I’m so excited to be able to present this next Top 10 Covers list. The funnest guy in the comics world – Fred Hembeck gives us his Top 10 Covers! Having loved his parodies in the pages of Marvel Age in the 1980’s and his Hembeck-ized cover recreations over the years he was the one and only person I even considered contacting when our site needed a logo. If you’d like a commission from Fred (no self-respecting commission collector can be without one!) be sure to hop over to his Facebook page and send him a message! You can also own a tome collecting his years of parodies – The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus!900 pages of Hembeck greatness!
Take it away Fred!
Let’s call these ten of my favorite covers, not necessarily THE top ten, okay? Personal nostalgia plays a lot into these choices, and I’ve decided to limit myself to only two Kirby and Ditko covers apiece, and one each for the remaining artists named. Plus, as much as the actual artwork plays into the equation, color is also a very important component.
Fantastic Four #29, Jack Kirby and Chic Stone, 1964. Has there ever been a more evocative cover? Well, probably, but THIS is the one that works for me! Too bad the story inside, fun as it was, didn’t deliver on the cosmic wonder promised on the outside…
Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #13, Jack Kirby and Chic Stone, 1964. Captain America has been one of my top faves ever since I first saw the faux Cap battling the Human Torch on the cover of Strange Tales #114. That would’ve been a good choice, as would his official debut on Avengers #4, both pencilled by Kirby, but this one has the advantage of being inked by my all-time fave Kirby embellisher, Chic Stone, it featured our first modern peek at Bucky, and it has a killer color scheme! And I love how the actual stars of the book have to take a back seat to the glory that is the Star Spangled Avenger!
Amazing Spider-Man #25, Steve Ditko, 1965. My favorite issue of my favorite series boasts a beautifully simple but intricate cover, off set by a radiant yellow background.
Beware The Creeper #4, Steve Ditko, 1968. A stunning design and creative hues highlight this absolutely gorgeous Ditko cover.
Detective Comics #329, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson, 1964. The New Look Batman–commencing with Detective Comics #327–was a welcome gust of fresh air for a mouldering franchise, and Anderson’s lush brush strokes never looked better on one of Infantino’s flawless illustrations! What a wonderful cover!
Superman #149, Curt Swan and Stan Kaye, 1961. The death of Superman–wow. This was about three months into my Superman comics purchasing, and all of a sudden, he’s dead? Imaginary story, I know, I know–but it still packed an impact for THIS 8 year-old reader! Enough to emblazon that cruel cover tableau into my mind for all time…
Strange Adventures #207, Neal Adams, 1967. WHICH Neal Adams cover to pick? Well, how about an early stunner that placed Deadman in front of a grouping of realistically rendered portraits of the DC staff, printed sans black lines in shades of green?
Bat Lash #2, Nick Cardy, 1968. Wow. Just plain wow.
Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #3, Jim Steranko, 1968. Again, I’m pretty much speechless. Color, design, illustrative detail–it all comes together in this Steranko masterpiece!
THUNDER Agents #1, Wally Wood, 1965. When this comic arrived on the racks, totally unexpectedly–there was no comics news outlets in those days, at least that I had access to–the shock of the new combined with the iconic Wood style of musculature and machinery makes this cover unforgettable.
I love each and every one of the above covers! And, as an aside, I have, over the years, had the opportunity to redraw nearly every one of them in my own quirky style, sometimes more than once and sometimes even in color! There is no better way for me to appreciate the greatness of the original illustrations–stunners all!