Best Comic Book Covers of All Time: Joe Kubert’s LOSERS run

What makes a great comic book cover, in this age of virgin variants and gimmick covers, is the same thing that has always made a great cover. When all these flash in the pan virgin covers, are resigned to the 50 cent bin (where most of them belong), the really great covers, will still be… great covers.

They will still have stunning typography, married to great art, with great placement of the various parts, and together the whole, in one moment, both tells a story and sells a product. It is not just this lazy and brainless current fad of a pretty image, but with no context to the story or to the storytelling. Today’s cover artists and editors and art directors, and buyers, confuse a pinup with an effective and affecting cover, and the two are not the same.

Now that is not to say there are not exceptions, where the pinup is so good that you want it for eye candy’s sake alone. That does happen, and is fine, but in my experience it is rare, and is not conducive to books you are actually buying, serialized entertainment you are actually buying,… to read. In that case a pretty picture does not cut it, you need a storyteller as an artist and an art editor, to design a cover that tells a story.

And like i said it is a marriage of many things, some of which are not in the artist’s hands. But when all those disparate elements come together, you have have some of the greatest covers of all time.

There were a lot of people I could have started this new segment with, Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Berni Wrightson, Jack Kirby, but for my money the best cover artist of all time very rarely worked in Superhero Comics, and that is the great Joe Kubert.

Kubert had many magnificent cover runs to choose from but the one that launches this segment is the work of his that made me a Conflict Comics collector. His run on OUR FIGHTING FORCES AT WAR. Not the whole run, because while he did hundreds of covers not all of them have the elements that make an iconic cover. I mentioned a great cover having to do with things sometimes beyond the artists control such as typography and placement of disparate elements on a cover. But Here, for this run of issues, Kubert had complete control over the typography of his covers, and completely integrated that typography into his artwork, in a manner that would have made Eisner impressed. Creating a brilliant image AND telling a story and selling a product.

In the 181 issue run of OUR FIGHTING FORCES AT WAR, all of which had good covers,  there are nineteen covers that stand out as masterpieces… only nineteeneighteen. They are not ‘key’ issues, they are seminal issues in the history of comic book cover design. The following scans were the best I could find on short notice, and do not do the books justice. But they give you a taste of the brilliance that make these 19 consecutive issues of OUR FIGHTING FORCES AT WAR a milestone of cover design, and worth owning.

They are…

 

Cover for Our Fighting Forces (DC, 1954 series) #123Cover for Our Fighting Forces (DC, 1954 series) #124  Our Fighting Forces #125 Cover for Our Fighting Forces (DC, 1954 series) #126Cover for Our Fighting Forces (DC, 1954 series) #127Our Fighting Forces #128  Cover for Our Fighting Forces (DC, 1954 series) #129File:Our Fighting Forces Vol 1 130.jpgFile:Our Fighting Forces Vol 1 135.jpg

 

Issue 142 would signal the end of the ground breaking covers, as well as heralding the end of Joe Kubert as editor on the series (his name would officially be removed as editor two issues later). Archie Goodwin would take over for a while as editor, followed by Jack Kirby(with all due respect to Jack Kirby, I am not a fan of his work on this book). And while Kubert would continue to do covers sporadically for the series up till the end, never again would the typography and mast-head be part of the story-telling. 141 would be the last of that wild imaginative experimentation with art and typography, the last of nineteen issues of the best and longest consecutive run of great covers by one creator in the history of comics. Pick them all up today, while they can still be had affordably.

 

Use the link below to get your issues today:

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=180611&AffID=200301P01

If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like it, please subscribe, leave a like and comment. And what are your favorite cover runs, or cover artists/artwork?

Till next time… be well!!

Slim of the Day : THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN : FALL OF MAN

We have the technology.

We can rebuild him.

We can make the world’s first Bionic Man.

 

Four decades ago kids everywhere thrilled to that opening of one of their favorite TV shows, The Six Million Dollar Man starring Lee Majors as the titular hero… Steve Austin.

Well New jersey Publisher  Dynamite Entertainment since 2014 has been bringing us various slim revivals of everyone’s favorite slow motion super powered hero.

[Slim- A stapled publication, consisting of words and pictures telling a narrative in periodical format, typically monthly doses, told in scant pages in a highly portable format, with eye catching covers and interiors. Also known by the more widely used misnomer of comic books.]

Six Million Dollar Man Fall #1A

And 2016 mini-series THE FALL OF MAN written by Van Jensen with art by Ron Salas and Letters by Taylor Esposito and colors by Mike Atiyeh and Caitlin McCarthy, is the companies fourth time at bat with this property and is their most successful. As it takes place in the 80s, in a cold world, where the wall has not yet fallen. but the year is never implicitly stated; instead the time is set in inventive and satirical story beats and sight gags.

From 80s star references to a bit of lampooning of the high tech marvels of the day (Such as portable phones in the early 80s, truly monstrously sized things by today’s standards, but back then they were marvels. Same with the room sized computers that had less processing power than even your low-end laptop today); while all the while telling a crackerjack action story of betrayal, globe trotting espionage, and bionic feats of derring-do.

It’s just a fun series.

And while Ron Salas figure drawing at first strikes as merely serviceable, his use of layouts and panel composition and inventive storytelling is exceptional, as are his covers for this series. I’ve read all issues of the series to date, and they have all been exceptional and come highly recommended. 

If late to the party have no fear, as all issues are available at the link below.

Use the below link, get great books, and support this blog, as every purchase though the link, generates a couple pennies to keep this blog bringing you the best in Pop Culture finds!

Without further ado, get your issues of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN : FALL OF MAN here:

 

Six Million Dollar Man Fall (2016 Dynamite) 1ASix Million Dollar Man Fall (2016 Dynamite) 2Six Million Dollar Man Fall (2016 Dynamite) 3Six Million Dollar Man Fall (2016 Dynamite) 4Six Million Dollar Man Fall (2016 Dynamite) 5

 

Einstein and the Rights of Man

Einstein understood it best.

He understood the central conflict of our age, the conflict of man and machine.

He saw the failing behind the wonders of a new age, that we were not so much making something new, as losing something old.

“Our Technology grows faster than our humanity” he wrote on that windswept day.

And the whole of the last century, the 20th century, was an affirmation of that statement. A war of man and machine. As industrialization to cut costs and maximize profits, strove to make humans more machine like and machines more human. The capacity of humans shrank, as the limits of machines grew.

By the end of the 20th century Man was the mindless drone performing repetitive tasks, while machines were the wunderkinds and geniuses of a new age.

Einstein understood that the 20th century had become an age of tradeoffs. We stopped growing, evolving and handed it to machines to do for us.

That we had taken the magic that was within us, this glory of Shamans and Wiccas and spirits, and had traded, externalized it, taken it away from the creatures of the wet and the warm, and imbued it into a cold, stark, controllable entity of tomorrow.

The conflict of Man and Machine, the theme of the 20th century, was the displacement of wonder, the restructuring of magic.

In the 20th century we gave up trying to be heroes and holy men and decided to be predictable and comfortable.

We redefined humanity as something disposable and common.

The 20th century was ultimately a move to diminish the very rights of man. The move away from the concept of man, to other manageable concepts like worker, drone, statistic, to concepts devoid of ‘I’.

The whole push of the 20th century toward obedient machines with the adaptability of men, and adaptable men with the obedience of machines.

And if the 20th century set the stage for such a bleak and dystopian present, then the 21st century has clearly been set in motion to be the age wherein we must war over the rights of Man, and either nobly win, or meanly lose…. our Freedom.