What It Was, Now Is

CMA #2 Original Head RestoredIt’s high time I put up some­thing new here! I guess this qual­i­fies. It’s kind of simul­ta­ne­ous­ly old and new, you could say.

For the 200th issue of FCA (appear­ing in the pages of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego #141), I was approached by edi­tor P.C. Hamer­linck with a chal­lenge. A col­lec­tor named Har­ry Matesky had bought the orig­i­nal art for the cov­er of Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures #2 (you can see the pub­lished com­ic here.), and made a dis­cov­ery. The head of Cap­tain Mar­vel on the pub­lished cov­er was actu­al­ly a paste-up, and under­neath it was a dif­fer­ent draw­ing! P.C. asked if I would be will­ing to try to com­plete the orig­i­nal head, so we could see what the cov­er might have looked like if C.C. Beck had gone ahead and fin­ished it. Game on!

I was pro­vid­ed with high res scans of both the orig­i­nal cov­er art as pub­lished, and a pho­to­copy of the art with the orig­i­nal head removed. It was a bit more tricky than a sim­ple “con­nect the dots” exer­cise, as the out­er con­tour of Cap­tain Mar­vel’s face was basi­cal­ly miss­ing. I heav­i­ly ref­er­enced the way Beck drew him, try­ing to make it look as much as pos­si­ble like his work. And it had to dove­tail into the exist­ing linework as seam­less­ly as possible.

Once I had it inked (dig­i­tal­ly), I had to dig­i­tal­ly paste up the restored head over the clean scan of the pub­lished cov­er art. At this point in the restora­tion, I ran into an unfore­seen dif­fi­cul­ty. As some of you might know, pho­to­copiers can some­times intro­duce a bit of dis­tor­tion or skew­ing into their out­put. For most every­day copi­er uses, you don’t notice some­thing like that, and it’s not a prob­lem. But here, where I real­ly need­ed the two ver­sions to line up accu­rate­ly, it was a problem.

After I was final­ly able to get it sort­ed out to my sat­is­fac­tion, I then had a clean new/old black and white orig­i­nal for the cov­er, which I col­ored to match the orig­i­nal pub­lished ver­sion. It appeared as the cov­er for FCA #200, which I believe is avail­able right now. But here, you get to see it with all the orig­i­nal Cap­tain Mar­vel Adven­tures mast­head copy intact. It was fun to get to col­lab­o­rate with C.C. Beck a lit­tle bit here, across the gulf of time and space!

4 thoughts on “What It Was, Now Is

  1. Lyle Dodd

    Two thoughts about this, one is that I think both depic­tions of Cap­tain Mar­vel con­vey a sense of pride in Bil­ly’s actions, the orig­i­nal seems a lit­tle more pater­nal to me, still cool. The sec­ond is that it’s been a long time since I have seen a com­ic book cov­er with this lay­out. It’s almost like a cere­al box and yet there is no doubt who this com­ic fea­tures. I guess a six­ties ver­sion of this might be Spi­der-Man 50, where the hero is Super imposed on the back ground. In the sev­en­ties they might have just put the shocked faces over the action…but I am hard pressed to think of some­thing like this in the last ten years. Too bad because I think it’s a nice way to hook the read­er into the adven­ture. Fun to look at and read about your efforts.

    1. Mark Post author

      I had­n’t thought of it that way before, but you have a point: this lay­out does kind of resem­ble some­thing you could see on a cere­al box. 

      That trope though of hav­ing a larg­er back­ground fig­ure observ­ing small­er ones in the fore­ground is some­thing that was used quite effec­tive­ly on many comics cov­ers through the years. In addi­tion to Amaz­ing Spi­der-Man #50, I’m also think­ing of Giant-Size X‑Men #1, with the new team burst­ing from a back­ground incor­po­rat­ing the orig­i­nal team, look­ing on. And it seems to me Jack Kir­by (Hap­py 99th, Jack!) used it more than a time or two with Fan­tas­tic Four and Avengers covers.

      Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this visu­al device seems to have been pret­ty much aban­doned by today’s comics. Maybe because it’s felt to be too “com­ic book‑y”? It’s a shame though, because as you point it, it was (and is) a per­fect­ly good and effec­tive way to get the read­er hooked.


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