Artists: McFarlane, Capullo, Daniel, Ross, Wood, Miller, Silvestri, Mignola, Ashe, Miki, Conrad, Wolf, Batt, Haberlin, Kemp, Kemp, Steacy, Olyoptics, Rude, Oliff, and Broeker
Is there something nerdier than a book just filled with covers?
There are some interesting stylistic choices I discovered regarding the layout and design of the book itself. However, let’s first talk about the nature and content of it. The cover of something — no matter which medium it serves — is the audience’s first contact with a story. In a bookstore, you see hundreds of covers facing you: each trying to grab your attention, to lure you in, and make you read the synopsis at the back. Comic covers, for me, have a very complex nature in that regard.
I buy my comics mostly online — except those big, beautiful collections — so the only thing I see at ComiXology is the cover in combination with the title. Of course, there is also the number of the issue and the price. But it’s mostly the combination of the title and the cover that makes me buy the book or at least put it on my wish list.
To browse through a hundred Spawn covers, without the title, number, logo, price, and everything on it makes this book very interesting. The focus entirely rests on the image (pun intended). There are no distractions, nothing that shifts your attention. There are no stories needed to be sold to an audience because there are none. Behind each cover, just lies the next one.
This collection invites you to put it on a table. Somewhere you can easily reach it and flip through it. Just every once in a while, to take a peek at some of the covers. Without the need to read the story behind those amazingly drawn covers, you might see details that previously escaped your eyes.
As I mentioned, the covers themselves are incredible. The coloring and style, which basically serves as a guideline throughout those 100 issues, unleash their full force in a collection like this one. One could even think that they tell their own little story. Some of them also make me want to reread the issue. Just to see why the cover was designed the way it was.
Let’s get to the design of the book. I understand why there is no commentary added to the covers themselves, but a foreword would have been appreciated. The contents page made little sense to me at first, but then I saw that some pages are numbered. Why not enumerate them all? It would have made navigating through the book easier — matching cover with issue number — and it would have created a more consistent look and feel. In addition to that, I would have liked a collection of all 300 covers, but that would have been a monster of a collection. This way, it is nice and neat.
Finally, the bonus content, if you will. As a comics fan, I enjoy looking at the artwork very much. Especially when the inked version of a cover (or comics page, for that matter) is placed next to the colored version. The comparisons can be staggering. Unfortunately, inked covers are just provided at the beginning and one at the end. When you start to include the inked versions, why not add them for all of them? Or at least put them in the book more often, than just for like seven or eight covers.
Besides those odd choices, The Spawn cover collection of the first 100 issues is an excellent addition to every comic collection. It’s a testament to a groundbreaking series.