Our Favorite Comic Book Cover Artists of All Time

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Mike Allred:


To solely define Mike Allred as a throwback to the Silver Age ignores a huge facet of his appeal. Yes, Allred utilizes grandiose poses, theatrical facial expressions and the clean line work of legends like Jack Kirby and Neal Adams, but he also wields a potent secret ingredient: pure, gleeful insanity. Allred isn't afraid to inject the Cold War-crazy of giant robots and saucer-straddling aliens into his works, most notably his existential pulp masterpiece, Madman. This specialty has made him a go-to for experimental cult darlings like Peter Milligan's X-Force/X-Statix, Matt Fraction's FF and his wondrous Batman '66 covers. Laura Allred's huge colors highlight this weird, wonderful pop art. Under any definition, the Allreds make comics a louder, happier medium. Sean Edgar

Becky Cloonan:


Becky Cloonan is a gothic romanticist raised on a diet of death metal. Her covers, whether adorning her own self-published comics or the work of industry pals, often convey desire with a complete disregard for fatal consequences. You can see it best in her recent guest joint for WicDiv, in which The Morrigan's hair is flame and blood and lust all at once, or in the stunning covers for her own Image series Southern Cross, images that summon more goosebumps to the back of your neck the longer you stare. Like the greatest horror masters, Cloonan knows how to scare the reader so well that looking away simply isn't an option. Steve Foxe

Amanda Conner:


Amanda Conner is one of the few artists who can unleash the laughs with a single facial expression. Though she's been active for decades (remember her pencils on Disney's Gargoyle's comic iteration?), her recent work on DC heroines Power Girl, Silk Spectre and Harley Quinn have boosted her fluid line work and superb acting into the public eye more than ever. Her covers manipulate arching eyebrows, smile lines and posture to articulate volumes in a single scene. Whether Conner's presenting the adventures of a cranky super-prostitute or sociopathic clown cutie, few other artists convey the fun and distilled personality of a concept in just one image. Sean Edgar

Darwyn Cooke:


Canadian wunderkind Darwyn Cooke may feel pigeonholed into illustrating comics honoring the pure, Golden-Age idealism of the '50s, but here's the unapologetic truth: he's really, really good at it. Ever since Bruce Timm hired Cooke to draw storyboards on Batman: The Animated Series, the penciller has offered a succession of eye candy that merge Rockwellian integrity with pinpoint anatomy and inspired layouts. Cooke's world never witnessed comics' decline into the dark, humanizing brutality of the late '80s: his male figures smell like your father's cologne and his winsome heroines wandered off a Busby Berkeley set. DC: The New Frontier, The Spirit, IDW's Parker and his DC variant covers all solidify the man as a master of style and storytelling. Whatever the interiors may provide, Cooke's covers will always offer superheroes who we'll never stop believing in. Sean Edgar

Steve Ditko:


One of the true architects of the Marvel Empire, Steve Ditko's cover work for Amazing Spider-Man alone has resulted in some of the most famous imagery not only in comics but in modern pop culture in general. Idiosyncratic, yet insanely precise, Ditko created a visual language that would make him one of the most influential figures in comics. And while his notoriously prickly personality led to the deterioration of many professional relationships, no one will ever dispute the man's incalculable contributions to the medium. Mark Rozeman

Will Eisner:


There's not too much you can say about Will Eisner that hasn't been said already. For goodness sakes, the man has comic book awards and a hall of fame named after him. So widespread is Eisner's shadow, in fact, that George Perez once famously admitted he was using Eisner-esque techniques before he even properly knew who Eisner was. When all is said and done, however, what's amazing about Eisner's cover work, whether it be The Spirit or A Contract with God, is how insanely beautiful and evocative it remains after many decades and legions of imitators. With his penchant for pushing against conventions and restrictions, Eisner showed that comic book art could be something more than hastily rendered, pre-packaged approximations of reality—it could be abstract, expressive and provocative. It could, in other words, be art. Mark Rozeman

Glenn Fabry:


Responsible for some of the most twisted, nightmare-inducing images to haunt a comic book, Glenn Fabry's covers are bathed in reds and browns, as though lit by the fires of Hell. He adds a touch of photo-realism to the absurd and the macabre—creating distorted figures of humanity's worst, terrifying beings with blood on their hands…or in one case, a face like an arse. He turns nightmares into flesh, often with a wry sense of humor that softens the blow. Fabry's covers are clearly the work of one sick son of a bitch, and comics are lucky to have him. Zack Smith

Francesco Francavilla:


Francesco Francavilla was born in the wrong era. The staggeringly prolific Italian illustrator would have cleaned house in the '50s and '60s, pumping out dime store science-fiction covers and phantasmagoric horror movie posters by the dozen (although likely for a fraction of what he earns from major comic companies today). The faux-paperback distressing would get old quickly in the hands of a lesser artist, but Francavilla's inventive compositions and flare for underused color palates (his oranges!) keep his work feeling fresh, even when he's drawing hideously-decomposing Archie characters. Steve Foxe

Jenny Frison:


Cemented by creative angles, smooth textures and, well, blood, you should be able to spot a Jenny Frison cover from a couple racks away at your local comic shop. The artist, who started turning heads with work on Angel, Hack/Slash and I, Vampire, has illustrated some of our favorite cover images in the last decade. Part of that's thanks to her overall aesthetic, but Frison's work also benefits from the sheer level of emotion injected in a single image. Be it lively, glowing eyes or a dead-soul serial killer stare (seriously, check out this Hack/Slash cover…), Frison's engineered some of the coolest images in recent memory. Tyler R. Kane

Richard Corben:


For an entire generation plus, Richard Corben has been the face of horror, sci-fi and gorgeous drive-thru exploitation. Corben's work for publisher Warren in the Eerie and Creepy anthologies featured painted monstrosities with small, beady eyes and ivory fangs descending on scream queens, their fear far more palpable than any celluloid counterpart. The following decades saw the artist move from Heavy Metal and Marvel work to Dark Horse, where he's featured stunning work in the Hellboy Universe and horror efforts like the recently-wrapped Rat God. Though inspirations like H.P. Lovecraft may have written about monsters so terrible they'd drive a mind insane, Corben's done a ferocious job bringing that visual chaos to life, filling our nightmares with primal atrocities for years to come. Sean Edgar