ISSUE #48: Random Canvas
Welcome back to another edition of Cover Tunes, dear CBSI family. I have admittedly been a little out of the spec loop on purpose, this week. I took a much-needed step back to catch up on some reading. Thanks to our very own Dan Piercy and his awesome backlog of “The Reading Pile,” my stack had gotten a little too big for its britches. As such, it was nice to just enjoy comics for the week and whittle down the stack.
In so doing, I was yet again reminded how much I’m full-on into Immortal Hulk. I had three issues of catching up to do and, yet again, I was decidedly not disappointed. It has been a fantastic horror ride and looks like it’s going to continue to be so. I have to admit, I actively disliked the Hulk character for many years, but this series has changed the game for me. Additionally, it was a tall order for Al Ewing to steal the reading spec thunder from the juggernaut that has been Cates’ Venom (which has also been awesome), but it seems that every tease, tweet and cameo is being hung on with baited breath (and wallets) for this Hulk run. It feels very much like a run that we will talk about as a classic in the decades to come.
This year has been a superb one for Marvel writing, so far (something they were in desperate need of). Between both Conan books (Aaron and Duggan), Venom (Cates) and Immortal Hulk (Ewing), they are killing it, right now. It’s refreshing to see spec based on solid storytelling and not JUST on covers (although Ribic, Stegman and Ross, respectively, are crushing it on the covers, too). Also, I’m particularly psyched about the talk surrounding Ross’ covers, lately. He has deserved some love for too long and is finally getting it. It’s nice when the regular cover is SO good, that people don’t even want the variant(s).
Anyhow, enough talk. It’s time to get to this week’s covers. My features are bit all over the place, this week (hence the subtitle), and there are a few choices that may seem surprising. Read on and enjoy…
PUBLISHED: Innovation Comics – March, 1992
ARTIST: Olivia De Berardinis
This cover really snuck up on me in a quarter bin, last week, and it is gorgeous. I had never seen this series nor heard of Olivia De Berardinis. Mostly, Olivia was an artist for Heavy Metal and Penthouse, but managed to toss out three ridiculously outstanding covers for this series. To be fair, Torchy #1 is probably the best cover, but I couldn’t feature it here since it’s not appropriate to show nudity, here. Needless to say, though, I instantly snagged the other issues off of ebay. These are decidedly NOT common, but when you run across them, they are dirt cheap.
This is classic pin-up art at its finest. With nearly photo quality detail, rendering and subtle hues, this cover is an outstanding masterpiece that has all of the earmarks of vintage art. There is the obvious influence of Vargas, but done with precision. The white background allows the image to speak for itself and boy does it speak (in sexy little whispers).
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 2007
Yep, you’re seeing this correctly. So, at first I was going to save this for an April fools issue, but then I realized I wasn’t kidding. While this isn’t the technical first blank sketch cover, it was the first regularly priced one. The earlier (and more famous) example is the Masters of the Universe #1 Dynamic Forces Blank Variant from 2002 (which, because of its premium-priced variant nature, I wouldn’t feature on Cover Tunes).
This 2007 example really began the mainstream trend of the practice of bringing trade-dressed blanks to artists at conventions to have them personalize them. It was (and is) about the experience. It is, by far, my favorite segment of the collecting of comics and some of my prized possessions are the commissions I’ve gotten on blanks from some of my favorite creators. I get to meet and chat with them and watch them work on a piece that’s just for me. There is no replacing that. As such, I think for those with some imagination, these blank covers are really the best covers of all time. I mean, hey, if you’re feeling talented, who needs a famous artist… just do one yourself.
Luckily, the black borders disappeared from these fairly quickly allowing for more space for the artists to work. These days, there are very few main titles that haven’t had at least one blank. This one can still be found cheap as can almost all others. There are a few rare examples (like the MOTU issue mentioned above which can fetch over a hondo), but for the most part, you are free to plug and play.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 2009
ARTIST: Alex Ross
Well, before there was Immortal Hulk amazingness, there was this cover by Ross (among others) and this one is just as killer as his recent ones. I mean, slap an Immortal Hulk logo on there, post it on Instagram and watch people lose their freaking minds (don’t do that).
Hulk’s attitude, rage and feeling are so keenly felt that it has become difficult for me to imagine anyone other than Ross doing Hulk covers, now. The compositional eye for color and layout are fully on display as are Ross’ superb signature lighting choices. Ross’ sense of framing, depth and perspective are unparalleled, especially on this cover. This rivals any of his recent Immortal Hulk covers, in my opinion.
You know me, I’ve been singing Ross’ praises for a year, now, but it continues to baffle me why so few of his covers have aftermarket value. As such, this one is an easy find at cover price or less.
PUBLISHED: Vortex Comics Inc. – June, 1988
ARTIST: Howard Chaykin
Here is a legendary artist I have not yet featured, but probably should have a long time ago. His aesthetic was so far ahead of its time. Imagine this book published by Image, right now; totally fits. That said, there are three very distinctive styles for Chaykin. There is this stark/minimalist personality, there is the fully painted cover Chaykin style (see the cover for Wolverine/Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection for an amazing example) and there is his “conventional” comic art style. All are awesome, but I feel Chaykin to be best suited to the style featured here. It is visceral and has attitude.
A cover such as this proves that a lot can be done with only a few expertly placed lines. To me, that is the true mark of genius. As such, this cover is sexy and dirty and has all of the earmarks of the noir style that this book was aiming for. Chaykin wanted to explore more adult topics such as pornography and prostitution and this title allowed him do just that. This cover lets us know, immediately, what this book is going to be.
NOTE: Be mindful that there are at least 2 printings of this book with no noticeable exterior differentiation.
Well, that’s it out of me, this week. I hope there was something in there for everyone. As always, please drop a comment and let me know what you think. Until next week, be well, be good to each other, thanks for reading and happy hunting.