Issue 5: Five For A Fiver

My 2 Cents on unsung non-variant/non-key covers

 

How are all the things, everyone? It’s a pleasure to be back after last week’s double-sized issue! I hope the spec gods have been kind to everyone and their bank accounts, this past week, and/or that you picked up some grand Bronze Age gems hiding in the back issues.

It’s so nice to see some newly-inspired love for Wrightson’s Swamp Thing issues and to have that beautiful #9 hit that Hot10. It is long overdue in my opinion. I hope the show will be great as I have wanted to see a palatable version done for most of my life.

I also hope everyone had an amazing Free Comic Book day and that you supported your LCS with some purchases (remember, those lovely shops have to pay for those “free” comics).

I am all about positivity, so let me just have a moment to add a little reminder, here, in order to make everyone’s life easy. In light of a few recent “colorful’ comments, I thought it appropriate to re-note that this particular column’s main focus is the appreciation of great comic art.

In that vein, it is, simultaneously, a way for folks who cannot (or choose not to) spend large amounts on comics, yet still enjoy all that is awesome about this hobby.

What it ISN’T is a spec column in its truest sense. It is, in fact, an investment article that attests to the fact that “investing” is choosing to put one’s money up for that which they enjoy and, furthermore, that “profit” is quite subjective.

For me, I profit when I get to own kick-ass covers and read kick-ass stories. I hope you agree. If it’s gobs of cash you seek, perhaps this article isn’t your best option. I also profit if I am able to remind a few folks of an awesome cover they may have missed or forgotten about and rekindle a love affair with an artist or a book all over again.

Additionally, while I like to think of myself as mildly intelligent (definitely debatable), I do not know everything about everything (man, wouldn’t omniscience be awesome!?!?). I’m just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe. I am thankful to Uncle Google when my Bronze-Aged-Brain can’t recall a value or an issue number.

I hope you can forgive a misstep here or there. With that said, I research fairly exhaustively as best as I am able and I FULLY ENCOURAGE you to sound off in the comments section with constructive criticism and corrections to my sometimes quite-fallible mind. I want that which is best for you, my dear readers; I do this for you and for the fun of it.

Thus… this week, we go back to the original format of 5 stupendous covers that won’t break the bank. We’re back to modern artists, this time, and I feel there are some unbelievable covers listed. I will reserve hyper-modern (2016-2018) covers for an entirely separate issue. Thus, issues covered here will be 2015 and prior. So, up, up and away…

 

batman-44-jock

1. Batman #44 (2011 2nd Series)
PUBLISHED: DC Comics – November, 2015
ARTIST: “Jock” (Mark Simpson)

 

For all of you with a love for Jock’s freaking amazeballs Detective #880 cover of the Joker’s face made up of bats, this one may be equally as enticing. Better yet, it’s not a $125+ (or more) book like Detective #880 is. With that said, Jock is definitely getting hot, hot, hot, but only 3 or 4 select covers are seeing that heat, at the moment.

So many of them are great. The other great news about Detective #880 being a pricey issue is that it’s an “A” cover. Not a variant. That is fantastic news for spec. There is tons of room within Jock’s repertoire for others of these “A” covers to see spikes and there are many, many welcome choices that are still cover price-ish.

This Batman #44 is one of them.  Jock quickly made a name for himself with his run on Scalped and, over the recent past, his “B” covers on All-Star Batman (which are all spectacular, as well). His Sienkiewicz-like style has quickly set him apart as a startling and stark cover artist.

Much of the emotion is in the negative space and the simplicity with which he illustrates leaving the subject of the cover to speak for itself. Additionally, this particular cover employs the bat motif that makes Detective #880 so famous and a fluidity of brush stroke that provides all of the necessary movement.

It is, simply, a genius minimalist cover and can still be had for a fiver.

NOTE FOR VARIANT HUNTERS: For those that REALLY love Detective #880, but can’t gather the scratch for it, you may want to check Jock’s cover for Batman Europa #4 1:25 variant which is a startlingly similar cover. That one can be had for a mere $15.

 

daredevil-63-maleev

2. Daredevil #63 [leg. 443] (1998 2nd Series)
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – October, 2004
ARTIST: Alex Maleev

There is no denying how sexy this cover of Black Widow is. In fact, the issue right after it (#64) is REALLY hot, as well. So hot I almost chose it. This issue, though, shows more masterful proportions and layout than #64 does.

In an earlier issue, I looked at one of the amazing David Mack covers in this run of Daredevil. Mack and Maleev’s styles piggy-backed off of each other quite nicely as they went back and forth on covers through the majority of this run.

With that said, while they complimented each other well, Mack’s and Maleev’s styles are actually quite different. Maleev has a less loose style than Mack and there is a grainy quality to Maleev’s work, almost as if the top layer has worn away or faded out, which gives it a vintage feel as if viewing the subject through a filtered lens or like the patina of an old photograph.

It is masterfully done. This particular cover exemplifies all off the allure of Black Widow and the lighting employed on her uniform and skin is impeccable. The red background serves to contrast the foreground figure and allow her to pop. It is all-out sexy and certainly not shy about being so.

Maleev is another one of those artists that often gets overlooked. He does have a few higher-priced variants, but these covers are all dollar bin books that exemplify all of the characteristics of a high-end variant.

