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Tag Archive: original comic book cover art


A month ago here at borg.com we discussed looking outside the comic book medium for the artwork of your favorite comic book artists.  You don’t need to look too far outside of comic books to find the next great artwork from fan-favorite cover artist Ryan Sook.  Every year just in advance of San Diego Comic-Con, comic book stores are stocked with the annual update to The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.  First published in 1970, the 1,200 page log of nearly every comic book published to-date arrives at its 48th volume this summer, dated 2018-2019.  Known as the go-to guide for prices for a generation of collectors, Robert M. Overstreet’s book of prices and thumbnail photos is also a source to glean what’s happened in the past year by way of comic book trends.  It features its own hall of fame for comic book legends, plus full-color sections highlighting some of today and yesteryear’s best covers.

For this year’s comic book store exclusive hardcover edition, Gemstone Publishing tapped Ryan Sook to create a cover to commemorate 50 years of Planet of the Apes films.  Sook reached beyond the original to reflect imagery from throughout the Planet of the Apes movie saga– a great homage to the original shocking environment as Charlton Heston’s astronaut Taylor arrives in the future horrifying world of human scarecrows, with General Ursus leading the charge and the creepy denizens in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the return to the past by spaceship for the apes in Escape from the Planet of the Apes, to the militant world and apes under arrest in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, culminating with the eagerly-awaited first appearance of The Lawgiver in Battle for the Planet of the Apes.  The familiar image of Roddy McDowall behind John Chambers’ Oscar-worthy make-up takes center stage–McDowall connects all of the films alternately as Cornelius and Caesar (and later as Galen in the TV series), and here he cleverly blocks the identity of the planet.

You can only purchase this edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide in comic book stores, so put in a call to Elite Comics to make sure you get a copy when this new edition arrives in July.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

At first blush it’s hard to wrap your head around, after decades of seeing (and buying) variant comic book covers, learning that the first goes back only so far as 1986, with DC Comics releasing two covers for the first issue of The Man of Steel.  Variant covers–those alternate editions of a comic book where the only difference is one or more optional covers are made available for that issue, the economics behind them, and a high-quality look at many of the often rare artistic works that DC Comics has published since it created the idea, is the subject of a giant, over-sized, coffee table book coming your way this month.  DC Comics Variant Covers–The Complete Visual History offers up many full images of the artwork that became variant covers over the past 30 years, printed on the type of thick paper with vibrant ink reproductions that may prompt some to (carefully) pull out pages and frame them.  It’s like a book full of frame-worthy art prints.

Comic book and film writer Daniel Wallace has tackled the task of selecting highlights from DC Comics’ long run of variant covers–the “Complete” in the title is about the scope and range of variant projects that the publisher has taken on.  He opts to show large images, often full-sized and even double-page spreads of many pieces of cover art, instead of an edition with hundreds of thumbnails of every DC Comics variant that’s seen print.  Compiled in a single book, it will make many a variant collector shudder at the thought of just how many variants exist from all the comic book publishers.  But the images, many familiar, some rare and sought after in comic book form, and some not-so-rare, get their own showcase here, most reflecting the artwork without the title, logos, and other text and branding.  As readers will learn, variant cover collecting has become its own niche for collectors–some books have been bought and sold for thousands of dollars.  Readers will also learn the types of releases that determine rarity and why DC Comics has evolved its strategy for variant covers over time.

The best sections of DC Comics Variant Covers–The Complete Visual History spotlight the covers of Darwyn Cooke (it’s incredible to marvel at six of his images over-sized in the late artist’s bright color palette), Ant Lucia’s DC Bombshells, homage series featuring Mad Magazine, movie posters, Looney Tunes team-ups, convention and store exclusives, and many variant covers from Alex Ross, Frank Cho, and Frank Miller.  Some of the most eye-popping images reprinted include cover art for JSA Classified #1 featuring Power Girl, by Adam Hughes, Batman (Vol. 2) #51, and Superman, #33, by John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson, Wonder Woman (Vol. 5) #1 by Frank Cho, and Batman ’66 Meets Steed and Mrs. Peele #1, by Cat Staggs.

