COVER TUNES #33: What’s In a Name?

 

Welcome back to another edition of Cover Tunes, everyone! This week, we get back to Cover Tunes in its “pure” form after a couple of weeks of looking under the covers. I’m very happy that most of you liked and commented on the ‘between the sheets’ format. I plan to make it an every-other-week thing. Let me know how I can tailor-make it to your liking.

Okay, here’s a topic that has come up in my real-life discussions with area collectors in the Music City, lately, and I’d like to pose it to all of you. Do we, once we’ve latched on to a certain cover artist, often like (and purchase) covers from that artist JUST because it’s by them even if it’s not all that great? Essentially, are we blinded by a name?

In my experience, we do one of two things in these instances. First, if we generally really like and collect a particular artist, we almost blindly buy up all of their work, voraciously. For instance, I’m a sucker for anything signed ‘Sienkiewicz’ or ‘Frison’ (I think that’s become pretty clear by now). I am a forgone conclusion. Ha! The other thing we seem to do, especially when dealing with a hot artist, is get ridiculously over-critical of them. Take the upcoming Captain Marvel #1 1:25 incentive variant by Hughes, for example. To see just a glimpse of the debate about that one, check out the G+ post, here.

 

 

Some of the variant craze has gotten a little unruly, these days. People are paying insane amounts for covers that are frankly not that great. It seems that these covers are being snatched up blindly just because of who they are drawn by (and in some cases coupled with FOMO and rarity, as well).

My problem with this – which I’m sure many of you are seeing, as well – is that this is false value. Once the hotness of that book/artist wanes, people will be looking to dump those books off in the hopes of getting a profit. The problem is, those that really want them for their PC’s will have already gotten them.

Prices will drop and drop until the book sells and many of the initial buyers will take a loss. I hope I don’t need to remind folks, but this is a microcosmic example of EXACTLY how the comic market crashed back in the 90’s; people grabbed up books thinking they could retire on them later only to find that were really only worth pennies on the dollar and that hundreds-of-thousands had been printed.

I hope we are a smarter community and have learned from our past mistakes. Largely, though, it seems we haven’t learned and this is just one of the many examples that points to that fact. Hopefully, it doesn’t come back to haunt us.    

Anyhow, back to matter at hand… cool and cheap covers. This week, four covers; three for the big boys and girls, one for the kids (in all of us).

 

1. MODERN PICK OF THE WEEK

Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #3 (2005 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – September, 2005

ARTIST: Ryan Sook

 

Unless you were under a rock this past week, you heard that a Zatanna film is being talked about. I, for one, think it’s a great idea as the character is a really cool bridge between the Vertigo fantasy/horror world of DC and the mainstream superhero DC world. She has a plethora of great relationships with other DC characters and, if utilized wisely, could yield an amazing film. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

The issue with Zatanna for collectors, though, is that most of her fantastic key books and sweet covers are already pretty pricey. You ain’t gonna get a Hawkman #4 out of a dollar bin, that’s for certain. You might find a Hughes cover if you’re lucky, but not if a shop is paying attention. So, what does that leave us with, then, you ask?… this above cover from the Seven Soldiers: Zatanna mini series from 2005.

This cover is a fantastically simple Sook that pays great attention to shape and line. The form and function of it is not marred by clashing color or anything superfluous. Instead, we get a sexy cover that pops, beautifully. The cover is balanced and even the barcode is shaded as to not distract from the genuine grace of the composition. Flashes of light and wonderful use of inked line make this a dollar book that, overall, shines in it’s perfect simplicity.

 

2. MIDDLE AGES PICK OF THE WEEK

Master of Kung Fu #71 (1974 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – December, 1978

ARTIST: Mike Zeck

 

Again, hopefully you weren’t under that rock, because new news broke of a possible film for Shang Chi, this week, as well. I feel similarly about this one as I do about the Zatanna; this would be a welcome departure for Marvel films as the overwrought CGI action machine that has become MCU films gets to be a tired model. The street level quality of a possible kung fu film seems like a fantastic way to break that mold and I really hope they bring it to fruition.

Many would argue (and, for the record, I agree) that other street level stuff from the Marvel-verse shouldn’t have been overlooked in lieu of this character (cough… Daredevil… cough cough), but I think our Netflix Defenders friends have a new gig coming when it comes time to launch the Disney streaming network. There’s no way DD got cancelled because of lack of popularity. I don’t know many people who DON’T watch it.

