ISSUE #23: Where’ve You Been All My Life?
Well, hello there, fine folks. Another rather quiet one for the Wednesday Warriors, this past week, but hopefully you had time to dig and managed to unearth some treasures. I went down my own rabbit hole, last week, and hunted Adams covers for House of Secrets/Mystery. I found some amazing stuff. So, if nothing else, my article was a little self-serving. I hope it had something for you all, as well.
Anyhow, this week, we have a combination of some beautiful covers from modern books and artists. All of this week’s artists have seen acclaim either from Eisner nominations or other accolades and deserve to be featured. A couple of them are currently hot and at least one of them has sort of been shuffled under the carpet a bit in recent years.
Modern Age collecting is funny. There was a brilliant poll put up this week by the inimitable Ben C. asking you all to choose between five books and their investment prospects over the next decade. The poll sparked some great debate over what makes a good investment in the modern age. Is it all about film/television optioning? Is it all about covers? Is it about rarity? Is it about the staying power of the origins and story potential for the characters in question? It is probably some magical combination of those, but what exactly makes a modern book the next Hulk #181?
I’m going to get struck down by lightning for saying this, but let’s face it, Hulk #181 is not a great cover. It’s a famous cover, sure. It’s an iconic cover, sure, but that’s because it’s the first Wolverine on a cover. It’s not his first appearance, overall, and the art isn’t really very good (sorry Herb). It’s dynamic, I’ll give it that, but that’s about it. It’s expensive and goes up stratospherically every month because of character. That is what makes it iconic. That is why it will always have value. We have become programmed to think it’s a good cover because the vast majority of us want one, but it’s all about Wolvie and that magical combination of factors.
For the most part, you could hand me 90% of the “hot” modern covers and I would instantly sell them, especially the ginormous variants. Why, you ask? Well, for starters, most of the price points on them are scary and will not sustain if there is any sort of industry crash like many are predicting. They will be the first to take the hit, in most cases. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be holding on to a Captain Marvel #17 2nd print if the book dies or the character flops or her movie does (whatever or whenever that might occur). The cover is not a good piece of art and the character is largely untested. That’s awfully shaky ground to base a multi-thousand dollar investment on, in my opinion. I don’t want to have to play hot potato with my comics.
The prices on the vast majority of similar books are due solely to rarity and often not good art or good characters (I’m not saying Kamala Khan is a bad character, It’s simply that I just don’t know, yet). That, in-and-of-itself is frightening. Look at Walking Dead #1. The show has faltered and, therefore, the book is faltering. It is also a legitimate rarity like Captain Marvel #17 2nd print, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The same will happen with other, similar, books. It is the way of all collecting hobbies. There’s no reason to believe this time will be any different. Only the tried and true characters and a handful of iconic covers ever survive for the long haul.
Why am I on this tangent? Well, because at the end of the day, we all need to be smart about our investments and buy what we like; buy what we’d still love to own even if the bottom fell out of everything, tomorrow. With that said, we don’t have to spend a fortune to get ourselves great books with beautiful covers. Here are a few around $10 or less.
PUBLISHED: DC Comics – September, 2008
ARTIST: J.G. (Jefferey Glen) Jones
When one thinks about painted covers, most instantly think Ross or Parrillo or Dell’Otto or one of the other hot painter artists. Unfortunately, they don’t often think J.G. Jones, but they should. This Supergirl cover is a prime example of why. I admit, on many Jones covers, there is the feeling of them being somewhat overworked. Sometimes shadow seems forced and there are often slight proportional issues, but not on this masterpiece. As a matter of fact, Jones’ biggest career “fault” is that his run of Wonder Woman covers comes after Adam Hughes’ run. That is hardly really his fault, but he had a tough act to follow. The runs of various Final Crisis titles have a myriad of amazing covers. This is, by far, my favorite and I think the most masterful.
The Supergirl character should have a fun, innocently sexy, demure quality to her and that is captured impeccably in this composition. I think it’s her hands. It gives the feeling of shock and a bit of that “Damsel in Distress” feel, but it is also the position of her head and the fact that there is just enough skin, but not too much, that makes this seductive and flirtatious. Jones’ spatial awareness and use of light and color are astounding, here, which makes for a near-perfect cover. In my opinion, this should be ranked among the best Supergirl covers, ever.
