Friday, February 12, 2010

Sphinx Covers Pt. 1

Sphinx covers are so common that I am convinced that most cover artists are also amateur Egyptologists. Let's take a look at my initial batch:

For my money, this is the grandaddy of them all. The cover to House of Secrets #1 (Nov-Dec, 1956). It is an astonishing image; a giant head tearing the head off the Great Sphinx of Giza (great attention to detail!). This one was drawn by the talented Ruben Moreira, one of DC's great artists of the era. I really like how he used the figures in the foreground to provide a sense of scale. I've also always admired the colour choices on this cover. I really wish that the Showcase Presents volumes went back this far. A great one, all around.

A few years later, Marvel published Strange Tales #70 (August, 1959) featuring this terrific Sphink cover by Jack Kirby. It's another gem from the pre-hero era at Atlas/Marvel. That wonderful 'Atlas grey' tone is used to great effect here. I just love the way Kirby draws people fleeing from a monster. I do find the 'Strange Tales of Suspense' tag line to be a bit confusing, considering Tales of Suspense made its debut earlier in the year. Like many covers from this time period, I find the text on the cover to be quite intrusive, but that's life. I absolutely love the Kirby face on the Sphinx. Who inked this one? Dick Ayers?

Wonder Woman covers hit just about ever genre and sub genre, and this one is not exception. I find the cover to Sensation Comics #90 (June, 1949) to be particular amusing. Robert Kanigher kept up with a lot of nutty concepts over the years, but this one is ridiculous. Who put that giant padlock on the Human Sphinx? Where did Wonder Woman find that giant key? So many questions, so little time. I am certainly intrigued. The good news, is that this is not the only Sphinx cover in the Wonder Woman oeuvre. We'll see another one next time out.

The last one for today is this rather striking cover from Weird War Tales #98 (April, 1981) by Ross Andru and Romeo Tanghal. This one has a lot in common with the Kirby cover. There are a couple of things that I really love about this cover. First, I dig the way the word 'Sphinx' is letter so that it look as thought it was built of brick. Second, I like how the Nazi with the binoculars is just starting to notice the giant behind him. The story is your typically crazy WWT tale set in the desert during Word War Two. I like this one quite a bit, but I wish they'd pulled the 'camera' back a little bit so that we got more Sphinx and less of the sole of his foot.

We're heading into a long weekend here, but I'll be back next week with more Sphinx covers.


Jamie said...

I recently had the chance to pick up the Dr. Fate issue of First Issue Special, which would be perfect for this category:

I might be taking a look at it on DBB in the future.

benday-dot/craig said...

I love the Sphinx face on Strange Tales as well Scott. It is just soooo Kirby. I mean its not only that it is easy to recognize that it is drawn by Kirby, but that it looks so very much like a thousand other perfectly human Kirby heads transplanted on this most ancient monument of sand and brick! Craig.

The Ghost Who Blogs said...

It looks like Jack Kirby. I don;t mean his style (although I do mean that as well) I mean it looks like a self-portrait.

AtlasMonsterFan said...

I love sphinx covers!
Those are indeed some great covers!

Dont forget Wonder Woman #113, by Ross Andru -- I believe this one came out before the Kirby Strange Tales...

and this Mystery in Space #35


Anonymous said...

Yes, that Strange Tales cover is inked by Dick Ayers.

Nick Caputo

Guido Rosas said...

Is it my imagination, or does the Kirby Sphinx looks like it could have been the inspiration for X-Men's Apocalypse?

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