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June 22, 2008

Comments

Greg Scott

Mark, from your vantage point as an artist yourself, can you break down the artistic merits of the original cover?

I think one of the most unique aspects of the cover is the oval frame, and the marquee below:

From today's point of view, the oval framing looks quaint and retro; perhaps it was even at the time -- conjuring more of a Gilded Age/Penny Dreadfuls style. This is a bit at odds with the modern sci-fi that Superman represented in those days; (a modernity that I guess could be seen in the more streamlined and angular ACTION COMICS logo).

Perhaps this framing on SUPERMAN #1 was simply a fallback to an still-viable earlier style; but perhaps unconsciously it's a way of unifying familiar past heroes with one representing the future; focussing on the *new* hero through what is, almost literally, an older lens.

Greg

Mark Engblom

"Perhaps this framing on SUPERMAN #1 was simply a fallback to an still-viable earlier style; but perhaps unconsciously it's a way of unifying familiar past heroes with one representing the future; focussing on the *new* hero through what is, almost literally, an older lens. "

I think you hit on it right there, Greg. Although much of the 1920's featured the sleek Art Deco design movement, these early decades of the 20th century were still very much a transitional period from the 19th century's Victorian influences...which featured alot of the ornate, curvy frames similar to what you see on the cover of Superman #1. I like your theory that the use of the frame, whether conscious or not, was a way to "soften" the jarring impact of a character like Superman, by (literally) framing him in a more comforting or accessible visual "language".

Speaking of that design, it hit me a few years after John Byrne's 1986 reboot that the spaceship that carried Kal-El to Earth in Byrne's new origin had a profile somewhat similar to that frame design on Superman #1. Later on, the "Eradicator" device (similar in function to the Green Crystal from Superman the Movie) seemed to echo that same design.

I'm wondering if that was intentional on Byrne's part, though I've never heard one way or the other if that was the case.

Joe Lewallen

Not a cover, but Neo struck the pose in The Matrix Reloaded.

Allen

There's also Superman: Strength #1 (March 2005) but it only sort-of qualifies, as it only has the pose, and no border (and he's carrying two cars). See http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=243105&zoom=4

EHH

As an Archie Sonic fan, I'm impressed you put that image in there.

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