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Silver Age Cover


Deadline: September 28, 1998

I tell ya, those Silver Age editors, writers and artists sure knew how to sell comic books!

I LOOOOVE Silver Age covers. Especially Flash comics! Silver age covers would grab the reader and practically force them to take the comic home. There's even an issue of the Flash where he pleads with the reader, "You must buy this comic book or I'll DIE!"

Each cover would be more outrageous than the next.
"What will the Flash do when he catches up to me…and I'm someone else?"
"How can I pass myself off as Clark Kent when I have the head of an ant?"
"Batman! You're married?"
"With Batman, nothings impossible! I ordered him killed…and now he's getting bumped off in two places at the same time!"

I remember a cover showing Superman buried alive in a coffin, the crowd above waiting for him to emerge, as he thinks, "How do I tell them…I've lost my powers!?"

Some of them were much more subtle but equally provocative. Justice League had a cover showing six shocked JLA members staring down at the reader from a small slot…as though YOU were inside a mailbox! The cover said something like, "Murder in a Blackmail Box." Nothing else.

One of the well-known tricks of people like Julius Schwartz was to think up the provocative cover or splash page first and then invent a story to go along with it. Sometimes, the part of the story corresponding to the cover was only one panel which was rather obviously wedged into the story.

So, I'm wondering…why don't modern cover artists use selling techniques like that? Hence, this next contest.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create a cover (or splash page) art piece which utilizes Silver Age-style selling techniques. Note that it doesn't have to be a Silver Age cover! You don't have to use the Flash or Green Lantern; you could use Booster Gold or Damage or Impulse. Nor does it require that your art looks just like that of Carmine Infantino, Dick Dillin or Gil Kane. It's the technique that's important.

The cover of JLA #15 (the conclusion to "Rock of Ages") would be a good recent example of a modern artist using Silver Age techniques.

I realize that many of you may not want to do this because it would require doing some lettering; maybe your writing isn't as good as your art. I should point out that many people associated with Fanzing (such as Greg Agustin) are good at that sort of thing. You're free to enlist their help; you'll have to figure out how to split the prize if you win, though.

If you'd like to learn more about Silver Age covers and techniques, the Library of Fanzing highly recommends this Web site: The CHEEKS THE TOY WONDER HOME PAGE. "Cheeks" provides excellent examples and analysis So here's the challenge:

  1. Create a Silver Age-inspired piece of cover art. Such things as a logo and DC bullet aren't necessary; simply do the artwork and any essential word balloons, blurbs or narration.
  2. Send it in to by September 28, 1998.
  3. I and the other judges will pick the best one. The results will be announced in the October issue.
  4. The winner will receive a selection of comics from Comic Relief

Entries must be in a digital format such as GIF, JPG or BMP (scan in your drawings if necessary). Photomanipulations are allowed for backgrounds, although doing a background by hand can help your score. All acceptable entries will be shown in the October issue. Have fun!

Article and layout © Michael Hutchison 1998.