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!!

THE LAST WORD: Joe Kubert’s BEST Comic Book Covers!!(Some of them)

I have an appreciation for the late, great Joe Kubert here in 2018 as an adult, that I really didn’t have for him as a kid. And much of that is down to exposure, as well as a broader scope of reading material.

As a kid, comics that interested me were what interested most kids of the latter 20th century. We were children of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Chis Claremont and John Bryne, Marv Wolfman and George Perez, David Kraft and Keith Giffen, Bob Haney and Jim Aparo. The very exciting and colorful, but delineated world of Superhero comics.

The Brave & The Bold #84 - Neal Adams

But then the late 80s happened, and creators like Alan Moore and Frank Miller and William Mesner Loebs created works that seemed to challenge and expand the horizons and genres and tropes of the medium. They were following in the footsteps of late 70s pioneers such as Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy, and the aforementioned creators, who all had their moments of scripting comics with an Indy sensibility before the term existed.

And now as an adult, having explored much of the growth of the mainstream comic industry from their golden age roots, to their big screen interpretations, here in 2018 I am revisiting some work that was largely before my time.

Namely the westerns and horror books and combat books, of the late 60s and early 70s.

https://i2.wp.com/comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/230/105485_20071213140823_large.jpg

And this deep dive into this world (I mean I have gone deep in 2018), has solidified and cemented and revealed somethings. Most notably is 1/ The western comic books of Marvel Comics, the 12cent and 15 cent, etc comics, RAWHIDE KID, TWO-GUN KID, GUNHAWKS, MARVEL WESTERN, by mostly Larry Lieber, and Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby, and Gil Kane, and Herb Trimpe and John Severin are masterpieces. And these books are MUST OWNS. And many have not been reprinted. And while MARVEL COMICS were hands down producing some of the best Western Comics, some other notable comics in this genre are the painted cover LONE RANGER comics by Dell and Gold Key Publishing, and DC’s TOMAHAWK–

(Brief interuption to gush on Kubert’s TOMAHAWK. The last 25 issues or so of TOMAHAWK go from Neal Adams covers to the final ten which are Joe Kubert covers, from issues 131 to 140. There are not many people who can follow Neal Adams on covers, and be able to equal him.

When Neal Adams does a run of covers, those become the definitive sought after covers, especially during this period of the 60s and 70s in DC. Whether BATMAN or DETECTIVE or SUPERMAN or SUPERBOY, to this day the definitive covers for all those titles, are the ones drawn by Neal Adams, and with good reason. Neal Adams is a master artist.

So it is no small compliment to say not only does Joe Kubert’s ten issue cover run on TOMAHAWK equal the work of his good friend Neal Adams, they surpass them. As someone who just acquired those ten books this year, listen to me when I say they are INCREDIBLY undervalued, sporting both stunning covers and interiors, and no true fan of comics should be without them. If you can get them in high grade for $10 a book, that is a steal.

Get those issues at the link below. You get great comics AND you earn a few pennies to keep this blog’s lights on.

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?tid=181351&pgi=101&AffID=200301P01

)

–and ALL STAR WESTERN & WEIRD WESTERN. All fantastic and I will be doing a bit on Western Comics in an upcoming post.

 

https://i2.wp.com/comicbookdb.com/graphics/comic_graphics/1/798/374435_20160819181122_large.jpg

 

And 2/ where the Marvel Comics  of yesterday ruled the WESTERN genre, the WAR or COMBAT genre was ruled by DC Comics. Largely because of two names the great Robert Kanigher and the great Joe Kubert. Both men master story tellers, one with words and one with images, and both men incredibly prolific and productive. My favorite TEEN TITANS story of the silver age is by Robert Kanigher, my favorite FLASH stories by Robert Kanigher. So I always meant to pursue Kanigher’s work into his combat/conflict/war books of the period, and I am finally getting a chance to do that in 2018. And what immediately sells these books is the iconic covers and visual storytelling by the late, great Joe Kubert.

Joe Kubert’s cover art on Our Fighting Forces #135

His work, especially pre the mid 70s, where his covers got to play with the typography and marrying that to the cover image… gold. Absolutely gold. To the point where covers for OUR FIGHTING FORCES and OUR ARMY AT WAR for a brief period in the late 60s, early 70s are cover art truly raised to the level of Art with a capital A. Why anyone would pay $4, $5, $6, and $7 for a brand new comic book (that can be found in the $1 bins or reprinted in a much better quality trade in a few months), when you can take that same money and get a classic issue from this period of comics… is beyond me.

It is work you are typically not going to see unless you go looking. Not many people are showing off 50 year old war comic book covers. In 2018 I have gone looking.

Let me show you some of what I’ve found. We will start with a taste of his unconventional and relatively rare Superhero work and move onto his more prolific genre work.

 

 

 

flash_189.jpg

GI_Combat_88.jpg

SYFYWIRE’s Matthew Funk says it best when they say…

“G.I. Combat #88

Kubert’s contributions to the visual language of war stories can’t be overstated, and this cover proves as much. This is very Stanley Kubrick-style imagery, but the comic predates Full Metal Jacket by 26 years. Kubert was creating iconic, haunting, and cinematic images of war that would influence generations of storytellers.”

weird_war_tales_6.jpg

tor_2.jpg

When you think of great, iconic cover artists, the names Gil Kane, Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Nick Cardy, and more recently Alex Ross come to mind. And all deservedly so. But one that arguably has gotten overlooked by the masses is Joe Kubert, and this is largely because he worked mostly in genres that did not get the attention back in the day. But now as an adult and getting into genres of Western and War and Horror, I am getting exposed to the work of great artists such as Joe Kubert, I am seeing much of it for the first time, and it is…. ASTONISHING. What really amazes me about Kubert is when he gets to play with Typography in his covers, and make that part of his story-telling, those are absolute game changers. Such as the above, and many of his Combat books.

 

https://static3.cbrimages.com/wp-content/uploads/goodcomics/2012/08/kubertcover6.jpg?q=35&w=400&h=601&fit=crop

https://static1.cbrimages.com/wp-content/uploads/goodcomics/2012/08/kubertcover18.jpg?q=35&w=400&h=596&fit=crop

SGT ROCK

G.I. Combat (Volume) - Comic Vine

Our Army At War 254 - Sgt. Rock - Joe Kubert

Cover

Ready to own some of these great comic books?

Then use the link below and start ordering:

https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=our+army+at+war&pubid=&PubRng&AffID=200301P01