Every month, we curate cover galleries that reinforce comics as the default home of transgressive, batshit-cool art. Comic covers have more responsibility than to solely look alluring: they must represent the 20 pages (or more) of story beyond the cover they adorn in one striking image. And if they’re really good, they also channel the mood of the story within as well.
Looking over 2017, some our favorite covers conveyed a lot with little, employing swaths of negative space to focus on clever distillations of character and situation. Dave Johnson is a master at this, manipulating lines, colors and fonts to convey story. His work on Dead Inside confirms that design-centric approach; his third issue cover portrays blood seeping from a head wound, its trickle expanding and shaping the title font. It’s a mystery baked into a cover advertisement, and it begs to be explored. Greg Smallwood’s output for Moon Knight was similarly enthralling—just check out his identity splice in issue 11, dissecting a vigilante struggling with warring personalities. Smallwood ably visualizes the theme with finesse, the overlapping/displacement effect mirrored in the title.
Other eye candy transcended orthodox comic styles and couldn’t be ignored. Christian Ward, already coming off an impressive run on ODY-C, showed the glorious, psychedelic immensity of his talents in Black Bolt. Some of these covers can only be described as MC Escher doing sci-fi, but as soon as he went big, Ward would follow up with an intimate snapshot of the title king snuggling with his puppy, Lockjaw, as a toddler. The covers expertly conveyed the sheer vastness of the struggles without sacrificing character depth.
James Stokoe similarly showed the Venn diagram where H.R. Giger and manga intersect in Aliens: Dead Orbit. His sweeping vistas of intergalactic debris and apex predators provided some of the most striking imagery for the year. On a less abrasive note, Tula Lotay continued to gild fashion-forward, sensual covers that seethe with underlying energy. And, as always, nearly all of these artists benefited immeasurably from colorists, whose names are rarely credited clearly online.
Check out the rest of our favorite books in the gallery above, and let us know your favorites on Twitter.