Blog Archives

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.01 – Wonder Woman #72 – Brian Bolland

Welcome once again, fellow fans of fantastic fiction, as our classic comic cover crusade reaches its culminating crescendo! In our previous post we introduced you to the astounding artistic antics of Amanda Conner and her stunning and sassy Starfire cover, this iconic instalment we present the superior skills of the bodacious Brian Bolland and his tantalising tribute to the Themysciran Titan with Wonder Woman #72.

wtt cover main

The bombastic Brian Bolland was one of a wave of UK comic creators that during the pinnacle of the popular British comic-book scene in the ’80s was snapped up by larger American comic publishers, such as DC Comics, for their alternate and even irreverent approach to the comic-book medium. Bolland along with other British greats, the likes of Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, had impacted the popular caped crusading format by adding a darker edge to characterisation, and a satirical approach to storytelling underlined with a scorn for politics and a strong anti-authoritarian vibe. 

wtt cover multi

Brian Bolland is probably best known in the UK for his stellar work on Britain’s biggest selling anthology comic 2000AD, especially his authoritative take on Judge Dredd, for whom his work on said character, for me, will always be the definitive take visually. Inspired at a young age by artistic greats like Carmine Infantino and Gil Kane, Brian would go on to be one of the most widely sought after artists in the USA, with classics under his utility belt such as Batman: The Killing Joke and Camelot 3000 for DC Comics. It was, however, his run as comic cover artist for DC in the ’80s and ’90s that he is most fondly remembered, especially his phenomenal run on Wonder Woman, in fact, like the previous post on Starfire, Brian’s cover illustration for Wonder Woman #72 proved so popular with the fans that a limited edition statue was produced in celebration of his vicarious vision!

ww tt last

Thanks For Sticking With Us Throughout This Capacious Comic Cover Cavalcade, Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, Which Of Our Posted Ten Is Your Favourite, Why Not Sound Off In The Comments Below…

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.02 – Starfire #1 – Amanda Conner

Salutations my charming comic collecting cohorts, and welcome once more to our continuing countdown of cherished comic cover classics. In our previous post we presented to you the decidedly dazzling drawing dynamics of the delightful Darwyn Cooke and his tremendous take on Teen Titans #5. This impeccable instalment illuminates the absolutely astounding art of Amanda Conner and her sassy and sumptuous Starfire #1 cover.

sf1

We have written in length about the astonishing artistic auteur that is Amanda Conner, and over the many, many years that I’ve been an avid comic collector I have encountered hundreds of fantastic artists that have regaled my geeky self with some utterly sublime scribblings, and though I am indebted to all these iconic illustrators for their glorious work, a number have really stood out as favourites – talented individuals such as the great George Perez, Neal Adams, Brian Bolland, Norm Breyfogle, Phil Jimenez and Nicola Scott, picking a fave amongst these would would always prove to be an insurmountable challenge. That was until I discovered the amazing art of Amanda Conner, from that point anybody enquiring as to whom my favourite artist was, would not be able to shut me up as I enthused and rhapsodised over her dreamy drawing delectations… quirky, zany, and instantly recognisable, for me personally Amanda will always be the greatest!sf-edited

 

Amanda’s creative career began in the late 1980’s working for companies such as Archie Comics, Marvel and Harris’ Comics on their Vampirella series (which is where I first discovered her phenomenal oeuvre) But it was her work on the sundry female DC characters that led me to fall in love with her adroit artistic endeavours, especially her work with Starfire, Harley Quinn and Power Girl, which all remain (and always will) my absolute favourite versions of those iconic characters. 

ac14

I love the character of Starfire, have been a huge fan since her inaugural introduction by her colossal creators, George Perez and Marv Wolfman in DC Comics Presents #26 in 1980. Since then I have rallied to read every one of her exciting escapades, with my favourite take on the character being the 2015, 12 issue maxi-series by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, with this post’s feature cover being my most treasured. In fact, I love it so much, I have three copies of it (one framed, one in the collection and one to read… yeah I know – GEEK!) Not only that though, I also purchased the extremely limited (and rather expensive) DC Collectables statue based upon this iconic illustration, and even did my first ever YouTube unboxing video on said stunning sculpture, which you may partake in right below (yep, that’s my disembodied hands of unrivalled unboxing!!)

