Showcase Of Brilliant Comic Book Cover Art

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From Rudolph Töpffer and Wilhelm Bush’s precursors to modern-day incarnations, comics have been a large part of popular culture for generations. Growing over the ages through contributions to the genre from Christophe Chabouté, Angelo Agostini and, of course, Richard Outcault, this then-revolutionary new way for artists to create and deliver a narrative exploded throughout the art world, leaving a lasting mark that would mature over the years, morphing into a mainstream artistic medium. Today, with a more stylized focus on heroic tales and dark worlds beyond the imagination, this genre continuously churns out amazing artwork from some extremely talented artists.

In this inspirational installment, we look at some of the wonderful works over the years that have graced the covers of comics — art that has delighted and dazzled fans and non-fans alike from shelves and displays across the globe, the kind of works that tempt those not usually taken by this genre to give it another look or to pick up a book for the first time. We feel these impressive feats that draw this kind of attention and inspire this kind of adoration deserve a showcase, so we proudly present examples of brilliant comic book cover art!

Spoiler Alert!

Britta und Colin – Yglinga #2
Cover Art by François Bourgeon

Yglinga #2

Bone – Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border, Volume 5
Cover Art by Elizabeth Lewis and Jeff Smith

Bone

Batman: The Killing Joke – #1
Cover Art by Brian Bolland

Batman: The Killing Joke

A1 #3
Cover Art by Brian Bolland

A1 #3

Daredevil # 97 – To the Devil, His Due, Part 3
Cover Art by Marko Djurdjevic

Daredevil # 97

Broken Trinity # 2
Cover Art by Stjepan Sejic

Broken Trinity # 2

Jonah Hex # 5
Cover Art by Tony Dezuniga

Screenshot

100 Bullets # 62 – Staring at the Son, Part 3
Cover Art by Dave Johnson

100 Bullets # 62

Dead of Night, Featuring Devil-Slayer # 1 – One Foot in Hell
Cover Art by June Chung

Dead Of Night Featuring Devil-Slayer # 1

Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness # 3, Part 3 of 5: Night of the Livid Dead
Cover Art by Arthur Suydam

Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness # 3

Moon Knight # 8 – Midnight Sun, Chapter 2: The Dead Don’t Stay
Cover Art by David Finch

Moon Knight # 8

Faker #1
Cover Art by Mark ’Jock’ Simpson

Faker #1

Zentak 3 – Digital Nation
Cover Art by Olivier Deffieux

Zentak 3. Digital Nation

Les Désarmés #2
Cover Art by Michel Pirus

Les Désarmés #2

X-Men # 190 – Supernovas: Part 3 of 6
Cover Art by Chris Bachalo

X-Men # 190

Y: The Last Man # 55 – Whys and Wherefores: Chapter One
Cover Art by Massimo Carnevale

Y: The Last Man # 55

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8) # 2 – The Long Way Home, Part 2
Cover Art by Jo Chen

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8) # 2

Angel: After the Fall # 11 – Chapter 8
Cover Art by Alex Garner

Angel: After the Fall # 11

Zero Girl: Full Circle # 2
Cover Art by Sam Kieth

Zero Girl: Full Circle # 2

Iron Man # 32 – With Iron Hands, Part 4 of 4
Cover Art by Adi Granov

Iron Man # 32

Manhunter # 17 – Who’s Your Daddy?, Part 2: Fear and Loathing
Cover Art by David Lopez

Manhunter # 17

The Vinyl Underground # 11 – Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down
Cover Art by Sean Phillips

The Vinyl Underground # 11

Hellblazer # 225 – The Red Right Hand, Chapter 2
Cover Art by Leonardo Manco

Hellblazer # 225

Captain Britain And MI:13 # 5 – Hell Comes to Birmingham, Prologue
Cover Art by Bryan Hitch

Captain Britain And MI:13 # 5

X-Men # 177 – House Arrest, Part 1 of 3: Losing It
Cover Art by Salvador Larroca

X-Men # 177

Watchmen # 4 – Watchmaker
Cover Art by Dave Gibbons

Watchmen # 4

Kid Eternity # 2
Cover Art by Sean Phillips

Kid Eternity # 2

Grant Morrison’s Doctor Who # 1 – Changes, Episodes 1 and 2: Culture Shock!
Cover Art by Robert ’Hack’ Hacker

