Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Giant Squid Covers

I'm no marine biologist - so I'm not going to even bother stating which one is an octopus and which one is a squid. It doesn't matter, as they are tentacled, underwater behemoths and they make for great covers.

Let's start with a great one. Norman Saunders cover for Weird Thrillers #4 (Summer, 1952) is beautiful on so many levels. I really love the colour scheme, and the attention to details is amazing. Look at the first swimming in the background. Check out the squid's bloodshot eyes. For me, it's the little things that make Saunders covers stand out from the crowd. This "Monster of the Caverns" looks at his prey as if to say "You call that a knife"? I have a a dream of one day stumbling upon a yard sale with an unmarked book full of Ziff-Davis books with Norman Saunders covers. The sad reality is I'm more likely to a yard sale with a box of Spawns.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, we find ourselves with the cover to Star Spangled Comics #68 (May, 1947). This one features a solo Robin, attempting to rescue a diver from the least threatening looking octopus I've ever seen. This particular looks like he'd be more comfortable fighting Unca Donald and the boys than the Teen Wonder. I think that Jim Mooney drew most of the covers from this era of the long running title, and while the layout is ok - it's just far too cartoony to have any impact. In addition, the colors are very drab, and the lack of detail in the background really makes it seem amateurish. All told, this one just doesn't 'grab' me.

Much better is Joe Kubert's striking cover for Korak, Son of Tarzan #54 (November, 1973). 'Striking' is a word that can be used to describe just about every Kubert cover, but this one really stands out for me. I really like how DC chose to keep the art separate from the title during this era. Many of these covers were caption-free, and that add to their impact, IMHO. I don't actually own this issue, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the story were 100% Coleoidea free. I can't say that for sure, but fallen for the old 70s DC bait and switch with various Joe Kubert covers (Unknown Soldier #245 comes to mind). All in all, it's a great cover from a superb artist.

Getting points in the 'fun' department is the cover to ACG's Adventures Into the Unknown #157 (June-July, 1965). This was during ACG's short-lived super hero experiment when Nemesis was the headlining for this long running horror anthology. This one is by Jay Kafka, another nom de plume for the always underappreciated Kurt Schaffenberger. I love the colours here - the purple octopus looks great against the green background. Even though there isn't much detail in the background, the use of colour here shows how a little effort can go a long way. Although I often rave about Ogden Whitney's covers for ACG, I really love Schaffenberger's too.

I'll end with Whiz Comics #155 (June, 1953) as it marks the end of such a wonderful series. There's a lot going on here with all sorts of caption, along the the insets of Doctor Death and some war story. Unfortunately, it all detracts from the awesome image of the Big Red Cheese taking on the giant octopus. It's a gorgeous shot, with a very nice shade of green on the creature. The interior was drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger, who we know can draw a tentacled monster like no one else. The Marvels faced a lot of very goofy monsters over the years, so it comes almost as a sign of respect that the finale showcases one that is actually slightly menacing.


Ray said...

Hey Scott,

Nice covers. Here is one of my favorite squid/octopus covers. A Frank Frazetta beauty from Famous Funnies:


Scott M said...

That is a very nice one.

I just did a Google image search to find it, and was led to this site:

That's a whole lot of arms.

Jeremy A. Patterson. said...

Great set of covers!


craig said...

Sea Devils #21 is a rather nice example. There are one or two others that I can picture, but can't quite recall from where. Hopefully, I'll come up with the titles.