Why Not Join Us Again Next Time On Our Continuing Chronicle Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables…

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.03 – Teen Titans #5 – Darwyn Cooke

Welcome back, my colossal compatriots of comic-book collecting, to our continuing countdown of cool comic cover classics. In our previous ineffaceable instalment we introduced you to the astounding artistic auteur, Alex Ross, and his perfectly painted panoramic photo-realistic take on The Justice Society Of America. This effervescent episode we shall once more unveil our trusty Bat-Signal and shine it’s scintillating spotlight on the dazzling and delightfully dynamic Darwyn Cooke, with his tantalising take on – The Teen Titans #5!

dc main

Darwyn Cooke was a Canadian writer/artist whose first offering to the wonderful world of comics was in 1985 for DC Comics’ anthology series New Talent Showcase #19. In the early nineties Darwyn snagged his dream vocation as an animator for Warner Bros, and the lead storyboard artist for the Emmy award winning – Batman: The Animated Series, which is where he met the similarly styled artist and show co-creator, Bruce Timm. In 2000, he was hired by DC to write and illustrate Batman: Ego, a graphic novel that explored the traumatised mind of Bruce Wayne and his fragile psyche. It was a phenomenal hit, and Darwyn’s epic retro tinged art, a modern interpretation of classic 30’s and 40’s golden age comic-book stylings, became an instant hit with fans, which led to Darwyn being inundated with offers for work.

dc xtra2 (1)

In 2004, Darwyn started work as both writer and illustrator on the six issue mini-series – Justice League: The New Frontier, which was the perfect opportunity to showcase his retro reverie because the subject matter matched his unique art style. New Frontier was set in the 1950’s taking place in an alternate version of the cold war, taking inspiration from novels such as The Right Stuff  by Tom Wolfe, the civil rights movement and atomic bomb testing. This series was once again a huge hit for Darwyn and won him the exclusive Eisner award, and was later turned into an astonishing animated movie for which Darwyn co-scripted and provided art direction.

dc xtra2

Regrettably Darwyn passed away in May of 2016 after a secret battle with cancer, he was a mere 54 years young. Darwyn is one of my absolute favourite artists, his unique and lively retro style make his work stand-out from an overcrowded comic-book market, instantly recognisable and just plain fun to look at, his tremendous talent is sorely missed.

Why Not Join Us Again Next Time, Fellow Fans Of Fantastic Fiction, For Our Continuing Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.04 – Justice Society Of America #26 – Alex Ross

Welcome once more, oh peerless Precinct purveyors of phenomenal paintings in print, to our continuous countdown of cool comic cover collectables. In our earlier exciting episode we introduced you to the stunning skills of the superlative Stanley Lau and his titanic take on Wonder Woman.  This efficacious episode we shall be shining our trusty Bat-signal on the astonishing artistic aesthetics of Alex Ross, and his perfectly pencilled panoramic take on – Justice Society Of America #26.

main jsa

Though this is technically three covers, each of these magnificent masterpieces interlock to regale the reader with Alex’s peerless painterly realism, bringing these otherworldly beings a sense of verisimilitude like no other artist before. 

Nelson Alex Ross was born in Portland, Oregon in January 1970, though he was raised throughout his formative years in Texas by his minister father and mother who was a successful commercial artist, from whom her received his initial inspiration and love of the arts. Alex has always attested that the biggest impacts for his unique comic art style were John Romita, George Perez and Neal Adams, whose techniques he attempted to imitate when he started drawing on a more serious level in his teens.

extra jsa

Alongside these maestros of comic-book art, Alex also had an attachment and love for the realistic stylings of Norman Rockwell, with his work often cited as being a cross between both Perez and Rockwell, giving us an almost unmatched hyper realistic form of absolute extraordinary comic art. His first comic-book after graduating from the American Academy of Art in Chicago was for Now Comics’  Terminator: Burning Earth, a five issue mini-series released in 1990. In 1996, Alex teamed up with writer Mark Waid for the DC series – Kingdom Come, Alex’s work on this seminal series was a massive hit with fans and critics alike propelling him into an almost overnight sensation. Alex continues to work in the comic industry today, with his adroit artistic style in huge demand amongst the biggest publishers in the field including DC Comics, Image, Dynamite, and Marvel.

