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Topic: Old vs. New Spidey Cover Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Karl Wiebe
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 11:25am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I am a pretty positive person and one of the things I like about this forum is that we can discuss topics (even contentious ones).  I remember reading in an earlier thread that no topic is so dangerous that it cannot be talked about.  Hoping that this question is not seen as disrespectful in any way, I am truly interested in the process of creating a comic book cover and/or artwork.  OK here goes:

John Romita is my favorite all-time Spidey artist.  In my mind he created the perfect Spider-Man.  (Others are great too, but Romita in my mind is perfection).  There is a new Amazing Spider-Man #1 this week and there is a "Romita" cover.  To be completely honest, I was disappointed by the cover.  I think it is not very detailed, and the drawing looks "flat".  Venom looks really simple, there is not much in the background, the faces look "simple".  Kraven looks really simple, almost like a convention sketch instead of a full professional cover.  I included a picture of a "classic" Romita cover and also the new cover.  (I tried to pick a random old cover so hopefully I am comparing "average" to "average"). 

Thoughts on the new cover?  Is it "flat" or less detailed because of the artist?  Or the inker?  Or the coloring?  Or is that perhaps what was requested?  I feel like if there is a less-than-stellar cover, there may be more reasons that I am not aware of?  Is it that Romita is almost 90 years old, and like athletes, they might lose a step? Or is this just a case of both covers looking equally as good, but I am viewing it through the eyes of nostalgia and pumping up the old covers in my mind? 

Hope this doesn't sound negative—honestly curious about the production values today vs. the "good old days".


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Phil Southern
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 12:35pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

This is still a pretty great picture!  But I think you're expectations may have gotten the better of you?  

I don't know the provenance of the original art; given that there is no date it could be a week, a year, or a decade old.  

It could've been anything from a con sketch or art for the the side of a video cassette box; we don't know if it was ever meant to be used for a cover.  Marvel has done this with JB pinups and panels, as well as with Jim Lee's X-Men cards from the early '90s.  

Romita and Austin together is a novel combination as well, and I can definitely see Terry Austin's inks on this one!

My uneducated guess from looking at it is that it was meant to be a small image, based on the relative size of Shocker's eyes, the, um, "open-ness" of Black Cat's hair, and Venom's teeth.  When I opened the image in another window and shrank it, it looked like typically great Romita, and was clear even very small.

The coloring did it no favors, either.

Even if it is new, 88 year old Romita draws a better Spider-Man than the gentleman who drew the interiors, and I'd pay for a new Spider-Man comic from him.  


Edited by Phil Southern on 12 July 2018 at 12:41pm
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 12:51pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Spider-Man looks as good as ever to me!

The background characters do look washed out which give them a flat appearance. Looking at the smoke back there it may be like a dream sequence or something on purpose.
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Robert Shepherd
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 1:45pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Karl, I'm in agreement with you, at least when it comes to the faces and head shapes of some the background characters.

Venom, Shocker, and to a lesser degree Kraven and Scorpion look like cartoons to me.

On the other hand, do we really expect our favorite artists to be perfect every single time? Some folks would say "yes" and I respect that opinion because I think it is a logical opinion, though not entirely fair to the artist. 

I'm a more moderate opinionist and let my favorite artists be human, with good days and bad days. 

Plus, since I never know the story behind the art, I let things slide more. For example was this a very rough by Romita and more stylistically Austin? Or was this all Romita with very tight pencils?
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Eric White
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 2:49pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

A fan commissioned this drawing a while back and Marvel decided to use it as a variant cover.
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Bert Kruger
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 3:24pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I think with Digital Coloring the look of comics has changed and that's part of what we are seeing with this comparison.


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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 3:58pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Romita's pencils and Austin's inks don't make for a good blend.
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Daniel Gillotte
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 4:23pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

I hear what you're saying. That first cover is a classic. Really cool design and execution.
BUT, I am also digging pretty hard on the other one. There is a looseness and a gestural quality to some of the background figures that really appeals to me. 

It has that KIRBY-based Romita solidity but also an energy to it that I enjoy.

I wouldn't say no to either of these.
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Jean-Francois Joutel
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 5:22pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I think with Digital Coloring the look of comics has changed and that's part of what we are seeing with this comparison.

------------------------------------------------------------ ---------------------

I agree. The original cover did the most it could with the limitations of the technology at the time. The modern cover would look better as line art. IMO.
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Jean-Francois Joutel
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 5:29pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Also, the older cover tells a story, which is much more engaging. You want to know the story.  The newer cover is a pin-up, and doesn't have a hook.
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Joe Smith
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 5:47pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Do comics fans ever stop to realize that creators age, and as they age,
their motor skills and eyesight and equilibrium change?

There’s not a chance Jazzy John can put the hours in at the drawing
board that are necessary to replicate the 1960’s. That was 50 years
ago.

Let’s be gracious enough to enjoy their twilight years without calling
attention to the effects Father Time forces upon them, and not put a
bullseye atop what are now deemed as “faults”.
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Karl Wiebe
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 6:24pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I think that might be a bit unfair-- I asked an honest question and I thoroughly appreciate the time everyone is taking to answer this in the spirit it was asked.  I agree with the earlier comment that it might have been a sketch to begin with.

