'She's a good girl, crazy about Elvis...' No, I'm not going to feature covers with Tom Petty lookalikes (although that idea is just crazy enough to work). This particular theme jumped out at me (or perhaps fell on me) when browsing pre-Code crime comics. There are lots of comics where someone is falling, but I started looking for covers where the main figure is in an absolute free fall - bonus points if the cover gives the reader a case of vertigo. Let's have a look at a few.
This is the one that made it all click in my head, Uncle Charlie's cover to Crime Does Not Pay #34. We all know that Gleason came under a lot of fire thanks to Dr. Wertham et al., but this cover manages to convey a real sense of dread without showing violence or gore. Like a good horror movie, this cover is really about the anticipation of violence. Unlike many Gleason covers, this one has no dialogue, no captions - just a real lump in the throat as the victim gets the (elevator) shaft. Can you dig it? It's a great, great perspective and I'd love to get my hands on a copy. It's probably full of great stories too with art by the likes of George Tuska and Rudy Palais.
Here's a more modern take on the Biro cover from one of my all-time favourite comic books, Daredevil #186. For the very small number of you who may not be familiar with the Miller/Jansen run, this issue is part of a storyline in which Matt's powers have gone absolute haywire. He finds it very difficult leaping from rooftop to rooftop when he can no longer see where he's going. It's great, great stuff and this cover certainly invokes the feeling of helplessness that defines the issue. Oh yeah - we get Turk as Stilt Man in here too - another guy who runs into some difficulties at high altitude.
First Biro, then Miller and now here's Neal Adams. Wow, some real legends liked to play around with Free Fallin' covers. This cover to Superboy #143 is a classic example of DC in the 60s - really trying to hook it's readers with a compelling cover. I don't want to accuse them of bait and switch - but even though I've never read this book, I'm pretty sure that the story doesn't live up to the cover. Personally, I think this cover would have been much, much more effective had they left off the cheesy caption and let the image tell the story. My guess is that Adams had words with Mort Weisinger about it. Still, it's a pretty gorgeous cover and a great example of what Adams was bringing to DC's table in the late 60s.
I've saved the best for last. As some of you may know, I'm a real sucker for painted covers and that's the main reason I have so many Gold Key comics in my collection. This cover to Twilight Zone #43 is just superb - giving a real sense of falling. Perhaps this bellhop hung around the room waiting for a tip for a little too long. Is that a window washer halfway down the building? What a great little detail to add! I'm not sure about what the 'performance of a lifetime' stuff is all about - but this cover is certainly enough to convince any comic book fan to pay to find out. I'll assume this cover is by George Wilson, as he did so many wonderful paintings for Gold Key.