Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wolf Pack Covers

Here's another fun cover theme that has been used much more often than you might think. The earliest example I could find is Creig Flessel cover New Adventure Comics #23 from 1938. Here are a few more that followed its lead.

Fight Comics is a wonderful source for awesome covers, and the cover to Fight Comics #10 (October, 1940)is no exception. Here, the dreaded "Wolves of the Yukon" attack a young couple out for a romantic snowshoe. Luckily, they brought along some firearms. This cover is by Dan Zolnerowich, a name which is new to me but he seems quite capable of delivering an exciting Golden Age cover. I'm sure that this couple wished they'd trust their gut instincts and gone to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon.

Next up is the impeccable cover to House of Secrets #146 (June-July 1977) by the impeccable Gray Morrow. Now, I've probably said it a thousand times, but I loooooove Gray Morrow. He didn't do too many covers for DC in the 70s, and that's a real shame as he was at his artistic peak and they had many titles that would have been a great fit for his style. There are some really interesting color choices on this cover as well. This poor sap is having a rough day, as he is dealing not just with five hungry wolves but a bear trap and the ghost of a crazy recluse. Oh yeah, he's also dropped his shotgun.

LB Cole produced some amazing covers during his comic book career, but not many are as gorgeous (and as highly coveted) as the cover to Cat-Man Comics #31 (June, 1946). It is simply gorgeous, with a circle of wolves set against a the wonderful backdrop of falling snow and sheer blackness. This is a truly singular cover and has earned its place among the truly great covers of the 40s. I love how the wolves, as well as their trainer, are emerging from the darkness. I love the use of black, which was pretty rare back then. We feel as though we've just dropped into a truly perilous situation. How could anyone have passed it up back then? It's also got a Pieta vibe, so that an nice bonus.

You just had to know that Berni Wrightson would produce a wolfpack cover (although, these guys are leaning more towards the werewolf category), and he did a great one with the cover to Weird Mystery Tales #21 (August, 1975). I like this one because we're dealing with the anticipation of the attack, as our hero is steadying himself against the tree wondering how many hacks he'll get in before he's taken down. It is signed 'Wrightson '73), so I don't know if it was originally intended for a different book or series. I've seen that elsewhere with covers and splashes pages during this era at DC. My guess is that they were commissioning as much as possible from Wrightson, Kaluta et al. and using it when they could. Weird Mystery Tales is one of those nearly forgotten horror titles that was really quite strong.


Man of Bronze said...

About the WEIRD MYSTERY TALES series, and the 1972 Wrightson cover for a 1975 book, you bring an interesting question.

I suspect that this series was put up mainly with leftovers inventory from the many other horror anthologies (oh how I miss all those anthology series) the DC line had back then.

I know the Kirby stories in the first two issues of the WMT series were inventory from a failed project of a magazine about the supernatural (dont remember the title but it was suppose to be a new line of more adult-oriented project by Kirby, like the IN THE DAYS OF THE MOB thing)

In the first half of the 70's, DC was trying to compete with Marvel in putting out as many titles they could come up with to glut the market.

By 1975 (when WEIRD MYSTERY TALES was cancelled), the DC implosion had begun. Lots of cool and interesting series never had the chance to grow (my personnal favorite was STALKER drawn by the superb team of Steve Ditko and Wally Wood)

Aaron Bias said...

Do you think that CatMan cover influenced the George Perez Crisis cover with Superman holding Supergirl's dead body?

Scott M said...

Well, the COII #7 cover it's often included as an example of a 'Pieta Cover' - but that's up for debate (I'm kind of inclined to only include 'seated Pietas' as true Pieta covers).

Here's a link to a blog with a million examples (but not the Cat Man cover, for some reason).