Pulled From My Files #98: DC Inside Cover Art

This and all images © DC Comics.

In my first few years on staff at DC Comics I was given all kinds of odd jobs, and I enjoyed the challenges and variety. Here are a few that I kept, and which I will have for sale at the Baltimore Comic-Con this Oct. 18-20. Above is the inside front cover of the Legion of Super-Heroes Tabloid, official title ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION VOL. 7 #C-55, 1978. For this essay probably written by Paul Levitz about the origins of the LSH, I made an open book against a starry background with decorative title and initial capital “I.”

I had even more fun with the biographies on the inside back cover, creating a space scene with small starships. I hand-lettered the note at top left from Joe Orlando (and got him to sign it), and the creator names. I also ordered the type on these and pasted it into the layout, probably drawing around it after it was pasted.

For ADVENTURE COMICS #459, Sept.-Oct. 1978, I created this layout for the inside front cover. The background, which looks like a type of zipatone, is actually all drawn with a very small-point technical drawing pen. (Hey, I had the time and energy then.) The text is hand-lettered.

Here’s how it appeared in print with Gaspar Saladino’s logo and display lettering added with drawn push-pins and shadows probably by me. A gray tone was added over the background pattern. This layout was used for a number of the following issues.

I saved this one from issue #462, where new editor Ross Andru had some introductory words to say. Again, I got him to sign it. Sadly, the contents are mostly done in type rather than lettered. On this one I found the gray tone in the background was zipatone, which I hadn’t remembered adding.

Here’s one I had a lot of fun doing, a rare example of figure art from me, not something I’m good at. The gray shadows were painted with gray paint with the idea that they would be screened with a fancy half-tone pattern, since the grays would not reproduce otherwise in the system then in use for inside covers.

Here’s a sample of that halftone process. Rather than the usual dot screen, this one gave the impression of cross-hatching. I thought it was pretty effective.

Sadly, this is what it looked like in print on the inside back cover of the tabloid comic LIMITED COLLECTORS’ EDITION #C-59: BATMAN’S STRANGEST CASES, 1978. My eerie Batman head was not deemed appropriate, and another one clipped from a cover or other source was pasted over it. Not sure who the artist is, but it might be Jim Aparo. I was still allowed to sign the piece, but it was an early example of not always getting to do things the way I might have wanted, and a reminder that comics are a team effort led by an editor, who gets the final say.

One more that’s not from an inside cover, this map of Paradise Island I drew appeared in WONDER WOMAN SPECTACULAR, DC SPECIAL SERIES #9, 1978. Larry Hama was the editor, and I worked from someone’s rough layout and notes. I don’t know who did that, but my guess would be E. Nelson Bridwell, the DC history authority on staff at the time.

On the facing page was this legend describing all the numbered items on the map. It’s all pasted except the words “The MAP of” which I lettered. I enjoyed doing this map using the isometric projection method, and would have done more if the opportunity came up.

That’s all for now, if you’re going to the Baltimore Con you can see the originals at my table, unless they’re already sold by the time you come by.

3 thoughts on “Pulled From My Files #98: DC Inside Cover Art

  1. Jamie Hickson

    I love seeing behind the scenes/process stuff like this.

    It’s always interesting to see how certain things are put together,
    and the varying complexity of each piece.

    Sadly, I won’t be able to attend the Baltimore Con in October,
    but, I am curious how much you are selling some of these for,
    if you’d be open to doing that thru email.

    – Jamie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.