Just because you do a good drawing doesn’t mean it’s going to make the best cover, at least in the eyes of the art director or editor.
Case in point, Irv Novick drew two covers for Detective Comics 379 from September 1968. The first is beautifully drawn. You can see the care he put into it with the rendering of the man’s hand, for example.
I can guess, though, when Carmine Infantino saw it he saw a piece that would be difficult to apply the Detective Comics logo to, and as a designer an image that didn’t read quickly as a cover. The published version is most definitely drawn from an Infantino sketch. Apart from his recognisable design style, the revised image tells a clearer story by increasing the contrast from foreground to background. The larger head in closeup gives a bigger sense of drama and the simplified TV screens sit firmly in the background, separating the visual planes.
While the published cover was most likely better for the newsstand of the time, what suffered was Novick’s investment in the redraw. While still a professional, publishable piece, it has the feel of rework done quickly. Having only these two pieces to go by – and not knowing what was standard practice at DC at the time – I wonder if Novick presented a sketch of his first one before he did his final rendering.
Regardless, we have the two covers to enjoy and I’ve coloured up the unpublished version here.
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THE UNPUBLISHED COVER
WHO DREW IT BETTER?