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John Byrne
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 4:06pm | IP Logged | 1  

The older covers always have something going on. I get the sense that the Editors were telling the artists of the time that they better have something "big" happening on every cover. The cover image you showed, would in the old days, be added inside the book as a "pin-up" shot.

***

I'm borrowing this comment from another thread, since I feel this deserves discussion on its own.

Done right, covers will get a potential reader to pick up the issue even if that was not his/her intent to begin with. This is usually accomplished by getting said potential reader to ask a question -- something in the range of "what the…??" would be ideal.

The problem with the cover cited above -- a very good painting of Spider-Man standing motionless in his black costume, backed by hoops of goopy webbing -- is that the answer to the question it poses is "because there's a new movie out with the black costume in it." This speaks to two things. First, of course, the ennui that infects too much of fandom. Ideal readers of comics would not concern themselves with whether or not something is being done for purely commercial reasons. After all, we can successfully argue that comics are a business and a product, and therefore everything is done for commercial reasons.

But more important than this, is that such a cover -- along with all the other single-character-posing covers that have become the industry standard -- speaks almost exclusively to the customer who came into the store intending to buy the issue in question. The "audience" is people who ordered their comics three months before they hit the stands, out of a catalog, with little or no idea what might be on the cover (which probably wasn't even done when the orders were taken). There is little or no "Hey! Lookit Me!!" in modern covers. Nothing, in short, that compels a potential reader to… ask a question, and pick up the issue to find the answer.

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David Ferguson
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 4:48pm | IP Logged | 2  

The only modern covers that I remember that compelled me to pick a series were the Marvel Zombies but they were only interesting because they were parodies of iconic covers so I don't know if they count.
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James Revilla
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 4:49pm | IP Logged | 3  

I think a good cover is like a good movie trailer...make you want to see the movie without giving the movie away...nowadays that seems lost on both covers and movies...but I loved the old covers like Julius Schwartz were famous for. I remember the comic being so good...I didn't mind the cover lied to me :)

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David Ferguson
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 4:56pm | IP Logged | 4  

make you want to see the movie without giving the movie away

*****************

Reminds me of that Astonishing X-men cover with Collossus on it. He was resurrected in that issue. The scene on the inside would have had more impact without that cover (I hadn't heard the spoilers)
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Chad Carter
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 5:55pm | IP Logged | 5  

 

If superhero comics aren't finding a way to make covers compelling and exciting via the plotlines within, therefore prompting the question, there's no doubt the "magazine" pose shots aren't doing it. What about this:

Use the cover to illustrate who or what the character is about, through physical action unrelated to the issue in question.

It seems it was about the 80s when the "posing" began, but you could still be drawn to a comic by a cover that illustrates something cool the character is doing, even if they are, essentially, posing.

I think here, you get enough to at least question who and what the character is, and are intrigued by his aggressive martial abilities, and can speculate on his hidden face.

Another, you get the basics of the character. The gyst, without the cover copy, is a young terrified man turns into a ravening animal. A transformation is certain to occur, and can suspense, terror and excitement be far behind?

I wish the current companies would use covers more like reviews of what the characters are or stand for.

 

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Michael Everall
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 6:17pm | IP Logged | 6  

There is little or no "Hey! Lookit Me!!" in modern covers. Nothing, in short, that compels a potential reader to… ask a question, and pick up the issue to find the answer.
***
I get the feeling that the audience is supposed to be so impressed by the modern artist's great cover art (or perhaps the character), that one should buy the book. If not, well then "you just aren't cool". Either that or companies really aren't putting any thought into making covers anymore.

Chad posted some good examples of earlier comic covers that still work to some degree. Even though they are single character covers they at least have a background and some hint of what the character/title is about.

I might not buy that Moon Knight cover on the picture alone, but I liked the character, was really into martial arts, and ninjas were cool at that time. He's also a rooftop vigilante (back before there were a million of them), so you knew the comic was going to be a little grimmer. The art looks somewhat like Frank Miller's Daredevil, which was popular. All of these would've been enough to pull *me* in. If I didn't know the character, I might have thought "What the..is this Marvel's version of Batman?!".

