Many conversations today lament comic journalism’s shortage of arts coverage. Pencillers, inkers, colorists, assistants and (especially) letterers remain a relative mystery in the creative process. The press may feel comfortable analyzing plot and character, but it can’t tell a Bristol board from a Wacom tablet. And those conversations are, unfortunately, accurate. Art is hard, and it takes patience and immersion to articulate its clandestine language.
With this following list (and our many State of the Art features), Paste would like to honor those individuals who first attracted us to the drug store racks, comic store rows or, more recently, comiXology jpegs that sucked us into their delicious innards. The value of comic covers simply can’t be underestimated. Cover artists balance a demanding Venn diagram that juggles various duties at once. A great cover advertises the story within, previews the issue’s mood and aesthetic and, most importantly, makes you want to buy some great comics.
The following gallery isn’t a ranking or a hall of fame; it’s an expression of appreciation for the men and women who invited us to read comic books. We judged these books by these covers, and we couldn’t be happier. Let us know your favorite comic cover artists in the comments.