DK 全球视觉系列 DC Comics Cover Art DC漫画封面艺术350 of the greatest covers in dc’s history
It all started with a cowboy. The cowboy’s name was Jack Woods, and he was a man of few words who rode a horse and vanquished troublesome bandits.
But that’s not what made him special. Jack had the distinct honour of appearing on the front cover of the first comic book published by National Allied Publications – a company that would become known as DC Comics.
That comic book was New Fun #1, and it came out in 1935. Comic books were still a new medium in 1935, and every comic book publisher was hoping to launch a character that would catch on. Sadly, Jack’s reign as a cover star was short-lived.
He would make only two more cover appearances before he was shifted to interior pages and eventually forgotten.
It wasn’t until 1938 that the first superstar of comic books arrived on the scene. His name was Superman, and he made his debut on the cover of Action Comics #1 swinging an automobile in the air, much to the astonishment of the lesser-powered mortals running away from him. Seen today, the “action” on Superman’s first cover is somewhat tame, but kids (and probably some adults) loved it, and the first issue of Action Comics was a big success. It took a while for Superman’s publishers to realize just how important the character was to the success of Action Comics.
In fact, Superman didn’t even appear on the cover of the next five issues. Readers noticed when he appeared on the cover of issue number seven, though, and Action Comics sales soared to half a million copies each month.
Soon, that figure would edge closer to a million. One super hero turned comic books into a very big business. It wasn’t long until more heroes clad in eye-catching costumes made their debuts in the pages – and some on the covers – of DC’s comics. Batman and Wonder Woman became almost as popular as Superman. Soon, hundreds of others – not only from DC but also other publishers – were battling for space and attention in a very crowded marketplace.
There were no comic book stores back then. Indeed, those would not arrive until the 1970s. Instead, comic books were almost always sold on newsstands, in grocery stores, and in drugstores. There the comics had to compete for attention stacked next to an array of pulp magazines, larger glossy magazines, and paperback books.
With so many other publications to choose from, a comic book with an eye-catching cover image or an enticing line of text was much more likely to find a buyer. Comic book companies viewed covers solely as sales tools.
Former DC Comics president and publisher Paul Levitz says, “For much of the history of comics, the cover was the most important element selling the issue, an invitation that had to grab the reader’s attention on a crowded rack of 50 or more choices.
Story hook (“I have the strangest feeling I’m being turned into a puppet!”), tragic moment, poster, or just an outrageous character (“The Gorilla Boss of Gotham City”), the covers lured us in.”
Today, more than 85 years after Jack Woods arrived on the cover of New Fun #1, the function of a cover is still to sell a comic book. “If it stops being a sales tool, then all you’re doing is selling to a presold audience because you’re not trying to entice anybody to a particular book”, says former DC publisher Dan DiDio.
“If the cover isn’t dynamic or isn’t trying to sell the book, then I think it’s just being lazy. It’s just commissioned art, and it’s not worthy of being on a cover.” And what attributes make up a great cover? DiDio lists the following traits: “Heroes in danger.
Something that picks out the climactic moment or highlights a climactic moment in a book. Something that pulls me into the action and story. A dynamic image of our hero that feels relatable to that character so that no other character can be doing the same thing. Or maybe asking a question that makes me want to know more about what’s happening inside.”
There are more than 350 classic covers collected in this volume and almost as many reasons why each cover was chosen. Some were included because the comics themselves were historically important, including the aforementioned New Fun #1 and Action Comics #1. Other covers were chosen for their stunning artwork, their inventive typography, or their unique overall design.
You will find hand-drawn covers, painted covers, pencil sketch covers, and computer-generated covers. Thousands of talented people – artists, writers, editors, and art directors – combined forces to create the covers seen in this book.
These covers have entertained millions of readers and helped to sell many millions of copies of comic books, which in turn influenced the entire spectrum of popular culture. And it all started with a cowboy.
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