What makes the best comic book covers? It is a great topic for debate. For us, as individuals, there is no wrong answer, of course; it is purely subjective. But, with a little thought it’s possible to explain what it is about a particular image that grabs you. The best images are the ones that make you stop and check out something you weren’t previously planning to purchase – and in some cases, you even end up picking up a title you’ve never even heard of before.

Before there were colorfully clad heroes spanning the world of superhero comics, there were the great pulp heroes like Doc Savage and The Shadow and G-8, among others – and their storied adventures dominated popular culture in times past. And although it was their tales of tomorrows turned black that were both appealing and action-driven, and that is indeed true, it was the covers of these massive masterpieces that were what sold their stories to pre-Depression American readers looking for the fantastical.

Cover-dated January 1945, and published by Street & Smith Publishers, Shadow Comics Vol. 4 #10 might have been a throwaway assignment in lesser hands. But the unknown cover artist paid tribute to this timeless character’s periodical prose covers that time and again delivered new energy to a genre that arguably needed a high-powered injection of sheer excitement. This “shadow artist,” of course, delivered and then some, and countless consumers bought the comic for that very reason.

-Scott Braden