Monday, June 25, 2007

Shark Wrasslin' Covers

Long before the release of Jaws, sharks held a special place in the hearts of comic book cover artists. There are plenty of well-known covers out there featuring sharks, especially in titles that regularly feature undersea adventures. There is a whole sub genre (at least there is now!) of covers featuring a typically surface dwelling protagonist going Mano e Mano with a hungry shark.

Shark Wrasslin' Covers were particularly popular in the Golden Age, and perhaps the best remembered example is Lou Fine's cover to Hit Comics #5. Now, none of have ever read these early issues of Hit Comics, but we all know these covers through countless reproductions in Comic Book Marketplace, the Gerber Journals and various Ron Goulart books. OK, maybe this isn't a shark, but it sure ain't a marlin with those teeth. All we know is that it is a Killer Fish, but a very threatening pink underbelly. While it sure looks as though the Red Bee knows how to wrestle this shark, I'm a bit more concerned about those shackles around his ankles. This is the gold standard for Shark Wrasslin' covers.

Perhaps a little less well know, but highly desired by an psychotically obsessed corner of the Golden Age collectors market is Catman #33. LB Cole produced some of the greatest covers of the Golden Age, and his Catman covers are certainly among his best. We've got typically eye-catching Cole colour here, and a fish that certain looks more like a shark than the fish threatening the Red Bee. Catman is looking cool and confident and must be thrilled that he packed his the long knife that morning. Kitten (I am not making that up - that's her name) has the body language of someone out for a morning swim. Perhaps she is simply mesmerized by the school of exotic looking fish, who don't seem to even be the least be fazed by the action to their immediate right.

I've never actually had the pleasure (is that the right word?) of reading a copy of Supersnipe Comics, but from what I can gather, it involves the Walter Mittyesque adventures of a young Jerry Bails. If you've ever scanned the GCD or Gerber cover galleries, you'll know that Supersnipe has some of the strangest covers of the Golden Age, and that's saying quite a bit. This seems to be the same shark that attacked Catman and Kitten, and his looking to feast of swimmers. Luckily, Supersnipe and his tiny, tiny head has arrived just in time to make the waters safe once again. While I like the overall vibe of this cover from kitschy perspective, Messrs. Fine and Cole needn't have worried about losing their livelihoods.

When I first saw this next cover, a couple of questions came to mind. Firstly, what is the Shadow doing wrestling a shark? Second, does he always wear just a bright, white shirt under his cape? Finally, did everyone in the 40s walk around with a knife in their pockets? The thing I like most about this particular covers is that this actually looks like a shark - no pink underbelly, no goofy upside-down smile. Again, we've got a school of disinterested fish, but what I really loved about this particular cover is the fact that the Shadow's fedora didn't pop off the minute he hit the water's surface, but somehow has only been loosened once the shark fight got underway. A great cover that loses a few points due to the presence of the floating heads of the pseudo-Newsboy Legion.

I'll leave you with this cover to Wonder Woman #101. I don't have much to say about it except that upon closer inspection, I'm surprised it managed to get a CCA Stamp. First of all, if it weren't for that little bit of blue showing, you'd think that the Amazon was out for a skinny dip (with shoes, of course). Somewhat related to the near nudity, I am also a little concerned that, in a crisis, her facial expression is one of arousal. Very strange. Perhaps is the ultra-rare Vibrating Shark. Wonder Woman has appeared on more oddball comic book covers that any other character, but this one is off the charts. She obviously really enjoys shark wrasslin'. I hope you did too.

1 comment:

-Keller said...

Any time you can get a Lou Fine cover into a Post, it's a good Post!