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fcbd-woodward-tng-mirror-2017

Space… The Final Frontier.  These are the voyages of the I.S.S. Enterprise.  Its continuing mission: to conquer strange new worlds, to enslave new life and new civilizations… to boldly go where no one has gone before.

First there was “Mirror, Mirror” in the original Star Trek.  Then there was Deep Space Nine’s “Crossover,” “Through the Looking Glass,” “Shattered Mirror,” “Resurrection,” and “The Emperor’s New Cloak.”  Then “In a Mirror, Darkly” on Enterprise.  The closest we got in Star Trek Voyager was seeing Kes’s evil side in “Warlord,” or the Voyager crew depicted as cutthroat villains in “Living Witness.”   But what about Star Trek: The Next Generation?  With all the episodes playing off of the original series, how did the writers miss an opportunity for mirror versions of Picard, Riker, Worf, Data, Crusher, Troi, LaForge, and Yar?

Dynamic writing duo Scott Tipton and David Tipton and stellar artist J.K. Woodward are making up for the gap with a new IDW Publishing series coming later this year: Star Trek: The Next Generation–Mirror Broken.  But first, everyone will be able to go to their local comic book shop this May 6 for the annual Free Comic Book Day to get their own free prequel issue for the series.  After the break below is a preview featuring fan-favorite character Lieutenant Reginald Barclay, the sometimes bumbling, sometimes awkward, sometimes outright genius Starfleet engineer from both NextGen and Star Trek Voyager.  But first, how incredible are these original painted images of the cover of the FCBD issue?  Star Trek fans already know J.K. Woodward, the multi-year borg.com “Best of the Year” artist from his past work on Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who–Assimilation², Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever, and the Star Trek 50 Years, 50 Artists art exhibition.

mirror-data-woodward    troi

According to early solicitations, the Star Trek: The Next Generation miniseries, Mirror Broken will reveal the Mirror Universe like never before:  Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the I.S.S. Stargazer will stop at nothing to get his hands on the Terran Empire’s newest starship, the Enterprise-D.

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Green Lantern 76 Adams

Every year something exciting makes its way to public auction.  Back in 2011 we discussed some great art from The Dark Knight Returns here at borg.com and again in 2013 here we discussed more cover art from The Dark Knight Returns hitting the market as well as some Dave Gibbons Watchmen cover art.  In December 2015, one of the most iconic covers of the Silver Age hit the auction block courtesy of Heritage Auctions.  That cover was Neal Adams’ original cover art to Green Lantern Issue #76 (learn more about it here), the book that launched the Bronze Age of comics in the minds of many historians, and the beginning of the “Hard-Traveling Heroes” story arc that forever re-defined Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow, and Dinah Lance’s Black Canary.

So what was the total paid, the auction hammer price including fees, for the cover art?

A whopping $442,150.  The twist on this auction is that in the 1970s, most original comic art was not returned to the artists, as has generally been done since then.  So many artists, including Neal Adams, have renounced the possession and sale of such pieces as “stolen”.  But this seller made a deal with Adams to share in the proceeds (with a cut for the charity The Hero Initiative), and so Adams agreed to endorse the sale with this comment:

“Since the proprietor of the cover has agreed to equitably share the income of the auction with me and my family I hereby validate sale and ownership of this piece and I will, in fact, supply a Certificate of Authenticity to the highest bidder of the auction, and the ownership of this cover will never be questioned by me.  This sharing of profit with the creator, of the sale of artwork produced back in those days when ownership has ever been in question, will in this case and may in all cases go far in bringing underground artwork into the light of a fair and open marketplace.”
For everyone who wasn’t that winning bidder, on shelves now at your local comic book store and via Amazon.com here is a deluxe hardcover edition of the entire Green Lantern/Green Arrow story by Dennis O’Neill and Neal Adams.  It’s a great full-color reading copy and reference.

After the cut, check out a high definition copy of the original cover art for Green Lantern Issue #76 that sold this past year.

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