Hello, art fans! Today, we’re shining the spotlight on a legend of comic book art—the cover artist supreme, Earl Norem. If you’re a fan of the painted comic book cover style, then you probably already know his name. Earl’s distinctive work graced the covers of many of our favorite comics and magazines, from Marvel’s iconic series to the pulpy goodness of ‘The Savage Sword of Conan.’ And he did a fair bit of horror comic covers as well.
Born in 1924, Norem had a career that spanned multiple decades, contributing iconic artwork to a variety of platforms. He was particularly renowned for his painted covers for magazines like “Amazing Stories” and various Men’s Magazine publications. That’s right, before he painted super heroes, he illustrated some raunchy stuff!
In addition to magazine covers, Norem’s artistic prowess also extended to book covers, advertisements, and even trading cards. He illustrated a number of children’s books, particularly in the action and fantasy genres, enhancing classics and new stories alike with his compelling visual style. One of his more notable contributions was to the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe franchise, where his vivid illustrations helped define the look and feel of this iconic series.
Norem had a knack for bringing fictional worlds and characters to life in a way that was both grandiose and intricately detailed. His work often featured heroic figures in dynamic poses, set against expansive landscapes or battling fearsome foes. Whether he was depicting muscle-bound warriors, fearsome dragons, or futuristic landscapes, His art was characterized by its intricate detail, dynamic composition, and vibrant color palette.
Sadly, Earl passed away in 2015, but his legacy lives on through his extensive body of work, which continues to be celebrated by fans and collectors alike. He particularly had a unique knack for capturing the essence of barbarians and monsters in vivid color and dynamic composition. So, in this post, the Longbox of Darkness will shine a rare light on not just Norem’s horror content, but his multi-genre output, which includes some fantasy and science-fiction. So how about it? Are you up for drooling over some masterpieces of the imagination? Then let’s get to it.
1. Marvel Preview #9
Earl Norem perfectly captured the power of Philip Wylie’s Hugo Danner, arguably the first superhero and the character who partially inspired Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to create Superman. Danner’s grim aura permeates the page, providing a terrifying glimpse into the haunting world of this proto-Superman.
2. Marvel Preview #12
The frightening beauty of Lilith, the daughter of Dracula, is on full display with this fantastic cover. Is she inviting you in for a drink for the evening? Or to be her drink for the evening?
3. Planet of the Apes Magazine #21
The intensity in the eyes of the apes and the despair on the faces of the humans make this cover a compelling piece of art.
4. Planet of the Apes Magazine #28
Here, the ferocity of a battle between ape and man is captured with heart-stopping realism.
5. Savage Sword of Conan #47
The aftermath of a battle, where Conan predictably reigns victorious. A quintessential Conan cover, where the Barbarian’s fierce essence is front and center.
6. Savage Sword of Conan #90
Norem skillfully depicts Conan’s relentless nature amidst a sea of adversaries, making it an iconic cover in the series.
7. Savage Sword of Conan #14
In a jungle temple Conan challenges a demonic simian that would send King Kong scampering for the hills. This cover offers a blend of potentially murderous action with just the right hint of supernatural allure.
8. Savage Sword of Conan #38
The raw energy of battle against a horde of vampiric foes makes this a memorable addition to the Conan gallery, and showcases some Hyborian horror elements in the bargain.
9. Savage Sword of Conan #23
An iconic cover featuring Red Sonja! Norem shows us his mastery of monstrous action with this piece that encapsulates the savagery of Conan’s world.
10. Marvel Super Special #10
Before Star-Lord was a household name, this cover gave us a galactic hero beyond the typical superhero mold. Very Flash Gordon-esque, but it contains that unique Norem magic that elevates it beyond your average planetary romance protagonist.
11. Moon Knight #6
While Moon Knight may technically be a hero, he’s far from your traditional superhero, with his feet firmly planted in the Marvel horrorverse. He debuted in Werewolf by Night after all. This cover perfectly captures the menace of Voodoo, and the often horrifying foes Moon Knight has to contend with.
12. Monsters Unleashed #9
The image of a terrifying Wendigo clutching a screaming damsel, with hunters swarming helplessly in the foreground, makes for a compelling cover that probably easily sold the magazine to whoever chanced upon it.
13. Marvel Preview #8
This spine-chilling cover invites you into a dark world populated by Marvel’s creepiest non-superhero entities – Morbius, Man-Wolf, Man-Thing, and their monstrous ilk. A favorite!
14. Dracula Lives #4
This eerie cover highlights the doom of Dracula’s victims and the enduringly evil presence of the Lord of Vampires himself.
15. Tales of the Zombie #5
Yet another macabre masterpiece, this one features Marvel’s resident zombie Simon Garth. It makes you want to immerse yourself in the darker realms of the Marvel universe, doesn’t it?
So there you have it—fifteen iconic covers by the legendary Earl Norem! His art spans different genres and moods, yet each piece stands out as a timeless contribution to the world of comic book art. While not solely a horror artist, I think you’ll all agree that when he did tackle the subject, it was every bit as good as his superhero or science-fiction.
How do you feel about these covers? Sound off in the comments, and don’t forget to check out the The Longbox of Darkness Podcast, which we’ve recently relaunched!
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Till next time, happy trails, dark travelers, and may ALL the comic book covers you run into always be this legendary!