The Werewolf cover would probably draw in monster movie fans in a similar way.
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Chad Carter
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 6:26pm | IP Logged | 7  

 

Thinking more, isn't the problem with modern covers related to the glum, murky art superimposed over what should be a garish, exciting character?

Superheroes are adventure heroes almost across the board. They wear costumes or uniforms, usually with a design and colors to make them "stand out". There are logical reasons within their origins for this.

Now, to my eyes, covers of modern superhero comics look dark, depressing, even on characters like the Flash, Superman, FF, Spider-Man.

What I can't understand is why the covers are not designed to ATTRACT the eye. Why don't these covers use representative colors and motion to sell a product like a SUPERHERO, who is made up of color and motion? I mean in the most basic design sense?

Why does the art that has that doom-laden weight of "reality" to it, like something that should be on the cover of EERIE, be shoe-horned onto the Flash?

The whole style is wrong on superhero comics. It's like everyone involved has forgotten that they are producing works of pulp that are designed to SELL.

Where a lot of those "adult" kind of mags used art by Frazetta, that style isn't really what you want on Spider-Man, is it? Maybe ONCE, or as a pin-up, but not all the time. It's NOT representative of what a superhero character like Spider-Man is about. He's not rippling muscles and a vicious menacing pose. He's energy and motion and color, performing strange contortions, swooping down on an enemy.

I mean, isn't he?

And to my eyes, all the mags just look stuffed with this kind of gloomy "style". Even the comics that don't use a harsh worldview to represent adventure heroes have too much...production in them. Like the covers for SHE-HULK, which I like, but which kind of beg the question: do I buy with my wallet or my dick? And if I was a kid, why would I want to buy the comic unless I was looking for a naked or semi-naked She-Hulk to appear inside?

 

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James Hanson
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 6:30pm | IP Logged | 8  

In the sixties, Superman covers almost always had a situation that would at
least get you curious.





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Chad Carter
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 6:55pm | IP Logged | 9  

 

The problem is that comics aren't produced on time. The mundane "pose" covers are assigned to issues without any merit to the story inside. Apparently, this is because the companies believe that the covers are "brand names". The fact of the existence of the new Superman comic is enough, since the companies are in fact NOT producing comics for the general public.

This is summing up my understanding, not adding anything new. I just find it hard to believe that comics have grown so inbred that the companies refuse to put the time and energy into the possibility of reaching readers "outside" their select cult.

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 7:00pm | IP Logged | 10  

Most of today's covers are all about these generic "money shots". And a vast majority of them end up on posters and t-shirts. Many of them aren't even drawn by the same artist who draws the book's story.

Even the covers of classic books like Fantastic Four # 1 or Amazing Fantasy # 15, while containing scenes that do not really appear inside the books, still reach out and grab the reader, either with a great image, or provocative text/captions/dialogue.

 

Today's covers (and a large portion of the interiors) are so gloomy, so "posed", so overly computer-colored, there's no life to them.

Whatever happened to bright colors and motion lines and shocking cover blurbs? For me, comics are all about the illusion of motion, bright colors, and the exciting usage of words.

 

How did things go from this:

 

...to this?

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William Rossel
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 7:16pm | IP Logged | 11  

There is little or no "Hey! Lookit Me!!" in modern covers. Nothing, in short, that compels a potential reader to… ask a question, and pick up the issue to find the answer.

***

I find this has become the case as well. Today's covers more replace the plot with the character's image than involve the reader in the story's animation.

Apparently, this is because the companies believe that the covers are "brand names".

***

I also see this. Back when John Byrne and John Romita Jr. were a Marvel staple, trademarks were earned issue by issue in a way that made the reader proud to be a part of the action. Now it seems that the direct edition shop is for mass cover production appealing only to the reader's will to buy.

I thought the nineties would bring about more amazing stories as did the two or three previous decades preceding, as it did. Though, the rush into 2000 seems to have changed the industry coniderably.

