Yes, I’m saying there’s a good chance my site will outlive Reddit.

§ March 22nd, 2024 § Filed under dc comics, publishing § 7 Comments

Thanks for your patience over the last couple of weeks, as personal stuff and medical stuff (which I suppose is also personal stuff) got in the way of my doing important things, like posting to my comic book weblog. So it’s been sorta thin content around here lately, but I should be fattening it up again next week!

In the meantime, let me cover a couple of things:

Sean asked in my last post:

“Do the modern fans still go ape for gorilla covers or is it all too much monkey business…?

“Also, any chance this will lead to an Angel and the Ape spin-off series?”

First, nice use of primate references in your initial question. But what Sean is referring to is legendary artist and former DC Comics head honcho Carmine Infantino’s instructions for what makes a comic book cover sell. You can see a pic of the list of those elements that’s been going around here, which I’ll transcribe in case, like many other sites I’ve linked to over the decades, that site disappears forever.




A purple background

The city in flames

The hero crying

A direction question to the reader

These items were all semi-famously used on this Bill Wray cover for Secret Origins #40 (1989):

…though “the city on fire” is represented simply as “fire” here:

…and I’ve heard that particular element as both just “fire” and “city on fire” in discussions of Infantino’s list. (Speaking of which, I’m not sure the origins of that piece of paper that I’ve linked to on Reddit, and have seen posted elsewhere. It even looks like that paper’s been around a bit what with the folds and creases.)

Anyway, back to Sean’s question. The monkeys, do they help comic sales? Well, judging by the performance of DC’s Ape-Ril Special this week at my shop, I gotta say, “well, no, not really.” I sold a LOT of new comics this week, more than normal in fact, but only moved a couple of DC’s latest swing at comics starring our furry cousins. Now, I picked it up, primariy because I saw Monsier Mallah, the French mercenary ape (don’t look at me like that) for the Doom Patrol connection, and Detective Chimp (who is great) and I’m hoping Angel and the Ape turn up in there as well. No, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but it’s next on this toppling pile of comics and graphic novels I’m slowly working through.

Do any of those elements still work in general? I haven’t really gathered enough evidence on my own to say if there is an overall positive influence on sales by any of those items just on their own. I feel like the only common denominator to high sales being generated solely by a comic’s cover (excluding things like “speculators”) is striking cover designs. One example I can think of it Calexit #1 from 2017:

…which I just kept selling and selling and reordering and selling. Now granted, I’m in California, so maybe that helped it along too, but that cover grabbed eyes and there’s hardly a monkey or anything on fire in sight. (There is a bear, which would make Gail Simone happy.)

Onto Sean’s second comment…friends, I am an unabashed Angel and the Ape fan:

…having a complete collection of their all-too-few appearances. As such, I would totally buy a new series. Look, we all know the greatest high concept for a comic book is “Native Americans Vs. Dinosaurs,” as embodied by Turok: Son of Stone. But a close second is “Pretty Girl and Gorilla: They’re Detectives” and I’m ready for it. I’ll even write it for them if they’d like, if they won’t mind the occasional Swamp Thing cameo.

7 Responses to “Yes, I’m saying there’s a good chance my site will outlive Reddit.”

  • Johanna says:

    Regarding the Infantino list, Mark Waid said this on Bluesky.

    In response to Kurt Busiek saying “This version of the list is based on a real one, but it wasn’t Carmine’s list and it wasn’t in the late 60s.

    I think it was Irwin Donenfeld’s list, in the late 50s. ”

    Mark responded:

    “Kurt is correct, though that exact document, produced by me as a DC editor in 1988, was based on intel routed to me through Carmine and used as the basis for the cover to SECRET ORIGINS #40.”

    So there’s more history for you.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    I predict that DC’s Ape-Ril Special will fly off the shelves once fans realize it features the first appearance of the Monkeynomicon.

  • Garrie says:

    If you get the nod for an Angel and the Ape revival I hope your story can include a team-up with Stan Bragg and Funky Flashman!

  • Oliver says:

    I’d have bought Secret Origins #40 just for Congorilla on a 50s motorcycle.

  • Damien says:

    If I recall correctly Mark Waid’s editorial in that issue of Secret Origins mentions that he got multiple artists to do cover sketches incorporating all the required elements. I definitely remember him saying Ty Templeton and Bernie Mireault were involved and I’m sure there were others that I have forgotten. I would love to see all those sketches. I bet they were all awesome.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Thanks for the information on the Infantino/Donenfeld sales bump tropes…now somebody needs to put together a compilation of all of the Silver and Bronze Age DC Comics covers that featured one or more of those tropes.

    It also now makes sense why The Flash was shown crying so often on his Silver and Bronze Age covers…and it explains why Gorilla Grodd was created. The only trope I question is why purple backgrounds were supposed to bump up sales–one would think that red or yellow covers would sell better…at least on old pulp magazines the red and yellow background covers seem to really pop. Also, although purple can be “royal” it’s basically a villain/anti-hero color, especially when paired with green a la Lex Luthor,The Joker,Annihilus, The Skrulls, Diablo, The Hulk, Reggie Mantle as Evil Heart, etc.

    I will say that as a Bronze Age kid I loved dinosaur covers and two come to mind immediately…a DC Special cover that has Captain Comet and Tommy Tomorrow battling dinosaurs, and a Flash cover that shows Flash and Kid Flash outracing dinosaurs. Also, as far as Silver Age dinosaur-themed comics go, beyond Turok, there is at least one great Dynamo story where he’s battling robot dinosaurs, drawn by the superlative Wally Wood.

    As to motorcycles and flames, add a skull and one can see why Ghost Rider was a big hit in the early Bronze Age.

    I suppose “the mystery of the seventh super hero” trope was used in JLA nos. 100-103, which featured the time tossed Seven Soldiers of Victory…but this story arc took the trope even further as an eighth superhero was at the root of the mystery–Wing, the Crimson Avenger’s

    Mike, I think you should get Xaime and Beto to collaborate with you on an Angel and the Ape one-shot or mini series…a Sterling/Hernandez Bros. story would be cool!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Monsier Mallah”

    I like him better than the other DC apes, for some reason.

    “I loved dinosaur covers”

    I liked when DC put Dinos on their war comics! Which they did for longer than you’d think. (Dinosaur Island, I think, Star Spangled War Stories).

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