Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Skeleton Driver Covers

I’ve cast my eyes over countless comic book covers throughout that last 35 years and certain patterns have revealed themselves to me. This is how I came to have establish a series of comic book cover subgenres. One of my latest discoveries, and one of my favourites, are covers featuring a skeleton driving a vehicle. It’s such great gimmick, but also sufficiently strange, and I am a bit surprised to see how often it has been used.

Let’s start off with this classic Lee Elias cover from Witches Tales #20. Those of you who have read my on-line ramblings know that I never met an Elias cover that I didn’t like. This one may be the granddaddy of all Skeleton Driver covers. There are two things I really love about this cover: 1) the perspective is pretty original, as we only see the driver as a reflection in the windshield (does that make us the skeleton?) and 2) he’s wearing a fedora. Just because you’re a skeleton, doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of style.

Mysterious Adventures was a short-lived title from a short-lived publisher (Story Comics) that featured skeletons on the majority of its covers. It was almost inevitable that they’d publish a Skeleton Driver cover, but they also made sure that the car on the cover to Mysterious Adventures #19 was packed with more skeletons than a politician’s closet. I am sure that this one freaked out a few parents back in the early 50s – but perhaps they should have noticed that it has a very strong anti-drunk driving message. Fairly novel for that era, I’d imagine.

With this cover from Beyond #3, we move the highways to the skyways. I’m not sure what discount airline these two guys work for, but I’m sure the passengers wish they’d gone with something more reputable. Although I know it’s not very realistic, I really like the green glow giving to these skeletons – this colour tone was used for many horror covers. Another wonderful thing about this cover is that this stewardess (sorry, flight attendant) is so unbelievably cheery that she isn’t at all fazed by the fact that skeletons are flying the plane.

Here's another one of my favourites, the cover to Beware #9. I've never found the stories from this series to be particularly compelling (or well drawn for that matter) but this cover is a true classic. Check out the ship's captain - from the off-kilter cap to the stylish scarf, this guy is one sartorially sophisticated skeleton. As far as horror covers go, this one is pretty dialogue heavy, but what is most impressive is that the male water skier can talk while holding the ski rope in his mouth. Unlike the skeletons driving cars or flying planes, it is not clear to me how this skeleton plans on killing his victims from a ski boat. Perhaps he's driving around and around in an attempt to form the ultimate circle of death.

Along with horror comics in general, Skeleton Driver covers made a comeback in the 70s. Marvel published many reprint books in the early part of the decade, many with titles 'borrowed' from other publishers, including Beware, which featured a Skelton Driver cover for its second issue. Here we see how women's lib has influenced the subgenre as our chaffeur is woman, potentially scorned (a later killed?) by a lover. She has decided to exact revenge by taking out (in both sense of the term) Mr. Farrand. I'm certain that this guy regrets two things - 1) Not going with eHarmony and 2) Not fastening his seat belt.

That's it for now. I know that there are plenty of other Skeleton Driver covers out there (Unexpected #155 and Haunted Thrills #13 come to mind). I'm sure that the majority of them come from the horror genre, but if you find any others from any genre, be sure to let me know.

1 comment:

Chris said...

A bit too easy, but there are several series of Ghost Rider that capture that theme.