Covering Comics #13 – A Jim Steranko Spotlight

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.

 

mar7

ster02

ster03

ster04

ster05

ster06

ster07

ster08

ster09

ster11

ster12

ster13

 

ster15

ster16

ster17

ster18

ster19

ster20

ster21

ster22

ster23

ster24

ster25

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.

 

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7 comments on “Covering Comics #13 – A Jim Steranko Spotlight

  1. Kristina says:

    Nice! Every time you do one of these posts I want to drop everything and spend all day binge reading. 🙂

    • Michael Laws says:

      Glad you like ’em! And yeah, that’s the thing – these covers were designed to do exactly that – to draw you in and makke you want to read the comics… and like I said, if you haven’t had the chance to check out Steranko’s SHIELD comics you really should, because his interiors are just as interesting as the covers.

  2. poprocker1 says:

    I actually had a couple of these comics, as I was a big Fantastic Four fan when I started reading comic books. Wish I still had them! I miss the old style “preview” covers too!

    • Michael Laws says:

      Yeah, at one time in my life I probably owned most of these myself. Some of them may even still be in the attic – it’s been awhile since I actually looked through what’s up there.

  3. Tony says:

    That is a great gallery of covers. However, the cover of Tower of Shadows #1 was done by John Romita. Steranko had done a cover for that issue but it was rejected.

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