Great Covers – HOUSE OF SECRETS #91

Starting in the late 1960s, DC maintained a whole line of “mystery” title, the inspiration of editor Joe Orlando, who saw an opportunity in the marketplace for books that would approximate the thrills of the long-dead EC line and their brethren. Individually, any of the issues within this line would be hit-or-miss, depending on which creators happened to be working on it and how inspired they happened to be that month. And with the Comics Code hanging over everything, none of the stories could really overtly push the envelope–none of them could be as genuinely scary as some of the EC output. But one place that these titles often excelled was in crafting a beautiful grabber of a cover. The cover above by Neal Adams has been making the rounds on social media this weekend, and it is a stunning piece of work. Not only is it well-drawn, but the coloring is a stand-out, too–especially for the era in which it was released. Most comic book coloring wasn’t approached in this manner, but it seems like more experimentation was permitted on the mystery titles than on some, and Adams was well situated given his background in the world of advertising to understand from a technical standpoint just what might be possible, even with the often cut-rate printing of the era. The coloring here is dead simple: no primary colors at full intensity (apart from the logo and cover copy) and much of the piece retaining its original black and white palate. This restraint, and the beauty with which the image is rendered, makes it pop.

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