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!!

Best Youtube Channel of the Day courtesy of Roku/Amazon Fire!

If you are not watching CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT you are missing out on one of the essential resources for movies on DVD and Bluray, especially of the classic B movie and cult status variety. CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT celebrates those works of yesteryear that are worth picking up, even in this age of streaming.

His latest episode, and he sold me on purchasing the UNIVERSAL HORROR COLLECTION VOL 1 on Bluray.

Mostly because I am a huge fan of THE BLACK CAT. What is the BLACK CAT you ask? Well beyond being the name of the famous Edgar Allen Poe Short Story, it was also the impetus for many films of that name.

This 1934 Edgar G. Ulmer directed BLACK CAT (which only uses Poe’s story as a aesthetic, to  go places even Poe dared not) is the best of the half dozen or so feature films to use that title.

Powered by a lurid, and haunting, and maniacal story by Edgar G. Ulmer and Peter Ruric, the film grabs and does not let go. Ruric would never write anything as memorable or deranged or sublime again. Which leads me to believe even though the script is credited to Ruric, that it was Ulmer’s hand you see in it. 

 

Ulmer, an unfortunately little remembered director, was one of the best directors of the strange and the avant-garde (experimental, forward looking), and the disturbed. This film fits perfectly in his mold. And with the best combination of big time studio, large budget, iconic stars, talented craftsmen, that he would ever get, he produced his best movie.

BLACK CAT beyond being Ulmer’s best movie, is without argument the best of the Karloff and Lugosi collaborations, and is arguably the best UNIVERSAL movie, right up there with masterpieces such as BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE INVISIBLE MAN.

 

Ulmer’s BLACK CAT is so stylized, and so paired to the bone, that like the short story it derives its impetus for, it is entirely possessive of your attention and your awe. And even though I consider BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN a masterpiece, there is something even more heightened and hypnotic in Ulmer’s BLACK CAT.

The only real cinematic comparative to it, would be the feel you get from watching Erle C. Kenton’s ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, which predates BLACK CAT by two years. ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, like BLACK CAT, was both acclaimed and vilified for its horror and its sexuality.

 

Both are films I consider seminal films, masterpieces of mood, and must own films. And i have owned both films for years in DVD, as generally speaking I do not see the need to upgrade to Blu-ray with these earlier 4:3 Black and White films. However with this new Blu ray also sporting multiple new commentaries, it is worth the double dipping for me.

If you are still deciding check out the video below, and subscribe to the CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT youtube channel… and tell them HT sent ya!

 

 

Currently Watching : TOMBSTONE TERRITORY courtesy of AMAZON PRIME Channel

TOMBSTONE TERRITORY.

I had never even heard of this show from 1957, until stumbling across it on Amazon Prime, this year in 2019. Now you would think there was no way a 62 year old series could impress.

You would be wrong.

Six episodes in and TOMBSTONE TERRITORY is pretty much better than anything currently on television. Just straight forward, riveting storytelling, performances and camera work.

It is so EFFING good! With shows like this and the RIFLEMAN you can see why WESTERNS back in the 1950s were King. They were then, and remain now, timeless examples of our grandest myths, and basest desires, the constant pull of chaos and order, writ large.

TOMBSTONE TERRITORY is that abandoned format of the 30 minute drama, done about as well as it can be done. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the episodes.

Catch it courtesy of streaming/VOD, on better streaming devices everywhere.

Today’s 11 recommended Streaming/VOD channels to be subscried to!

Today’s 11 recommended Streaming/VOD channels to be subscribed to!

PAID CHANNELS

  • AMAZON PRIME for their extensive selection of movies that simply dwarfs what anyone else is showing. They have 12, TWELVE, BigFoot movies you can watch right now!!! Dozens upon Dozens of  Spaghetti Western and Shaw Brothers movies, presented in wide-screen, that look better than they ever did in the theaters. They also have access to newer movies, and a mountain of tv shows. As well as great Amazon originals such as JACK RYAN, THE GRAND TOUR, THE ABC MURDERS, THE EXPANSE (possibly my favorite Sci-Fi show since FARSCAPE) to name a few. But it is really just their uber video store level of obscure and great genre films and tv shows, and their great interface that makes them by a long way, the paid channel I watch the most of.
  • HULU- Hulu is great for staying abreast of recent/current shows such as AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR, as well as offering some movie and tv options, that the others may not.
  • NETFLIX- From being my first paid streaming channel, this has quickly become one of the paid channels I watch the least. To the point when they did their price hike a year or two ago I dropped the channel. However another member of the Heroic Times household decided to resubscribe. And I was able to finish up RIPPER STREET, and we have used it to check out their UMBRELLA ACADEMY and currently use it mainly to watch LUCIFER. But I find Netflix does a HORRIBLE job with its interface, and really should take a note in regards to Amazon, in how to better curate and group, and direct viewers to content that they may be interested in. You get the feeling on Netflix that whatever signal you are seeking, is buried under a lot of uninteresting noise. With more competition on the way, and with our household having a 3 paid streaming station limit, Netflix is the channel that likely will end up getting dumped (again) when something better comes along.

