I haven’t done a cover analysis of a comic book cover in a while so I thought I do one again. I have a spot in my studio where I pile up comic books. Usually they’re ones I’ve recently bought. I put new comics in a magazine holder next to my chair, read them, and then move them a few feet away on top of my printer. There they sit for a couple of weeks until I read them a second time and then they get filled away for safekeeping. Also on top of my printer will be one old comic. A comic I pick out of my collection because I like the cover and want it to hang around for a little while so I can look at it. The comic book I just moved there today is “Creatures on the Loose” number twenty four starring Thonogor Warrior of Lost Lemuria. It has a July 1973 cover date. Forty five years old.

When I looked at this cover this morning it looked to me like the inks were by Ernie Chan and the faces were by John Romita. I wasn’t sure if John Romita drew it as, during this period, he sometimes art corrected faces on comics that other people drew and inked. I looked it up on the Grand Comic Book Database (the entry) and sure enough they have John Romita listed as the penciller and Ernie Chan as the inker. They also have a credit for the cover lettering. It was done by Bullpenner Morrie Kuramoto. That’s good to know because lettering plays a big part in this cover.

Let’s look at all the lettering. We get a logo (Thonogor), the comic’s title (Creatures on the Loose), a sub-title (Warrior of Lost Lemuria), a “Featuring”, and two pieces of hand drawn cover copy (Night-dark wings vs blood-red sword and Attack of the Lizard-Hawks). By the way that’s three compound words in two pieces of cover copy. That might be a record.

I almost like the Thonogor logo. It’s kind of cool with its rock-like look but it also looks a little cartoony and unserious for such a serious looking cover. It’s not bad but seems like it should be the logo for a story about a caveman and not a sword and sorcery logo. Thonogor was a book that was trying to take advantage of Conan’s sword and sorcery popularity. I like the way the two pieces of more mechanical type, above and below the logo, frame the more wild letter forms of Thonogor. I think this makes me like the logo better. It grounds it and makes the logo a little more serious than it might be on its own.

I’m a fan of 1970s Bronze Age cover copy. Cover copy, in general, fell out of fashion a long time ago but I still like it. I like titles, I like blurbs, and I like word balloons. This one has no word balloons but has one of each of the others. The one in the circle is the blurb. The cover copy is the part that’s hand lettered by Morrie Kuramoto. It’s just cool. It’s not perfectly mechanical like today’s computer type but it’s neat, precise, and nice looking.

Over all in the color scheme the red logo over the yellow background really pops. The logo almost leaps off the page at us. The neutral gray background on the bottom of the cover also helps to move the central image forward in space. The green of the lizard-hawk is a little bit dense though. It flattens out the composition a bit but I’m not sure what color would be better. The bright yellow that helps the logo stand out so well is working against figure of the lizard-hawk. Sometimes it’s all a compromise and there is no path to perfection.

The drawing itself is a lot of fun. We get a damsel in distress, a very Conan-looking sword wielding hero, a lizard-hawk, and a neat looking background monster. The orange haired woman, despite not having much to do, is in a nice twisting action pose. John Romita made her look interesting. That’s not something every artist can do with such little to work with. Thonogor himself is also in a good pose with legs and arms spread far apart and in action as he swings his mighty sword. The lizard hawk looks a little weird with his pink spikes but overall does a good job at being menacing. And for some reason I especially like the crocodile thing underneath them. My eye keeps being drawn to it.

The main drawback of the cover is that weird metal boat they’re on. Is it flying? Is it floating? Is it falling? I have no idea. I’m not even sure what the exact shape of the boat is. Is it flat across the back and the woman is shoved over to one corner or does it come to a point in the back and she’s ll the way at the stern? I’m not sure. I think it had a flat back but it could be a teardrop shape. This lack of clarity confuses the composition.

The Ernie Chan inks look good to me. His inks can overpower pencillers but I generally like them. He has an illustrative style with a lot of density to it. You can really see the density in the Lizard-hawk and he delineated Thonogor with a lot of weight, but kept the woman light. There levels of figure inking density on one cover. He didn’t do much with that boat though. It may have been a little doomed compositionally to begin with.

Overall I find this one a solid Bronze Age cover. That’s the era of the 1970s when I was a kid and first discovered comics so there is a little bit of nostalgia mixed in it for me too but I’m not a huge nostalgia person. Everything is of it’s time and this cover is too. I’m happy it also happens to be a pretty cool piece from its time.