Favorite Cover Artist Countdown # 1: Alex Schomburg

And… we’ve come to number one. It’s been a long road, and a rather time-consuming one from my end, but very fun and worthwhile. And, finally, I’ve reached the artist that I didn’t hesitate to put in the top spot, a man who Drew Covers All To Hell. There’s so much to look at in a Schomburg cover… a compendium of vignettes all worked into one overall scene by The Man Who Made Perspective His Bitch. Seriously… each cover is about the wonkiest perspective possible, often with one character’s upper body in the foreground, and then their lower body in the far distant background, and yet it all works… it all comes together to form a cohesive whole. And that’s why he’s number one. Because he cheated. He was so good he didn’t need to play by the rules.

Here's a good example of what I mean. How big is the Sub-Mariner compared to the people on the bridge? Okay... got that? Now, how big is he compared to the people he's punching? Yeah... he's an entirely different size. Alex Schomburg was the wonderful cheater. Incidentally, it was a copy of Sub-Mariner # 12 that was my first ever Timely Comic... the company that was the precursor to Marvel. I bought it at a mall store in Mason City, Iowa. On the way home I stopped off and showed it to my cousin, and he picked it up and started flipping through it like it was a comic, rather than a national treasure. I held my breath the whole time.

Favorite Cover Artist # 1: Alex Schomburg

More fun with size. Figure out the sizes of each invidual person / robot on this cover. It will make your brain hurt. But... the cover works.

One of my favorite Schomburg covers... just for the sheer prick-itude of Pyroman. We see him shortly after setting fire to the Imperial Palace and then, instead of being in battle, he's just standing there CUTTING OFF THE WATER SUPPLY WITH A BIG GRIN. Ha ha. Guess you burn, Tojo.

Another of my favorite covers. When Schomburg drew a cover, he never minded putting in a little effort, and his heroes felt the same way. For the Black Terror, it's not enough to simply roll over a nest of enemy soldiers with a steam-rollers... he has to MACHINE GUN them at the same time. THAT'S war. Incidentally, the Black Terror's sidekick was named Tim. Yes... the Black Terror and Tim.

Schomburg got his start in the pulp magazines, but it wasn't long before the pulps were dying, being replaced by comics, and Alex barely entered the pulp field before he himself made the leap to comics. Above is the first cover Schomburg ever created.

Schomburg’s early covers for Timely Comics were very pulp influenced. Very illustrative in nature.

Attention. The Fighting Yank requests that you quit flying the plane. That is all.

I love how Captain America is just casually dropping that bomb on the Nazi soldiers. And by the look on his face, he surely love it too. Of course, Bucky is getting in on the game by blissfully torching the hell out of people. Ahhh, war. It's a good life.

If you told any other artist in the world that you wanted a cover where the Human Torch and Toro were attacking a multi-layered castle, with several gun emplacements, and they were shooting at our heroes but the Torch was burning them all, and then there was a gun emplacment in the foreground where we could see the action better, and it was all happening next an oil field where trucks and men were scurrying all over, and the oil field was next to a huge river that was teeming with cargo boats and destroyers in a battle... any other artist alive would have said you were crazy. But Schomburg, he'd just pause and say, "Shouldn't we have a squadron of B-29 bombers strafing the oil fields?"

Let’s do a quick theme gallery. Four covers with Hitler getting what was coming to him.

It always seemed to REALLY piss off Captain America whenever anybody took Bucky hostage. You'd think Cap would eventually get used to it, though.

My favorite part of this cover is how the American fighter planes are STILL divebombing the German convoy, even as it plunges into the river far below.

An unfortunately small amount of original Alex Schomburg artwork exists. Likewise unfortunate... I own none of it.

A close look at an original pencil sketch from Schomburg working out a cover of Speed Comics.

One of Schomburg's most famous covers, upon which Things Go Very Badly for the man with the sword.

Screw around with America or her allies, and the Sub-Mariner will flat out kill your ass with a torpedo labeled U.S.A. How hardcore is THAT?

When Miss Masque first appeared, she quickly became a favorite subject for Schomburg to illustrate. She really didn't appear until after the war, so it was far easier, then, to simply have covers with pretty girls. She began edging her male companions (Black Terror, Fighting Yank, etc) into secondary cover roles.

