Anatomy of a Cover: Avengers 82

By | Friday, February 25, 2022 Leave a Comment
The John Buscema appreciation Twitter account posted his original art to Avengers #82 the other day. It's gorgeous, of course, but I was briefly struck by how unbalanced it looks before I realized none of the copy had been added yet beyond the logo.
But then, when I called up the printed cover to see how the copy was added, I was surprised to notice some additions that suggested someone had made a number of changes to the art. Most obviously, there's a lot more room at the bottom for the "Avengers Assemble" text which therefore bumps Daredevil up into the logo more. But the more I looked at it, the more changes I noticed. So I thought, what better way to identify all the changes than to overlay Buscema's original art over the printed version and start making corrections digitally until they lined up? So without adding any additional art elements, here's what the two look like side-by-side...
As you can see, there is a fair amount of space at the bottom, but there's also a gap along the far right. You can see against the original there was no additional art that Buscema had drawn off the margin, so the whole cover was adjusted disproportionally along both axis, and the entire right side edge had to be drawn in.

The Daredevil figure has been shifted, along with the page as a whole, but he's also been rotated somewhat. Presumably to keep from obscuring the logo more. His billy club's wire was also cut off and redrawn (the original has a slight curve to it, the new one is completely straight) and his motion lines have been removed entirely.

Iron Man has been moved farther towards the center and also rotated slightly so he doesn't overlap the corner box. The top of the building underneath him has been cropped and totally redrawn now, because they lifter all of his motion lines with him. Said motion lines do get a bit confused and hard to read where they intersect with the ones from Thor's hammer, but that area was smartly coverd up with a word balloon. The top of the building Iron Man was previously over had to be redrawn as well and, if you look closely, you can see in the published version where the horizontal lines don't quite match up.

One of the stranger changes to my eye is the building on the far left. It would had to have been cropped/editted in some manner to not completely block the Marvel Comics Group logo but rather than just chopping off the upper or lower, it's cut through the middle a bit below Black Panther's elbow. Which means that most of that section with the grid in perspective had to be drawn fresh. On top of the difficulty in cutting out the old section right alongside Panther's arm. They could've just let it run behind the corner box or chopped the building off right under that highest set of windows, and it would've been a heck of a lot easier without any sacrifice to the quality. I mean, it's a generic building that's already bleeding off the edge of the page as it is.

The one other curious thing I'll call attention to is Daredevil's word balloon. All of the dialogue is pretty superfluous in the first place, and it seems more put in place just to fill up space than anything. You could really switch any of those lines around to have them come from any of these characters, or even just eliminate any random number of them, and it doesn't have any impact on whatever storytelling is taking place on the cover. So why is Daredevil's balloon placed so high? Not only is there plenty of empty space further down, but it's blocking both the logo and, more important legally, it completely covers the Registered Trademark symbol. They switched from just a "TM" to the circle-R with issue #71, so it's not like this was a new element they had to deal with. Obviously the word balloons were added well after the fact, so why deliberately cover it up?

The final cover isn't bad, certainly -- well, except for the incredibly amatuerish, looks-like-they-were-added-with-a-felt-tip-pen lines emanting from the "Avengers Assemble!" -- but I'm just confused why some of the decisions were made here. The paste-up artist did a lot of work that made things eminently harder than was warranted and, in most of the cases, was completely unnecessary.
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