Sunday, June 10, 2007

Number 144

COVERING UP: Xela Xes: Wonder Comics by Alex Schomburg

In the war years Alex Schomburg was in demand by comics publishers for his covers. The eye-popping, continually inventive scenes of superheroes clobbering nasty Nazis and Japanese made the books fly off the racks. Several publishers used him. After the war he toned down his approach somewhat; there were still covers of superheroes clobbering gangsters or crooks, but the covers weren't as cluttered with men and machines.

These five covers he did for Nedor in 1947 and 1948 are some of his best. He used airbrush as his medium. I don't know whether that was his idea or the publishers, but whatever, these covers worked. He must've felt his airbrush artwork was different enough to sign a pseudonym, so he became Xela.

Three of the covers shown here have the typical damsel in distress (D-I-D) covers. Those are the ones featuring the character Wonderman. The blonde on the other covers is Tara, a Fiction House-styled babe with boyfriend trailing as she adventured on various planets. It's interesting that when women are the titular (no pun intended) characters, they can be shown kicking butt. Otherwise it's the tried and true D-I-D cover: muscular hero coming to the rescue of voluptuous babe.

And voluptuous they are…I'm not sure who did this sort of thing better, but the girls on these covers are pin-up lovers' dreams. I also like the fact that each of the covers could be a poster, and that there are no cover blurbs or speech balloons to deface the artwork. No words were needed. Schomburg's — Xela's — artwork speaks for itself.

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