Comic Vine News


Where Do Cover Models Come From?

Could you be one?

 One of Mayhew's covers. He WASN'T KIDDING about looking for fit ladies.

You ever looked at a painted cover and wondered about the models that’ve been used for photo reference? Who are they? How in the world did they get the opportunity to become Mystique or Storm? Seems like it can be just as simple as a Craig’s List posting, sometimes. Bleeding Cool relayed that Mike Mayhew, who’s probably best known for his SHE-HULK and PULSE covers, posted a classified ad last there last week looking for some sporty models.

Here’s just how he words it…

My name is Mike Mayhew. I'm a comic book artist who specializes in realistic art. I have a gig from Marvel Comics, and I am in need of the following types:

- Caucasian female with long red-hair. Blondes might work for this one.
- Caucasian female with short red-hair.
- African American female.
- brown or black hair caucasian male.
- blonde caucasian male.

All applicants must be between ages 20-27. A tall (5'8"+), physical fit physique is a must. A handsome or pretty face is needed. Fitness model types are preferable.

I'm looking to shoot pics at my studio in Glendale next week for a story that will appear in a Marvel comic. The photos are merely reference for my art and will not be reproduced. Most sessions will be one hour, with the exception of the lead roles which will be two or more hours. My schedule is somewhat flexible and I can work with you on setting up a time.

Please submit photos for consideration. Professionally taken photos are preferred. I will not be able to reply to all of the submissions. 

Hmmm… Caucasian females with long and short red hair? My best guess would be Rachel Summers and her mom, Phoenix. Or maybe Mary Jane entertaining different do’s? The rest of the descriptions could fit any number of characters in the Marvel U. The photo-shoots still going to happen this week, so any of you Comic Vine maniacs with the proper modeling resume might still have the chance to respond to this. Do any of you figure you're going to give a shot? == TEASER ==

 You do not want to F with this Punisher.

Wait - - Glendale? That’s right around my usual haunt, and I DO fit Type #4 above. Gee, Babs has already gotten to be Catwoman AND Wonder Woman. Maybe I’m letting the chance for comics immortality slip through my fingers here...

While we’re on the subject, I'll say that, as impressive as all the heroic guys with the lantern jaws that Alex Ross typically uses are, the cover model I’ve always wondered about is the guy Tim Bradstreet used for his PUNISHER covers. He was one SCARY-looking dud and the "intimidation factor" never really let up on any of the 100-odd covers Bradstreet used him for.

-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Studios and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia. HYBRID BASTARDS! is available  here and UNIMAGINABLE is available here for pre-order on  

Posted by dondasch

I've always been curious to know who Alex Ross used as his model for Wonder Woman during Kingdom Come

Posted by Cosmic Sentinel

If I recall correctly, Alex Ross uses people he knows as well as (people) models, action figures and the like. I believe his parents filled in for Reed Richards and Sue Storm in Marvels.

Posted by Timm

Most people use people they know. I know CP Smith does, i used to, Tomm Coker does...
well come to think of it, we all used the same people. Our wolverine was usually Tomm's brother... ah, memories.

Posted by Bandito

Why doesn't he just use the same porn star that Greg Land uses for every character?

Posted by sora_thekey

Well that's interesting, I never though Mike Mayhem would use models...
In my case I do what Joe Q has proven positive results.... I take pictures of myself and then transfer them into whatever I'm drawing with obvious aesthetic changes...

Posted by CaptainGenisVell

I know Alex Ross uses his friends and himself to do his artwork, features reference photos he uses in his book.

Posted by Blackestnight

I'd do it but I live in NC so it's not happening. I think modeling for a comic would be awesome.

Posted by ForbushBug
@Bandito said:
" Why doesn't he just use the same porn star that Greg Land uses for every character? "
Hey, that's just not fair. It takes hours of research for Land to find the right porn star to trace.
Posted by X-93

Posing for a comic cover would be awesome.  Wish I could do it.

Posted by No_name_here
@Cosmic Sentinel:  The most amusing model he used was Frank Zappa as Dr. Strange.
Posted by Yumulu
@Tom Pinchuk said:
" @Cosmic Sentinel:  The most amusing model he used was Frank Zappa as Dr. Strange. "
Scans please
Posted by SupremoMaximo

I can be the original Humbug if anyone is interested...

Posted by JDevil

I think their probably for Thundra and Lyra (who has had short hair before).

Posted by Roxanna Meta
Posted by Decept-O
I don't know who specifically but in my opinion, she was HOT.  The PERFECT rendition of Wonder Woman.  
@Tom Pinchuk:  Yes, those covers are indeed intimidating and rank up there as some of the best!  Nice job pointing that out.   
Boris Vallejo did some amazing work using models for both Fantasy and Comic art.  Plenty other artists.    The list goes on.......  

Posted by No_name_here
@Yumulu: It's not as pronounced here, though. 
Posted by ArtisticNeedham

Hmm, I am #4 too, maybe...

Posted by greenenvy

interesting for bringing this up cause I never thought about it. 

Posted by sparty-dbq

"All applicants must be between ages 20-27." -Okay. 
"A tall (5'8"+)," -Good, good. 
"physical fit physique is a must." -DAMMIT!
Posted by Cherry Bomb

I want to be a cover model! :(

Posted by ArtisticNeedham
@Cosmic Sentinel said:

" If I recall correctly, Alex Ross uses people he knows as well as (people) models, action figures and the like. I believe his parents filled in for Reed Richards and Sue Storm in Marvels. "

Also  Timothy Dalton and Edward Albert Jr as Tony Stark, Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, himself as Namor, Giligan's Island's Professor as Reed Richards, and others. His father as Kingdom Come's McCay, Gregory Peck as an elderly Bruce too.  
couldn't find Kingdom Come Bruce without his armor.

 And I don't know if he did it on purpose but doesn't Earth X's Captain America look like Bruce Willis?
Earth-9997 Earth X
Posted by Nova`Prime`

I actually really prefer the covers that use real people for models. Also is it just me or does She-Hulk's wrist look really small compared to the rest of her arm?

Posted by Gothapolis

                                                                My pal as peter

Posted by Leliel
@X-93: I'm happy enough knowing someone who did it
Posted by Catastrophic

The Nick Fury in the Punisher MAX line's arc: Mother Russia is actually Thomas Jane which is pretty funny because Jane was The Punisher in the '04 movie. lol.

Posted by Bandito
@ForbushBug: Yeah, that must be so horrible for Land.  He should get more sympathy.
Posted by Amber

Personally, I've looked at craigslist for jobs like that and regular boring jobs and not surprisingly, it's a creepzone. 
I've modeled a few times and I'm not physically all that fit anymore. A good artist should study anatomy in art school. The artists I pose for need reference for things like how they might want an arm to be holding a sword or a gun, or what position are your legs if you're jumping out of a moving stagecoach or how the fabric drapes in clothing when a pose changes. A lot of artists are turning to Model Mayhem where you will find plenty of women that look like the gravity-defying "comic book ideal" although not too many have the muscles of someone like She-Hulk (for that there are only 2 people I can think of in the costuming world, Heather Kelly and Belle Chere).