Anyhow, the trouble with Shang Chi and the kung fu-related titles is that, while cheap, most of the covers are really busy and not very well done (however, there are some AMAZE-BALLS magazine covers if that strikes your fancy). There are, though, a few gems in the rough and this #71 is one of them. It’s Zeck which is already a win and it is just a classic martial arts stance. It says everything without saying too much. The puzzle motif is a clever device used here and can mean a lot, metaphorically; lives are falling apart, the good guys don’t have all of the pieces together, the world is fragmented, the balance of the universe is crumbling (hence the Yin and Yang), etc., etc. I love it.

The bold reds and yellows used alone, together, keep this one clean and powerful. The figural work is exemplary and the mood is both symbolically and tonally set. Full space is utilized masterfully and there is great sense of depth. This is another easy pick-up for a fiver or less. I think it’s the best cover in the entire long run on this title.

 

3. GOLDEN AGE PICK OF THE WEEK

Jumbo Comics # (1938 Series)

PUBLISHED: Fiction House – August, 1945

ARTIST: Uncredited, but probably Joe Doolin

 

Diving into the Golden Age (which is something I want to do in every Cover Tunes from now on, if possible) can be a murky thing. As I’ve stated in the past, getting your hands on virtually any nice upper-mid-grade (or better) copy of ANY Golden Age book is going to be a pricey endeavor. For our purposes, we are looking at books that can be regularly snagged for in-and-around $30 or less in lower mid-grades.

In the case of these Sheena books and related female “Jungle” books, there are a variety to choose from. The really early examples are cool, but the poses often seem static when compared to the slightly later examples. Between Jungle Comics, Jumbo Comics, Sheena and a smattering of others, there are more than 300 examples.

Not all of them will be available all of the time (because, well… Golden Age), but there are always a wide variety at any given time. Choosing one was tough as there are so many amazing examples, but the one above is a nice benchmark for the upper-echelon of these.

Great depth and composition, bold colors and lines, beautiful women and tense action are all here. Anyone who thinks a well-conceived, well-rendered, sexy cover is a thing of just the Modern Age need only look at these to see that is decidedly NOT the case.

All of the strength, beauty and femininity of some of our most beloved modern female characters like Wonder Woman can be found in these awesome jungle covers and a majority of them can be gotten rather inexpensively.

 

4. KIDS PICK OF THE WEEK

Peanuts: Volume Two #27 (2012 Series)

PUBLISHED: Boom Studios (Kaboom imprint) – April, 2015

ARTIST: Charles M. Schulz

 

Here’s a classic looking but modern Peanuts cover by Schulz that is bound to get one feeling nostalgic. It’s time to pop in A Charlie Brown Christmas, everyone! I’m excited.

This beautifully simplistic cover sums up everything that was and is great about Peanuts. A monotone color palette mixed with Charlie seeming small (like he always feels) is timeless just like Peanuts will always be. Not a whole lot else to say, otherwise, other than that there are a slew of great classic Schulz covers lurking amidst this series.

For the variant hunters, there are some amazing early Schulz images (1950-1954-ish) used for 1:10, 1:15 and 1:20 incentives. Gathering a set of those would be dope. Getting this #27 is easy at cover price or less which is a crime. Good grief!!!

 

*****   

 

Here we are at the end, once again, my lovely readers. I hope there was something in here for everyone. Please, drown me with your thoughts and comments and until next time, thanks for reading, be good to each other and happy hunting.

 

8 comments

  • Nice choices, like seeing you pull some characters and covers not by your favorite artists. For Shang Chi, I always gravitate toward the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine, but I know some of those can get pretty pricey.

    • Mike Morello

      I agree!… I love those Deadly Hands mags, especially #19. Such a gorgeous Iron Fist cover. You’re right, though, about them being pricey. Thanks, as always, for the read and the comment.

  • Love that Master of Kung Fu.

  • Great article. I like the trip through the ages. That Zatanna mini series has long been overlooked.

    • Mike Morello

      100% agree. Thanks so much for the comment.

    • Yes it has, and that’s the best cover of the four. Dig the Charlie Brown cover as well. Even if the comic market takes a dive, characters like Mickey Mouse and Charlie Brown will still hold some relevance as pop culture icons. 10-15 years ago I noted how dirt cheap early appearances were, you could get them for peanuts. Not so much any more. Might have to see if I can find that issue in the the back issues for cheap.

      • Mike Morello

        You’re absolutely right about Peanuts and Disney; they will definitely always be sought after. Nostalgia is a powerful thing and those properties have more decades behind them than most. I wish I had collected them earlier as they have gotten quite pricey, as you say. Thanks, as always, Dell. Great to hear from you.

  • Dan Piercy

    Cool Shang-Chi cover; don’t think I’ve seen that bedore.

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