Editor’s note: In the series, we ask 13 interesting people to consider a work of comic art and tell us what it means to them. They can focus on the the character, the history, the artist, the context, how it makes them feel…heck, even how it doesn’t make them feel.
For our fifth installment, we welcome the Son of the Shopkeep and all-around awesome person, Ethan Anderson.
After looking at this cover, the thing that I am the most curious about isn’t the fate of the man in the green jacket, or even what is inside the Blue Glass Bottle. I’m most interested in knowing more about the relationship between the bald man and his victim. Did the man in the jacket just wander into some antique store unaware of the danger? Were they previous acquaintances or work colleagues? Perhaps they were friends who had a falling out. Or maybe they are a master and apprentice, and the apprentice needed to be taught a lesson. For all we know the bald man could just be a common hat thief, who came up with a complicated ruse to get that stylish blue hat. Who’s to say who the villain is in this scenario? The bald man inherently looks sinister, but he could just be trapping the real criminal.
Whatever the actual story in the book is, the cover is there to hook you in, and this cover is barbed and has a big worm on it. The artist who drew this said “No!” to an ambiguous image and wanted the reader to immediately know the plot of the comic. You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover but when the cover is so explicit it’s hard not to. In a way, I’m a fan of this because sometimes comic covers will be an amazingly epic picture, but after you read the book and the moment on the cover isn’t inside, you’re left disappointed.
I believe this cover is working harder than necessary to capture the reader’s attention. One image without all the text could convey the plot of the book and remain intriguing. I think the cover could be just the final frame, more detailed of course, and maybe with the man in green trying to resist being put in the bottle. Drawing the bald man’s face to look neutral would be a worthy detail to add as well. His actions already make him seem like the antagonist, and if he is drawn with an overly menacing face it will reinforce to the reader that he his villain. Leaving his face neutral would leave his motivations more up in the air without necessarily lying to the reader. It leaves his character open to being the hero of the story, a man who is not gleefully trapping an innocent, but a man who is grimly carrying out his duty to cage the true enemy. It also preserves the cryptic nature of their relationship, except to say that at this moment they are at odds. The cover does certainly grab your attention, though; it’s a preface that most comics don’t have. The creative choices of the artist get the job done in a unique way, that leaves the reader eagerly wanting to turn the page to see what happens next. For a book titled Tales of Suspense, I suppose that’s all that matters.
Ethan Anderson lives and works in Columbus, Ohio, ranging around parks and helping people enjoy themselves in a safe and responsible manner. Much like his twin sister, Ethan consistently finishes near or at the top of Ye Olde Shopkeep’s List of Favorite People on the Planet.