Cover Charges: My favorite comic book covers…

Cover Charges: My favorite comic book covers…
               Recently Facebook pages and groups devoted to comic books have listed “Top Ten Comic Book covers” from professionals and fans.
               My friend Clyde and I discussed this topic one Saturday night and resulted in his blog post that you can view here.
               I stand by what I said. It would be very hard to do. But as I flogged my memory it became easier. I ended up with quite a long list. I could either go with comic book covers that have become iconic – Brave & Bold #28, Amazing Fantasy #16 and Action Comics #1 …

I could have gone with comics that I love as a work of art, such as this beauty – Batman #241 with
art by Neal Adams. It’s a comic I do not own, but is definitely one of my favorite covers. Wow!

               Or this famous cover from World’s Finest #7 from the 1940s. It’s another comic I do not own, but it IS one of my favorite covers. If only because it never fails to elicit a sophomoric giggle. Hee-heehee-


               Robin does look quite proud, doesn’t he?


               I wanted to do something more personal. These are ten comic book covers that made me want to buy the comics. Something about the cover attracted me enough to say, “Oh I’ve got to get that.” Some are iconic, some are beautiful pieces of art; some just pressed my buttons (in a good way). If a comic book cover is supposed to entice you to purchase and/or read it, these worked … for me …
               You may notice the distinct lack of Marvel comics. This is because I did not read much Marvel growing up. I got most of my comics for free from Sparta Printing – who printed National Comics (they officially changed their name to DC Comics in 1976), Harvey and Archie. So Marvel comics were only picked up in the grocery store.
               And all of the comics were from the 1970s. This was when I was a boy into my very early teens; comic book covers mattered more to me than they do now. I haven’t been excited by a comic book cover in many decades. Maybe older and wise, maybe not.  A cover may intrigue me but it is the interior art or story that catches my imagination. That is too bad, I suppose, but it helps keep impulse buying in check…
                Someone might say, “How could this cover excite you? It’s silly! Now Spiderman #28 – THAT gave me the willies!”  Really? Tell me more about it! I’d love to read your lists!
               So these are personal favorites only. Maybe someday I’ll do my favorite list of “iconic” or “classic” covers, but for now, this is all about me! Haha!
               These are in no particular order:
Superman vs Spider-Man: the Battle of the Century. 1976.  What comic book fan did not soil themselves upon seeing this cover? Even the house ads in other DC and Marvel comics brought a chill. It was this iconic cover with the words, “THIS … SAYS IT ALL!!” It helped that it was a rollicking good read that lived up to the hype! The cover was by Carmine Infantino (layout), Ross Andru (finishing and pencils) and inked by Dick Giordano – all hall-of-famers.
               Occasionally a comic cover lives up to its hype. This is one of them.
Superman #317. 1977? Neal Adams art. A later part of a multi-part issue, which was a better-than average story; so I would have gotten the issue anyway.  , but I was so wooed by the cover! An angry Superman!?  Wouldn’t you run away, too?
               Adams is a wonderful artist. Look at those muscles.  You can almost hear the cords creak as Superman flexes…
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-56). 1978. How can you look at this and NOT say, “Oh, I’ve got to see what the hell this is about…”. Iconic cover by Neal Adams. He was asked to redo this for a millennial-end issue of “Sports Illustrated” with the 20th century’s greatest sports legends. Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan boxed in that one. Babe Ruth was in the forefront. In the audience were Sandy Koufax and a legion of others.
Superman Family #182, 1978? Neal Adams art. Are you sensing a theme here? This was DC’s first “Dollar Comic”. A dollar? For a comic book? Yeek! It would blow the budget of any teenager, but I couldn’t resist the cover. The stories inside ranged from great to mediocre. Neal Adams draws Supergirl.  Ooo-la-la. Plus it had Krypto on the cover.
               You gotta love Krypto!

Marvel Team-Up #74. 1978. “Is this a joke?” Talk about a cover that

screams “I’ve GOT to get this one.” Art by Dave Cockrum & Marie Severin. A fun issue that never wallowed in silliness.

Justice League of America #137. 1977. Ernie Chua (Chan) pencils and Frank McLaughlin inks.
               Nowadays Superman and Captain Marvel (Shazam) fight each other annually. But this was the first time they shared a story – how could I resist it? It was also the first time they “really” shared a cover (earlier comics had Supes “introducing” Cap or their posters were hanging side-by-side, that sort of thing…).
This was part 3 of the traditional JLA/JSA team-up with Cap and other Fawcett characters appearing and fighting alongside our favorite heroes. It was the first time I had heard of or read about Spy Smasher and Ibis the Invincible – who have gone on to become two of my favorite comic book characters!