Ahh… Miss Masque… we all love you so.

A rare piece of original art, featuring the American Debate Forces.

The Sub-Mariner has never been the best of party guests. He gets a little booze in him and… WHOOOM… he’s smashing your submarine in half, and cracking open your pillbox.

Schomburg's later comic covers went for simpler images, often with scantily dressed ladies in red, done in a painterly style. Schomburg used the name "Xela" when illustrating these covers. The above is the most sought after example, but I personally like several others far more.

Two more Xela covers. I wish more girls would dress like this and hang out in underwater bubbles. It would make the world a far better place. And I think the cover on the right can be considered the grandfather of Japanese tentacle fiction.

These covers all say… “Featuring Lance Lewis, Space Detective”… but the covers seem to suggest someone else with a starring role.

When researching for this article, I ran across a photo of this mystery girl's tattoo. I love her a little for doing this.

I love how, in Schomburg's world, so many items were labeled. If the Japanese had an oil refinery, it had huge letters on the oil tanks proclaiming it as such. No German airfield was complete until "GERMAN AIRFIELD" had been painted on the runways. In this piece, we have "Jap pillbox" and "flamethrower." And... even if you can't see it, you know that everyone of those solider has his name written on his underwear.

This one reminds me of the Family Circus Sunday comics where you can track what hijinks Billy has been up to throughout the neighborhood, but, in this case. it's those wacky flaming buddies, the Human Torch and Toro, wreaking systematic hell on a Japanese oil refinery.

A Schomburg painting from later in his career. I love how Schomburg's Captain America is always carrying a large bomb... JUST IN CASE.

Another multi-leveled Schomburg hellfest. I love how there's a guy in the tank that's being hoisted.

Another Schomburg painted recreation... this one of the Big Three Timely heroes doing what they do best... making sure there are no bridges left in the entire world.

Schomburg himself, wearing a bitchin' tie an standing next to some of his later illustrations for sci-fi magazines.

And… let’s close out this blog, and my Favorite Cover Artist Countdown series, with a big ol’ gallery tribute to Alex Schomburg.

THIS is the way a cover is done. Danger, action, heroes, and a visual set up (with the smoke and the curve of the train tracks) that just leads the eye along through the action. Thanks, Alex!

10 Comments

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10 Responses to Favorite Cover Artist Countdown # 1: Alex Schomburg

  1. AaronMcC

    These blog posts sometimes took a while to load, but the wait was worth it! Well done, Paul! Thanks for compiling all this great material. There were many covers I had never laid eyes on…and now I’ll never be the same! How did you track down most of the material for these posts? Was it google searches? Were there some go-to websites that helped you find a lot of these? Again, thanks! You’ve done Casey Kasem proud;)

  2. Paul Tobin

    Yeah… image heavy, but there was no way to avoid that. I’m just glad it’s not ten years ago, when loading this many images would have taken, well… ten years. I googled a lot of the art, and then used http://www.atlastales.com/ and http://www.comicvine.com/ and http://www.comicartfans.com/ quite a lot as well.

  3. Aaron McC

    Excellent! Thanks for those links. And how right you are! It occurs to me that even less than 20 years back you would have had to trade your health for hours spent hunched over and breathing the dust of back issue bins.

  4. bp

    thanks for this series.

  5. Pingback: Comic book covers by Alex Schomburg | weeklypop

  6. WOW!

    I’m now a fan.

    Fist time I’ve been to your blog, and boy, what an introduction. You have a discerning eye and great taste. I’m sticking around here for a while.

    Thanks for your curation.

  7. Absolutely amazing , even more when i found out im actually related To Alex Schomberg, and learning from his work now im blown away..

  8. Paul Tobin

    Related, huh? That’s cool! Wish I could have met the man.

  9. Yes, last year I did a family finders test through geneology and he appeared on the list , I email to find out the granddaughter is the one in charge of the profile and we spoke back and forth was amaze to find out who Alex schomberg is ,

  10. Paul Tobin

    That is neat as HELL. Now I want to do my family tree to find out if I have anything but bootleggers in my family. (probably not)

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