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Tag Archive: original cover art


Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of pulp novel cover art and the classic 1940s and 1950s steamy and smoky night scenes and dark places spotlighted on book covers probably already know about artist Reginald Heade.  His fans even refer to him as the best British artist–ever.  Heade created hundreds of striking and memorable images to sell the aura of a niche of fiction that reflected the times, and this master of “that by which readers are not supposed to judge the book” was previously featured in a 168-page work, The Art of Reginald Heade by researcher Stephen James Walker.  Telos Publishing and Walker have extensively revisited the material and historical archives to nearly double the volume of the book with newly found artwork and commentary to form a new expanded, giant 320-page edition, The Art of Reginald Heade: Special Edition.

In the word of the day, these novels featured covers spotlighting the “dames” of their story, femme fatales, sultry, sexy, sometimes in charge, and a lot of times beaten down by the gangsters and thugs of the story, often objectified, and in misogynistic situations.  Some of these could be called repellant by current–and contemporary–mores, created in the world approaching the pinnacle of criticism of blatant depictions of slavery, bondage, crime, and violence, a backlash that would gain a firmer footing in the 1950s of Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent.  Heade didn’t dodge the criticism, and in some countries Heade’s work was censored and the subject of scorn.  Some of his final artwork was pre-emptively censored by the publisher and ultimately not used in his lifetime, and the original art can be found in this book.  Sometimes referred to by the oddly incongruous “good girl art,” Heade’s art reflected an expert in drawing the feminine form.  A true working artist, he seemed to crank out new, unique, and fresh designs for his subjects as much as any great genre creator has ever done.  Seventy and eighty years after their publication, many of the books featuring Heade’s artwork have become grails for book collectors and mid-century pin-up art fans, with a few more obscure books practically lost and gone forever.

With beautiful color and black and white illustrations, The Art of Reginald Heade: Special Edition is the most comprehensive overview ever published of Heade’s life and work.  Walker includes his trademark paintings from the great Perry Mason writer Erle Stanley Gardner’s crime books, Stephen D. Frances’ Hank Janson books, covers for books by Paul Rénin, Roland Vane, Michael Storme, Spike Morelli, Gene Ross, David Hume, Carol Gaye, Margaret Pedler, Helena Grose, William Elliott and Zane Grey, plus hundreds more pulp fiction covers, as well as other works, like Major Charles Gilson’s well-known Robin of Sherwood, Nella Braddy’s biography of Rudyard Kipling, Son of Empire, and editions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe–including interior illustrations, and Heade’s comic art.  Yes, the artist known for his images of vixens in distress created equally impressive paintings for the covers of children’s books, plus mainstream novels and magazine covers (some under the nom de plume Cy Webb).

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If you’re curious why a recent news story surfaced about Marvel Comics seeking to get John Byrne to return for some new projects, you need only turn to a new retrospective book arriving at comic book shops today to see why Marvel wants him back.  It’s yet another in IDW Publishing’s award-winning series of “Artifact Editions”–giant-sized 12″x17″ books printed at the same dimensions as original comic book art pages, with quality scanned reprints that appear nearly identical to the originals.  Today’s release features the art of John Byrne, focusing on his classic X-Men pages.