banner jsa

Why Not Join Us Again, Oh Fellow Fans Of Fantastic Fiction, For Our Continuing Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.05 – Wonder Woman #51 – Stanley Lau

Welcome once more, oh fellow fans of fantastic fiction, to the Precinct’s capacious and compelling continuous countdown of cool comic cover collectables. If you partook in our previous post, you’ll remember that we celebrated the titanic talents of the astounding Amy Reeder Hadley, and her radiant rendering of Madame Xanadu. This inspirational instalment we shall acquaint you with the sublime skills of Stanley Lau, one of the very finest artists currently working in the field of comic art, and his stellar take on the Themysciran Titan with – Wonder Woman #51.

ww51

Astonishing artistic auteur Stanley (Artgerm) Lau is a Hong Kong born illustrator and designer and co-founder of Imaginary Friends Studio, an acclaimed art studio that has produced work for the likes of DC Comics, Capcom and Marvel. Stanley is best known by his sobriquet – Artgerm, with his art faultlessly blending both eastern and western art styles, giving his wonderful work a unique and easily recognised quality almost unmatched by his peers.

As a cover artist, Artgerm has been both lauded and loathed by yours truly… lauded because every single time I see a new cover by this maestro, I just have to buy it, because it’s gorgeous! and loathed because every single time I see a new cover by the sagacious scribbler, I just have to buy it, and it’s getting really bloody expensive! The Wonder Woman #51 cover is without a doubt my absolute fave cover by Artgerm, that said it was a close tie with three other covers (pictured below), all depicting the great Kara Zor-El (better known as Supergirl) he seems to capture the carefree, insouciant charm that Kara exudes better than any other artist I’ve ever encountered, and we are honoured to induct him into the Precinct’s top ten comic-cover hall of fame!

sg Why Not Join Us Again Next Time, Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, For Our Continuing Celebratory Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.06 – Madame Xanadu #6 – Amy Reeder Hadley

Welcome back, fellow fans of fantastic fiction, to the continuing countdown of our absolute favourite comic-book covers of all time. In our earlier ebullient episode we introduced you to dynamic Dave Gibbons’ perfectly phantastic pictorial of The Phantom! This impeccable instalment will highlight the astonishing Amy Reeder Hadley, most prominently her stellar work on Madame Xanadu, with this celestial cover for Disenchanted #6.

mmx6

Eisner award winning artist Amy Reeder was first discovered by the Tokyopop imprint for whom she wrote and illustrated the popular manga – Fools Gold. Amy went on to work for powerhouse publisher DC Comics, where she was commissioned to illustrate the Madame Xanadu series alongside superstar scribe Matt Wagner. She also was the penciller for DC on Batwoman, and the cover artist for Supergirl before making the transition to Image Comics where she co-created the character – Rocket Girl. 

Madame Xanadu was created by David Micheline, Val Mayerik and Michael Kaluta in 1978, making her inaugural appearance in Doorway To Nightmare #1. Xanadu became a well loved mainstay of the mystery series, with the monthly horror anthology eventually paving the way for DC’s adult supernatural imprint – Vertigo.

x5

Disenchanted was the initial ten issue story arc that ran through Xanadu’s monthly exciting escapades, originally released in 2008, written by legendary Grendel creator, Matt Wagner. The vivacious visuals employed by Amy throughout this superb series helped form a very real emotional attachment to the character of Nimue (Xanadu). Amy is an extremely versatile artist and this ultimately shines through in a story that encompasses many eras throughout human history, which meant Amy had to render everything from medieval castles through gritty and grimy London in the 1800’s and beyond, all of which she accomplished with ease thanks to her exquisitely consummate talent.

Why Not Join Us Again Next Time, Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, For Our Continuing Celebratory Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!

 

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.07 – The Phantom #1 – Dave Gibbons

ph banner

“I swear to devote my life to the destruction of all forms of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice, and my sons and their sons shall follow me!”

