You thought I was finally done with these comic book covers, didn't you? I thought so, too, for the most part! I've done three prior posts on them, with commentary to go with, and figured I had exhausted a subject that, perhaps, many of my readers already didn't care much about. Still, I can't help feeling a certain fondness for them and hope that they might please the eyes of the fans of some of the stars depicted on them. You never know who is going to show up hanging out on the front of a silver age, photo-cover comic book, be it Gordon Scott as Tarzan or Gale Storm on Oh! Susanna (another name for The Gale Storm Show), as shown here.
They make such wonderful mementos from various classic movies and vintage television shows. They also keep alive the vague memories of a forgotten show business venture since most deals to produce a tie-in comic book are done before the release or airing of the source project, meaning that even a flop or a little known property might have an illustrated rendition out there. Regardless of its lackluster box office performance, I love the expensive mega-flop The Fall of the Roman Empire and find it a gorgeous film, filled with strong actors and positively staggering scenery, costumes and pageantry. (And what do you mean you don't remember the National Velvet TV show?? It actually ran for 54 episodes from 1960 – 1962 and starred twelve year-old Lori Martin, of Cape Fear fame, which was filmed just after the series ended. She beat out nearly 1000 applicants for the job and won based on her alleged resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor.)
Despite the simplistic, often rudimentary, approach to the layouts, I find many of these covers to be works of art. (Okay... we'll call it "pop art.") The skillful photography paired with the flavorful typesets and brightly colored backgrounds combine to make something that is memorably evocative and nostalgic. I work with a man who has ten, framed comic books (two rows of five on top of each other) on his office wall that share a golf theme. I should think that an arrangement of similarly-composed TV or movie comic books would also make a neat statement in the right room.
Sometimes a cover will show a person's full body, other times a close-up of his or her face (as I've said before, this was great when you wanted a color portrait of someone who was starring on a black and white series – the only kind there was in most cases until the mid-'60s!)
The timing is right for these, too, because I am suddenly faced with a raft of work. I have to take over a coworker's duties while she has surgery and I also have to bang out one last theatre newsletter (my final issue before giving up that responsibility which has been mine for the last four years.) So, I'm going to forgo the usual accompanying chatter and let you look at the covers as they are.
I do have to chime in about a couple of them, though... What's with the totally anachronistic (polyester?) jacket on Wayde Preston in the Colt .45 picture? He appears to have worn the jacket quite a lot on the series. Did you know that the real Daniel Boone never wore a coonskin cap? He was depicted that way by Fess Parker because he'd been such a hit beforehand as Davy Crockett and the producers wanted to capitalize on it. His pants were never true to period either. As to clothing, I just love the clean, tailored sportswear found on The Mod Squad's Michael Cole and I Spy's Robert Culp and Bill Cosby.
Is it me or does Dark Shadows' Barnabas Collins appear at first glance to have a big ol' flaccid penis near his mouth? (It's me, I know...) I had to include The Monkees in tribute the recently deceased Davy Jones. Bless his heart. I met him once and he was so sweet, gifting me with an autographed photo that I foolishly gave to a female former coworker who worshipped him. Bitch probably has it on eBay now! Do note in the Last Train from Gun Hill one that Kirk Douglas is holding a shotgun to Earl Holliman's throat! These are aimed at kids?? Different times...
If I told you that one of these covers featured two teenaged boys with mention of a “secret room” while one poured water over himself as the other (wearing a pinky ring!) looked on intensely at the first one's chest, you might not believe me. But it's all here on the Spin and Marty cover! I tried to include a little beefcake, too (as always!) Thus, there is Ron Ely in his own TV Tarzan guise, Brian Kelly on his belly (from Flipper), Sea Hunt's Lloyd Bridges decked out in a full-body rubber suit (for all you fetishists! LOL) and a shirtless Nick Adams from The Rebel, in a vaguely phallic pose. Adams would be dead within eight years of this photo due to a drug interaction snafu that has been whispered to be everything from an accident to suicide to murder.
I hope this cavalcade of comic book covers brought you some degree of pleasure. I'll be back soon with more television and movie memories.