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Cover Art by Jim Lee

Punisher Armory 1 Cover Art Story

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“Brown,” was the quiet reply. “BROWN? ELIOT BROWN!!!???” shrieked Barry, beside himself, which made his shouting the work of a chorus. Barry and I were old colleagues, from the times when were both rising stars—of course, as Comptroller, whatever that was, he was paid much better. My star rose very high and fell very far, but not before Barry and I could share a cheap-jack sheet-rock wall between offices. The “normal” world of the 10th Floor at Marvel was chock-full of people and when I was promoted to Special Projects Editor (don’t ask), there was only room up in Heavenly Precincts of the 11th Floor. (Didn’t last long! I was back down in my stye before you could say, “Pull the trigger!”) There I was, back to back with an executive! Only a thin between me and he! I would often throw things at that wall, or fall over in my junky office chair against that wall (for comedic effect) and he would roar in, wondering about the building’s stability—or mine! We were close friends—well, close, because if that office wall had not been there, we would be only 4 feet apart and ‘friends’ in the sense that we were natural enemies. He was an accountant and I was an employee of a comic book company. Why Barry was in “sign-off” position, I do not know. The political workings of the rarefied “upstairs” will always be shrouded in mystery.

So when I asked Counselor Fox about the legal aspects of using such real-world resources as reference, he gave me his level-headed best measured response. At the toe of his jackboot. Off I went, better educated.

Don Daley, ever resourceful, had this unapproved book on his hands that needed to be “fixed.” By which I think Mr. Fox meant apply lighter fluid and a match. At this point—the book was stalled in un-released limbo—and the “Index Page” was gone. But Don, early to the concept of “thinking outside the box” simply took the advisement literally. We could not use the names of the product or the manufacturer in the index. That would call attention to our use of them. Their names were in the book, but that was essentially protected by First Amendment principles or Free Speech or something very important-sounding. And that’s how the cover got those strips of type on either side. That’s where the names of the products are—no manufacturers. By putting them on the cover, they were in the Public Domain—where anything goes! Or so I understand the concept. But on the cover, anyone could look at them—just as the product names are on display to the rest of the world when they are lined up in gun or knife shops. Or wherever.

Those two strips are the Index!. There was this nice Bullpen gal, Cindy Emmert, who I caught pasting down an Armory cover some time later in the run—who solved the mystery for me. She told me it was her who came up with that design. Cindy went on to design many of the covers of some of the mags of the day. The ‘Year in Review’ series, Marvel Age and many more. That’s why the type is stuffed in there– a little hard to read, I admit, but a nice design element, courtesy Don Daley, Dawn Geiger, Cindy Emmert and the Dynamic Duo, Barry Kaplan and Steven Fox.

Here’s a close up of some of the contents—that’s an early metallic effect, as rendered by the air-brush artists of the separators who worked on the regular comics’ covers—

PA 1 Cvr CU Index001Cindy was also the designer who came up with distinctive “blueprint” look of the back cover (“fourth cover”). It was she who was tasked with coming up with a cover—one that didn’t involve any new artwork. The book had no ads and was a little more expensive than the usual 21 or 24-page comic. Ads help offset the art and editorial costs. Cindy took photocopies of most or all of the interior art and arranged it on a piece of cover artboard, then instructing the separators to make the black line art appear as white on a blue background. Genius!

Finally, the cover copy. I’m afraid I came up with the tag, “The Must-Have Book by the Ultimate Pay-Back Warrior.” The rest of the tags—“His Thoughts… His Feelings…” etc.– were anyone in the office that day, yelling out ideas. We were supposed to be making it look like a “Teen Beat” cover that got hit by “True Detective Stories” mag. A little ‘off’ but in a creepy way. I remember the plan was to come up with new ones for every cover. But that was it. No one could do any better and only the ‘Payback Warrior’ line stayed on. A little hysterical when said over and over, but Don was a sensation-monger after all…

Thus is all about the cover to The Punisher Armory #1.

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