Grant Morrison's Doctor Who # 1

Echo # 2
Cover Art by Terry Moore

Echo # 2

Runaways # 1 – Pride and Joy, Chapter 1
Cover Art by Jo Chen

Runaways # 1

Ex Machina # 25 – Standalone
Cover Art by Tony Harris

Ex Machina # 25

Druid # 2
Cover Art by Leonardo Manco

Druid # 2

Marvel Knights Spider-Man # 21 – The Other: Evolve or Die 8/12 – Aftermath
Cover Art by Pat Lee

Marvel Knights Spider-Man # 21

The Ultimates # 13 – How I Learned to Love the Hulk
Cover Art by Bryan Hitch

The Ultimates # 13

Werewolf by Night # 6
Cover Art by Leonardo Manco

Werewolf by Night # 6

The Invisibles # 14 – Day of Nine Dogs (Sheman, Part 2)
Cover Art by Sean Phillips

The Invisibles # 14

Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America # 4 – Depression
Cover Art by Michael Turner

Fallen Son, The Death of Captain America # 4

Astonishing X-Men # 6 – Gifted, Part 6
Cover Art by John Cassaday

Astonishing X-Men # 6

Faker #4
Cover Art by Mark ’Jock’ Simpson

Faker #4

Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter – Guilty Pleasures # 4
Cover Art by Brett Booth

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures # 4

The Darkness, Volume 3, # 6 – Empire, Part 6: Daybreak
Cover Art by Stjepan Sejic

The Darkness - Volume 3 # 6

Daredevil # 76 – The Murdock Papers: Part 1
Cover Art by Alex Maleev

Daredevil # 76

Last Click

One of my personal all-time favorite comics has got to be Wolverine. So I couldn’t compile a list like this without throwing in some of the covers that have inspired me through the years. So, the last click is a nod to a series whose artwork is as fantastic as its stories.

Wolverine # 180 – Everything’s Zen
Cover Art by Andy Kubert

Wolverine # 180

Wolverine # 165 – The Hunted, Part 4
Cover Art by Sean Chen

Wolverine # 165

Wolverine # 187 – Down the Road
Cover Art by John McCrea

Wolverine # 187

Wolverine: Origins # 2 – Born in Blood, Part 2
Cover Art by Bryan Hitch

Wolverine: Origins # 2

Wolverine: Origins # 10 – Savior Conclusion
Cover Art by Joe Quesada

Wolverine: Origins # 10

Wolverine: Origins # 28 – Dark Deception: Prologue
Cover Art by Mike Deodato

Wolverine: Origins # 28

Resources

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Robert Bowen is an emerging author, celebrated podcaster and poet, and most recently the co-founder and imaginative co-contributor of the creative design and blogging duo at the Arbenting Freebies Blog and Dead Wings Designs.

  1. 1

    fantastic list , excellent
    http://www.reecall.com

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  2. 2

    Some cool artwork, but not my type of art :)
    kupen.net

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  3. 3

    nice list. i love marvel. i wish i could create art like that.

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  4. 4

    Good compilation, but I think you forgot to include some of the best like Simon Bysley’s “Slaine”, Barry Windsor Smith’s “Weapon X”, and a very long list of great covers.

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  5. 5

    Can’t seem to find any Conan-covers..

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  6. 6

    I agree with that… some Conan covers, please!!!

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  7. 7

    galaxyspectrum.com

    November 28, 2008 6:05 am

    Does brilliant have to limit itself to death, torture, agony.

    Some comic art can be peaceful, loving and uplifting and still be brilliant.

    There is just so much real life horror over the holidays – that one feels like a break every now and then

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  8. 8

    no way, James Jean’s not in the list???

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  9. 9

    lo mejor de lo mejor en comics, se nota que leen noveno arte

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  10. 10

    Where are the Fables covers?! You could pick one at random and it would be better than 90% of these. They’re really that good. Link http://www.coverbrowser.com/covers/fables

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  11. 11

    There definitley should have been alot of Alex Ross in there

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  12. 12

    While you included the Watchmen cover of issue 4, I can’t help but think that the cover of the compilation, the huge smiley with the drop of blood on it, would stand out even more. Also, V for Vendetta or one of the From Hell covers would have been cool, too.

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  13. 13

    I do only agree on some of them. And where the heck is Mike Mignola’s Hellboy in that list, or at least some cover from Frank Miller?

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  14. 14

    Sorry, don’t like this kind of comic. You know Lucky Luke? He is one cool guy.

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  15. 15

    where’s sin city, dudes?

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  16. 16

    No Umbrella Academy?

