Sunday, 13 April 2008

ICFD Cover of the Week - 13th April 2008

Yeah, I know that I've kind of missed the last two...

I realised that there was one British team book that very much hadn't had a cover yet. And that was Excalibur. Now I know there's going to be some purists out there who will say, 'This book doesn't count - it's NOT Marvel UK'. Well, true, it was published by Marvel US. But it was (At least initially) written pencilled, and inked by Brits, it was set in Britain, featured Marvel UK's first major character, and you can even track down some issues with British pricing printed on the cover (50p!? Damn it you'll be lucky to pay less than £2.20, now!).

This is Alan Davis and Paul Neary's cover for Excalibur #4.

I love this cover. It captures pretty much everything that was great about the original Excalibur. It wasn't purely ridiculous, but it never took itself too seriously. There was always a strong sense of humour at its core, but one which was very British. You don't get much more in tune with that than a jobsworth caretaker, effectively telling you that it's not his job to sell this book to you - and if you want that kind of thing, then you'll have to look inside for it.

When I talk about Excalibur with American comics fans I often hear them referring to the 'Joke Covers' from early Excalibur. I really don't like people using that kind of terminology. I don't like it, because it always sounds, to me, as if they're belittling them - passing them off as insignificant comedy fluff. I think that maybe because the American comics’ tradition has primarily been one of taking themselves very seriously (Although that certainly wasn't the way in which things started out) most American comic book covers tend to stick to follow suit, playing out greatly dramatic scenes on their frontages, to grab the attention of prospective readers. Often to the point of melodrama (But for God's sake don't point that one out).

The covers from early Excalibur, on the other hand, are very much in the British tradition. 2000 AD, for example, did covers like this long ago. British comics have never taken themselves TOO seriously. We're not daft! Some of the stories told inside these books are incredibly ridiculous, if you tried to explain them to people. So why take them 100% seriously from the outset? They're supposed to fun, after all.

Comments welcome, people.


  1. Aside from X-Men #1-3, probably Claremont's last good contribution to the X-mythos.

    I loved Excalibur it ranks as one of my favourite titles and the effort that went into some of those early covers was tremendous. Though my favourite would have to be the one from Alan Davis' second run where the cover is the first panel of the story.

  2. It's certainly on my list for a later mention, Andy. Along with a couple of others.

    This probably was Claremont's last GREAT contribution to the X-Titles, yeah. X-Men #1-3 was good, but leaves me feeling a little bitter over Claremont kind of being forced out, from a creative POV. Which was a damned shame. When you look at some of the brilliant ideas the man never got the editors to let him run with, you really start realise that a good many of the ideas he's chucked out are still wildly better than anything that came after it for the rest of that decade.

    He's never quite managed to recapture the quality of his first X-Men tenure. It's kind of a 'You can never come home' story, in my opinion. I'm still of the opinion that Claremont should have been pushed up to X-Editor, for all those titles.

    That said, his recent Excalibur work is something I've found myself taking a certain exception to. But that's a grumble for another blog.