The Secret Six No. 3 Cover by Jack Sparling

It was a small series of only seven issues beginning in early 1968 and running bi-monthly. The Secret Six was created and plotted by E. Nelson Bridwell, with dialogue by Joe Gill. Frank Springer drew the first two issues and Jack Sparling the remaining five.

The series’ premise was an international response team made of up of six people with various skills. All had been coerced/blackmailed into taking on dangerous assignments in the name of justice by the group’s mysterious leader, Mockingbird. The twist was that Mockingbird was one of the six, and in the original series, we never found out who that was. (The series eventually continued in Action Comics Weekly in the 1980s).

Sparling’s first issue and first cover for The Secret Six was No. 3, and it’s one of the series’ best. The looming, ominous figure’s threat is made palpable by the visceral rendering of his hands on the machine gun grips.

It’s an image I didn’t truly appreciate until I saw a scan of the original ink drawing. The conclusion I came to was that the flesh=pink style of objective colouring on the published cover overshadowed what the design of the cover was trying to accomplish. Plus the standard position of the Comic Code seal in the top-right corner – over the figure’s head – diminished the readability. Most of the power of the image and its composition was lost. It begged for an alternate colour treatment.

The Secret Six 3 Cover by Jack Sparling

As published. Colour by Jack Adler.

The Secret Six 3 Cover by Jack Sparling

Scan from Heritage Auctions.

Comic art restoration by Scott Dutton

Cleaned-up art.

Comic vector art logos by Scott Dutton

Trade dress re-created and added. Original logo and cover lettering by Gaspar Saladino.

Comic book colouring by Scott Dutton

New colour version.

Comic book colouring by Scott Dutton

Alternate logo.

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