Batman #253. 1973
Mike Kaluta art (no one – NO ONE – would have been able to do this better).
Richie Rich and Casper #1. 1974. Artist unknown. Oh, wow! Together! Oh, WOW, said my nine-year-old self!
               The story was fun and the artwork well done. Surprised to see a non-superhero comic on the list? Me too. But I still remember how thrilled I was seeing this and reading it. Forty years later I still remember the entire series with fondness.
Detective Comics #468. 1978? It’s hard to believe this is the only comic on this list drawn by my beloved Jim Aparo, inked by Tatjana Wood.
               The Calculator! Over the past five issues this villain fought other DC heroes in the back-up feature (Green Arrow, Hawkman, etc. – all of them beaten and lying unconscious on the cover) and NOW he’s fighting Batman in a book-length battle! I was so excited seeing this cover when it came out! Great conclusion to a fun story line! It is in no way an iconic cover or a legendary story – but this youngster loved it!
Star Wars #1. 1977. Cover by the legendary Howard Chaykin, inked by Tom Palmer.
               Great cover as always by Chaykin, especially considering the flood of Star Wars comic art to come. But imagine the impact of this cover on this 12 year old kid …
               Star Wars? As a comic book? Star Wars! As a comic book! STARWARSASACOMICBOOK!! “Earl to Aisle 3, Earl to Aisle 3. We have another boy passed out in front of the book stand. Earl to Aisle 3.”
Oh, ok, one more.

Batman #291. 1979 or 1980? Look at this beautiful Jim Aparo art (I felt bad about only having one other Aparo cover on the list and this issue immediately sprang to mind…). Tatjana Wood again inked.

               The cover made me snap this up – only to find out it was part one of four! Rats! Even so, it was a great story arc. I wish it would be released in a graphic novel. The Bronze Age gets a bad rap nowadays and that is too bad. There were some wonderful stories that a lot of fans missed during that late-1970s era. This is one of them!
Honorable Mention:  Power Records, 1975. This is not a comic book, but dig the cover! Another Neal Adams classic. When I saw this album I had to have it! It took the Beatles (or my discovery of them in 1979) to knock this off of my record player once and for all. I still have it!
                If this were a comic book cover it would rank in any Top Ten!
 Honorable Mention #2 – the entire run of Marvel’s “What If…” 1978?  The whole point of this comic series – tales of alternate endings to the various Marvel Universe mythos – was to goad the reader into buying this anthology series. “Ooh, aah,” was often heard at the newstands when a new issue came out – What if Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four? What if Captain Ameria had not “disappeared” after WWII? What if Shang Chi served Fu Manchu? What if Bruce Banner had always kept Bruce Banner’s intelligence? What if the New X-Men never formed? What if someone else had been bitten by that radioactive spider?
               Others will muse over “great” covers and “iconic” covers, but these captured by heart and imagination more than the others. There have been better covers – there have certainly been better stories on the inside. But just looking at the covers on my list brings back good memories.
               Isn’t that the whole point?

2 thoughts on “Cover Charges: My favorite comic book covers…

  1. Great selection, Mike! Kaluta's 'The Shadow' Issue #1 cover for DC almost made my list; it sure sent me reading up on this pulp character about which I knew very little at the time. I'd forgotten about the Batman/Shadow cover, though. It's a great one. And YES…Power Record covers, both LP and 45s! Could that company come up with killer art for the big albums, while picking stories and issue covers for their smaller records that just screamed excitement, or what??? 🙂 The same thought crossed my mind as I worked on my list: You sure lean toward some cover artists more than others, Clyde; if it's Neal Adams, it's got a shot at being in there somewhere! Next list: 10 Favorite Comic Book Artists of all time. 🙂

  2. Top 10 artists would be very hard, as I would hate to eliminate someone I love just to cut it down to 10. There are some whose work is consistently perfect, haha – Kubert, Aparo, both Buscemas. I may end up cutting Wally Wood and Steve Ditko. What about solid work horses Ernie Chua and Ric Estrada? And if we include Hogarth and Raymond from comic strips, yeek! Not possible.

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