John Byrne’s X-Men Artifact Edition includes reprints of 169 pages of Byrne art in all–a rare opportunity to view images where the original set of these pages would fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.  Beginning with X-Men Issue #108 in December 1977, Byrne, along with long-time creative partner Chris Claremont, would gain popularity for their story arcs “Proteus,” “Dark Phoenix Saga,” and “Days of Future Past.”  According to Byrne, “Even after all these years, it’s the X-Men work I did with Chris and Terry (Austin) that still resonates the most with fans.  Hopefully when you all see the pages in this format you’ll still feel the same way!”  So what’s inside?  A few pages each from X-Men Issues #108-143 (except no pages were included for Issue #117).  No full issues, but you’ll find 11 Byrne covers (for Issues #114, 116, 127, 129, 133, 134, 136, 138, 139, 140, and an unpublished cover to #142), 148 interior pages, 23 splash pages (including Wolverine, Phoenix, Spider-Man, and full teams), 8 pages from the first appearance of Alpha Flight in Issues #120 and 121, 10 pages from Issue #137, “The Death of Jean Grey,” 15 pages from the Issue #141 and 142 story, “Days of Future Past.”  All-in that’s 35 original pages to marvel at from the “Dark Phoenix Saga” alone.  Plus 10 bonus art pages, including original Marvel corner box art.  The original covers to #114, 133, and 136 are pages you’re going to look at again and again.

Byrne stopped creating for Marvel in 2000 after a falling-out with editor Joe Quesada.  Byrne has continued with other publishers and personal projects since his Marvel days, going on to being named to the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2015.  Byrne co-created some major characters for Marvel, including the Scott Lang Ant-Man, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, Sabretooth, and Shadow King.

Take a look at this preview from today’s release, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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One hundred comic book artists have come together over the past year to create the next great joint art project, this time featuring the fan favorite characters of the Adventure Time animated and comic book series.  Last year Wonder Woman was featured for her 75th anniversary.  This year a new group of some of the best-known names in the world of comics volunteered an original work of art featuring Adventure Time, penciled, inked, painted, or otherwise colored on a BOOM! Studios Kaboom imprint Adventure Time blank comic book cover.  It’s all for a good cause that gives back to, and in effect pays forward comic book creators that came before them.

It’s called the The Adventure Time Get-a-Sketch 100 Project.  All proceeds of the auction of the original artwork will go to the Hero Initiative, an organization that helps out the comic book industry by contributing funds to individuals and their families in the event of medical and financial crises.  Most of the comic creators the fund helps were piecemeal workers in their careers over the past decades or those without any kind of retirement program.

And for those who can’t afford the original artwork, the Hero Initiative is creating a hardcover and softcover edition compiling all the covers that will be for sale beginning May 30, 2018, with proceeds of those books also going to the Hero Initiative.

You’ll find some of the very best Adventure Time-inspired sketch images you’ve ever seen in this group.  Many are from well-known artists, but some of the finest works are showcased by more recent artists entering the industry.

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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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Dumb and Dumber car Wizard World Des Moines 2015

What makes a great Comic Con?

Wizard World Des Moines combined all the right elements this past weekend to create a new annual Midwest destination tradition.  A mix of big name celebrities, comic book creator icons, fanboys and fangirls attending in costume, a variety of vendors, gaming opportunities, current genre properties, the unexpected, taking along family and friends (and meeting new ones and catching up with old ones) and taking in some good food.  And thanks to the success of its first effort, Wizard World will be back again next year at the Iowa Events Center, May 13-15, 2016.

If you missed it, check out our coverage at borg.com yesterday here.

A comic and pop culture convention is even better when your own favorite character seems to have his own theme at the show.  Take our own favorite, Green Arrow, for instance.  This weekend you could have met the artists for the three best Green Arrow series ever produced, including artist/writer Mike Grell:

Milton Bunce Mike Grell Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Zorro

Artists Milton Bunce and Mike Grell at Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Sunday.

And as luck would have it, Mike found a lost piece of original art he brought to the show, a cover prelim/rough for a 24-year old annual issue he created:

Grell WWDM 2015 cover rough annual 4   Green_Arrow_Annual_Vol_2_4

There’s no place better to pick up original comic book art than a Comic Con, whether it’s a sketch commission or original pages that artists bring to the show to gawk at or even purchase.  (Thanks for bringing this one, Mike!).

