Home Comics Art Nice art: David Aja's RED SKULL covers

Nice art: David Aja's RED SKULL covers


This July, Marvel is serving up a RED SKULL miniseries starring the villain in the Cap movie, written by Greg Pak with art by Mirko Colak. David Aja has provided some tasty covers, influenced by WWII imagery from propaganda posters and the like.

“Due to the nature of the story, I wanted to portray the historical aspects on the covers,” said Aja. “In doing so, I approached the covers as if they were real posters, newspapers and Nazi propaganda from that time, kind of in a documentary style. To make it work, I utilized different typographic techniques for each issue, emulating different typefaces in real work; so I needed a uniform tone, technique and color in the finished art to identify all the covers as a whole collection.”
“Red Skull was never intended to be one of our typical super hero comics, so it shouldn’t have anything like typical cover art,” said series editor Alejandro Arbona. “We knew David would invest the thoughtfulness and deliberation to capture the complex and difficult ideas of this story. In short, his covers say ‘This is what we’re doomed to watch Johann become,’ and his imagery – war, conquest, cruelty, a great evil – springs from the same tragic well. It’s a disturbing set of cover images, for a dark and disquieting story.”

Although this is powerful and thematically appropriate stuff, is it going too far to have a comic book with Nazi-inspired imagery on the cover? What do you think?

  1. Nice work. Chilling, but effective. I have no problem with the imagery, it does not appear to offend or glorify. Beautifully done.

  2. Notably, there are no swastikas on any of the covers, so that’s probably the line Marvel won’t cross – at least for covers. No telling what they will allow on the interior art.

  3. Okay… a few nits, but overall, very kuhl.

    (Umlaut on “skull”? Really? How metal.)

    “RoteN Schaedel” in headline…
    “RoteR Schaedel” in caption…

    The newspaper should be dated circa March 15, 1939, as the lower headline proclaims the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (the future Czech Republic). I can’t read the date, but it looks close.

    Why is “Northern German Edition” in sans serif, while the rest is in Gebrochene Schrift? (Looks like Fraktur, but the B is too simplified.) Wouldn’t the modernistic typeface be considered “entartete”?

    I also wonder about the text… I wonder if it’s the German translation of Cicero? (“The Extremes of Good and Evil”) Seems apropos, n’est-ce pas?

    Nice use of the word “incarnate”!

  4. just out of curiosity, is there an official policy on swastikas? There appears to be a conscious effort to not show them. I don’t remember now, but were swastikas always banned from Marvel?

  5. Some say the quality of the writing of comic books has become better and better during the decades. One thing never changes though: The use of German text in a Marvel comic usually ends up in a mess. As a kid I was somehow angered by it: Can’t they afford a translator? This is supposed to be professional writing after all…

    Nowadays it just makes me smile, because it totally ruins the desired effect. The Evil-Scary-Nazi Cover becomes a satire like Chaplin’s great use of Pseudo-German in the Great Dictator. You can’t help but smile…

    The last time I was a bit pissed about this was actually because of Vertigo’s Unwritten #10 and #11. I mean, this is supposed to be “real” writing in a comic book for mature readers. Like literature and stuff. And then the Nazis start talking in some fantasy language that kinda looks like German but simply isn’t. I re-read some balloons in this issues several times and still I could only guess what they were supposed to say. I kinda accept that in a Captain America book from the Sixties, but all you modern comic-book writers: Please get it right or don’t use it! Otherwise your super-evil villain becomes a sad clown…

  6. There should be Nazi inspired artwork all over a comic book about a super-villain that is a former (and current) Nazi. Especially since he’s an evil bastard …

    I always thought the Red Skull was one of the more interesting (and deadly) villains in Marvel’s character library. It took a motion picture for them to really take advantage of this, and now they’ll probably crank out Red Skull material until we’re sick of him …

  7. Nice covers. I don’t have a problem with Nazi imagery being used for something like this; if anything, I’m more uncomfortable with it being used more casually when the Red Skull crops up as a generic villain of the week.
    Omitting the swastikas is a curious decision – it’s particularly noticeable on issue #2 with the armband and flags. I wonder, though, whether it’s just an artistic choice to steer clear of an overfamiliar symbol.

  8. From Wikipedia:
    The German Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code) in § 86a outlaws “use of symbols of unconstitutional organisations”.

    (Footnote 1 directs to the actual code, in English)

    That means any printed depiction of a swastika, except those used for religious purposes, or for scholarly purposes, is forbidden. Anti-propaganda uses are allowed.

    How this applies to the interior of a comic book, or movies, is unclear. However, it’s quite clear from the above covers what is implied. I don’t think anyone would notice the absence of swastikas from a story set in WWII.

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