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Peter Hicks
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 7:19pm | IP Logged | 12  

JB - On your most recent writer/artist book Blood of the Demon, what was the process between yourself and the editor for generating a cover?  Did the editor ask you what to draw?  Did you draw some roughs for each cover for the editor to choose from?  Thanks in advance for any answers.
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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 7:22pm | IP Logged | 13  

Great examples, James!  I'd want to pick up all three of those books (especially that last one) if I saw them at my LCS.
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Don Zomberg
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 7:30pm | IP Logged | 14  

John once said he believed the generic covers were a way of covering the asses of late artists--who knew when the books would hit the stands, so who knew what to put on them?

One theory I have (especially with Ultimate Spider-Man, the worst offender of this kind of thing) is that, with every cover looking EXACTLY the same as the last (and the next), the companies hope fans will buy the same book twice by accident. As in, "Do I have this issue yet? Better grab another copy just in case."

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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 8:12pm | IP Logged | 15  

Yeah, since the covers of so many books are so generic, It's hard to keep track of which issues one has.

As opposed to memorable stories having memorable covers.

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Chris Hutton
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 8:14pm | IP Logged | 16  

Kurt Busiek has brought back dialogue to his Superman/Action covers. I'm not sure whether it's his call or Editorial's. But I wish DC would start having more of these covers across the line.
As much as I love Din's run on Detective, the covers (by Bianchi?) make me gag. They're all grey pinups. BOR-ring!
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Aaron Smith
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 8:45pm | IP Logged | 17  

I agree with both those points, Chris. I was overjoyed to see the dialogue on those 2 Superman covers.

 The Detective covers are disappointing me greatly. While I'm enjoying the stories, I'm seeing each month's cover in the shop and am unable to tell if I've read it. That's the worst thing a cover can do..be so generic that each month blends together. 

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Marcel Chenier
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 9:04pm | IP Logged | 18  

My god, how awesome is that Lois Lane cover? Batman looks pretty
sore about the whole thing!
15 cents, too!
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Brad Hague
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 9:07pm | IP Logged | 19  

I thought JB's most recent work was on The Atom...?
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Daniel Montie
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 9:29pm | IP Logged | 20  


 QUOTE:

John once said he believed the generic covers were a way of covering the asses of late artists--who knew when the books would hit the stands, so who knew what to put on them?

One theory I have (especially with Ultimate Spider-Man, the worst offender of this kind of thing) is that, with every cover looking EXACTLY the same as the last (and the next), the companies hope fans will buy the same book twice by accident. As in, "Do I have this issue yet? Better grab another copy just in case."

I agree that the covers to Ultimate Spider-Man can make it difficult to tell if you've bought the issue before, but it definitely doesn't meet the first argument.  Throughout it's run the book has shipped 12-18 issues a year and hasn't been late once over it's 100+ issue run.





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Peter Svensson
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 9:35pm | IP Logged | 21  

Brad, he specified writer/artist work, since he only drew The All-New Atom. Gail Simone wrote that title.
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Thomas Moudry
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 9:45pm | IP Logged | 22  

I'm glad you folks mentioned Detective Comics up there a bit. I'd stacked up
some comics to read a couple of weeks ago, and I'll be damned if I couldn't
tell which issues of 'Tec I'd read and which I hadn't. I had to look at the
splash pages to figure it out, and I hate that. Covers should be as individual
as the stories inside the issues.
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Joe Zhang
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Posted: 14 April 2007 at 11:01pm | IP Logged | 23  

JB, have you talked to editors about this problem? Do they even know it's a problem? 
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Leigh Hunt
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Posted: 15 April 2007 at 2:56am | IP Logged | 24  

I agree that generic iconic covers are a BAD thing but a lot of Marvel titles seem to be changing back to the good old days when the cover promoted interest of what was actually inside.
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Leigh Hunt
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Posted: 15 April 2007 at 2:59am | IP Logged | 25  

Reminds me of that Astonishing X-men cover with Collossus on it. He was resurrected in that issue. The scene on the inside would have had more impact without that cover (I hadn't heard the spoilers)
------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------
Erm, you must have read a second printing then. The first printing had The Beast on the cover and didn't give away the surprise at all. I certainly didn't know when I read it.
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