(Not So) Great Covers: THRILLING COMICS #57

There’s no question that Alex Schomburg was one of the finest cover artists of the Golden Age of Comics. He cut his teeth at Timely, where he excelled in crafting spectacularly complex images of Captain America, the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner battling just hordes of enemy soldiers or criminals or war machines or whatever. In the postwar period, he changed up his approach somewhat on a series of cover images for Ned Pines’ outfit, alternately known as Nedor, Better or Standard at different points. These later covers were a lot simpler in their clean design, but evidenced Schomburg’s clean lines and penchant for depicting action with a slight comedic undertone. That said, anybody can have an off day, and this cover is one of those.

Drawn for THRILLING COMICS #57, the image showcases Doc Strange breaking up an underworld casino, while a masked man shoots the roulette table operator, presumably to prevent him from giving Strange any information. Straightforward enough, right? Unfortunately, the way that Schomburg has positioned his elements here, it is virtually impossible not to misread the image as showing Strange himself clobbering the dealer with that axe of his. It’s only a closer examination of the piece that reveals what’s going on. And this doesn’t appear to be a deliberate attempt at misdirection, it’s simply an unfortunate tangent that creates an unintended result. Admit it, when you first looked at the cover above–and even when you look at it now–the first thing you register is Doc Strange bringing that axe down onto the dealer’s head, braining him, right?

2 thoughts on “(Not So) Great Covers: THRILLING COMICS #57

  1. I still don’t get what’s happening here, even after studying it. The axe has its own motion line, then there’s a curved arc coming from (or going to) behind the guy with the gun, to the back of the croupier’s head, then down from there to the roulette wheel…? Maybe I’m just missing something obvious…


  2. I think maybe the long curved arc indicates the axe hitting the roulette wheel and the smaller arc coming from the top of the axe head indicates the beginning of another swing? It is a very confusing jumble of elements…and Doc Strange looks like L’il Abner in jodpurs.


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