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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Before You Ever Saw It, There Were Roughs

Hi, friends! A happy Thursday to you. I'm pretty much going to get out of the way today and let the art do the talking. If you're like me, you not only like to hear alternate takes and rehearsals from your favorite bands - it really gives the listener an inside look at the creative process. Comic art, particularly covers, can also be like that. So what I've gathered today is some before-and-after work from some of the best in the business. Enjoy!

Leading off: Neal Adams and the cover to the Ballantine Paperback edition of Tarzan and the Lion Man.

 Here's something you don't see every day - Jazzy Johnny Romita drawing our favorite Cimmerian!

 Frank Frazetta - The Huntress. Nuff said.

Frazetta again, this time toying with the positioning of Tarzan and the very large bear. I think I like the rough better than the finished product. You?

I actually used to own the rough below and sold it when I liquidated my collection around five years ago. It's from the one-shot Marvel Heroes and Legends; this section of the book was of course penciled by Big John Buscema. That energy comes through even in the loose version, doesn't it?

Everyone has a copy of the Les Daniel coffee table books, right? Mine is a personal treasure, as for years I took it to conventions and had creators sign inside. Among the luminaries who've scratched in it are Stan Lee, John Romita, Sal Buscema, Jim Shooter, George Perez, Chris Claremont, Jim Lee, Rich Buckler, and more! Here's Romita's sketch when he was laying out the cover.

Another Romita layout, this time for a mag in the second go-round for What If?

Ploooooooooggg! Mike Ploog. Master. I love the image at left, as you can see him tinkering with the cover. I think I actually like the rough at top right the best.

And just to show how much I like you and appreciate you taking a couple of minutes out of your day, I'm going to leave you with a couple of gems from Earl Norem. That man was a master on the Marvel magazine covers!


  1. Thanks for the 'before and after' survey Doug! It's always fascinating (and educational) to see how the design progresses from study to completion. And actually, I personally often prefer the looser,energetic look of a study to the polished final product. Such as with the Adams drawing at top, and the Frazetta piece you mentioned.

    1. Seeing the process is so much fun - I think that's why the Frazetta Tarzan cover is so cool. I should do a post at some point on rejected covers, because that's always interesting as well - to see what editorial didn't like and then whether or not the published version was indeed "better".


  2. OMG as the kids say - that Romita Conan cover has a special place in my heart. In July 1976 that issue of Conan was among a bunch of 10 Marvel comics that were the first American Marvels I ever bought (I know there were 10 because they cost 10 pence each and I bought 10 for £1). I'd been reading Marvel UK since 1974 but now I'd discovered the real thing!

    1. That is great, Colin! What a stroke of luck that its a cover chosen for today's exhibits. I love memories like that.



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