Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bottled Up Covers

You'd be surprised by just how many covers feature someone trapped in a bottle. Sometimes it's the bad guy, sometimes it's the good guy and sometimes it's just a leprechaun. Let's look at a few of my favourite 'Bottled Up' covers.

Gil Kane's iconic cover to Showcase #34 is the standard bearer of the Bottle Up genre. I believe it's been swiped at least once, but I'm coming up blank on the title. Kane was obviously a master of design, as so many Atom covers are real eye catchers, but this one is a real corker. It took a long, long time but I finally completed a full run of Silver Age Atom, including the three Showcase try out issues. I love 'em. This is truly the king of the Bottled Up cover.

You really don't see too many Fishing Covers, and a fishing cover mix in with a Bottle Up is really just about as good as it gets. The cover to Strange Tales #35 by Carl Burgos is nowhere near as dynamic or elegant as those by his Atlas contemporaries such has Everett, Heath or Maneely but it's the first post-Code issue of the title, so perhaps it was mandated blandness. You'd think that if you were out trout fishing and you pull up a tiny man in a bottle, your facial expression would looked a little bit more shocked than the one we see here, but perhaps this particular lake has produced a disproportionate number of oddities.

Holy Claustrophobia Batman! Yup - we're knee deep in the muck of early Silver Age Batman here, folks with Batman #115. It was a charming time, but I don't think this issue will be used as the plot for Batman 3. Shelly Moldoff was always very effective at selling all of the nutty concept he was assigned, and this cover is no exception. As far as I understand, this is a time travel story but I'm guessing that DC didn't have an anthropologist on staff to help explain that at no time did giants ever exist on Earth. What I love most about the dialogue on this cover is Batman's supreme confidence. The face that he's surrounded by twin giants and trapped in an old Chianti bottle doesn't phase him one bit.

I'm saving my favourite for last here - the cover to Unknown Worlds #35. When you go back and look at ACG's output during the Silver Age, it's amazing that they were able to stay in business for as long as they did. Herbie aside, their books were just so out of step with the times. For me, that's a large part of the charm and the Kurt Shaffenberger and Ogden Whitney covers are almost always clean and eye catching. It's tough not to love a leprechaun story, and I have a hard time believing that even the most steadfast Marvel zombie could pass up trying to find out how this little guy wound up in the water cooler.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on completing your run of Silver Age Atom. That's a dandy series to have. I have only about 5 or 6 of them, but I love them to death.

Might I suggest my own favourite bottled up cover. I am tempted to mine the Kandor covers... if you count those... as they represent my favourite concept from the Supes mythology.

But no, I am going to ACG for my choice. Not Unknown Worlds but Adventures Into The Unknown. Issue #63 to be exact. It is indeed another of those through and through Silver Age presentations. It's Ogden Whitney and it's all about mad science and space... and miniaturization and gorgeous space-girls fit that package nicely. It has a bit of creepy pervert sub-text, but hey maybe that's also part of the whole package.

Great theme.