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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ruining Frank Thorne’s Red Sonja Cover Art

After reading “The She-Devil and the Scribes” column in Red Sonja Vol. 1 Issue #4, I had to dig out Issue #2, as readers had objected to that cover in two of the three printed letters.  Ed in Roanoke, Virginia, conveyed his opinion thus:

“Somewhere in the hallowed halls of Marvel there lurks the man responsible for the dialogue on the cover of RED SONJA #2.  Perhaps he has taken to hiding behind the water fountain or in a convenient dark closet since that issue hit the stands, but he’s there.  And no matter where he hides, he’s not going to escape responsibility for ruining Frank Thorne’s bizarre cover art by having the bearded Argossean wizard adjure his demon to kill Sonja, in response to which our crimson-tressed heroine utters the immortal words: ‘Over my dead body!’  One thing I’ll say for our mysterious cover-scripter: you can’t fault his logic.  If the demon had killed Sonja, it certainly would have been over her dead body.”

The editorial staff responded by admitting that Roy Thomas, “the Rascally One, has been wanting to write it on a CONAN cover for nearly seven years now, but it seemed more appropriate coming from a sharp-tongued wench like Sonja.  As Roy likes to quote… ‘I got no shame.’”

Click to enlarge.

When I first saw the cover, I didn’t pay much attention to the word balloons and the cheesy dialogue.  But then, I purchased it in 2013, not in 1977, and as part of a collection of yellowed, faded issues, not as a brand, spanking new mag off the spinner rack.  I didn’t visit the stores back then each week, hunting down the latest issue, nor did I spend hours reading and rereading all the previous Red Sonja stories (scattered through issues of “Conan The Barbarian,” “Marvel Feature: Red Sonja” Issues 1-7, and other mags).  I look back on it as something to enjoy for what it is, instead of looking forward, eagerly anticipating what each upcoming issue may bring. 

I can understand why readers might have felt as though Roy Thomas ruined some otherwise terrific art by Frank Thorne.  But then, I can understand why Roy Thomas, who co-wrote this story with Clara Noto, in addition to writing many other titles for Marvel, might have wanted to unleash himself and have a little fun with the cover.  Once safely within the cover, the writers take their jobs seriously, and craft a story that all three readers complimented them on.  So what do you think?  Should Roy Thomas have inserted cheesy dialogue on the cover?  Did it ruin Frank Thorne’s cover art, or improve it?  And do you think that Marvel would allow writers to do something like this on a cover today?

Go on: venture an opinion.  Be brave and make a comment.  Force me to start my own letter column.  I'm sure I could manage something like that, on top of everything else I’m doing right now.  

Yeah.  Right.  Over my dead body!

Dragon Dave  

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