ISSUE #58: Dig ‘Em

 

Welcome back to another edition of Cover Tunes, CBSI family. I trust you had a restful and barbeque filled Memorial Day and that your respective LCS had amazing sales. I know that a bunch of my buddies snagged some sweet books over the weekend and I hope you did, as well.

Inasmuch, rather than go the “connecting thread” route, this week, I’ve chosen covers merely from my actual bin digging since we last met. A few members who dig with me in Music City can attest that I actually pulled these four books out of quarter bins or dollar boxes, recently. I love it when that happens. Granted, there is no real theme that ties the four together other than sheer excellence in art, but I do love it when the article kind of organically writes itself like it did this time.

So, without further delay, let’s get into some sweet covers that can be had on the cheap…

 

Vampirella #58 (1969 Series)

PUBLISHED: Warren Publishing – March, 1977

ARTIST: Enric Torres Prats

 

I could feature about 100 modern Vampirella covers from the current greats like Parrillo, Mayhew, Frison, Jusko, etc. (and I often do and will continue to do so), but we rarely look back at the actual first 1969-1983 run of this title. Perhaps it’s because those books suffer from what I like to call  “vintage Star Wars figure syndrome” (the syndrome where the masses think they’re ALL worth a fortune when really, it’s only a select few that are). In reality, once one gets past #1 (1st appearance and Frazetta classic cover), #3 (which has a low print run), #113 (the rare last issue) and the 1972 Annual, the rest can be had relatively cheaply. Even the smattering of Frazetta covers that aren’t #1 can be had for below $20 if one is patient.

These get especially inexpensive once past the first dozen and this is where I think some of the best Bronze Age covers of all time happen: In Vampirella from issue #17 through to the end. There is one explanation for this… this artist, Enric Torres Prats, who painted just shy of half of all of the Vampi covers. It’s a name we rarely utter mostly because he only really worked on Vampi, Creepy and Eerie for Warren (along with a few on 1984 and Heavy Metal), but isn’t that enough, really? Others have been wildly famous for much less.

I’ve chosen my favorite, but your mileage may vary. Buy what you like. I won’t get crazy describing this one since I’ve already been long-winded here, but it is an exquisite display of painting prowess with all the hallmarks of true mastery: Depth, mood, palette, figural perfection and impeccable layout.  If this artist were to explode onto the market, today, for the first time, we’d all be clamoring for these. For some reason though, we’ve largely forgotten him. Such a shame that the market gets so caught up in FOMO (fear of missing out) that it neglects the true gems of the past. Do yourselves the favor of going through a Vampi cover gallery to rediscover these highlights of the Bronze Age. You’ll be glad you did. #24 is another favorite of mine. Check out Cover Tunes #30 for a write-up on that one.

 

Batman: The Widening Gyre #4 (2009 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – February, 2010

ARTIST: Bill Sienkiewicz

 

Shocker! Here he is, my man-crush Bill Sienkiewicz, in yet another Cover Tunes. Whilst digging this past week, I ran across this entire run for which Bill did the covers. All of them are really cool, but this one stood out to me as being especially amazing. I neglected it when I did my Sienkiewicz feature (Cover Tunes #13) as well as when I did my Joker feature (Cover Tunes #27), and I thought it was finally time to include this creepily awesome cover.

This one is all about line and layout and it has all of the tension and unbridled mania for which Sink is famous. The glint off of the sword give it a particular menace as does the manner in which the Joker holds out the playing card to Bats… genius… and it is in my opinion, one of Bill’s best from this period. It can be snagged out of a dollar bin near you.

 

 X-Men: Hellbound #3 (2010 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 2010

ARTIST: Marko Djurdjevic

 

So, we are in fact getting that New Mutants movie in the theaters, next year, and let’s face it, Magik is the most popular character from that franchise (at least from a cover perspective). Many of her variant covers are already outlandishly priced, but there are many amazing regularly priced covers that can be gotten dirt cheap. This is one of them. I featured a Djurdjevic, last week, but while I was digging a few days ago, I was reminded of this one so it happened quite organically. As I mentioned last week, Marko’s covers are either worth a ton (like his Ultimate Fallout #4 or his X-23 #1) or worth nothing. It’s very strange. I really like his style as it’s very much Dell’Otto meets Ross and every cover has a distinctly finished feel.

This one is chock-full-o action and feeling, the layout is perfect and the colors (especially the use of white (which is a rarity) make this one stand out. I do love when a cover tells a story like this one does rather than just being a glamor shot like so many covers are these days. I neglected this one when I did my Magik feature in Cover Tunes #37 and thought it high time to include it, here. Another bin dive candidate.

 

Ghost Rider #18 (1990 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – October, 1991

ARTIST: Nelson DeCastro

 

Man, this is one sick cover and it pops up all the time in dollar bins. I finally had to take one home, this past week. This one has the look of a high-dollar commission (which I love, for the record) and just the color work alone are cause for pausing and admiring. Fire can be very difficult to render believably and so many artists don’t get it quite right. On this one, however, it is amazing as is the light thrown from that fire onto the leather jacket and the contrast with the background. The line work in the skull is equally impressive.

DeCastro is not a name that comes up often as he doesn’t have a huge amount of cover work. He does, though, have many pencilling and inking credits to his name and had a rather long 20+ year career from the early 90’s through the 2010’s. I don’t care if this is worthless, the art alone is worth more than the price tag.

 

*****

 

With that, I leave you all for yet another week. I hope you enjoyed this one and hope you’ll drop a comment letting me know what you think. Until next time, be well, thanks (as always) for reading and happy hunting.

 

6 comments

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    Great finds! I’ve recently discovered the Frazetta covers for Vampirella and have determined that a graded copy would be a great addition to my collection. The Suydam cover you included in Cover Tunes 30 is also outstanding and I never knew it even existed.

    Djurdjevic is also always outstanding, regardless of how some covers become more popular than others. My favourite has always been the connecting variant that ran with Uncanny X-Force 1 and Daken: Dark Wolverine 1.

    As for the Ghost Rider covers, I’ve always been enamored with the Spirits of (Vengeance) Venom covers.

    • Mike Morello

      Great calls on those two Djurdjevic covers. Glad you like those Vampis, too. Some of my favorite covers of all time. Thanks for commenting. Much appreciated!

  • Ben C

    Love that Vampi cover!! Great call on them not being too pricey as well, deals can certainly be had!

  • Avatar

    Just noticed the Joker is wearing high heels — too funny!

  • Avatar

    Thank you for shedding some light on the Nelson cover for Ghosty #18 Mike! It’s a favorite of mine, for the same reasons you said. I haven’t found any other artist to come close to Nelson’s rendition. He also did a early Wizard magazine cover of Ghosty that included the cover art as a poster inside. I haven’t seen any other pieces from Nelson on Ghosty.

    Great article!

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