it worked really well. Incidentally, that man walking next to the Flash is… Stan Lee. He’s a bit hard to recognize, because he wasn’t at all fond of the thought of appearing on a DC cover, so DC’s art department made a few visual changes in his look.
Silver Age Superman was kind of a jovial dick, and really only one moment of whimsy away from murdering everyone.
A comic that absolutely blew my mind as a kid, and then the original art to Art of Neal Adams # 2
Original art for a cover to All Star Western... complete with a tribute to artist Joe Orlando on the train. I love this piece, just because it's so interesting to see artists work in different styles / mediums than usual.
Two reasons why I love the Silver Age of comics. Ha Ha! Great show, Wonder Woman!
Some of Neal’s more painterly work, and then a cover I think is just beautifully designed. I don’t even think Superboy’s word balloon is necessary… the rest of the cover gets the point across so well. And… with that, let’s round off the Neal Adams section with another gallery! Why? Because NEAL ADAMS, that’s why.
LEE ELIAS: Lee was best known for two things... a run on Black Cat comics, and his work in horror comics. The two eventually merged as superheroes, in the 1950's, fell out of favor, and Black Cat morphed into a horror title itself. Lee's art was well-suited for horror... he had a grotesque imagination, and a raw visceral feel to his art, and his covers are some of THE classics of the genre.
Two classic covers indeed. Love the poor bastard on the cover to Witches Tales. Lee Elias knew how to draw someone in torment.
Oh hell, Jim. NICE fuckin' work.
The original art for a couple of Lee’s covers, and then the covers themselves.
Sure... a voluptuous lady in red always makes for a good cover, but my favorite part of this cover is the look on the monster's face. He's rather confused by all this intrusion into his world (perhaps after a 12 hour jaunt of online role-playing) and eager to get back to his bathroom break.
The 1950's were a great time for "eaten alive by rats" covers. Was it some sort of national paranoia of the time?
And... another "eaten by rats" cover... albeit an interesting variation of the theme.
And now, to end off today’s blog, a gallery of terror, from Lee Elias.