This week’s Cover of the Week salutes an artist that has come to my attention only recently but has been consistently producing outstanding cover art for several years. Today we honor the work of Dave “The Reverend” Johnson.
Beginning in the early 90’s Dave Johnson has carved out a career of cover art with notable titles including 100 Bullets, his Eisner Award nominated covers for Superman: Red Son and his recent work on Punisher: MAX and Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest.
What makes Johnson’s work stand out from the crowd is his talent for Abstract design. This is not to say he cannot do anything else, far from it. But Johnson has an understanding of what is needed for a cover that he can achieve what is needed and go outside of the box with his designs to achieve it.
As mentioned on his blog that critiques Comic covers released every week. Johnson tries to avoid the cliche’s as often as possible. Examples being a dark brooding hero standing on a gargoyle or Wolverine starring straight forwards baring his claws. They are themes that have been done thousands of times by now and I’m glad at least someone is calling it out as something to stop doing.
A second element of Johnson’s work that is important is his ability to adjust his style to whatever work he is doing. For example take a look a the three covers above, the three styles there are different enough to make you think that they are done by different artists. This versatility is a great skill to have as it opens up a lot of roads for work and projects. It makes me incredibly envious.
After all the preamble and build what one Cover do I pick for this week’s Cover of The Week?
Punisher: MAX #6
The covers for the Punisher: MAX series are what caught my attention to Dave Johnson’s work. The use of Black, White and Red gives these covers a stark clarity to them that makes the whole cover jump out at you, making you stare at it, which frankly is exactly what is needs to do.
What makes this cover great is it’s simplicity, all that’s there is the Bullseye, Frank Castle and the Arrow point above him. Something I have struggled with an artist is know when to stop, where the line is between intricate detail and a scribbled muddled image. Other artist’s may have attempted to put a face in the background or add some other element because they think there isn’t enough on the page.
This cover is incredibly honest with it’s story telling. What’s going to happen in this issue? in giant letters above Frank Castle point down on him, BULLSEYE. It gives the reader an idea of what will happen in this issue even if they do not know who Bullseye the character is. Frank is being targeted by someone, he is going to fight him. This clarity of message also adds a atmosphere of tension and drama, like Frank has tunnel vision and can only concentrate on the threat of Bullseye.
Dave Johnson has very quickly become one of my favourite artists in the industry. His willingness to think outside of the box, with a knowledge of what makes a good cover work with a strong versatility in style and skill make him an excellent cover artist and Punisher: MAX #6 is a great a example of his work.
You can read Johnson’s (mostly) weekly blog here . Where he critiques covers from that week with praise or suggestion for changes, this blog has taught be a few things by reading it, so it’s definitely worth checking out. Also it’s cool to see him putting his own work up for critique by his readers, and good to see an artist’s opinion of his own work, and admittance of failure ( He admitted he incorrectly portrayed Frank Castle as a Green Beret instead of a Marine on Punisher: MAX #21). Admittance of failure and learning from your mistakes leads to a better artist, and if Johnson can get any better than he is right now, all the better for it.
More of Dave Johnson’s work can be found here on his Deviant Art Page.
For More Articles, Reviews and my own comic series go to www.abandonearthcomics.com