And with that astonishing axiom… The Phantom was born! Welcome back, fellow fans of fantastic fiction, to the continuing countdown of our absolute favourite comic-book covers of all time. In our last entertaining episode we shared the work of the Bat-tastic and inimitable Norm Breyfogle, and his resplendent representation of the Dark Knight on the cover of Batman #465. This time we’ll be exploring the infamous Skull Cave, deep in the heart of the jungles of Bangalla, as we celebrate Dave Gibbons’ ‘phantastic’ Phantom #1 cover which first released in May 1988.

dcs-phantom-mini-series-editedThe Phantom was created by Lee falk in 1936, which makes his dynamic debut an incredible eighty five years ago… cementing him as the world’s original Superhero, a full two years before Superman first soared across the skies! Falk was an American writer and artist who had previously created the character, Mandrake the Magician in 1934, before going on to create The Phantom a mere two years later.

Lee Falk was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1911 and spent much of his youth there, he was a gifted writer and pitched his idea for Mandrake to King Features Syndicate. Falk was a huge fan of stage magicians, and actually based the look of Mandrake on on himself. The Phantom sprang from Falk’s unfailing love of myths and legends, such as King Arthur, plus popular fictional creations including two of his favourites, Tarzan and Robin Hood. (P1313 fun facts: Bill Finger, co-creator of Batman was a huge Phantom fan and used ideas such as the Phantom’s Skull Cave and loyal retainer – Guran, as inspiration for the Batcave and faithful father figure, Alfred!)

phantom-dc-1989-edited

Kit Walker is The Phantom, 21st in a lineage of costumed crimefighters that first began in 1536 when the father of British sailor Christopher Walker was killed by the Singh Brotherhood. Swearing an oath on the skull of his father’s murderer he became the first Phantom, beginning a legacy that would pass on from father to son for generations. The outside world though believed it was the same man, an immortal, a Ghost Who Walks, fighting injustice, piracy and greed from his secret Skull Cave, in the jungles of Bangalla. Fighting alongside his pet wolf – Devil, and his trusty steed – Ghost, the Man Who Cannot Die, instils fear in the corrupt, and hope to the innocent, in his never ending pursuit of the evil that men do!

Why Not Join Us Again Next Time, Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, For Our Continuing Celebratory Countdown Of Cool And Crazy Comic Cover Collectables!

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.08 – Batman #465 – Norm Breyfogle

Welcome back fellow fans of fantastic fiction to the continuing countdown of our absolute favourite comic-book covers of all time. In our last enthralling episode we introduced you to the illustrious illustrations of the sublime Phil Jimenez, with his terrific take on Lynda Carter’s classic Wonder Woman,  this time we shine the Bat signal on one of the of the mediums most defining artists to have ever rendered the Masked Manhunter, the late, great, Norm Breyfogle.

NB 465

As I have mentioned many times previously, I have been a fan of the big bad bat since I was a mere six years of age, and looking back on all the wonderful writer/artists that have brought their seminal talents to the bombastic bat mythos over the past eight decades, one compellingly creative combo stands out from the crowd for this particular Bat-fanatic, Alan Grant (the Brit comic-book writer, not the dinosaur dude!) and inimitable illustrator – Norm Breyfogle. Together, this dynamic duo blew this particular fan’s Bat-socks off by creating some of the greatest Batman tales ever put to paper through their long and varied run (six years in fact) on both Batman and its sister publication Detective Comics. Norm’s style suited the dark and surly one to absolute perfection, angular, gothic and almost Germanic in its form, he would go on to set a precedent for how we view the look of The Batman today.

Norm will always be my personally preferred purveyor of everyone’s favourite nocturnal pointy eared vigilante, sadly though Norm was taken from us in October of 2018 after suffering heart failure at a mere 58 years of age. RIP Norm, we’ll always have your absolutely astounding artwork to remember your tremendous talent, and you were destined to make this list, for being quite literally, one of THE greatest comic-book artists of all time, and an outright gentleman to your fans and peers.

nb3

Why Not join Us Again Next Time, Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313, For Our Continuing Celebratory Countdown Of Cool Comic Cover Collectables!

