ISSUE #20: Mike Drop + One Dave

Welcome back and greetings once again from Music City, my fine aficionados of paper, ink and staples! I hope the longboxes were kind to you all, this week. By the look of the newly re-minted pick-ups and PC show off page, you all have done rather well for yourselves.

Last week’s issue on “Low Print Ladies” seemed to get some healthy discussion going and I also noted that a few of you disagreed with one my choices, in particular. Obviously, this is art we’re talking about, here, and what pleases the eye of one may not please the eye of another. As such, I fully encourage disagreement. I also appreciate you all being cordial to one another and to me and I hope you will continue to sound off with your unabashed thoughts, this week, and in future weeks.

Inasmuch, I’d love to throw this question out there for you all to ponder… what is the one book that, if you got your paws on one, you’d never sell from the Copper Age up through today, i.e. 1980-ish (some would argue 1983) to now? You can only choose one. I look forward to your responses. Just add in your choice to your comments, below.  

With very little to be excited about in this week’s new batch of books, I will heartily be looking forward to some digging. I have unearthed a few little gems to keep an eye out for that I also hope to hunt down, myself.

A touch of background – My brother, Dave, and I kind of got into comics, together. We voraciously read Vertigo and some of the darker and more cerebral comics from the late-80’s/early 90’s before the collapse of the industry. Thus, in homage to my brother’s and my early beginnings in comics, these are titles on the darker side of comicdom with covers by Mikes and Daves.

So, further tangents aside, let’s dig in, shall we?

 

1. Sandman #75 (1989 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics (Vertigo Imprint) – March, 1996

ARTIST: Dave McKean

 

(DISCLAIMER – This is my one long write-up for the week. The others are much shorter)

When one hears the name Dave McKean, one instantly thinks, “Vertigo.” Throughout the late ‘80’s and through the ‘90’s, almost all things Vertigo were synonymous with him and he was the perfect artist to represent the DC sub-label during its pinnacle. He exuded all of the wonder, magic and twisted natures of the various characters in that universe and his demented mixture of photographic images, still life setups, papier-mache & torn paper work, line art and lushly painted textures is an unmistakably original and heretofore uncopyable style.

Whether you like it or not, it spoke perfectly in the Vertigo voice; stories that were edgy, dark, adult and controversial. There was almost always some distortion of reality in his covers much as there was almost always a distorted nature to the stories contained between those covers. It was a perfect marriage. “Gaiman and McKean” was almost as iconic as “Lee and Kirby” (well, not quite, but for certain fans, there has never been and will never be an equal to their team-up).

His covers were way ahead of their time and he was very much as instrumental as folks like Gaiman for bringing horror-driven comics back into the mainstream.

As a huge Vertigo fan, myself (as mentioned, above, it’s what really got my brother and me hooked on comics, probably because it made us feel smart), I have always been drawn to McKean. I know many do not count him among the great artists, but many of his covers have become iconic, regardless. Sandman #1 and #8, Hellblazer #1, the Dust Jacket for Arkham Asylum, etc. are amongst them, but there are other amazing examples, as well.

With DC set to relaunch the Sandman Universe (Sandman one-shot, Books of Magic, The Dreaming, Lucifer and House of Whispers) for which McKean has done so many past covers, I thought it might be appropriate to celebrate him, once again.

This particular Sandman #75 issue is the culminating issue in an epic story run which is often counted among the top comic runs of all-time. It is, likewise, a summation of McKean’s cover work which came before it. Much like the cover to #1, this one depicts Morpheus in a mixture of full paint rendering with photographic elements as its foundations.

In looking at these two strikingly similar cover treatments, it is interesting to see how his work evolved from 1989 to 1996. More than what DID change, it is perhaps more interesting to see what DID NOT change. No matter where his work went, it always was in his unique voice.

This one is a dirt-cheap pick up at cover price or below.     

 

NOTE TO VARIANT HUNTERS – There is an extremely rare 2nd print of this book which I have never seen in person. The only copy I have ever even seen sell went for a whopping $200. It is the same other than a 2nd print notation in the barcode area. Good luck finding one.

