Friday, August 26, 2011

More Rejected Covers

As promised, here are two more rejected covers worth examining:

Unpublished cover to Daredevil # 43 by Gene Colan


Published cover by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott

In this case Stan called on Jack Kirby to redo Gene Colan's cover. While Gene's version spotlights both heroes equally, Jack's cover puts Cap in the foreground, perhaps because he was the better selling character and would potentially raise sales. I prefer Gene's cover. There is a sense of fluidity in Gene's figures, with DD having the upper hand, striking Cap. In a nice touch, Daredevil has taken possesion of  Cap's shield. On Jack's cover the two heroes are about to face off, but Cap's figure is awkwardly positioned, with Daredevil drawn more attractively. Jack's cover is certainly dramatic, but Gene's is more balanced and lively, although I'm sure some of you will disagree with me (and I'd love to hear your thoughts).

Next up, two John Buscema covers:

Rejected cover to the Silver Surfer # 7 by John Buscema 

Published cover by John and Sal Buscema
It's easy to see why the original cover was rejected. It's a nicely drawn scene, dramatic on its own, but the Surfer is helpless, showing no sign of his powers. The published version features the Surfer prominently, in action and on his surfboard, blasting away at the villains while another Surfer is helpless in the background. The title "The Heir of Frankenstein!" gives you a clue to the story. John Buscema was a consummate craftsman, and its interesting to compare two versions by the same artist.  

I intend to examine more rejected covers in the future, as it seems to be of interest to quite a few folks. While I don't agree with all of Stan Lee's choices, I can see that he had definite ideas as to what worked (and sold) on a cover, and its interesting to explore those specific choices.

Other upcoming minutiae will include comparisons of unaltered stats with published covers, and cover corrections by different artists. I love studying artists styles, and I'll try to show the unique stylistic tics that stand out for me.            


Kid said...

I suppose Stan didn't like the idea of Cap looking like he was losing to Daredevil. Nice as Colan's cover is, there's something awkward about DD's legs, especially his right one. Having said that, in the published cover, Cap's left foot looks kind of strange.

Nick Caputo said...


It's possible Stan decided to have both heroes on equal footing, instead of one apparently winning the battle. You're right about Gene's DD looking a bit awakward, although Jack's looks more awkward to my eye. Having said that (and for you Curb Your Enthusiasm fans, you'll get the joke), Jack probably quickly produced this cover, possibly in the office and rushed it out.

Booksteve said...

I always have had a fondness for the Kirby DD cover but I think I prefer Gene's. A few paste-ups would have eliminated the need for a whole new cover.

Tougher call on the Surfer one as I'm not really thrilled with either. I like the unused art much better but I agree that it wasn't an ideal cover image so...

Sharon said...

Hi Nick, to me the Colan cover almost looks like Gene's take on Captain America #1.

Great blog BTW!


Nick Caputo said...

Hi Sharon,

Thanks for the kind words. I hope you continue to comment in the future. Now that you mention it, there is a similarity in design to that classic cover.

Batton Lash said...

Who inked that DD/Kirby cover?

Booksteve said...

GCD says Joe Sinnott inked the Kirby DD cover and I can see it in Cap's legs and the crowd's faces but DD himself has that almost metallic quality that Kirby figures had on those rare occasions when he inked himself so I wonder if he didn't perhaps do the whole thing himself, as someone else said, as a rush job and then Joe touched it up.

Nick Caputo said...

Batton and Steve,

I believe the DD cover is inked by Sinnott, although there may be some slight alterations on Cap's face by Romita. Sinnott's precise linework is evident on the costumes and background faces. Kirby's inking style is more sparse.

Steve, since you metioned Kirby's inking you gave me a great idea for another post about possible Kirby inked Marvel covers, of which a number possibly appeared in the early hero period. I've put those covers up here for discussion sometime soon.

Barry Pearl said...


I love your site. This is the site to go to show your appreciation for the genre, the work and the men who created our favorite stories. There are plenty of places we can now post regarding the politics, religion and everything controversial about comics. I come to this site to get away from the political stuff and the anger from people like Hemlock Man.

Nick, I’d like to expand your block and send you images of covers that were not necessarily rejected, but fixed up before they went to print. You can see often how covers are a work in progress.

One final thing: Roy Thomas emailed me recently and explained gain that Conan was not selling well until Stan lee told him to use less monsters and giant insects on the covers and make the villains humans. When Roy did that sales began to skyrocket. So rejecting and changing covers were part of an essential process.

Damn, I have to type those letters again at the boot of the blog

Lets see now I-O-W-E-Y-O-U-5-B-U-C-K-S

HemlockMan said...

I have to agree with your assessments of the four illustrations. Kirby may have even realized that Colan's original version was superior, but he was asked to "fix" it. Gene Colan's version, as you hint, shows far more imagination than Kirby's.

With the SURFER cover, the unpublished version just looks like a panel from the interior of the book. It's nice enough--and John Buscema was one of the greatest Silver Age artists--but the published version is the kind of thing the sells books. Apparently not enough books, since the title only lasted one more issue.

The Seditionist said...

Re: DD: The Colan cover doesn't work for me. Slugging Cap is wrong. Worse, maybe, is Cap's position. And if it was going to run, the image should have been flopped.

I remember being underwhelmed by the cover when the book came out, lo, those millennia ago. But weak as it is in some ways, it's still better than Colan's. (And Nicky, I hope it's clear from the TnA list that I love Colan's work! But even he can have an off day at the drafting table.)

Sean said...

How interesting that the most recent issue of the new Daredevil series featured a tussle between DD and Cap, with DD using the shield, no less! (Cap had the billy club to make it somewhat even)

Kid said...

HemlockMan, actually the Surfer's comic lasted another eleven issues. I know that for a fact 'cos I've got all eighteen of them.

Nick Caputo said...

I'm glad to see a lively discussion on the DD covers. We all have different opinions on their relative merits, which is interesting. Gene Colan was a dynamic artist with a style all his own, and I'll certainly discuss his work in depth in a future post.

Jack Kirby will always be an essential part of the discussion on comics here, and while his DD cover is not a favorite, I can't deny it has an appeal of its own.

Barry Pearl said...


I generally don’t discuss the merits of a cover, for a silly reason. I look at them now LOGICALLY; I see who drew them, and what they meant to do.

But when I was buying comics, my response was purely emotional. I didn’t say “This cover was done by” or “Captain America’s legs don’t look right.”

I’d say, “Wow, I want to read this!” “Or what’s it all about?” I remember my reaction to the cover of Spider-Man #39, saying, “what the hell is going on?” Or Fantastic Four #48, with the Watcher on it.

I would by a stack of comics at a time and based on what was on the cover (or the cliffhanger from last month) put them in the order that I wanted to read them. And I remember who the “winners” usually were! Thor and Spider-Man had the covers that compelled me the most.

Nick Caputo said...


I am certainly looking at these covers from a different perspective now than I did when I first saw them as a kid. Like you, my response was emotional. I was drawn in by the most exciting covers, although early on I recognized srtists styles. In the period of the 1960s there were so many exciting and vibrant covers, and quite a few were much better than the interior art.

Don Hudson said...

I dig this blog!

Nick Caputo said...

Thanks Don, I hope you continue to be entertained in the future!