As one of the first books published by Image Comics, spawn It was an iconic piece of the comic book industry in the 1990s. Representing a rebellion from the two major publishers, Spawn was a dark anti-hero with a twisted set of morals.
Regardless of the story inside the book, readers could always count on spawn featuring a vibrant, gory, and sometimes terrifying cover. Usually drawn by the creator himself, Todd McFarlane, the covers of spawn perfectly encapsulated the mood of comics in the 1990s.
Collaborating with Greg Capullo to tackle the covers, creator Todd McFarlane’s usual style of ultra-busy images is counterbalanced by a nice use of negative space. For issue #32, the cover features a typical superhero image of Spawn leaping. However, the addition of his tattered cape presents an interesting framing.
Instead of drawing the cape as solid, the incorporation of holes in the cape allows for sunlight to peek through which gives the image a lot of depth. The simple background of a sunrise has a double meaning for the character as well as provides a natural source of light for Spawn to be backlit by.
Even when Todd McFarlane was drawing iconic covers for Marvel, he gained a reputation as an artist who liked to cram his frame. Issue #52 of spawn is a perfect illustration of McFarlane’s style and utilizes very little negative space, opting instead to fill the frame with flame and green light.
As far as crossover covers go, issue #52 is an iconic piece of Image Comics lore. The book features the imprint’s two biggest superheroes in Spawn and Savage Dragon, and their team-up was highly anticipated. Drawn with exaggerated features, the two characters practically leap off of the cluttered page.
With other heroes like Batman starring in classic Halloween-themed stories, it was only natural that the hellspawn himself would leave his mark on the holiday. Issue #88 casts Spawn as a spooky ghoul as he lurks behind a gnarled tree, and he is surrounded by classic Halloween imagery like black cats and pumpkins.
The cover works best because it has a flowing, almost ghostly style to it. The twisted trunk of the tree is matched by the flow of Spawn’s robes, and he seems to blend with the night around him. The only thing that helps him stand out is the artful inclusion of his glowing green eyes which mimic the eerie glow of the black cat’s eyes at the bottom of the frame.
At your heart, spawn is a horror series with a heaping helping of action thrown on top. The plight of Spawn and his tortured soul of him is terrifying, but the villains he would often vanquish were some of the scariest baddies in comic book history. Issue #56 features an image that gets scarier the longer the reader looks at it.
With someone squatting in the center of the frame, the reader begins to notice the figure’s toothy grin and crossed-out eyes. The setting becomes apparent as the reader notices that the figure is chained in a prison cell that is artfully lit by moonlight through a window. To cap off the entire freaky display, Spawn’s eyes glow brightly through the observation slat as he looks down on the same scene that the reader is witnessing.
Sometimes, comic covers convey what is going to happen in the story, but often times the cover is simply a display of beautiful artwork. Issue #43 falls in the latter category and it is a beautiful illustration of Spawn as he leaps through the air with his cape flying around him.
Movement is masterfully conveyed by Capullo and McFarlane through the folds of the cape and by the flying chains which reach across the frame. Though Spawn’s body is mostly obscured by shadows, the presence of bats and a bright full moon remind the reader that Spawn is a scary superhero that is very dark.
Christmas is a wonderful and happy holiday, but the addition of Spawn is inevitably going to darken the mood significantly. Issue #39 blends the hellspawn with old Saint Nick, as Spawn is seen donning the familiar red suit and dragging a bloody bag that definitely doesn’t contain toys for all the world’s children.
The most clever choice made on the cover is the inclusion of a white background which serves a double purpose. First, it mimics the cliche idea of a “white” Christmas, but it also allows the figure of Spawn to stand in stark contrast, with his bright red cloak really popping. With his body hunched, Spawn is essentially a spiral, which leads the reader’s eye to the center of the frame where his frightening grin awaits him.
Generally considered one of the best Image Comic series of all time, spawn soars because it is a superhero comic at its heart, but with many dark twists. Issue #5 resembles a more traditional comic book cover, and features Spawn lurking on a rooftop with the city skyline rising behind him.
Though Spawn is usually obscured in shadow in the comics, the cover of issue #5 gives readers a chance to get a good look at the anti-hero. Spawn’s flowing cape and swirling chains frame his figure, and the fact that he is on a slant draws the reader’s eye across the page. Though it is a typical hero pose, Spawn’s open and clutching hand is a reminder of just who he is.
Covers are works of art in their own way, and many of the early covers of spawn looked to show the character off. Issue #18 features the familiar demon as he bursts forth from a casket with rage in his green eyes and a skull clutched in his hand.
The cover features a black border, which further makes it feel like a piece of artwork. Also, by placing a tombstone in the foreground, the reader is given the impression that they are watching the event unfold from nearby and that they are at risk of being seen.
The 1990s was a boom time for the comic book industry and many first issues were highly sought-after collector’s items. Issue #1 of spawn had to not only introduce the character to a new audience, but present him in a visually appealing way as well.
The cover is very clean and has a lot less line work than many of the subsequent books would have. Though the frame is extremely busy, as Spawn fills the entire cover with his body and cape, it is still easy to navigate with the eye and the use of color helps things stand apart. Framed in the middle center of the cover is Spawn’s reaching hand, which leaps forward in vivid detail when compared to the two-dimensional bat that hovers below it.
While the first two issues of the book featured a slightly different art style on the covers, Issue #3 introduced the style that would become synonymous with spawn‘s 1990s run. The cover depicts Spawn sitting atop a small church as a negative space of bats flies around him.
While the cover may seem like a simple image on its surface, the longer the viewer inspects it, the better they come to understand it. The focus of the image is on Spawn, who dominates most of the frame. However, the folds of his cape and the flying bats draw the eye to the bottom corner of the image where the subtle peek of stained glass reveals that the demon is on top of a church.
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