When we contemplate a memorable old comic book, the first thing that comes to mind is its cover, and that was no accident. Publishers realized fairly quickly that if they spent a little extra to hire a good cover artist, they could fill the insides with mediocrity and still make a sizable profit — that all it took was a striking cover to entice thousands of kids to fork over their dimes.
Even today, covers drive the collectors’ market. Apart from number-one issues and first appearances, the strength of a comic book’s cover is the first consideration in determining its value. Indeed, it is now common practice to entomb the book between slabs of sealed plastic — with only the cover visible — as if the interior pages’ sole purpose was to provide a place to secure the staples.
In order to locate the best possible examples, collectors from around the world have been enlisted to share their rare and valuable comic books. The scores of cover artists represented include Carl Barks, Charles Biro, Dick Briefer, L.B. Cole, Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Will Eisner, Bill Everett, Lou Fine, Walt Kelly, Jack Kirby, Mac Raboy, and Alex Schomburg. Every comic book genre will be explored, from superhero to detective to Western to funny animal.
Majestic, iconic, chaotic, or downright weird, a classic comic book cover has an undeniable appeal, and Action! Mystery! Thrills! celebrates in spades this unique cultural icon. The covers are printed full-sized on glossy paper to most faithfully replicate the originals, and arranged chronologically to give the reader a sense of the sweeping trends and stylistic developments throughout the medium’s first decade, as inexorable waves of dazzling imagery battled monthly for newsstand attention. This long-overdue collection also includes extensive historical commentary by editor/designer Greg Sadowski (Four Color Fear, Supermen!).