    Some great stuff on this list, just a lot of crap too. Angel, Echo, Jonah Hex, I don’t think so…

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  17. 17

    where is everyones fave kangaroo shagging beer swilling harpy Tank Girl? Some of the original covers for Deadline were amazing

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  18. 18

    Thomas van Zuijlen

    November 28, 2008 7:53 am

    Some nice covers, there, but what a shame that there doesn’t seem to be any common thread or theme to this collection! Some context would have been a great addition worthy of Smashing Magazine… I’d rather see a smaller number of covers that are well assembled than such a plethora of strongly varying material.

    I would think that the “100 Bullets” covers of Dave Johnson merit an entire post by themselves, for example, and the same can be said about James Jean’s work on “Fables”. And that’s just two comic book series that are very recent examples. By zooming in even slightly on a theme, series, or concept, we’d get a much better view of the different ways artists can use the space of one page to convey a story – - and sell it at the same time.

    Nice to see a spotlight on comics and comic art. Here’s hoping for a follow-up!

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  19. 19

    very nice thinks!

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  20. 20

    Great selection.
    A lot of comics too many “BD”, though.
    What about covers of the serie called “Les cités obscures” (http://recherche.fnac.com/s233/Les-Cites-Obscures) or even the cover of “La marque Jaune” (http://multimedia.fnac.com/multimedia/images_produits/ZoomPE/2/0/1/9782870970102.jpg) ?

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  21. 21

    oh. wow, nice cover collection.

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  22. 22

    Not sure if this is SM worthy… not a whole lot of inspiration for me personally.

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  23. 23
  24. 24

    One name. Bill Sienkiewicz.

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  25. 25

    I see some Vertigo comics, but no Sandman covers, which is kinda odd I think. They present interesting themes and often nice typography in their always brilliant covers.

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  26. 26

    I love all of these covers but I think you could have included a Dark Tower cover (Marvel), some of those, in my opinion, are amazing.

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  27. 27

    Nice showcase! And, hey that’s Joker cover art looks familiar.. check my avatar haha!

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  28. 28

    Obvious ones not here for me are “V for Vendetta” (with “him” on the wall, cape out) and “The Dark Night Returns”.

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  29. 29

    You guys forgot the famous Todd MacFarlane Spiderman cover

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  30. 30

    Alejandro Yanaculis

    November 28, 2008 11:49 am

    What? No Jim Lee? I think you missed both the covers of X-Men #1 and Wildcats #1, both are beyond awesome!

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  31. 31

    where’s Dave Mackean, Moebius, Bill Sienkiewicz, Jon j. Muth, Sam Keith, Bilal…?

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  32. 32

    Thanks for the suggestions and comments. Some of the original covers included a couple mentioned, but due to computer errors. the first list was lost.

    I would love to do a follow up later on with some of these suggestions. Again, so really great links included in the comments. I highly recommend checking them out.

    As for the critique on the Angel comic, I’m sorry, but that’s such a realistic rendering that looks so much like the actors I had to include. Though that could further be the fanboy in me :p.

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  33. 33

    It is probably a question of tastes, but I would delete all of these covers from the list, perhaps keeping the 100 bullets one.

    I prefer cleaner, more elegant designs like those in other publishers’ volumes, such as Drawn and Quarterly, some Fantagraphics publications, La Pastéque and Atrabile.

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  34. 34

    I feel ashamed knowing that I have read all of the above comics.

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  35. 35

    Smashing – Where are my sweet Thanksgiving Turkey RSS icons?! So disappointed.

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  36. 36

    Why hello there Marvel fanboy!

    Most of this is complete garbage in the comic book industry. Any showcase of “brilliant” comic book cover art that does not include James Jean, Alex Ross, Frank Miller- the list goes on and on- is just crap.

    Not to mention that you could include some more variety- European comic books (Sky Doll, come on!), Japanese comic books, independent artists… give us something truly inspiring! Not just the overly corporate, soul-sucking fan-pandering teenage boy wankfest crap that Marvel and DC spits out every month in Wolverine, Spider-man, The Avengers, and X-Men.

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  37. 37

    Amazing covers… but I think you miss some Spawn’s covers.

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  38. 38

    Also, no Fables.

    and Maus.

    and Sandman.

    and Civil War.

    and maybe some Batman:Hush.

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  39. 39

    The first cover is an obvious ripoff from the great Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer.