This one carries an ever-so-slight premium, but not much. It should be easily snagged for less than $12.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – May, 2016
ARTIST: Sara Pichelli
My lord, I love this cover. Sometimes simple is best. This is one of the cleanest uses of space, color and simplicity I’ve seen on a cover in quite some time. Pichelli’s signature work is that of crisp, sleek lines and, for some reason, her work is largely overlooked. It has all the “comic-booky” qualities AND the figural grace that I want in a female action pose. Obviously, the movement and perspective is there as our line of vision is taken on the path of the sai being thrown at us. It doesn’t quite achieve three-dimensional quality, but it does provide dynamics. The subtly dramatic lighting plays a large role in the mood of this cover and really help Elektra pop.
This is technically a variant, but it was a “B” cover and, as such, was cover price on release day. It can easily be had, now, for under $10.
PUBLISHED: Aspen Comics – July, 2014
ARTIST: Siya Oum
I apologize in advance because I am breaking my own rules, heavily, here. I just could not NOT share this with everyone. Full disclosure, this is a 1:8 incentive variant. It can still be gotten for $10 or $12, though, and I have no idea why. Thus, I thought you all might let me get away with including this one.
When I look at what we all deem classic covers, this one screams all of the same traits. It is simple, elegant, sexy and simple. It is a classic pin-up that could be from any age. Timelessness is good for the longevity of any piece of art. It is almost a virgin cover, too, which lets the art shine brightly. I realize it is not tied to a character/title most people are aware of, but when has that ever mattered before when it comes to classic covers?
Also, as an added draw to this one, it is really scarce. The main print run on the book was 5,787 copies. This as a 1:8 means there are only about 725 copies of this puppy.
Do yourselves a favor and take a gander at all of the Lola xoxo covers from both the 2014 and the 2017 series. There are ton of variants (shocker… Aspen), but sooooo many of them are exquisite. If Oum continues her hot streak, and I think she will, this one is going to be the one people absolutely need. She (Oum) is a little bit Benitez-y, but also unique. The sketch quality gives it a raw allure and I just can’t take my eyes off of this one. I need one. Actually, I may need more than one.
PUBLISHED: Image Comics – December, 2017
ARTIST: Vanesa Del Rey
Somehow, this one was totally off of my radar when it came out, last year. I normally wouldn’t feature such a mainstream title that’s this recent, but this is a beautifully eerie and macabre cover that seems to have totally been passed over by most. Del Rey is very much hit or miss for me, especially when it comes to faces which are extremely important for me, but she definitely has a few really gorgeous covers. This is one of them.
This cover is all about mood. Of course, it has all of the elements of a classic horror film frame: Fright, darkness, the unknown entity, feminine vulnerability. However, it also has the feel of an artist with classical training, almost Renaissance. The subtlety of the reflected skeleton is a nice shard of foreshadowing and that coupled with the black water helps draw us to the girl’s facial expression (as does the flash in her eyes). There are many gaps for us to fill in with our own imagination which makes it infinitely more frightening; I can imagine much scarier things than anyone can depict for me.
The element I find most interesting, here, is that the nudity is decidedly not gratuitous. It is not there for sex-appeal. Quite the opposite, it is there to heighten the fright we feel for her. The empathy created by this variable is brilliant
I don’t know how I originally missed this one, but I plan to remedy that by hunting one down, ASAP. Luckily, I can have one for next to nothing and so can you.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – November, 2011
ARTIST: David Aja
Man, this cover is menacing. Just a straight propaganda poster-style cover that is rendered so well, I’d swear it were really from the 40’s. Aja has had three very distinctive styles in his career. First, there was a heavily painted style which I love, love, love and can be seen nicely on his Immortal Iron Fist covers. His most current style is cool, albeit a bit too much on the Michael Cho side for it to stand out. Sometimes I love it (like his Daredevil #600 variant). Other times, though, it’s a little bit of a yawn.
In the middle of those, he employed this style which has a wonderfully dramatic woodblock print quality and amazing contrast. This style really draws out the industrial elements, the machines of war if you will, quite well. The simple red color splash choice on this one draws us to the main subject nicely and makes it all about simple line, shadow and shape.
All of the covers in this run are awesome, but this one is the best of the bunch and packs the hardest punch. It is an easy get at cover price or less.
That draws us, yet again, to the end. This week, I honestly and truly want every one of these covers. I can’t wait to find them. I hope you feel the same. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy hunting.