Monday, April 23, 2012

Manic Monday Bonus--Like A Bad Cover Band

This was the pretty cool Jim Aparo cover to Strange Suspense Stories #9 (1969):

Bonus: the scene actually happens in the story!! (And yes, that does mean that Strange Suspense Stories #9 had two different stories with witch doctors. Go figure).

But near the end of their life, Charlton turned a number of their mags into reprints, and even recycled old covers, as we can see in Ghostly Tales #153 (1982):

It's the exact same Aparo art--just flipped (why?) and re-colored (why??)--but somehow they turned it from a great cover into a terrible cover. How?

**That terrible trade dress. The vast swath of mostly untouched, unpleasant pale yellow. the proliferation of unnecessary indicia (do we really need the Ghostly Tales title on there twice? Was there a burning desire by fans to know that it both a Charlton Comics Group AND a "Charlton Publication"??).

Granted, it's not a huge amount larger than the Strange Suspense trade...but it is larger, now taking up fully 1/3 of the cover...and it's infinitely uglier.

**Sweet Odin, anyone who doesn't understand the difference between a good colorist and bad colorist can simply compare and contrast the two covers, can't they? Virtually every subtlety and nuance of the original has been buried by the troweled-on paint-by-numbers job. Egads...(in fairness, Charlton's presses were reputedly in terrible shape in those days, and perhaps they couldn't have handled reproducing the original's more refined palette. Still...YUCK)

**I'm not sure why they dropped the "Behold Beauty" from the slab (that was the story's actual title). Yes, they had flipped the art (why?)...but that didn't hinder them from using the same (albeit re-colored) word balloons. Whatever the reason, now you have that blank slab there, now serving no purpose, disrupting the flow of the art. Why??

**I'm not going to rag on placing the UPC over Aparo's signature...that's a necessary evil for reprinting a 1969 cover to meet 1982 retail requirements, I guess (although they should have used the blank slab!!), and that's really the only place they could put it.

So, there you have it--Same artwork, transformed from cool into not so good...for no really good reason. Huzzah!!


Steve Does Comics said...

Presumably they flipped the picture because otherwise the bar-code box would've been covering the witch-doctor's face.

The colouring is indeed terrible, as is the mass of wasted space at the top of the cover.

SallyP said...

Considering the deep and passionate love that I have for Jim Aparo...I would have said that there is no such thing as a bad Aparo cover.

I stand corrected.

snell said...

Fair point, Steve. That was the standard positioning for the UPC on all Charltons.