This is actually the opposite of what we usually do here, spotlighting a particular great comic book cover of years past. This time, though, we’re going to look at a cover that’s all wrong. This cover actually hung in my office for years as an example to people of how not to approach doing a cover. I’ve spoken about this at length on Twitter, and since that conversation came up again today, I thought I’d migrate it and expand on it over here.
Now honestly, there are probably more terrible covers you can find—but every choice made on this cover was wrong. To start with, the angle of the image. It’s a straight on medium shot without any drama to it. The artwork itself is pretty lifeless, lacking in any animation. The figures all look like statues. The rendering does the bare minimum, as everything is outlined in a basic line weight without any real attention paid to creating depth or visual interest. Spotting of blacks is practically nonexistent. It’s only a few steps removed from a coloring book image. Additionally, the lead hero, Quasar, isn’t on the cover, but remarkably the editor has found six other characters to feature instead, all of whom are less of a sales draw than even poor ol’ Quasar.
This issue was a tie-in to the Starblast crossover, and the tie-in identifier element goes down the left side. And it’s positioned almost perfectly so as to obscure the empty place in the line-up where Quasar will soon be hanging. But it’s not positioned so perfectly so that the Starblast star falls precisely upon the similar Quasar star that signifies that this is his space–it’s just far enough out of position to call attention to itself.
Those word balloons look crude and amateurish, and they add nothing to the cover apart from naming Skeletron and Insidio, two characters with some pretty goofball names. All those balloons do is take up real estate. And the coloring is simplistic, in the manner we used to call “sky-blue-grass-green”. The color isn’t used as a storytelling tool, or to heighten drama or intrigue. It’s approached like a paint by numbers.
For that particular month, this was no doubt the dullest cover on the stands. It’s not really surprising that the series ended a few issues later. This is worse than somebody who doesn’t know what they’re doing, this is somebody making the wrong editorial and design call at every turn.
This make-ready cover hung in my office for 25 years, ever since this issue saw print.