Cool Comic Cover Cards!
By Kurt Kuersteiner © 1996 Monsterwax Monster Trading Cards for The Wrapper Magazine
As a kid, we pretended we disliked them. In some cases, we yelled at them (like when they were our little sisters). But as adults, we might as well admit what the opposite sex already knows: We were always fascinated with females from day one.
Nobody is more aware of this than the folks who designed the covers for books, magazines and comics. It's a basic rule of advertising: Sex sells (even to the young boys who won't allow girls in the tree house).
This is the last of three articles on Cover card sets. We're going to look at cover girls and the magazines they sold. Some are good girls, some are bad girls, and some aren't even human. But they all have one thing in common: They're beautiful. And so are a lot of card sets that reproduced the original covers. Here are a few worth checking out...
One might expect to start a list like this with art sets from Olivia, Vallejo, Royo, and Moebius. Many of these artist have had their own card sets published. But it was Heavy Metal Magazine that originally commissioned much of their classic art. Olivia in particular did quite a few Heavy Metal covers. You'll also recognize several other Heavy Metal artists. Names include Joe Jusko, Clyde Caldwell, and Berni Wrightson.
Many Heavy Metal females weren't quite human. They were alien, part animal, or robotic. How can an artist make a four legged bug eyed alien look like Marilyn Monroe? Get this 90 card black bordered set and see for yourself (card #28). This series was produced by Comic Images in 1991 but is still quite common. Each card back lists the contents of the issue pictured on the front. Comic Images released other sets featuring the art of Heavy Metal, but they didn't have the title overlays from the actual covers.
As you go further back in time, sexy covers seem to have been even sexier. Spicy Pulp Covers from 1930's detective magazines feature women in all sorts of titillating predicaments, usually at the hands of some killer or sadistic torturer. Not only does this set include the garish titles splashed over the covers, many of the photos reveal postmarks and creases from the actual magazines. Some collectors might find this distracting, yet it reinforces just how old the source material is. Although the set was printed in 1992, the magazines themselves are over 60 years old. There are 36 oversized (2 3/4" X 3 3/4") cards in this boxed set from Kitchen Sink Press. The excerpts and commentary on the backs are enjoyable to read. (Don't miss card #15 with artwork from Mars Attacks artist, Norm Saunders!)
Kitchen Sink repeated the formula the same year with Total Trash. Again, this is an oversized 36 card boxed set, but features pulp covers from the 1950's. There's plenty of women in dire situations. Some are menaced by murderers, while others are victims of drug abuse (especially the "killer weed"). One even sports a Klansman armed with a whip! These were definitely covers with shock value. The backs make several references to a second series, but no such series has yet been released.
If the Klan wasn't an evil enough threat, then how about Nazis and Commies? In 1993, Mother Productions produced two card series devoted to men's magazine covers of the 1950s. They include more women in bondage than you can shake a whip at. A typical cover would have a Nazi lowering a scantily dressed blond into an acid bath or snake pit or flame hole. The hero would usually be breaking the door down in the background. The action was so overdone, it's really quite humorous. The artwork and colors look great, but unfortunately, this series has terrible resolution. It looks like the pictures were screened with cheese cloth. This oversized 40 card boxed set is entitled Exploitation of Women Covers One. Series Two (1993) was produced the same way and maintains the same 40 card formula. The backs offer plain text with amusing remarks about the magazines in general.
Mother Productions produced a better quality series in 1993, entitled 1950's & 1960's Men's Magazine Covers. This series featured 39 regular sized cards. The color and resolution are super, but there is no text on the reverse. Instead, several photos fill the space. It's still a fun set, though many of the later covers used photos instead of artwork. Pictures include Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Tina Louise, and Betty Page.
Of course, these are not all of the cover girl card sets. Many others were included with horror pulps (Weird Tales, Women in Terror) or comics (Conan, National Lampoon). Comic Images just released Conan: The Marvel Years, featuring more Conan comic covers (expect plenty of damsels in distress). While most of these covers were suggestive, they don't reveal any nudity. That's part of the beauty of these sets. They hearken back to an area when sex was only implied. Ah! Those were the days...
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