Blogging from A to Z: C is for...Comic Book Covers


Back in 1982, a trip home to Virkie in the Shetland Islands, after visiting my Gran in Ayrshire, would involve a couple of buses, a train and two flights. The trips weren't terribly long, but my folks had to tow around a 9 year old (me) and a 7 year old (my wee brother) and so, to keep us quiet some of the way, they bought us comics.

Choosing comic books as a kid is easy, you pick the coolest covers. So, from the small selection at the newsstand at Kilwinning Railway Station I picked...





Ghost Rider (Vol.1) #67 - Cover by Bob Budiansky (Apr 1982)


The Avengers (Vol.1) #218 - Cover by Don Perlin (Apr 1982)

I had no idea who any of these characters were. (This was decades before Robert Downey Jr would turn Iron Man from second string hero to box office titan.) Ghost Rider looked scary and cool, with his flaming skull and motorbike. An obvious choice for a nine year old. The Avengers all look horrified and apparently unable to stop whatever is going to happen. An invitation to read more...

Comic books rely heavily on their covers to attract their audience. It's a billboard attached to the front of the story, trying to draw a reader over to take a look. The best covers can convey some of the story in a compelling way or simply present a striking image that catches your eye...and in turn, your wallet.





Action Comics (Vol.1) #1 - Cover by Joe Shuster (Jun 1938) This cover is the Grandaddy of them all!

Uncanny X-Men (Vol.1) #251 - Cover by Marc Silvestri (Nov 1989)


Incredible Hulk (Vol.2) #49 - Cover by Kaare Andrews (Mar 2003)

Over the years, the art has become more sophisticated, but covers are still just fancy billboards to grab your attention. The best way to sell comic books is to put the best cover artists on the most popular books AND/OR create multiple covers. 

Variant covers - the comic inside is the same, only the cover is different - are highly collectible and often more difficult to obtain than the regular cover. Sometimes, covers are created as convention exclusives, as comic book shop exclusives, or might simply feature a very popular artist. A recent extreme example of variant covers is the new Star Wars #1. To celebrate Star Wars' return to Marvel (It was published for several years by Dark Horse) they created 68 different covers for the book. 2 or 3 are not unusual, but 68 is insane.






These are just a tiny sample of what I'm talking about - the first image is the regular cover by John Cassaday. The second is by Amanda Conner and is limited to 3000 copies, the third is a "Baby" variant by Skottie Young, and the last is by Alex Maleev and is also limited to 3000 copies.

With constant relaunches of comic book titles, it can often be confusing to a collector as to which issue they have.

Anyway, to round off, here are a few covers that have caught my attention over the last few years...









The covers:

Uncanny X-Men (Vol.1) #234 - Cover by Marc Silvestri (Sept 1988)

Astonishing X-Men (Vol.3) #2 - Cover by John Cassaday (Aug 2004)

Catwoman (Vol.3) #51 - Cover by Adam Hughes (Mar 2006)

Planetary (Vol.1) #26 - Cover by John Cassaday (Dec 2006)

Fables (Vol.1) #62 - Cover by James Jean (Aug 2007)

Amazing Spider-man (Vol.2) #575 - Cover by Chris Bachalo (Dec 2008)

Detective Comics (Vol.1) #880 - Cover by Jock (Sept 2011)

X-Men (Vol.3) #1 - "Baby" Variant Cover "C" by Skottie Young (July 2013)

Black Widow (Vol.6) #6 - Cover by Phil Noto (July 2014)

Inhuman (Vol.1) #12 - Variant Cover "B" by Phil Noto (Apr 2015)


That was C in the A to Z Blog Challenge. Come back tomorrow for D. And in the meantime go to http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ and check out some of the other bloggers.

~ GSY

Comments

  1. You've got me thinking back: Did I choose a comic book because of the cover or because of the character? Of course the comic book rack didn't have that many choices when I was 9 . Superman, Batman, Archie, Casper the Ghost. If I saw a Wonder Woman or Supergirl, I just grabbed it. But when none were on the rack, I must've chosen by what looked most interesting on the cover.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder
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  2. When I don't know the characters it's always the cover that grabs my attention :)

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