The old adage is you can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can decide to buy one off of the cover. In comics, it’s maybe even more important, as the comic cover serves multiple purposes. It’s supposed to be a selling point for readers. It can and often does represent the story inside of it. It also just needs to be a standout piece of art. It’s a recipe that many struggle with and others excel at, and for today’s portion of 2013 in Review, we’re going to talk about the best of the best.
Who were your favorite cover artists of 2013? Share in the comments!
5. JH Williams III
Why He Makes the List (Zach Wilkerson): He may not have produced the largest number of covers over the course of 2013, but Williams’ relatively small body of work comprises some of the industry’s very best. Cover art is meant to grab the attention of prospective readers, and it’s nearly impossible not to stop and admire any issue graced by Williams’ work. His unique style, blending photorealism with surreal design, never ceases to amaze. The artist consistently pushed the envelope this year with “Batwoman,” and the first issue of “Sandman Overture” bears one of the most gorgeous covers of the year. I for one can’t wait to see what he brings in 2014.
4 (tie). Dave Johnson
Why He Makes the List (Brian Salvatore): For his “B.P.R.D.” covers alone, Johnson deserves a spot on this list. His work with the Bureau perfectly distills each issue’s theme/tone into a single image – to me, what every cover should do – without aping the style or spoiling any plot point within the issue. When you factor in all the fantastic work he did for Marvel (“Ultimate Comics X-Men,” “Avengers Arena” and “Fury MAX”), Valiant (“Shadowman”), Vertigo (“100 Bullets: Brother Lono”), and his variants for just about everyone under the sun, there are few more prolific cover artists working today, and certainly not many doing better work.
4 (tie). Jenny Frison
Why She Makes the List (Matthew Meylikhov): Jenny Frison only does covers. No interiors, just covers. Because of this, Jenny Frison has overtime mastered the art of the cover. Most frequently seen with Revival as the ongoing cover artist (as well as other books), Frison is able to create intrigue and mystery in the reader with a single painted image, something powerful enough to force just about every onlooker to pick up the book and see what all the fuss is about. In this way, I would dare call Frison a wizard of a sort; she essentially has found a way to cast spells through her covers that are incredibly captivating, covers that tell stories in their own right. Jenny Frison only does covers, because Jenny Frison is just fucking awesome at making covers.
2. Fiona Staples
Why She Makes the List (James Johnston): We know you love Fiona Staples’ art on “Saga.” At this point it’s common knowledge just how fantastic her covers for the book are, each one practically tells a story all by itself. Yet, did you know that she also does covers for “Archie” and its related titles because holy moley they’re amazing. Even if you’re not into “Archie,” which is sort of understandable, her covers range from punk rock to… mermaid? Yeah mermaid doesn’t really work that well as an adjective, but the variant featuring Betty and Veronica as beautiful creatures of the sea is a beautiful display of her talent. Plus, you’re lying if the cover to “Saga #17 doesn’t give you the shivers, be it from pleasure or… other feelings.
1. Mike Del Mundo
Why He Makes the List (David Harper): For the most part, I tend to think that these categories are purely subjective and it’s fair that everyone has a different answer. For cover artist this year, I don’t. There is one answer for who was the best cover artist: Mike del Mundo. The man behind the brilliant “X-Men Legacy” covers has had one of the most astonishing runs on covers ever on that book, perpetually hitting all of the beats he needs to while creating some of the most unique and exceptional comic covers on the stands today. In 2014, he’s going to be moving onto interiors with “Elektra”, but if the first cover to that is any clue, we’re bound to get incredible covers as part of the deal as well. I hope so, as this guy is truly a human highlight reel of comic cover art.