The cover of a comic book or graphic novel, like the cover of any type of book, is supposed to be the first thing that catches a person’s attention. Whether through a striking pose, unusual use of colors, or a funny image, a good cover makes it impossible for you to look away. Sometimes, comics covers do such a spectacular job that they deserve a whole book to themselves. And that’s where the books on this list come in.
The covers in these collections are beautiful, iconic, or game-changing in their own right. They usually pay tribute to a particular artist, character, or title, showing how they evolved over time. As is usual with comic books, these collections mostly spotlight white male artists who, while certainly skilled, do not reflect the full range of talent that is currently working and has historically worked in the industry.
If we were to expand today’s subject to include art books generally, we could find a bit more diversity with titles like Marvel Monograph: The Art of Sara Pichelli, DC Comics: The Sequential Art of Amanda Conner, or Matt Baker: The Art of Glamour. But we’re sticking with cover art collections specifically today, and I, for one, think that it should be far easier to find diverse creators spotlighted in these books. Artists like Ming Doyle, Fiona Staples, and Sana Takeda have more than earned a collection like the eight books, ahem, covered below.
Poison Ivy Uncovered #1 by Jessica Berbey and Claire Roe
Framed as Poison Ivy sharing her fondest memories with one of her hapless, dying victims (that is, the reader), Poison Ivy Uncovered reviews some of our favorite ecoterrorist’s best looks and moments. Features a cameo from Harley Quinn and a whole lot of gorgeous covers starring Gotham City’s own guardian of the Green!
Star Wars: The Complete Marvel Comics Covers Mini Book, Volume One, Published by Insight Editions
Marvel, after making a landmark deal with George Lucas, became the first publisher to ever release comics based on the original Star Wars film. Once you’re done with this collection, check out Volume Two, featuring more recent covers!
The Art of Archie: The Covers, Edited by Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe
Archie comics created a distinctive style all their own that, with some modifications, remains just as eye-catching and effective as it was in the 1940s. You’ll get to see both the covers themselves and some of the artists’ sketches and ink work, which sheds light on how the covers evolved prior to publication.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin: The Covers, Edited by Alonzo Simon
In this classic storyline, the future, as it so often does, has turned out to be a nasty, violent place to be, and it’s up to the lone surviving ninja turtle to avenge his fallen brothers. This collection features work from the many cover artists who helped make this miniseries so beloved by fans.
The Romita Legacy by John Romita Sr. and John Romita Jr.
John Romita, Sr. and Jr. have both left an indelible mark on Marvel. The former co-created such iconic characters as Wolverine and Mary Jane Watson, while the latter has worked (and continues to work) on some of Marvel’s biggest titles. In this collection, you’ll find interviews with both men as well as plenty of examples of why they are so revered.
Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes by Adam Hughes
Hughes is best known for his photorealistic style of art, which he has put to good use during his decades at DC. From Justice League America to Catwoman, this collection shows off how his art has changed over the years — and yes, all of the beautiful and powerful women he has drawn!
Marvel: The Hip-Hop Covers Volume One, Edited by Jeff Youngquist
These unforgettable and inventive images take classic hip-hop album covers and reimagine them with Marvel characters in mind. Featuring a diverse array of artists, this collection will appeal to those who appreciate great art, great music, and great heroes.
EC Covers Artisan Edition, Edited by Scott Dunbier (April 2024)
EC Comics released some of the most groundbreaking — and the most terrifying — horror comics of the 1950s. Some of that era’s best artists worked at EC, including Frank Frazetta, Al Feldstein, and Wally Wood. Come see for yourself why the U.S. Senate was so freaked out about EC’s work that they very nearly succeeded in destroying the whole genre — and the whole industry!