FREE CHANNELS

  • Youtube- The channel I watch these days the most, even more than Amazon Prime is Youtube. And one reason I have a Roku over an Amazon Fire TV, besides the fact I just like Roku’s interface better, is out the box, Amazon Fire stopped supporting the Youtube channel. I will do a separate post on the many channels, within Youtube, that I am subscribed to. But they consist of everyday people putting on content more captivating than the studios can; on everything from comics to movies to knives to guns to music to books to food to exercise to how-to to everything in between. Really intriguing, and I am happy there is not a ‘comments’ section, which for years is what kept me away from the online version of Youtube. Their un-moderated hate filled comments section. So the absence of that on the Youtube Roku app, makes it finally a worthwhile viewing experience.
  • TUBI
  • SONY CRACKLE
  • PLUTO TV
  • ROKU CHANNEL
  • VIMEO
  • FOOD NETWORK
  • HGTV

FAVORITE SUPERMAN COMIC BOOK COVER EVER???

My better half thinks I’m a sick puppy for liking this cover, but man, I remember being wowed by this cover as a kid, and as an adult it still makes me literally laugh out loud. Even from the 60s and 70s age of outrageous SUPERMAN covers it is one of the most outrageous and funny.

The thought that even Luthor would stoop to such extremes, is absurd and horrible, both character wise and concept wise. But the absurd part wins out, you can not take it seriously. 

Even as a kid, I knew there was no way anyone was getting ‘killed’ and Luthor would get his well deserved beatdown,  and so even as a kid i saw the cover as a bit of wonderful hucksterism, and wildly audacious fun/comedy. As an adult I still feel that way. I don’t think the interior story is memorable, but that cover… is frame worthy.

 

https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/8/83/Action_Comics_Vol_1_466.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20081231145516

Lex Luthor turning the heroes into kids is bad enough, but then he is still so cowardly that he is sneaking up behind them and hitting them in the back of the head, rabbit punching them, with his super-powered brass knuckles. Do you get anymore ludicrously, cowardly, mustache twirlingly despicable. It is impossible not to view it like a Chuck Jones Wile E. Coyote skit on meth. :).

Quick aside, my Favorite Luthor in live action, and I have, to varying degrees,  liked all the versions, but the actor for me who is not only the best live action version, but is better than the animated version , is the criminally under mentioned Sherman Howard.

Sherman Howard

His work in seasons 3 and 4 of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY, thanks to great scripts and a great cast and crew (including the excellent Stacy Haiduk and Gerard Christopher), was TREMENDOUS. Those two years of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY, season 3 and 4, I would have to rate as easily the best live action version of Superboy/Superman on the small screen. Better than LOIS & CLARK, better than SMALLVILLE, better than the second season and up, of SUPERGIRL.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

The webpage will not show this image anonymously.

And a large part of why those two seasons remain worth revisiting are the Luthor episodes, and the fact that Sherman Howard gets to take the character from brilliant to wildly unhinged to sympathetic and back again. It is really a wonderful performance, that I urge you to go out and purchase or view those two seasons if you have never seen them.

They are that good, and Sherman Howard is that good in the role.

Get the shows here:

https://amzn.to/30zujB9

https://amzn.to/2XHHUod

 

Now getting back to the comic book cover… The cover shows MUCH better in person. But you should get a feel from the image whether it is one to add to your collection. If so, get your copy here:

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=action+comics+466&AffID=200301P01

 

 

If you enjoyed this post, like, share, subscribe, and check out the sponsor link below to order comic book, podcast, and youtube curated laptops or tablets, and/or curated digital picture frames. They also do all manner of repair and customizing for the pop-culture community. Mention you are coming from this blog and get 10% off.

https://techsupport51.wixsite.com/tech-support-2day

 

MOVIE POSTERS of the Day!

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Hobbs & Shaw (#7 of 7)

I have not gone to see a single one of the FAST AND FURIOUS movies in the theater, most I have done is catch a couple on streaming. This HOBBS & SHAW spin-off film I think I will catch in the theaters. The trailer is that much fun.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Luz (#2 of 2)

I have seen nothing on this film, but that poster… stunning. The use of the attention grabbing colors of Red, Black and Yellow, and the angling of the scene and the typography… simply wonderful poster design.

Anna Movie Poster

The trailer looks good. But not everyone is convincing as a fighter. Keanu Reeves, yes. Angelina Jolie, yes. This actress with her runway model build, looks like her bones would break with the first solid punch landed or received. It takes me right out of it, even watching the trailer. Not everyone is action star material. But I am open to being proven wrong, but I will not be seeing this in the theater. That said, the above poster is very good.

 

Spider-Man: Far From Home Movie Poster

Spider-Man: Far From Home Movie Poster

For these big blockbusters I find the foreign and specialty markets are producing far better and more interesting posters than the American market, which is usually just a big closeup of the star. These two poster for FAR FROM HOME are case in point. Both very well done.

The Good Liar Movie Poster

Another example of great poster design.

Annabelle Comes Home Movie Poster

Looking at the trailer, I do not think the movie will be of any interest to me, seems like a pretty underwhelming, by the numbers, horror film with stupid kids doing stupid things so we can have this sequel, but that aside the above is a CREEPY poster!

 

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Dolor y gloria (#3 of 3)

Above poster does what it should. Makes me want to see the film.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Iron Sky: The Coming Race (#1 of 2)

I have no information on the above film, the last thing I remember having IRON SKY in the title, by all reports was awful,  but the poster alone makes me intrigued in finding out more.

 

The Current War Movie Poster

I do not love this poster for THE CURRENT WAR, it shows that unimaginative streak I mentioned regarding domestic posters. That said I did love the trailer, so it is on here more for the trailer than the poster.

 

If you liked this poster coverage, give a like, and support the links in my previous posts.

And let me know if there is a favorite poster of yours that should have been included on this list. Till next installment, be well!