I was in Forbidden Planet in Manchester about a week ago, and took a moment to look at the comic book covers. Or rather, I challenged my friend Joe to find even one acceptable, nicely designed cover on all the "mainstream" pamphlets. Now, I'm not going to tell you that we didn't find any, because we did. Out of about 250 books, we found three.
The other 247 covers hove to one of three formulae, either singly or in combination:
1. Stiff, stock pose, glaring outward
2. Warring dudes/dames collide or hero legs it: SIDEWAYS
3. Tits to the fore!
I do wonder if the people who commission these covers have actually seen what 247 covers featuring no negative space to catch the eye, racked side by side, look like. Well, I'm happy to tell you. They don't look like anything.
Here are two of the three non-terrible covers we found:
(The last one I couldn't find online, it was a Matt Fraction Marvel book with a very striking design).
If you want to see some amazing comic book covers from the last 30 years, check out this gallery of Bill Sienkiewicz work - so many faultless compositions. The older I get, the more I appreciate his art.
Of course, rubbish has been around since the first human put down the burnt umber, scratched his bum, squinted a bit, and said "that'll do." But comic book covers, like so many contemporary novels and magazines, show more clearly than anything where heavy-handed marketing has killed innovation and creativity. Where, to put it bluntly, thick people have smoothed out the wrinkles that made things interesting, beautiful or incongruous.
It's your money they want, and they treat you like you're stupid. Demand better!