Each month, hundreds of comics are released to stores for the hungry masses of fans around the world. To stand out on the shelves, you have to put the great art up front. You can judge a book by its cover.
It’s running a little late thanks to our European adventure, but welcome back to the second edition of this already popular column. April 2012 saw a number of terrific covers. What started as a slow month gained momentum thanks to Marvel’s Avengers Art Appreciation month, which has no less than four entries this month. These are some of the best artists in the business going wild with some of tWe’ve also got stuff from DC/Vertigo, Dark Horse and…Archie Comics! We’ve discussed most of these new releases on our podcast Behind the Panels, but one thing we can’t do on an audio show is demonstrate how beautiful some of the artwork is.
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The Amazing Spider-man #683 (Marvel) – Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Almost 700 issues into its run, Spidey is still going strong. Of course, this cover has absolutely nothing to do with Spider-man, even though he is now a member of the Avengers in the 616 continuity. This Avengers love has something to do with a film coming out this month we think. “Deadly” Mike Del Mundo, originally from the Philippines an now based in Canada, is responsible for the artwork, which is possibly inspired by Saul Bass.
Animal Man #8 (DC Comics) – Artist: Travel Foreman
Prior to leaving the book, Travel Foreman turned out this wonderful piece of horror art. We wonder if the book will hold the same appeal for us now that Steve Pugh has taken over art duties. Foreman’s work on the title was one of the biggest appeals of the title, along with Jeff Lemire’s terrific Swamp Thing spanning storyline.
Angel and Faith #9 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Regular Angel and Faith artist Rebekah Isaacs opts for a semi-religious stained-glass look for this latest issue. The simplicity of the designs belies the complexity of the character of Faith, who was one of the more interesting arcs in the recent seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Isaacs official site has more information on her, and her cat Fantastic Donut.
Conan the Barbarian #3 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Massimo Carnevale
An actual Dark Horse from Dark Horse this month. Did we expect to see Conan the Barbarian on this list? No, we didn’t. Yet this romantic epic cover has it all: beautiful minimalist (water?) colours, Conan and his lady in a moist embrace and…fish. We don’t know what that’s all about either, but it is a lovely cover. Massimo Carnevale is probably best known for his work on the covers of DC/Vertigo’s Y: The Last Man, but has been working for years on the Italian comics anthology Lanciostory.
Daredevil #10.1 (Marvel) – Artist: Marcos Martin
It would be incredibly difficult to beat last month‘s Daredevil #10 cover, one of the early contenders for the best cover of the year (to be announced late December). Marcos Martin, most recently of The Amazing Spider-man, has gone for the complete opposite of that previous woodblock-inspired cover. It’s minimalist, it’s got hearing, taste, touch AND radar. All they need is Heart and they can summon Captain Planet. Check it out over on the left there: Daredevil is in braille. Matt Murdoch’s blind, innit? Brilliant.
Elephantmen #42 (Image) – Artist: Jenny Frison
American cover artist Jenny Frison brings a stunning cover to a series that we haven’t been following at all, but may be inclined to have a look at as the result of this cover. Set 200 years or so from now, and concerning animal-human hybrids, it is worth checking out before the film adaptation, which is still in talks apparently. Nothing to do with David Lynch, of course, but the thought of that is worth its weight in elephant droppings.
Fables #116 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Joao Raus
Another month, another Fables cover? You betcha. Possibly the winner of the Most Consistently Beautiful Cover Art of Any Title Ever, if such an award were to exist, Raus (aka Feral Kid) has been turning out these magnificent pictures for almost forty issues.
Fairest #2 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Joao Raus (aka Adam Hughes)
We didn’t include the first issue of Fairest last month, even though Adam Hughes’ wraparound cover was pretty magnificent. We just felt in the face of the competition, it wasn’t one of the fairest of them all. According to Comics Alliance, Hughes once said: “Once I know what color it is, I know that all other colors in the palette will be subordinate to it.” This can be seen here with the red hair of Sleeping Beauty prominently standing out against the subdued palette of Ali and the briar patch below. It has a classic feel to it, although the romantic comedy imagery is thoroughly inspired by modern poster art.
Fantastic Four #605 (Marvel) – Artist: Michael Kaluta
Another Avengers Art Appreciation Variant, this time for Fantastic Four. This inspiration may not be as obvious as some of the previous ones, but it is probably a tribute to Winsor Mccay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, especially given that Thor, Cap and Iron Man are all uncomfortably in bed. Kaluta is also known for his work in Starstruck, a book that Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud helped pave the way for. There might be a little tribute in there to the late artist.
Fatale #4 (Image) – Artist: Sean Phillips
Eisner nominated Sean Phillips just creeps us out with this almost monochromatic poster. Almost, except for one small detail. Here Phillips takes his typically pulp-inspired artwork and strips it back to the most minimal of elements, making this sinister figure almost faceless with his reflective glasses. Shudder.
The Incredible Hulk #7 (Marvel) – Artist: Charles Paul Wilson III
We can’t help it: another Avengers Art Appreciation piece. This one might be the cutest of the month, and it fairly clear in its E.H. Shepard Winnie the Pooh origins. Here, Hulk is the bear of very little intelligence, although we can almost hear Cap saying “Think, think, think” in that pose. We just want to know one thing: who is Eyore in The Avengers world?
Nancy in Hell On Earth #4 (Image) – Artist: Diego P. Galindo
This one might be cheating a little, as it was solicited for April, but doesn’t seem t be coming out until June. Still, with its deadly combination of tits, blood and zombies, Diego P. Galindo’s schlock-horror inspired cover piece is a must see of the month any way you cut it. Nancy chooses to cut it in a bikini top.
The New Deadwardians #2 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: I.N.J. Culbard
Already getting props for one of the best new titles of the year, and with a terrific pun title like that you can’t go wrong. The bloody handprint framing three undead skulls might be enough to get it in the list this month, but if you look closer (and you can by clicking on the image above), you’ll see that the hand is actually a map of Edwardian London, with the infamous Whitechapel overshadowed by zombies. Coincidence or a sign of the times?
Sonic the Hedgehog #236 (Archie Comics) – Artist: Tracy Yardley!
We never thought we’d see a Sonic the Hedgehog comic mentioned on this site, but this one by Tracey Yardley! (exclamation point mandatory) is inspired. Working on the same series since 2005 must be challenging, especially for a character that was most popular back in the heyday of 16-bit gaming in the 1990s. We don’t want to get carried away, but with shades of Shepard Fairey in there, this poster was built on freedom. Freedom for rodents everywhere.
Winter Soldier #4 (Marvel) – Artist: John Tyler Christopher/Lee Bermejo
A double treat for the final one, simply because we couldn’t decide between a sexy redhead and the Winter Soldier attacking a gun toting ape. If only all of life’s decisions were that tough. The first image is another Avengers Art Appreciation image, where the terrific John Tyler Christopher art seems to have been inspired by Art Deco designer Erté. The second is from one of our favourite artists Lee Bermejo, who has worked on graphic novels Joker and Batman: Noël.