 

2. Carnage #2 (2016 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – January, 2016

ARTIST: Mike Del Mundo

 

One really cannot go wrong with any of these Del Mundo covers from the Carnage series in 2016/2017. I actually am a huge fan of the simpler and more “mondo” issues like #11, but this selection of #2 just feels like a ratio variant that isn’t. It is lush and vibrant in its darkness (if that makes any sense). The multi-layered fabric of the color makes for an amazing tapestry of depth and detail.

Every piece of decay and dilapidation around the edges forms almost a kaleidoscope that draws the eye to the center, much like a fisheye camera lense might. The use of cooler greens and blues keep the eye from being distracted from the more daring splash of red that is Carnage. It is an impeccable use of space and perspective.

Obviously, with the recent explosion of the Carnage bomb, this past week (wink, wink), all things related to the character have picked up spec steam. I expect folks to latch onto this series more heavily as the weeks go on since the covers are all so striking (even those not by Del Mundo… there are some amazing Perkins covers, as well).

Still easily obtainable for cover price or less, this one is on my radar as is the rest of the run.

 

3. Moon Knight #38 (1980 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 1984

ARTIST: Mike Kaluta

 

Do you have any idea how much restraint I had to use to NOT choose a Sienkiewicz cover from this series? Like, a LOT! Sink has the franchise on awesome covers from this run, but the smattering of other artist contributors is pretty equally amazing. Jusko and Frank Miller add a few in the mix, but it is this culminating issue that I find most compelling.

It is touted as a rarity since it is the final, low-printed finale, yet it still goes for very little money. Nice, clean, copies can still be gotten for $10 or less. As a matter of fact, I just snagged one for $1, last week, and have seen two more in my area for under $5. With an almost all black cover, it is tough to find in decent shape.

This has a really haunting and macabre cover and, in my brain, feels like an iconic cover that doesn’t get nearly enough love. Actually, I feel the entire run doesn’t get enough love. Simple, elegant line work and stark contrast make this one really pop for me.

With the rumors that Moon Knight will, in fact, see his way into the MCU, eventually, solid Moon Knight issues are heating up. For the majority of collectors, a Werewolf by Night #32 is just not in the cards and even #33 is getting pretty pricey. The Platt covers are awesome, too, but are also getting up there in price. What remains to collect cheaply are these amazing issues from 1980 to 1984 that are slowly seeing heat. #25 has already become a more highly sought after issue. I expect others to follow like #15 because it is Frank Miller’s only entry, #29 because of the all-black cover and the low printed final arc of #37 and this #38 since they are scarce issues.

 

 

4. Vampirella #10 (2001 Series)

PUBLISHED: Harris Publications, Inc. – July, 2002

ARTIST: Mike Mayhew

 

As it was noted in this week’s Hot10, some artists were meant to draw certain characters and Mayhew was definitely suited to do Vampi. The virgin cover for Vampirella: Roses for the Dead #1 is amazing, but what does one do if they don’t want to drop a $50 bill on one of those, you ask? Well, luckily, there are plenty of other choices from Mayhew.

I easily could have chosen #1 from this same 2001 series with the wraparound cover which is also a superb example, but I chose a slightly more “artsy” cover with quite a bit more complexity. This thing is just downright sexy and a hell of a feat to accomplish well. The reflection motif is pulled off extremely well, here, and we thus get double the Vampi! We get to see all of her… ahem… attributes in “stark” detail. How can one go wrong with that? It is a masterful layout and an issue that can be gotten for next to nothing ($10 or less).

 

5. X-Force #9 (2008 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – January, 2009

ARTIST: Mike Choi

 

Here, for our finale, we have a sexy and dark cover. This cover just kills. There is something unsettling about it. This entire run is brimming with awesome covers from a variety of artists from Crain to Granov to Choi and I go back to this well, often (and for good reason). Additionally, there are a plethora of variants within the run that will set you back, handsomely. Luckily, the regular covers like this one won’t.

There is a raw sensuality to this cover and a suggestive nature that is oddly alluring. I sort of wish the background had been all black, all red or all white, but I’m willing to overlook a little bit of clutter for such a gorgeous composition. I always loved the darker X-Force version of Wolverine and Domino is just hot, hot, hot, here. The lighting is awesome, as well.

For me, these are just PC buys and will probably not be worth much since they aren’t rare. However, with Wolverine coming back to us, soon, I’m excited to hunt down some of my favorite Wolvie covers, cheaply.

 

***

And here we are, again, at the end. I hope you enjoyed this one and that you will honor me with your comments. Until next week, thanks for reading and happy hunting.

