Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fantastic JLA

Here are two covers that appeared within a couple of months of each other back in 1962. Often, you find that a comic book cover is possibly inspired by the art of a pulp magazine published months if not years before the comic book hits the stands.
When I first saw these covers I suspected that the JLA art was inspired by the eerie spacemen-in-peril art from the Ziff-Davis published Fantastic magazine, but it seems not to be the case. The issue of Fantastic was published in December 1962 with art by Robert Adragna for the Keith Laumer story Cocoon. The Justice League book was published in September 1962 with art by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson.

Perhaps ancient greek myths were foremost in the public consciousness in 1963 but the cover designs seem too be too similar to be coincidence, especially in such a small publishing genre. Interestingly, the astronaut wears a space suit design that may be familiar to the fans of pulp and comic illustrations. Given that the JLA cover had its debut a few months prior to Fantastic being published it is possible that Adragna had found inspiration in other sci-fi magazines and DC comic books.



  1. That is an odd element to pop up simultaneously, but I suppose taking a literal turn to being "rooted to the ground" isn't so strange.

    Before the images appeared (s-l-o-w access today), when you mentioned greek myths, my first thought was that, yes, they were very big, very mainstream at the time. Hercules and anything related to him were almost an undustry unto themselves around then. By '62 even the latest, (sad, sad), tv-age driven version of the Three Stooges worked their way into a Hercules movie, and Jason and the Argonauts came out the following year.

  2. Back in 1942, there was a Broadway play called "Mr. Sycamore" about a poetry-loving postman who gets tired of walking his route and wants to achieve peace and serenity, so -- inspired by the Greek legend of the two elderly temple guards who are turned into trees -- he decides to just stand in his back yard and wait to turn into a sycamore tree. In 1975 it was made into a film starring Jason Robards.

    Sometime before I was born, my father starred as the title character in a radio production of the story. I may be biased, but I have to wonder if Mr. Sycamore rather than the original myth might have been the immediate inspiration for these two covers.


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