Edited by Karl Wiebe on 12 July 2018 at 6:38pm
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Lars Sandmark
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 6:43pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply


In the thread here on Byrnerobotics titled "PENCIL PRACTICE" we see different inkers try their hand at inking John Byrne's pencil drawings. Each has quite different styles that have differing levels of 'success'.
Not good or bad, different.

Sometimes certain inkers are not a good match for certain pencillers.

Bottom line is we don't know what SIZE the original artwork was*, and we don't know if Romita or Autin knew this piece would be used for a published comicbook cover*.


*(because scaling down large artwork tightens up the linework.)

*(because they each may have used a different technique if the intent was commission versus published cover.)


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Eric Ladd
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 7:07pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

The pinup turned cover is a 7.5  by 11 inch piece of vellum. The art for the cover of Spider-Man 112 is on 11 by 17 inch bristol. The size is different, the surface of each paper behaves differently with ink and the cover was shot down before going on a cover quite a bit more than the pinup. My guess is that Terry Austin inked on vellum to preserve the original sketch, but that is an assumption. I would aslo hazard to guess Mr. Austin used the same tool, perhaps a pentel pen or a similar ink pen to ink the pinup. This means there is much less variety of line weights and variation in the art because maybe a single tool was used to ink it. Just compare the feathering on Spider-Man in the 112 cover art to the feathering on the pinup. One has lines that go from very think weights to very sharp points. The other cannot achieve these same types of effects. There are a number of factors that contribute to the look of each piece of art. So many in fact that comparing them and with the same set of expectations folly. I think you brought up a great question, Karl, but perhaps you didn't quite understand the factors influencing each piece of art. Comparing these pieces of art is like comparing a con sketch with cover art in many ways.
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 7:13pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I think you're burying the lead here.  Let's phrase it as--"Look at this awesome cover that an 88-year-old drew!"  It's much better than the current crop of Marvel artists could do.

While it's a little weird to put Terry Austin inking John Romita pencils (two totally different art styles), the final product worked out better than I would have expected.

That Spider-Man pose is especially good!  Classic and iconic, but just different enough that I haven't seen it before.  (Look at the hands!  Great!)  That's something I might expect to see on a t-shirt at some point.

I agree though with the comments about the coloring not helping and also that, if it started as a con sketch/fan commission, it's likely that it was originally drawn smaller than the (likely) 11 x 17 in. of the older cover.  Any perceived drop in quality or detail can probably be attributed to that.  (A true comparison would be to look at a new 11 x 17 in. Romita original.)
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 7:15pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Hah!  I was writing the same thing about size when Eric Ladd was writing the exact info!
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Steve Gumm
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 7:18pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

You can see the commission that has been turned into this cover as well as a bit of it's history in the description on comicartfans.com:

http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryPiece.asp?Piece=1225083
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Karl Wiebe
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 7:36pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Eric Ladd you said that I probably didn't understand the factors influencing each piece of art.  You are totally right!!  That is exactly why I was asking.  These answers are great--I knew that something was different but this is not my specialty so I appreciate you guys sharing the wisdom.  Lots of great comments here.   

Edited by Karl Wiebe on 12 July 2018 at 7:49pm
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david noonan
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 10:54pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Thanks for the link, Steve Gumm! I also read reef salt reviews.
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Matt Reed
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 11:36pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

I guess I'm weird, but I'm just hung up on the $5.99 price.  Is this a hundred page comic?  Even then, I just bought a 500 page nonfiction book for less than $6. It was new, not used. The prices these days for new comics is, I'm sorry, astronomical.  Even if I didn't give up on mainstream comics nearly a decade ago because they didn't speak to me, now I'd have to give them up due to price.  YIKES!

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Mark Haslett
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Posted: 13 July 2018 at 1:00am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Now that Matt mentioned the price, that's all I see too!

But I would add that John Romita is one of those artists whose work suits one inker far above all others -- and that inker is John Romita.
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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 13 July 2018 at 6:27am | IP Logged | 22 post reply


 QUOTE:
Romita's pencils and Austin's inks don't make for a good blend.


Size of the original art aside, I don't care for the matchup of pencil and inker
here either. Still, it looks better than a lot of what I see out there these days.

Edited by Wallace Sellars on 13 July 2018 at 6:27am
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 13 July 2018 at 6:39am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I have only two issues with it.

1) I don't care for the Romita/ Austin matching. Terry just isn't someone I would think of to ink Sr. ( I have quite enjoyed when he's inked Jr, however.)

2) Venom's chest emblem only has 6 legs.

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Jeffrey Rice
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Posted: 13 July 2018 at 5:45pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

This is a problem with many recent variant covers. Recolored art taken out of original context, or in this case, what looks like an impromptu sketch turned into a full-blown cover. There is no way that Jazzy John had any intention of that sketch becoming a cover, let alone for a new #1. 

Edited by Jeffrey Rice on 13 July 2018 at 8:14pm
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