A little while back, I was asked to do the cover for an upcoming issue of the Fawcett Collectors of America, featuring an interview with none other than Harlan Ellison. FCA is a sort of magazine within a magazine, appearing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego. The issue of Alter Ego which also features FCA #197 is scheduled to be available in mid-February 2016.
This cover went through several earlier iterations (though none of them actually made it onto paper) before I came up with the concept for this final version. My initial thought was that maybe I should do a portrait of Mr. Ellison as a boy, reading a copy of Captain Marvel Adventures or Whiz Comics. Something along those thematic lines. One of the main problems with this approach though was that there aren’t a whole lot of photos (if any!) of a young Harlan floating around out there on the internets. So if I went that route, I was likely going to have to try to work up a recognizable fake version of Mr. Ellison as a child from just my imagination. It turned out P.C. wasn’t too sold on the idea anyway, so we abandoned that concept.
Unfortunately, neither of us were coming up with any great replacement possibilities. It was suggested that maybe if I read the interview for myself, it might spark an idea. And it did. The new cover concept was to do it as a sort of homage to the Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks, set at a late-night diner. I’d show Mr. Ellison sitting down with Captain Marvel and the main villain from the “Monster Society of Evil” story, Mr. Mind. The tone felt right. Only one problem: Mr. Mind is very small, so there was a major scale issue that would have to be addressed if I did this.
But then another idea popped into my mind that seemed to fit even better tonally. I’d do the cover in the style of the old “scandal sheet” gossip pulps, like Confidential. Once this concept came into my head, I knew it was the right way to go, and P.C. agreed. It’s a bit different from what you usually see as an FCA cover, but it’s fun, and hopefully people will get what we’re doing and enjoy it.
Happy 2016, folks!