 

grimm-fairy-tales-presents-wonderland-artgerm

3. Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Wonderland #25 (2012 Series)
PUBLISHED: Zenascope Entertainment – July, 2014
ARTIST: “Artgerm” (Stanley Lau)

 

 

I cannot believe I can still get this cover for ten bucks. I just picked one up a week ago. It is jaw-droppingly exquisite. Honestly, this may be Artgerm’s best work to date and it’s pretty darn rare for an “A” cover.

There were only 7030 copies printed which were split up over 5 covers!!! Yikes! And there were incentive variants on top of that.

Assuming equal distribution across the 5 covers means there are only 1406 copies of this killer cover. That is like a Marvel or DC 1:50 or 1:100 yet it carries little-to-no premium. I have no idea why that it. As far as my eye can tell, this cover is pretty much perfect. The entire real estate of the cover is expertly utilized and the lighting is superb.

What’s particularly striking about this cover is the perspective/foreshortening. The “from-under” camera angle employed here really gives our beautiful Queen some power and presence. With Artgerm blowing up, this one will be on everyone’s radar soon. I wouldn’t sleep on it.

 

dark-shadows-10-francavilla

4. Dark Shadows #10 (2011 Series)
PUBLISHED: Dynamite Entertainment – November, 2012
ARTIST: Francesco Francavilla

 

Some of you are probably, like… who the heck is Francesco Francavilla? This is definitely not a household name for most people, yet. I have certainly known about him for a bit, but just recently fell in love with his style. Everything looks like a 1950’s/1960’s movie poster which makes my mouth water a little.

His Mondo style on pretty much every cover he’s done (and he has done a lot of them) is a study in perfect color and layout for it is not only the subject matter that pops, but the trade dress, too, and that can be a very challenging task. Honestly, I could just collect this guy’s covers and be perfectly happy.

Much of his mainstream title work consists of incentive variants many of which could run you a bit, but this run of Dark Shadows is all “A” covers and they are all still stupid-cheap. This particular cover just screamed at me (see what I did there?), but pretty much every one of these in the run is a classic monster cover.

The menace of it and campiness of the terrified girl are classic 50’s pulp monster movie poster. I am fairly certain this guy will appear in a future Cover Tunes list.

 

namora-one-shot-hans

5. Namora One-Shot (2010)
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – August, 2010
ARTIST: Stephanie Hans

 

Last up for this week is this awesome Stephanie Hans cover. Much like Francavilla, above, most of Hans’ covers are incentive variants and many of them have already heated up. Inasmuch, even some of her regular covers are going up, fast.

She made a particularly big bang this year with her Venomized 1:50 X-Men Blue #21 cover which is a contender for variant grail of the year. She’s had a few other sneaky stand-outs, too, like her recent Barbarella #4 Virgin Variant (which is off the wall bonkers).

Her ethereal style has a fluidity that just continues off of the page. On the cover of this one-shot, the Atlantean Princess, Namora, has such a silence and serenity and that signature grace that Hans has become known for. The color palette is rich and there is an elegance to every stroke.

Hans is a master of form and function making every line count. From about 5 feet away, I swear that’s a photo of water. This little puppy will still only set you back the cover price. It’s one of the few of hers that still will.

That’s all she wrote for another week, kids. I hope there was something in there for everyone. Again, I look forward to your comments. Thanks, as always for taking the time to read and happy hunting.

 

– Mike M

 

13 comments

  • Ben C

    Nice stuff, thanks Mike!

  • Great write up. I look forward to this article. You sure are bringing up some of the artist I like to collect. You should look into Mark Texeira, his Ghost Rider and Wolverine run is really nice. For Bronze, you can look into Jim Starlin too.
    Keep up the great work and god bless.
    -Carlos

  • Mike M

    Thanks, Carlos! I really appreciate the kind words. Starlin and Tex have both just barely missed the cut, but they are both great and bound to show up, here, soon. Thanks for the suggestions and for reading.

  • Gary Nusser

    I have always love that (and several other) Maleev Daredevil covers. If that had been a limited variant, I have no doubt that it would be bringing big bucks. Nonetheless, I’m happy to keep it (and that whole run) in the PC; thanks for highlighting these little gems. As for the Francavilla, I love his stuff and I love faux vintage books a lot but this one doesn’t do it for me; just like his stylistic brother, Robert Hack, I find that he can be hit or miss.

    • Mike M

      Gary, yeah… i TOTALLY get what you’re saying about Francavilla. I thought about one of the Afterlife with Archie covers, instead, but those were too modern for this specific issue. I do dig this particular Dark Shadows cover, but your mileage may vary. Thanks for reading and for your comments. Always appreciated.

  • I liked this nice work, hope to see more going forward. Thank you.

  • When the Sabrina show drops, many more people will know who Francavilla is.

  • awesome work

  • You are a very kind hearted man and I appreciate your columns. I wish you the best and hope to read more from you.

  • newt72

    Another great article, Mike. You do stellar job calling attention to the works of art that are out there to enjoy (while not breaking the bank). Excellent point about profiting from the enjoyment of your hobby. What a concept!

  • Francavilla has been a name in the horror genre for a while now. He does some amazing looking horror like covers.

    There was an original sin annual cover he did which was really cool.

    Francavilla is very underrated me thinks!

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