 

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.09 – Wonder Woman 77 Special: Phil Jimenez Variant

Welcome back fellow fans of fantastic fiction to our top ten countdown of the Precinct’s absolute favourite comic-book covers of all time. With well over eight enthralling decades of comic-book publishing and literally millions of cool comic cover collectables, it’s been an arduous task picking out just ten (even the 12 labours of Hercules pale in comparison to this epic odyssey!) Our first perennial pick was Bill Sienkiewicz’s haunting variant for Frank Miller’s epic Batman return with Dark Knight III. However, this enraptured episode focuses on one of my favourite Wonder Woman artists of all time, the masterful Phil Jimenez and his esteemed take on the illustrious icon that is none other than sensational seventies superstar, the lovely Lynda Carter, with Wonder Woman 77 Special #1.

ww77

The fantastic Phil Jimenez has been writing and drawing comics since 1991, and has spent a large swathe of his career working for DC Comics and has, over time, created some of their greatest ever storylines with absolutely astonishing paradigms including such gems as – Infinite Crisis, The Return Of Donna Troy and Teen Titans, but it is the Themysciran Titan that Phil’s outstanding oeuvre is still  staunchly synonymous with.

Phil is clearly influenced by his (and one of my) idol the great George Perez, and was delighted when he was taken onboard as the ongoing writer /artist for Wonder Woman beginning in issue #164 in 2001, and would continue in this creative capacity for a full two years, defining that run as one of the greatest in WW’s long and varied history. Phil is also an eternal enthusiast of Lynda Carter and her terrific take on Diana Prince, so was the definitive choice as the cover artist for this WW77 variant, and it is glorious!

ww77banner 

Why Not Join Us Again Next Time Fellow Agents Of Precinct1313 For Our Continuing Celebrative Countdown Of Commendably Cool Comic Cover Collectables!

 

Precinct1313’s Top Ten Favourite Comic-Book Covers Of All Time: No.10 – Dark Knight III, Bill Sienkiewicz Variant

Welcome fellow fans of fantastic fiction to our top ten countdown of the Precinct’s favourite comic-book covers of all time. As we near the end of a rather interminable and excruciating year, let’s relax for awhile and take in some absolutely astounding art from some of the coolest creators in comic history. At #10 stands the bombastic Bill Sienkiewicz’s hauntingly beautiful variant cover for Frank Miller’s mythic return to Batman with – Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

d3

The original Dark Knight Returns saga by Frank Miller was a defining moment for The Batman, Miller’s alternate take on the much loved Superhero cast the character in an even more extreme grim, gritty and violent setting, with the caped crusader himself a dour and sullen character whose inner demons continually haunt him as the weight of age and a life of brutal violence takes its toll. We follow an ageing Bruce Wayne as he struggles with these psychological demons, and attempts to hold back his rage and inefficacy through alcohol addiction and suicidal abandon of his life through varying extreme motor sports.

Miller’s authoritative 80’s series, alongside classics – Watchmen and V For Vendetta, shook up an atrophying comic book industry and presented a more adult and psychologically emotional depth to Superhero comics, defining the future of the industry in a monumental way.

Miller returned to his raison d’etre in the 2001 follow up mini series The Dark Knight Strikes Again, yet, unlike its groundbreaking predecessor, this was not favourably received by fans or critics alike (myself included) the book was little more than a parody of previous events, and Miller’s artwork had taken a severe downturn in quality.

dk3

Jump forward 17 years and Dark Knight III: The Master Race debuted, the newest chapter in the alternative Bat-verse, and it was… mostly OK, I guess, unfortunately the original series was such a phenomenon that any subsequent take has fared rather badly, unable to match the originals magnificence.

That said, there were some defining moments (mostly visual) in this ongoing series that certainly took the breath away from this particular Bat-fan, and this gorgeous Bill Sienkiewicz variant cover is one of those marvellous moments. It sublimely evokes a man haunted by his past, a broken figure who has ultimately accepted his failing to protect the city and people he loves, yet will fight on even though it almost certainly mean his own demise… this image, to me, defines The Batman irrevocably, and contains more emotional substance than both the second and third chapters of the Dark Knight trilogy put together.

Why not join us again next time fellow agents of Precinct1313, for our continuing countdown of commendable comic cover collectables!