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Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: My Top 13 Bill Everett Horror Covers

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

21 Comments

Every one of those covers is a winner. I might need to pick up that Fire and Water book you mentioned after seeing this.

Here’s a link to the book. Bell’s Ditko book was fantastic, and this one is right at the top of my Christmas wish list.

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Fire-Water/Blake-Bell/e/9781606991664

There is an argument to make that the comics code (and heavily editorial restrictions in general) forced creators to be more creative by taking some more blatant and “easy” tools out of their tool box.

Just be prepared to be stoned if you make it.

You mean “For whom are you digging that?” Either way, she was too scared to use proper grammar.

I’d put #4 at #1, but that’s because I am a hopeless Venus fanatic.

I can certainly understand that rationale and, while I’m against censorship, a talented artist like Everett shows that he can excel with whatever is left in his tool box.

If he was told that covers could only feature puppies and rainbows, he’d find a way to turn it into something intriguing.

Johnny,

Yes, yes. I was trying to be a smart ass, and paid the price. I get interrupted all the time here at the office, and my mind flutters. Can they see that Everett covers are much more important than whatever work they want me to do?

These are great but I wish you added years to the entries. I’m interested to track his evolution as an artist by seeing which covers are from which stage in his career.

Superb column, Scott. Everett (and Joe Maneely) produced such a huge number of classic horror covers for Atlas that it must have been excruciating to pick only ten. Everett’s use of blacks was brilliantly spooky. His ghouls and monsters are genuinely frightening, and like Johnny Craig, his contemporary over at EC, Everett was a master of juxtaposing the ordinary with the weird/horrific.

Done and one.

It’s all from a brief period.

Everett did a handful of horror covers just prior to his death in 1973 and, while they are all good, none quite measured up.

That was fast! Thanks Scott!!

“There is an argument to make that the comics code (and heavily editorial restrictions in general) forced creators to be more creative by taking some more blatant and “easy” tools out of their tool box. ”

I agree the argument can be made, much like when a comedian is prevented from swearing. Boundaries often increase creativity in the truly talented.

Anyway, these are all excellent choices. I especially like #s 4, 12 and 13. Happy Halloween.

So I guess Venus was completely absent from her own title by this point?

I guess Farley’s other face was on his torso?

Scott, if you do indeed see Fire and Water under your tree on Christmas morning I am sure you will be pleased indeed. I picked up a copy as soon as it hit the stores, and that wasn’t fast enough for me. Long has Bill Everett been counted among my top few favourite artists. He was a true master through ages Gold, Silver and Bronze.. Bell spends much quality time on Everett’s Atlas/horror period and we get close-up looks at some of the art you highlight here. For the record my favourite that you posted is Astonishing #57.

Mary: As far as I know (and I’ve only read up to #17), Venus was the main protagonist in all those weird horror-style stories. She was never pushed out of her own book in favor of other characters.

And I can’t recommend Fire and Water highly enough; it’s an outstanding bio/art book.

Yes, that Venus cover is my favorite too. Have those Venus books been collected into something reasonably-priced?

Some of the styles in these covers look so different from one another that I was sure there was a wider range of time periods being depicted, which is why I asked for dates. But seeing how close in time all the covers were to each other makes me realize, the man was just that versatile and could alter his style at will. That makes this already impressive gallery even more impressive.

# 2 would be my # 1.

#1 is also my #1: It does the job of making me NEED to know how the story plays out.

My #2 would be #4 (Venus).

Love these kinds of lists. Great subjective fun, and lots of leads for books to buy if I ever get the $$ together. Thx, Scott.

Ask not for whom the grave is dug, it’s dug for thee.

Or something like that.

Bill Everett is probably my first great favorite artist. He died when I was only 9, and I’d only been reading comics for about a year then, but his ’70s run on Sub-Mariner were among my favorites. I’ve adored his art ever since, Golden, Silver and Bronze. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford a rare original, but until then, his legacy lives on.

Thanks, this is one of my favorite columns! (Go ahead, add another 12 and make it your top 25…) :)

I like five and four the best.

My top 5: 4, 5, 6, 7, and 11

Very little of the 50s art survived but there is an alternate version of #3 on CAF
(http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryPiece.asp?Piece=234179&GSub=36572}

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