Comics writer Paul Tobin (several Marvel Adventures books, Age of the Sentry, Models Inc, and more) is in the midst of a 40-part series on the greatest comic book cover artists ever. Why? In his words:
Recently, on a trip to a comic store, I was DISGUSTED by the overall lack of design on covers. Most covers were nothing more than two or three characters punching each other and snarling, the exact kind of design that I would have worked out when I was eight years old, and spat on by the time I was ten. So, why do such covers proliferate the shelves? One reason is for trade dressing… so that any cover can be put upon almost any trade compilation, which is one of the reasons behind the other Far Too Common cover design… that of the character or team standing at attention, looking tough, staring at the viewer. Fuck that. I’m lucky enough to work largely with editor Nate Cosby, who does very good work at hiring talented cover artists and creating covers that don’t piss me off, but in consideration of my other less lucky friends, and the industry as a whole, I’m going to spend the next few weeks counting down my own personal Top 40 Comic Book Cover Artists… the ones who got it right.
So far, Tobin is up to #23 (Syd Shores, if you’re curious). He’s already featured such luminaries as Brian Bolland, Frank Quitely, Frank Frazetta, Jaime Hernandez, Darwyn Cooke, Mike Mignola, Charles Burns, and many, many more. Don’t be mad if you’re favorite artist isn’t up there, he urges. Some of his aren’t up there either. (The series is evaluating for cover work only.)
Check it out for some instant eye candy and a great basic understanding of the difference between comics work as art and comics work as product packaging.
Chris Greenland finds the above Animal Man cover deeply, thoughtfully terrifying.