MARVEL'S "3-D BOXED IMAGE" COVERS

During the early days of the Bronze Age comic era, some of the finest examples of cover artwork ever created were produced at Marvel. This art was framed on three sides by a solid color with an image bleed off the right edge - which may have been a marketing strategy to entice the newstand viewer to open the comic. The area below the image box was used for the story titles and captions. Eye catching 3-D effects were obtained by having part of the imagery or word balloons extend beyond the box boundary - often into the title mast area above the image box. The narrow band of color to the left of the image box accentuated the spine area giving the comic a more "book like" appearance.

This cover concept began with Marvel's November, 1971 issues. Most of these were 25 cent giant-sizes which bridged the price increase of 15 cents to 20 cents. The "boxed image" covers were utilized until the release of the December, 1972 issues. Issue #159 of the Incredible Hulk series, cover dated Jan. 1973, was an anomalous later use of this format, as well as My Love #28 (May 1974) and 33 (Mar. 1975), and Our Love Story #27, 29, 30 and 31 (Feb., Aug., Oct. and Dec. 1974 respectively).

Only the EC Comics staff of the early 1950's equaled the dynamic talent that existed at Marvel during the early 1970's. Neal Adams, Frank Brunner, John Buscema, Bill Everett, Mike Ploog, John Romita, Barry Smith, Jim Starlin, Jim Steranko and, of course, Gil Kane, were producing some of the best work of their careers which were nicely showcased by this framing device. Gil Kane, himself, felt that his best work was done for Marvel during this time period. It was certainly his most prolific period as over 40% of the covers done for these issues were drawn by him.

These comics are certain to one day have a dedicated fan following which rivals that of the Timely, EC, or "Good Girl" art comic collectors.

Here are a few examples of those exciting covers (many with links to enlargements):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the exception from Jan. 1973