Cover Art by Jim Lee

Punisher Armory 1 Cover Art Story

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Back to the cover! Cover production is a specialized art—brought to a high level of polish in the Marvel Bullpen of that time. Dawn Geiger was the woman in charge of all things covers. I will never forget her maiden name: Kumpf. She was married and dragged into comics by artist Steve Geiger. John Romita, Sr. was the Art Director in charge of it all; but especially art corrections. If, for example, a writer realizes that his long-winded soliloquy can be replaced by “Suddenly—“ then you have to remove the word balloon and replace the art left by the hole. In comes “Romita’s Raiders.” Tough, two-fisted pencilers and inkers, who played by the rules but knew when to break them. When John retired to greener pastures, into the vacuum stepped Steve Geiger. This rowdy bunch of free-thinkers found an even tougher guy to spar with—together, forged in adversity, they became: Geiger’s Counters. And count they did.

But in the meantime, Dawn had been working in the Bullpen as a paste-up and mechanical artist. Now what on earth is that, you might ask? A robot artist who works in paste? Well, if Dawn was a robot, I’m sure we all would like to be repair-people! But that term referred to the way artwork was prepared for the separators and eventual printing. Many pieces of artwork had to be dragged together and put where they belonged in a comic and made secure so that they would not fall apart on the trip to the printer. The ‘mechanical’ part is harder to figure out—my guess is that it’s from a time when you had to actually work with type and charts about type-faces in order to figure out exactly how to make type fit into a space. It may have come from the era of newspapers, when type was actually made out of molten lead in a gigantic machine operated by a typesetter. By the time I came along, “hot type” had lost and computerized “cold type” had won, changing the need for elaborate methods of figuring out how to stuff type into a certain space. But the description stuck.

Dawn came along and lent an air of sophistication to the position. She always dressed up and added a bit of class to the joint. So it was her and her people who put that first Armory cover together.

PA 1 Cvr001Here’s why it looks so funny. See those two strips with type on either side? Well, there was an increasingly elaborate process of approvals that any book needed to go through to finally be “released” to the separators or printers. So when Barry Kaplan, Marvel’s Comptroller par excellance, and Steven Fox, flinty-eyed Legal Counsel, took one look at the original index of pages, they both did figurative standing somersaults of legal and accounting outrage! “Those are real guns?” they quaked. “Real manufacturers? –Of real guns,” they spluttered. “Yes, indeedy-doody,” –or something like that—was the reply from Don.

Well, it was a no-go! No way, no how! You cannot just put each manufacturer’s real name inside a Marvel comic. We can’t copyright them and we can’t ask for permission to use their names, products or imply endorsement or any such thing! Who was responsible for this? (continued)

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