Each month, hundreds of comics are released to stores for the hungry masses of fans around the world. To stand out on the shelves, you have to put the great art up front. You can judge a book by its cover.
March 2012 not only represented an early high watermark for comic book stories, including the flawless Batman #7 and a new series from Brian K Vaughan (Saga #1), but a great month for covers as well. We’ve discussed most of these new releases on our podcast Behind the Panels, but one thing we can’t do on an audio show is demonstrate how beautiful some of the artwork is.
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Batman #7 (DC Comics) – Artist: Greg Capullo
In Batman, the Court of Owls are edging ever closer in this epic storyline, sure to go down as one of the greats. This cover by Greg Capullo simultaneously captures the claustrophobia and the isolation Batman/Bruce Wayne is experiencing as the Gotham he thought he knew and loved/hated becomes a stranger to him. A triumph in minimalism reminiscent of the German Expressionist movements. Highly appropriate for a Bat who moves in the shadows.
Catwoman #7 (DC Comics) – Artist: Guillem March
The complete opposite to the Batman cover, Guillem March is known for his pinup girls. In fact, he was on Gotham City Sirens for a number of years. This incredibly toned-down cover is pop art up the back, and a party down the front as the wide-eyed Catwoman gets touched by Sparky there. Check out his blog for more information on the design process.
Daredevil #10 (Marvel) – Paolo Rivera
Easily one of the standout best covers for the month. Studying under the great David Mazzucchelli, Paolo Rivera mentions on his blog (The Self-Absorbing Man) that this was originally printed with ink on bristol board, and the results are magnificent and detailed. Rivera’s semi-religious artwork here, seeing the Devil pulled down into the depths as it were, is reminiscent of French artist and engraver Gustave Doré , and in particular the work the latter did on editions of Dante’s The Divine Comedy.
Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #1 (Vertigo) – Artist: Rafael Grampá
Brazilian artist Rafael Grampá was chosen to set the tone for DCcomments on his blog (translated from Portuguese) that this is “slightly different from the style that people are used to seeing me doing. Layers are completely female, but with a touch of mysticism and terror”. He also has a version with alternative colouring available at the same link. The simple elegant lines conjure up a bygone era as well, reminiscent of voodoo by the old bayou in the 1920 and 1930s.
Fables #115 (Vertigo) – Artist: João Ruas (aka Feral Kid)
115 issues into Fables and it is still producing covers as beautiful as this. It may have something to do with the fact that João Ruas, another Brazilian artist who took over cover duties from James Jean after he departed on Fables #81, has been consistently turning in images like this for years. Innocence mixed with nightmares: its the perfect combination.
John Carter – Gods of Mars #1 (Marvel) – Artist: Julian Totino Tedesco
John Carter may not have won over audiences at the box office, but those of us who loved the film are disappointed that a film sequel may never see the light of day. However, rejoice! For Carter’s further adventures can be followed in comic book form in this direct sequel to the events of the incredibly underrated film. Tedesco goes into great detail on his blog on the process behind this iconic cover, from its sketch origins to the final product.
Men of War #7 (DC Comics) – Artist: Viktor Kalachev
The run may have been cancelled, but Viktor Kalachev’s covers have been the best thing about this wartime series. Proving that the series is not going down without a fight, at least not on the face of things. Kalachev is typically known for his pulp-style covers on other works, but some of his most beautiful work on Men of War. This stunning cover contrasts the simplicity of the poppy field with the stunningly realistic figures in the middle. Anybody who says otherwise just has tall poppy syndrome.
Night Force #1 (DC Comics) – Artist: Leonardo Manco
Perhaps best known for his work on Hellblazer and Apache Skies, this veteran of the comics industry gets very spooky indeed for this montage-style cover for Marv Wolfman reimagining of his classic adventure series for the new millennium.
Rebel Blood #1 (Image) – Artist: Riley Rossmo
You can definitely see the Bill Sienkiewicz influence in this gruesome yet powerful cover for the debut issue of Image’s sold out Rebel Blood, a new series in which every living thing has been turned into zombies. The figure is a nightmare brought to life, and a treasure of a painted cover. According to the Wikipedia page for the artist, It is rumoured that Riley Rossmo resembles a young Burt Reynolds. Wikipedia is always right, ergo Rossmo will ride the Bandit again!
Saga #1 (Image) – Artist: Fiona Staples
Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga was one of the runaway best debuts of the month, and the eye-catching artwork from Fiona Staples had a lot to do with it. This simple image says it all: a couple with a difference on the the run with their child, and guns.
Swamp Thing #7 (DC Comics) – Artist: Yanick Paquette
At last! An issue of Swamp Thing that actually has the titular character in there! This gloriously hippyfied cover by Yanick Paquette, best known for his work with Grant Morrison on Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer and Batman Incorporated, celebrates this fact in stunning style. This makes us want to go out and buy a Snapple.
X-23 #1 (Marvel) – Artist: Kalman Andrasofszky
Last, but certainly not least, while we can’t approve of random animal slaughter, we can approve of this wonderful painted cover for “Wolverine With Tits” aka X-23. It’s just cool.
Stay tuned for more exciting covers next month.