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Birds of Prey #13: Which cover is better?

Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass points out that DC has changed the cover on Birds of Prey #13 from what was solicited. Ben Oliver created the artsy, solicited cover, while Trevor McCarthy drew the dynamic one that showed up with DC’s preview of the issue. Both can be seen in all their glory below.

They’re both attractive pieces of work, so this isn’t about one of them being bad. What I’m interested in are the different purposes the two covers serve. Oliver’s, as Sue points out, is eye-catching and “poster material.” Rob Staeger notes in the comments, however, that McCarthy’s cover, while busier, better communicates what’s in the story.

My question for you is: Which do you prefer? Not just for this particular issue, but in general. Are you more likely to try a new comic with an artful, but interchangeable depiction of the main characters? Or with a powerful representation of what’s going on in the story?

Ben Oliver's cover to Birds of Prey #13

Trevor McCarthy's cover to Birds of Prey #13



I am much more likely to pick up a book with a powerful representation of what’s going on in the story, then one I consider to be nothing more then a bunch of pinup images.

The first one would be a great image for another Women of the DCU calendar, but I’d be way more apt to pick up the second cover for a comic book. It seems more interesting and exciting.

I’m sure the only reason it was changed was because you couldn’t get the “arrow” banner onto the original piece without ruining it.

But, for me, I hate generic poster covers. Give me adventurous, innovative…. actually just get Francesco Francavilla to draw every comic cover.

In general, I don’t like “iconic” covers (non-representative) except for first issues, but the stylization here makes it much more likely to catch my eye. The story cover distinguishes this issue from others in the series, but doesn’t stand out from anything else on the stands. If I’m not already reading BoP–and I’m not–the Oliver one’s the only one with a chance of drawing me in.

If a cover is going to be iconic, it needs to be ICONIC. The first cover is good, but not great enough for a cover. I prefer the second cover with it’s action and focus which I think is pretty dynamic and compelling.

I’d be much more tempted to pick up and flip through the book based on the “artsy” cover. It’s a beautiful illustration, and just looks nicer in my opinion.

It doesn’t help that the “dynamic” cover has a massive ad for an unrelated TV show that’s sure to fail sooner than later.

In general, I would prefer covers that indicate the story inside, but while this cover may a better reflection of the story, it’s not that interesting to me – it doesn’t make me want to read the story. The art is nice, but doesn’t stand out and the bad guys don’t seem interesting. The cover image should be intriguing. The “poster” cover is more intriguing to me because while it might not sell the story, it sells the characters – they look awesome which makes me interested in following their adventures and how they are as a team.

I think the first image works better for a book/collected edition. After all, as a book, it’s no longer a comic – but something different entirely.

But as a comic? You have to sell the interiors – especially as these are monthly comics. You want to hook people fast, get their attention, you don’t have time to waste. Any “what’s inside this comic” questions at the store is a potential lost sale.

Generic covers – like Paul Nolan says – just tell you nothing. At $2.99 upwards for most books, too, you need to know if you’re spending money wisely before you get to cash till.

Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)

October 22, 2012 at 11:55 am

I want something that reflects the issue.

I also don’t want anything by Ben Oliver, his art always looks too cold and sterile for me.

Trevor McCarthy’s cover. It has everything that I love. Stylistically drawn characters, a dense well drawn background and is nicely colored.

I like the second one better except for the ad. I’ve noticed that modern covers often have characters posing against a generic background. I’d rather have dynamic action against a detailed background.

I have to admit, I was going to buy BOP just for the cover. It’s lovely, and I have a thing for minimalism. The other cover is fine and does tell me what’s going on in the book but doesn’t really appeal to me.

I think the Ben Oliver cover would have been perfect for a first issue or stand alone arc.

McCarthy’s cover is too confusing — the mass of orange and red color doesn’t feel like a particularly instinctive choice, as opposed to the Oliver piece. Speaking to the composition, McCarthy’s cover is problematic for how the canted angle of the image is criss-crossed with the title (“A Clash of Daggers!”), which slants in the opposite direction; as well as problematic for how it’s rather difficult to tell just where in the heck Katana is standing. She’s on a building ledge, but you have to twist your head to tell make sure she isn’t floating.

Oliver’s piece is flavored with a 1960s or 70s movie poster theme, which I understand isn’t to everyone’s aesthetic preference. But if I’m given the choice between the minimalist retro work and the blob of a Gotham nighttime knife fight, I’ll take the former.

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