I’ve often said that I miss the comics covers of old. Those covers were designed, unlike many of the ones being produced today which are merely mini-posters spotlighting the titular character without giving any indication of the story contained inside, to draw readers in and make them anxious about actually reading the stories contained therein. Of course, this was also a time when comic books could be found all over the place, from newsstands to the local drug store, as opposed to only in specialty comic-book shops, and they were largely focused on catching the eye of someone just passing by the comics rack instead of depending pretty solely on regular readers who are willing to go every Wednesday to get their weekly fix, but that’s a discussion for another time, I suppose. Anyway, “Covering Comics” is going to be a probably irregular series of posts where I take a look at various covers from the past, highlighting some of my personal favorites, or other covers of note for one reason or another.
Jim Steranko was born in 1938 in Reading Pennsylvania, the grandson of Ukranian immigrants. He is best known as a comics illustrator, though he is also a writer, historian, magician, publisher and film production illustrator. Steranko is probably best known for his work during the late 60s and early 70s on Marvel’s Nick Fury, Agent of Shield title where he brought a unique and experimental pop art sensibility to both his covers and his interior work that stood out from anything else on the comics racks at the time. As a matter of fact, if you find his covers, many of which are showcased below, fascinating, you should definitely take the time to track down some of his interior work which, though as unique in its way as these covers still managed to showcase an incredible storytelling sense.
And even though, as I noted above, his Shield covers may be his best known work, they were far from all that he did.
Yes, Steranko was truly an innovator in his design, but he never forgot that the main purpose of a cover was to sell a comic, and that the main purpose of the interior artwork was to get the story across. Perhaps that’s why even though his actual output was relatively small, he is still revered as one of the all-time great artists ever to work in the field.
So, without further ado, and without further comment from me, here, in no particular order are some of Jim Steranko’s greatest covers.
By the way, I should note that although I wrote about Mr. Steranko and his art in the past tense above, he is still alive and well, and does still produce a piece of artwork every now and then. I simply used the past tense because that’s when the artwork I was focusing on today was produced.