Tuesday 19 April 2011

Gil Kane: Origins of Marvel Covers.

My post the other day about changes to the cover of The Avengers #59 when the tale was reprinted in Marvel UK's Avengers #86 reminded me of instances where, short of covers to reprint, Marvel UK saw fit to improvise.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #78, Gil Kane
Iron Man #45, Calamity on Campus, Gil Kane cover
A classic example's the cover of Spider-Man Comics Weekly #78 which rather ingeniously recycled the cover to Iron Man #45 for its tale of the Kingpin's raid on ESU during a student protest. So dense am I that when I first saw the Iron Man cover - because I'd seen the Spider-Man one first - I thought the Iron Man pic was some sort of homage to it.

And that brings me to another possible pair of examples.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #93, the Lizard and the Human TorchSpider-Man Comics Weekly #94, the Lizard and the Human Torch

The covers to Spider-Man Comics Weekly numbers 93 and 94 don't come from the original Amazing Spider-Man comics that contained those stories but, like the covers above, are clearly the handiwork of Gil Kane. As Kane was one of Marvel's top cover artists - and Marvel US rarely went to the trouble of paying its artistic big-hitters to do its UK covers - I'm assuming that, as with Spider-Man Comics Weekly #78, the images were recycled and amended from some other source. But from what mags did that Kane artwork originate? If you happen to know, I'd be delighted to hear from you.


R. W. Watkins said...

Hmmm.... The cover on the left seems to be based on panels somewhere out of #s 100-102 (the 'extra-arms' trilogy), while the one on the right appears to owe a debt to the cover of #99 ('Panic in the Prison')--the black-American fellow holds a similar position towards the bottom of the cover.

Nice one, Steve. This is the sort of line of inquiry that I appreciate. This is the way I was thinking when I wrote that lengthy essay on the uncanny similarities between David Lynch's Blue Velvet and early Amazing Spider-Man comics.

Steve said...

Hmmn. I did wonder if the first cover was cobbled together from bits of the Morbius/Lizard story. I shall have to dig it out and investigate further.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that Kane just did rough layouts, which were then finished by someone else?

The background on the that first one isn't showing a lot of detail.

B Smith

Steve said...

Well, anything's possible but there's just something about them that feels to me like they're cobbled together from bits of different pictures - especially the second one.

Pat said...

The cover to SCW #94 is from page 12 of ASM #77 with some additions. The basic concept of the Lizard swinging a mast comes from there, although the Torch is up in the sky, Spidey himself is nowhere to be seen, and there is only one member of the crew shown (the captain) and even he looks quite different.

Steve W. said...

Thanks, Pat. It seems another piece has been slotted into the jigsaw.

Steve W. said...

Actually, I'm not sure the comment I've just made makes any sense. That'll teach me not to be metaphorical.

Rich Harvey said...

Actually, I think those covers may have been drawn by Gil Kane for MARVEL TALES. In the early 1970s, Kane drew several NEW covers for the Spider-Man reprint title.
-- Rich Harvey

Rich Harvey said...


Steve W. said...

Hi, Rich, thanks for the input. I've taken a look at those covers and it seems the mystery still remains.

Brontodon said...

Regarding the "Calamity on Campus" covers -- I hadn't seen the Spider-Man version, but apparently the theme was a very common one among Marvel titles. Check this out:


And of course, the inevitable parodies:


Steve W. said...

Thanks for the links, Brontodon. Universities in the world of Marvel are clearly highly dangerous places.