Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
With Halloween fast approaching, I thought it was high time I did another horror themed entry. I’ve had Bill Everett on the brain recently, as I am anxious to get my hands on Fire and Water, Blake Bell’s new book on the legendary artist. So, this week I am presenting my 13 favourite Bill Everett horror covers:
13. Astonishing #4 (June, 1951)
Marvel Boy was one of the last superheroes created during the Golden Age. Times were changing, however, and his adventures became more supernatural in nature. This cover is a great example of Hero meets Horror. Sorry cover blurb, I don’t really see much ‘Science Fiction’ going on here.
12. Uncanny Tales #51 (January, 1957)
This cover serves as proof that a great imagination was necessary to make horror comics interesting in the post-Code world. No monsters or zombies here, just a good concept with a beautifully designed cover.
11. Journey Into Mystery #9 (June, 1953)
Atlas produced a number of Killer/Monster P.O.V. covers during the 50s, including this fun cover. They were a terrific response to the Victim P.O.V. covers that were quite prominent. I really love the look of shock on the faces of the doctor and the nurse. Everett’s ability to convey emotion with only the eyes is remarkable.
10. Heroic Comics #62 (September, 1950)
Here’s one that I really like. While not a true, it certainly some horror/suspense aspects. Cars sinking underwater have always really freaked me out and Everett is able to capture the strange mixture of chaos and serenity. It’s also a terrific example of his skill as a painter.
9. Menace #5 (July, 1953)
This is one of the most iconic of all Atlas horror covers. From my perspective, however, it suffers a bit in comparison to Everett’s work on the actual story. Obviously Stan & Co. thought this was pretty great stuff as well, using it as a springboard for the Simon Garth character and series.
8. Mystery Tales #14 (September, 1952)
While this cover may not be a well known as some other Everett covers, I really love it. In fact, this is a consistently strong series that is often overshadowed by the likes of Marvel Tales and Spellbound. The sense of panic is palpable here, and the subterranean feel brings to mind Lee Elias’ work on some Harvey horror covers.
7. Astonishing #57 (January, 1957)
This is another terrific post-Code cover. Everett demonstrates that a little work with lighting effects can go a long way in conveying atmosphere. I know that it is near heresy, but I often prefer these more subtle post-Code covers, as they create a real sense of intrigue as compared to a gore-based pre-Code cover.
6. Strange Tales #8 (July, 1952)
This is a terrific cover that manages to sneak in some aspects of Good Girl Art. I’m certain the girl is in shock, but shouldn’t it be “For whom are you digging that?”
5. Spellbound #17 (September, 1953)
This is probably the most iconic cover on my list. It was ‘borrowed’ by Alexisonfire for the cover to their 2004 album Watch Out. I’m certain that I’ve seen it used elsewhere on posters etc…
4. Venus #19 (April, 1952)
How much more awesome could this cover be? The answer is none, none more awesome. It is absolutely amazing, and I especially love the attention Everett gives to every crease and fold in the clothing. It’s definitely in my Top 10 Cuffs and Cufflinks.
3. Astonishing #61 (May, 1957)
Who doesn’t love a good wax museum story? If you were to gauge from horror comics of the 50s, you’d think that there was a wax museum on every street corner. This is a terrific, restrained cover by Everett. It may not grab you at first, but a great deal of storytelling is going on here. I love the little touches that Everett added to his covers. In this case, it is the falling brochure that sells me on this cover.
2. Men’s Adventures #23 (September, 1953)
Far from subtle, this cover is borderline ridiculous. I love these old multi-panel covers produced by Atlas, during the 50s and early 60s. This one is almost in the ‘horror comedy’ category, just so unbelievably charming.
1. Journey Into Mystery #42 (January, 1957)
A post-Code cover as my number one choice? What about Menace #1 or Strange Tales #11? Well, those are both great covers and there are plenty of terrific choices I’ve had to leave off my list. This one just grabs me like no other covers. There were plenty of ‘Under the Bandages’ covers during this period, but none come close to this one. Everett’s design is impeccable here and the choice of perspective is brilliant. How could a potential buyer not want to find out what was going on inside this book? Isn’t that the whole purpose of a cover?
As I’ve said, I had to leave plenty of great covers off my list – but this are my personal favourites. Ask me again in a few weeks, and things may have change. As each year passes, Everett climbs further and further up my list of all-time artists. For more comic book talk, stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent
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