The graphic nature of this post may not be suitable for all readers.*

§ October 13th, 2008 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on The graphic nature of this post may not be suitable for all readers.*

So I was going through some comics, as, you know, I tend to find myself doing more often than not, and I happened upon one of these:

That’s an issue of Secret Weapons #11 (Aug 1994), which came sealed inside a manila envelope to prevent spoiling the surprise on the cover. Presumably it’s the reveal of new team members, though looking at the actual cover, I’m at a loss as to what characters those might be. In fact, I’m not sure why they went with the envelope at all, since I’m assuming that it was no surprise at the time that the team was getting new members, and the way the cover was designed, enough of the characters were obscured to perhaps spark some interest in who they were.

Well, okay, I do know why they went with the manila envelope…it’s a cover gimmick that made the book stand out on the stands, and this particular gimmick is one that stands out from the usual foil/die-cut/hologram covers you’d generally get.

Not that it helped, much…as I recall, it didn’t really fly off the shelves. In fact, I’m not sure it sold more than your typical issue of Secret Weapons usually did.

But it did remind me of another time Valiant Comics did the “obscuring the cover” trick, this time with Eternal Warrior #35 (Jul 1995), which had this warning sleeve over the regular cover:

Of course, what was actually on the cover was not nearly as bad as the warning made it sound:

…though I suppose the image of a severed arm may be seen as shocking and horrible to all those people who didn’t already see a bloodied severed arm in, oh, say, the original Star Wars movie:

…in other words, “virtually nobody.”** Again, it was much ado about nothing — just a gimmick to get someone to pick it up and look to see what the “graphic nature of this cover” actually entailed. (And it’s interesting to note that the warning wrapper doesn’t have “Eternal Warrior” anywhere on it.) But at this point in time, during the post-crash lull of the comics industry, anything that would get a potential customer to pick your book up off of a comic rack, thus bringing it one step closer to an actual purchase, was fair game. Most people, upon seeing what was actually on the cover, just sorta went “yeah, whatever,” and put it back…but I’m sure at least one or two people who picked up the comic to give it a little look-see kept it in their buy pile.

And of course, this too reminded me of other comics that have had the wraparound protective covering, but in these cases with a little more reason than Eternal Warrior had. Like this series from Slave Labor:

…an adult comic where most of the early issues came with a “plain brown wrapper,” a second cover that replaced (or partially censored) the image on the real cover. I thought this wasn’t a bad gimmick, with the “plain brown wrapper” element giving it sort of a self-aware bit of humor to the porn proceedings within. Not that the very title itself isn’t self-aware humor all by itself…er, so to speak.

There were other adult comics with double covers, like Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss (though those tended to be cover-covering inserts in the polybags, rather than true double covers), and this infamous example:

If you want to see what was actually under that wrapper, I suggest you hie yourself hither to and look it up, since it’s…pretty out there, and maybe a bit much for my more-or-less general audiences (well, maybe 13+) site. But trust me, it’s filthy, and NSFW if you do plan on looking for it. And it was apparently popular, too, since we have in our possession both a first printing (pictured above) and a fifth printing with a $2 cover price.

By the way, the UGcomix site itself may have a NSFW ad or two on the front page…but it’s really a great resource for underground comix information. You may even see a scan or two that I contributed over there.

* Shameless, I know.

** Okay, I’m sure someone out there is probably totally disgusted by seeing severed arms, and…okay, I don’t mean to disregard your opinion. But, in general, by normal standards in action/adventure entertainment, this particular image is not one that most people are going to have an issue with. I think. …I’m going to get e-mails from “People Against Severed Arms in Movies and Comics,” aren’t I?

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