ISSUE #10: Periodically Perfect Part 2

Welcome in again, cover connoisseurs!! Here we have Part 2 of the bottomless rabbit hole that is magazine covers.

I really hoped you loved last week’s Part 1 as much as I enjoyed writing it. In continuation of a celebration of beautiful mag covers, I have 5 more awesome full-frontal assaults for you, this week, and a bonus because you’ve all been so supportive. I really, REALLY appreciate those of you who read and comment on these articles.

I hope you will continue to enjoy and sound off in the comments. Tell me what you’d like to see, here, since I write these for the enjoyment of everyone.

(As a note, I am avoiding fanzines and graphic novel-esque entries into these lists. Fanzines are usually black and white (and generally have awful art) and graphic novels, while super cool and often have unique art, are not really magazines even though many are magazine sized. I may, eventually, do an issue for graphic novels.)

Part 3 of “Periodically Perfect” is already written and I also have a plan for a Part 4, on the horizon (although, I’m going to hold off for a few weeks before I get to those). Thus, again, if you’re not seeing a representation of your favorites, yet, you may see them soon as I am trying to diversify the list as best as I am able.

Next week, we’ll go back to modern age and the week after, perhaps a Copper Age issue.

Anyhow, away we go…

 

1. Judge Dredd: The Megazine #12 (1990 Series)
PUBLISHED: Fleetway – September, 1991
ARTIST: Peter Doherty

 

Okay, not gonna’ lie, while this is a mind-blowing cover, I didn’t just choose it for that reason. If you can’t guess why, I wanted to make it really clear that DC’s recent hot “invention” of the Batman Who Laughs character is, in fact, hardly a unique design.

And, while my choice of this cover may, in fact, be slightly duplicitous, DC is even more so for the outright robbery that is BwL. Between Judge Death, here, and the Mouth of Sauron from Lord of the Rings, I’m actually surprised DC was allowed to get away with their design. Ahh, the power of money, clout and a good legal department.

Anyhow, I digress. This cover very much deserves its place on the list this week as it is just an assault on the viewer. Expertly rendered, super-creepy and just plain evil. There is nothing superfluous on this cover, the layout is fantastic and nothing clashes or takes away from the pure simplicity of the mood.

It just makes one’s skin crawl. The negative black space draws focus to the positive space. Genius.

This series is chock-full of beautiful covers. Do yourselves a favor and leaf through the 300+ issues in the 25 year span of the mag. This #12 is not-at-all-tough to find and can be easily had for $5-$10.  

 

2. Creepy #5 (1964 Series)
PUBLISHED: Warren – October, 1965
ARTIST: Frank Frazetta

 

My only difficulty here was actually choosing a Frazetta cover. I could write all day about this artist. Almost everything he ever touched was perfect. For me, however, this one stands out and stands tall. It is a layout and palette masterpiece.

The main subject Vampire is obviously extremely haunting, but it’s the cacophony of environmental layers on this cover that give it a level of composition we rarely see in comics.

There are “stories” happening everywhere on this cover. There appears to be multiple figures within the Vampire’s cape, monsters along the left edge and tombstones and bats along the right that go back in the composition as well as into the foreground which push the forced perspective and provide intense dimension.

The violent sky frames the piece with a splash of color in an otherwise starkly hued composition and gives the picture a deep tone of horror.

In short, this piece very much transcends the medium and becomes museum quality art. I would not find it strange to see the original hanging on a museum gallery wall. Lucky you! You can get your very own copy for about $10 with some shrewd searching.

 

3. Eerie #25 (1965 Series )
PUBLISHED: Warren – January, 1970
ARTIST: Jim Steranko

 

Okay, so, another legendary artist. Much like Frazetta, I could write articles for a month with just covers from this guy. His Nick Fury and X-Men work (particularly issue #50) blew me away when I was younger, but this?

Man… this deserves a moment of silence it’s so good. So, take a gander and pause with me…

Okay, catch your breath.

Anyhow, I didn’t even know this cover existed until I got deep down the rabbit hole. When I saw if for the first time, I instantly searched for and purchased a copy. It is just exquisite.

Each element is masterful and, again, the layering provides intense depth and environment. Just the detail in the tree is insane, but the mist and the lurking vampiric figure blending into the backdrop provide such doom and foreboding.

However, it is truly the main figure that is the punch in the gut for me. There is an ambiguity to the beautiful-yet-ghastly female figure in the main subject of this piece. I admit, I had to read the story to ascertain the meaning of it and, once done, the ambiguity remained.