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  40. 40

    awesome list. I would also add radical comics, they are a fairly new comic book company, but i think their work is amazing. http://www.radicalcomics.com

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  41. 41

    I grew up knowing comic books from my brothers and found my own affinity to them. I know a lot of comic book covers out there that are just mind-blowing (had actually seen some of them, too). I have no question nor would I contest your list since you have a pretty good list here–I love Wolverine and Joker ^^–but as most have already commented here, the list is not enough and should have included more. I second on Spawn, Sandman, Sin City, and a number of Batman covers. :)

    Thank you though for making me remember that piece of my growing years. God bless!

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  42. 42

    Nice list, but I think you should include Sandman and From Hell.

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  43. 43

    What no Aliens Vs Predator from Dark Horse Comics

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  44. 44

    I have always loved the cover work on “the Maxx

    and PITT

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  45. 45

    That cover art by François Bourgeon… what about Frank Frazetta? He cames first, isn´t he ?
    http://www.frazettaartgallery.com/gallery/HTML/mastersdeluxe.html
    No donuts for you.

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  46. 46
  47. 47

    The Wolverine ones are especially fantastic.

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  48. 48

    The first one has a striking similarity to Frazetta’s Death Dealer. Coincidence?

    Apart from this, I find the collection rather generic and arbitrary. I’d say, you will find 50 equally well done covers in each issue of Previews. All in all good art, but nothing outstanding in my humble opinion. Turner (RIP) did way better covers than the one you listed, Finch as well and you didnt even bother to include Miller and many other well established artists. Nonetheless, an enjoyable list.

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  49. 49

    I used to love reading Captain America comics. I thought the artwork was great. The joker comic I’ve seen recently. The illustrations blew me away.

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  50. 50

    Oh God… This is a rather horrible list. Sorry, but this has to be one of the biggest lows of SM since its beginning.

    First, these are mostly syndicated comics, second, they are stuck in the late 80s, early 90s stylewise, and they never seem to show any noteworthy progress stylewise as a whole, but just in small pockets.

    For some nice, clean covers, look up Guy Delile’s work, and I am sure that if you spend 5 more minutes in a comics store you will find much better comic covers than these if you have a sense of style, something I doubt the author has judging by the selection of covers.

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  51. 51

    pretty weak collection IMHO

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  52. 52

    U failed to mention Bill Sienkiewicz, Frank Miller, Moebius, Ted mcKeever and Mike Mignola!

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  53. 53

    Great list of covers!

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  54. 54

    One of the Dave's I Know

    November 30, 2008 8:26 am

    Nice covers. Only the Killing Joke stands out. The X-men/Kitty Pryde/Colossus cover reminds me of another… As the others pointed out, Miller, Ross, McKeever and Sienkiewicz are missing.
    Also missing are George Perez, Neal Adams and Jim Steranko.
    How could you forget Jack Kirby?

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  55. 55
  56. 56

    As mentioned by the others, James Jean, Todd MacFarlane, Alex Ross, Frank Miller, Tim Sale and Jim Lee should all have been represented… they’ve produced some pretty great covers over the years.

    Rai #0 and Incredible Hulk #377 should have DEFINITELY been on this list, check out another good Top Covers list here: http://www.coverbrowser.com/top/cool

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  57. 57

    Oh and I forgot Jae Lee, he’s had some great covers too!

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  58. 58

    Agree. Missing some big names here: Jim Lee, Alex Ross, and I would add the late Michael Turner – not my favorite artist, but definitely a distinct style and very well-known for his covers.

    Ditto Jae lee. His cover for Dark Tower #1 is fantastic.

    Segura Inc.’s covers for Vertigo’s The Filth are interesting because they take a more purely design-based approach to doing covers. Maybe worth checking out.

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  59. 59

    i would remove the first cover. as others mentioned, it’s a blatant rip off frazetta.

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  60. 60

    You should also check out the covers of the XIII, Blueberry or Largo Winch albums (iirc all published by Dargaud).

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  61. 61

    Not one link to Ashley Wood !!

    Ashley Wood

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  62. 63

    Hi folks,
    please have a look at this gallery showing mainly COVERS (and pages). Enjoy.

    http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryDetail.asp?GCat=33681

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  63. 64

    You don’t know much about comics books… Read the comments, search the name listed above, then re-do that list. Search for golden age comic books then you will realise than most the cover above are just rip-off.

    http://www.acomics.com/cover2.htm
    http://www.coverbrowser.com/

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  64. 65

    This really just looks like a random assemblage of covers. These covers aren’t a better collection than you would get looking at any shelf in a comic shop. No Sandman covers?

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  65. 66

    what? no Chris Ware? Pls have a look at some European stuff, or some Fantagraphics titles, there’s too much left out…

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  66. 67

    “Kabuki” has some absolutely beautiful artwork. Actually the whole comic is a work of art.