 

 

 

 

16 comments

  • Book I never sell, as I have a BUNCH is Spidey 300. First book I ever bought as I was in a card/comic shop and was an avid card collector as a kid. The book caught my eye, I bought a copy and was hooked from that moment on!! Never looked back and have an obsession with that book, although I haven’t bought one in a couple of years due to the pricing…hopefully it comes back down so i can continue my obsession!!

    Well done again, Mike and keep up the fantastic work!!

    • Mike Morello

      Spidey #300 is definitely a solid choice. Probably the Copper Age’s most iconic book (although, that’s a close call with 2 or 3 others). Nice choice.

      I realize I forgot to mention my choice… oops. For me, it would have to be NYX #3. I think it’s the first time I realized how valuable a regular, non-variant modern book could be. That fact coupled with how much I love the Laura Kinney character. I think she may be the only modern character (i.e. post 2000) with any real legs who has a solid, logical and believable back story and can sustain the test of time as a classic character.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, as always. I always appreciate it.

  • Ben C

    Nice job Mike!! Great read!

  • Lebednik

    I need a 9.8 of that X-force 9

  • Wow. You knocked it outta the park this week. I was reading mostly X titles and Marvel stuff from 84 until 90ish when I also started getting into the Vertigo (or what would become Vertigo) titles and some older friends of mine introduced me to Alan Moore, Frank Miller and a bunch of artists. Sandman is one of my all time faves and something I hand to people if I want them to get into comics. I am particularly fond of cover 8 and issue 50. Love P. Craig. Moon Knight vol. 25 is getting all the love on eBay but there are some I like just as much or more and ones that aren’t even Sienkiewicz oddly enough. Namely Frank Miller’s #15 and that Kaluta cover! Mike Mayhew’s Vampi stuff doesn’t get the attention it deserves and that’s definitely one I’ve missed and will be looking out for. As far as the book I’d never sell….Cerebus #1 is ‘78 so, I’d probably go with my Preacher#1 or if I could find a first printing of Stray Bullets #1. I’m SURE I’m overlooking like a dozen books though. Thanks again for another great article.

    • Mike Morello

      Thanks so much, dell. I agree about all of those Moon Knights (I almost chose that Frank Miller #15) and Preacher #1 is an awesome choice. It’s the one major Vertigo #1 I don’t own and I wish I did. Stray Bullets us a title I never got into. Perhaps I should. Thanks for the comments and for reading.

      • Lapham might not be Neal Adams but his art really fits his writing for Stray. There’s a bit of diversity to his characters looks and……as a guy who grew up doing crazy stuff and still lives in one of the most dangerous cities in America, there’s an authenticity to Lapham’s stuff I appreciate. Some stuff is a bit unbelievable but I’ve seen some stuff that’s equally unbelievable. For instance, I love Frank Miller but there’s times it just lacks authenticity like its a guy from a nice suburb TRYING to be gritty and street. I don’t get that feel from Lapham or Brubaker or Azzarello usually. Give it another shot.

        • Mike Morello

          I definitely will. 2 endorsements in one day deserves a revisit. Having lived a lot of my life in Harlem and Brooklyn, I really dig authentic urban styles. Perhaps I just wasn’t in the right place in my life when I picked it up the first time.

  • Juno Beach

    That X-Force is one of my favourite Choi covers. He’s an artist I always buy. He has some Top Cow exclusive covers that are sexy as hell.

  • AZBarbarian

    … and I thought vampires didn’t show up in mirrors.

    • Mike Morello

      Haha! You’re so right! I forgot about that. Well, in that case I guess I’ll just have to recall them all. Just send copies to my address for “shredding.”

  • This is my favorite write-up! You always have one I have, one I want to find, and one I say “meh”. But your write up is always great. One of many books I always look for is Hulk 441, Pulp Fiction homage. Thanks for all you do!

    • Mike Morello

      I really appreciate that. That seems like the perfect mix. If we agreed all of the time, it wouldn’t be art it would be math, right? Glad I can get you excited to hunt every week. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      • It doesn’t hurt that you find unbelievable covers on a weekly basis that actually achievable either. It would be much easier if were to cop out and pick high dollar stuff. Which is fine and I sometimes chase those too but I actually acquire the stuff you pick which I appreciate very much.

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