She is like a living apparition and scared pale by her hysteria garnered from witnessing her mother and father burned alive when she was a child in the story “Southern Exposure.” Dark stuff, no doubt. However, the cover captures this dichotomy, perfectly. She has a presence and haunting nature to her that I just can’t stop looking at.

The detail in her gown and her hair are incredible. She is alluring yet frightening all at once. Brilliant work on Steranko’s part.

A little tough to find, this one, but it tops out at about $20 for a decent copy. I got mine for $15. Worth every single penny. I might frame this one.

 

4. 1984/1994 #18 [“Eighteen”] (1978 Series)
PUBLISHED: Warren – April, 1981
ARTIST: H.R. Giger (Hans Ruedi Giger)

To be fair, everything INSIDE of this title is pretty tough to read, but it certainly has a bevy of fantastic covers. Essentially, this magazine’s tagline of “Provocative Illustrated Adult Fantasy” was really just a fancy way to say “Sci-Fi Porn.” Additionally, the title is confusing. For the first 10 issues, the magazine bore the title “1984.”

Then, with issue #11, the title was changed to “1994,” presumably so as not confuse it with affiliation to Orwell’s novel, “1984.” However, content and titles are not what we’re exploring, here. Instead, I’m celebrating this particular artist who had a particularly limited grouping of comic book work. Passing away in 2014, Giger created some of the fantasy world’s most iconic art.

I’d assume that many are quite familiar with H.R. Giger’s work, specifically for the Alien films and related material, early design work for Dune, a variety of amazing album covers (most notably for Danzig and Emerson Lake & Palmer), in addition to his own, self-published prints and books. His amalgam of machination and biology is, of course, his most unique trademark (along with often quite disturbing sexualization) and those traits can clearly be seen in the above cover.

The intricacies in the work are incredibly minute and careful and yet there is a freedom to the overall work which give it movement, flow and feeling. This balance is quite rare in any art medium. Every time I look at this cover, I see another layer I missed, before, as this cover plays tricks with perspective not dissimilar to an M.C. Escher piece.

This issue (and, in fact, the entire run) can be a little tough to locate, but when you do, it shouldn’t top $10. Considering how expensive it can often be to acquire Giger’s art, this is a nice entry point if you dig the style.

 

5. Planet of the Apes #17 (1974 Series)
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics (Curtis Imprint) – February, 1976
ARTIST: Bob Larkin

 

GO APE!!! An absolutely stunning depiction of Ursus adorns this cover and it just feels like a classic (and, in its right, it sort of is). It just sums up this entire run of Planet of the Apes and, likewise, is indicative of the original films.

It has the grit and 70’s “hue” and oversaturation to it that those films had. This particular cover is a representation of a long line of awesome covers in this run and you’d do well to check out all of them. Most specifically, though, hit up #’s 7, 11 and 14, as well.

In this #17, foreshortening, layout and perspective are the magic combo. The tip of Ursus’ finger provides one point of perspective and that line terminates at the bright sun glinting behind the sword.

Obviously, those are forced focal tricks, but as a result, our eye is drawn to the center of that field, which is the incredibly well-rendered face of Ursus; showing his very “human” seriousness of purpose.

Other than #1 and the last issue, #29, this entire series of these Apes mags can be found for $5-$10. They were pretty great in that they depicted the comic version of all of the original late 60’s/70’s films, but they additionally gave new stories and a line of amazing covers.

 

6. ** BONUS **
The Punisher Magazine #1 (1989 Series)
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 1989
ARTIST: Mike Zeck

 

I won’t go into a ton of detail on this cover, but it is a widely overlooked Punisher mag. Most people, when they think of “Punisher magazines,” they think Marvel Preview Presents or Marvel Super Action (which have pretty great covers, too, by the way), but because “The Punisher Magazine” was just reprinted material, they are treated like graphic novels and perhaps rightly so. However, they have some amazing and unique covers and they are worth checking out.

This one, an onslaught of action and moment and a snapshot into a blistering and intense character, this cover says everything that it’s title character’s mini-series brethren issues do (i.e. The Punisher #1-#5, mini-series from 1986, covers also by Zeck). This magazine run is, actually, a black and white reprint of various issues of punisher comics.

This particular issue reprints the aforementioned mini-series (all 5 issues) from 1986 with this new and beautiful painted cover art and, as a result of it essentially being a reprint, can be gotten for $3-$5. To me, it’s worth that just for the cover, alone.

Well, that does it again. I really hope you enjoyed this one. Please, sound off in the comments or drop me a line. I love hearing from all of you. Until next week, thanks for reading and happy hunting.

 

Mike Morello

 

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