And there’s one of the other of the three major artists known for his Green Arrow work (he’s done Batman and a ton of other characters, too), Neal Adams:

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Bionic Man 17 original cover art Mike Mayhew Bionic Man 17 final cover

This year I had my first comic convention experience where I didn’t get in early to be the first in line to commission sketches from some of the great artists attending the show.  That was Planet Comicon, and it was simply because I was helping set up booths, working my way through four cosplay outfits, meeting celebrities, spending hours in costume with attendees in photo ops, catching up with old friends, helping artist friends sell art, manning a booth…  keeping busy and having a great time doing it.

So I missed out on my regular art fix.

Bionic Man 22 original Mike Mayhew cover art Bionic Man 22 final cover

So I decided to fill the void by picking up some original cover art from one of my favorite artists in the business right now.  That’s Mike Mayhew, who created some great covers for the Bionic Man series last year, and is currently wrapping up one of the best Star Wars works ever produced, The Star Wars, where he served as artist interpreting George Lucas’s original vision of Star Wars before it became Star Wars.

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DKR original cover art Issue 2

If you’ve any doubt which is more popular and influential–Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, or Alan Moore’s Watchmen–a coming original comic art auction may end the discussion once and for all.  Heritage Auctions is auctioning the cover to The Dark Knight Returns Issue #2, with pencils and inks by Frank Miller.  Only slightly less iconic than the stunning cover to Issue #1, the cover to Issue #2 took the world by storm, showing the classic superhero like he had never been seen before, not as heroic and stoic, but as grim and mean.

Back in February 2013 Heritage began to auction off the 1986 original art to all but one of twelve covers to Watchmen by Dave Gibbons.  The cover to Issue #1 fetched $155,350, Issue #2 sold for $38,837.50 and Issue #3 sold for $22,705.00.  Heritage’s magazine said the other covers will be sold in a coming auction.  However, in May 2011 an interior splash page of The Dark Knight Returns–Issue #3, page 10–also from 1986, sold for a whopping $448,125, as we reported here at borg.com.  That said, that page (shown below) was simply stunning.  Personally, this reader would rather have the interior page on the office wall than the Issue #2 cover, but cover art is cover art and interior art is interior art–covers sell for big bucks compared to interior pages.  And the cover to Issue #2 is arguably the defining image of the new grim Batman of the 1980s that survives to this day in the dozen+ monthly comic book titles and Christopher Nolan’s grim movie trilogy.

frank-miller-dark-knight-returns-record-winning-sale

Issue 3, Page 10 original Frank Miller/Klaus Janson splash page art that sold for almost a half-million dollars at auction in May 2011.

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Grimm 1 cover photo

Following the further exploits of Portland detective Nick Burkhart, his partner Hank Griffin, Blutbad werewolf pal Monroe, and girlfriend Juliette, Dynamite Comics has released some teasers and cover art for its new ongoing monthly series Grimm, to be released in May.  The story is written by show writers David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, with final script by Marc Gaffen and Kyle McVey.  Jose Malaga will serve as series artist.  Alex Ross is back again with a cool incentive cover.

The TV series is filmed in Portland, and often you get glimpses of nearby surroundings, but because so much happens with the Wesen of the week in the woods, we think they could show some more of the beautiful and lush area where the series takes place.  Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for several years we have our own list of haunts we think Nick & Co. should visit on future cases in both the TV series and new comic book series.  How about considering these locations, Grimm creators?

The Saturday Market. This weekend fixture is surrounded by classic architecture and brick we think we have spotted before, but how about having Nick run in pursuit through a crowd of shoppers buying homemade soaps and incense, or grab a gyro from a street vendor?

Fleet Week on the Waterfront. It’s about the “port” in Portland, the Willamette Riverfront hosts giant naval vessels each year in a grand show of seapower–a great stage for an episode of Grimm.

Grimm cover alternate Alex Ross sketch

Original art cover sketch by Alex Ross.

Columbia River Gorge.  One of the most beautiful places on Earth and we’ve yet to see Nick and Monroe drive down the Gorge to track the scent of some “creature from the Columbia River”.

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