Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Covers that say: "I gotta read that!"

We momentarily interrupt what is shaping up to be Daredevil #56 week for a brief comment about contemporary comics covers.

Comic Book Resources has posted the January DC solicitations, and there's a dandy buncha books comin' up to kick off 2007. Yessiree, it's a great time to be a comic book fan. I know where I will be spending some of my Christmas money! The CBR article has posted cover art to accompany virtually every title, so if you like to look and see what you'll be finding on the shelves in the future, well, take a big steaming gander at the covers! Over at Comics Should Be Good, Boistrous Brian Cronin does his usual excellent full wrap-up of the covers and what he thinks works and doesn't, but I'm gonna focus on just two covers that caught my eye:

Krypto #5 cover
Krypto the Superdog #5, and

Looney Tunes #146 cover
Looney Tunes #146.

Why do these two covers catch my little button eye? Because they're among the very few DC January covers that reflect what's going on inside the book, and they are the only ones that compel yours truly to wonder "Hey, what the Sam Scratch is happening here?...that looks interesting!...what's the story behind this cover?...I gotta read this book!"

Are those dog versions of General Zod, Ursa and Non? Why, that's just...that's just brilliant! Is that entire western town made of gold? How'd that happen? And if there's gold, gold, all around, then why oh why are Daffy and Sam scrambling for a single solitary small gold nugget? Intriguing!

Oh, sure, there are a handful of other DC January books that hint at startling scenes inside in an effort to get you to pick up the comic, but none that caught my interest so fully. Come January, I'll be plunking down my dimes on the counter for 52, Detective, Action Comics Annual, JSA, The Spirit and gosh-knows how many other nifty DC books. But I'll also be buying Looney Tunes and Krypto because even four months in advance, those covers have got me intrigued and compelled to buy the book. My point—and I do have one—is that in many ways with their pin-up or generic covers (really, why must JSA go back to boring painted Alex Ross covers with its second issue?!?), comics have lost that "I gotta read that!" feel. In the Silver Age Julie Schwartz or Mort Weisinger would commission so weird and wacky a cover that you had to find out why Jimmy Olsen was Luthor's butler or Superman was made of limburger cheese, and then write the story around it. I'm not suggesting the industry go back to an age of covers come first, stories after, but if you want to intrigue and hook a new comics reader, you're less likely to do it with a pin-up cover than one that hints at a fun concept and interesting story.

At least it's nice that the artists designing covers for the Johnny DC younger reader's line over at DC seem to get that. The art of drawing the reader in with a compelling comics cover seemingly isn't lost—but somedays, in this age of pin-ups and series uniformity and superstar guest artists, a Compelling Comics Cover™ seems too good an idea to be ghettoized mostly to comics intended for primarily young readers.


The Fortress Keeper said...

The idea of Phantom Zone pets is so awesome on so many levels!

David C said...

But will Krypto have to face the dreaded Phantom Zone Cats?


Scott said...

That's my work on the Looney Tunes cover. Thanks for the high praise -- very very encouraging. I promise to keep up the hard work if you stay tuned!
-Scott Gross