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  67. 68

    I have to say I’m a little disappointed at the lack of Dave McKean in this selection – An artist widely regarded as producing some of the finest coming book cover art ever with his series of dustcovers for Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” series. No showcase of comic cover art can possibly complete without him featured prominently. I agree that Frank Miller, Moebius and more should have been represented as well… This feels like a very poorly researched piece, taken from the limited knowledge of one or two individuals, who clearly dont have a huge range of experience. There are so many covers here featured either from the same artist, or the same franchise – Surely a broader cross section would be more useful as inspiration, though?

    Not a good piece at all as far as I am concerned. Thoroughly disappointed.

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  68. 69

    Indra Indihira Trimasty

    December 1, 2008 9:47 pm

    Very exelent, thank you with your album. I hope more picture for my student to open idea when they learn drawing and coloring their art work.

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  69. 70

    Great selection. But, because i’m french, i just want said that is not Michel Pirus who drawing the cover of this, but a great french drawer named Mezzo. Thanks for all your job !

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  70. 71

    THE. DARK. NIGHT. RETURNS.

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  71. 72

    Very weak list. Try again!

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  72. 73

    No Berni Wrightson. No Richard Corben. No Frank Frazetta. No Jack Davis. No Sanjulian. No Esteban Maroto. No Boris Vallejo. Meh.
    Oh, right. The first one’s a Frazetta ripoff. But you probably didn’t know that. Kids these days.

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  73. 74

    nice but nothing extraordinary in the list.
    some very prominent comics are missing. MAUS, BATMAN,SIN CITY, FROM HELL AND FEW MORE.

    hope to see some of those soon

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  74. 75

    As a comic book and manga reader/fan, I’m very dissapointed. 90% of these covers are generic and blah. Sorry. Like Garotadpi said: “…Try again!”

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  75. 76
  76. 77

    As both a comic book fan and a designer I can see how some of those covers were chosen, some not so much… I LOVE that Kitty Pride and Colossus cover… classic.

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  77. 78

    Manga covers missing here! How about if you do another list, but this time only Manga covers, and other with European covers.. and so on. This list can be the “DC – Marvel Comics Book Art list” :)

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  78. 79

    If you’re including older covers my vote would be for Elfquest #16 (art by Wendy Pini) which, as an antidote to all this death and mayhem, is a beautifully moving character study. You can look it up on the elfquest.com website.

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  79. 80

    This is by no means “The List”.
    This is the only post which has let me down.
    It’s more like a newby fanboy’s list who has not peeked much out of Marvel.
    Many of this list cannot even be considered art [that is just my *pov*]
    Here is my list.
    There is no ranking.
    Just a list of comic books of which covers are consistently marvelous [pun intended]

    > The Killer by Matz & Jacamon
    > The Fables [Vertigo]
    > 300
    > Hardboiled
    > Sincity
    > Tank Girl
    > Hellboy
    > Umbrella Academy
    > Bite Club
    > Hellblazer
    > 100 Bullets [there are other much better or as good as this one]
    > Transmetropolitan
    > The Losers [new series]
    > Y-the last man
    …and many more i just wish your list was more researched.

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  80. 81

    Two biggest misses IMO – Glenn Fabry (Preacher) and Dave McKean (Sandman).

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  81. 82

    a few of these covers are “homages” or blatant ripoffs of other works. sorry, but there is no genius in a design that was already used. you should just post up the original work. how brilliant do you have to be to photocopy neal adams or frank frazetta?
    comic book cover design in the 21st century probably needs to try to take less cues from movie posters and more from print and prose book covers

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  82. 83

    I’m particularly a fan of that Killing Joke cover. Probably my favorite of all time.

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  83. 84

    Yeah, Fables is definitely missing form this list. Or how about any Ashley Wood covers? LIke PopBot or Tank Girl.

    Also that first cover is a rip off of Frank Frazetta Death Dealer cover http://www.witchesofwicca.com/images/Death%20Dealer.jpg

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  84. 85

    Oh man, thankfully most of those covers are good but I’m surprised that so many of them are so awful! The first issue of Buffy was way better than the one with Xander (and iconic), the Angel one was plain generic and the Marvel Zombies comics had way better covers.

    Honestly, there are better comic covers over at Indy Planet.

    How about an article on indy comic covers?

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  85. 86

    I was looking for some Star Wars . Did see any here.The art work I saw was great.Seen alot that I new.I have been around comics for a lot of years.Great collection.

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