Thursday, April 01, 2010

Easter Island Covers

The mysterious statues of Easter Island have been great source material for comic book covers. Although it was first visited by a Dutch explorer on an Easter Sunday nearly 300 years ago, the island didn't really become comic book cover fodder until the late 50s.

Let's start with one of my favourites; Jack Kirby's terrific cover to House of Mystery #85 (April, 1959). I love the concept that the status actually have bodies hidden underneath the ground. That being said, these guys have disproportionately sized heads, and I imagine that they would be quite tippy. Truth be told, these statues are not actually on Easter Island, but rather a previously unknown island somewhat unimaginatively named Giant Island. The explorers in question do, however, compared these statues to those on Easter Island. It's a fun story, highlighted by a scene in which one statute holds a blue whale over its head. The story was reprinted in DC Special #11.

Just a few months later, Marvel would enlist Kirby to provide the cover and cover story to Tales to Astonish #6 (September, 1959). Personally, I find the colour scheme here to be quite dull as the DC 'grey' really has more pop than the darker Marvel 'grey'. There's just no contrast here - everything, right down to the water, looks grey. It 1973, this cover was recoloured and recycled for Where Monsters Dwell #24. The Easter Island statues are pretty much the perfect thing for Kirby to draw - almost as if they were created just for him.

The Duck clan has travelled the world several times over, so it should come as no surprised that they had an adventure on Easter Island. Uncle Scrooge Adventures #3 (January, 1988). The GCD tells me that this cover is by Daan Jippes, and I'll have to trust their word on that because I am far from a Duckspert. I really like this one, as the blacks help to establish a very ominous atmosphere. I'm a bit surprised that the Ducks didn't get to Easter Island during Carl Barks' day, but maybe someone can correct me if I am wrong.

Here's a really fun cover. Strange Adventures #16 (January, 1952) features a cover by the great Gil Kane and it is notable because it features a superhero-life costume on the strange alien. This happened from time to time at DC in the 50s, and you could see that aspects of some of these costumes were eventually used for Silver Age characters, but I don't think this one ever reappeared. I am not sure if the statues are actually red-faced in the interior story, but it certainly makes them jump off the cover. Edmond Hamilton wrote this story, and I wonder if he ever wrote a pulp tale with an Easter Island theme.

I'll leave off with an odd one. Right in the middle of the excellent run on this series by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema, the Hulk (and the Absorbing Man) found themselves on Easter Island. For this monumental event (or is it just a weird one?), we got a cover by none other than Frank Miller for Incredible Hulk #261 (April, 1981). For my money, Miller draws just about the weirdest looking Hulk I've ever seen, and that's saying quite a lot. I'm not entirely sure that any of the statues are near enough to each other to accommodate Absorbie's pose, but I'll allow for a bit of artistic license.


benday-dot/craig said...

Maybe you just solved the mystery Scott... why were those great monolithic statues built those ages ago. Obviously, so Kirby could one day draw them.

Blog into Mystery said...

I made a post at my blog a couple of weeks ago about Kirby and the Easter Island statues - great minds think alike, I guess. My focus was on the cover to one of the Kirby-drawn Super Powers series of the 80s. I really like the Strange Adventures cover you posted - wasn't aware of that one.

Ed said...

That Strange Adventures alien-in-a-superhero-costume looks like the Red Tornado circa 1968 wearing parts of the Golden age Atom's regalia.

Fasbinder 62 said...

Alan Moore had a stab at explaining them as well, in his Future Shocks story 'No Picnic' for 2000ad