In the previous post we saw how Jack Adler’s grandson had made a guest appearance on the first of Shazam!‘s photo covers. According to Adler this was the cause of some consternation within the family, and so for issue #6, amends were made:

Shazam #6, Jack Adler, Photo Covers

Shazam! #6, October 1973

The lad on Captain Marvel’s lap is Adler’s younger grandson, whose appearance here assuaged his jealousy. In the original photo taken by Adler, his son-in-law posed as the Big Red Cheese. He was then replaced by a CC Beck drawing for the final image. As with the previous cover, this has an infinity element. The whole thing was designed by Carmine Infantino, and his original layout sketch is reproduced below:

Shazam #6, cover sketch, Infantino

This is typical of the kind of thing Infantino would hand out to cover artists to indicate the scene required. The artists were free to interpret the design as they liked—Nick Cardy has said he often ignored it altogether! Adler stuck reasonably close.

Superman #289, Jack Adler, DC photo covers

Superman #289, July 1975

A very striking cover, this. The people starring in it consist various of DC staff. In true green screen style, they’re reacting to the sudden appearance of Superman and a phantom horseman! From left to right these would-be models are: Bob Rozakis, Cary Bates, Jack Harris and E. Nelson Bridwell. Carl Gafford is in there too, but obscured behind Harris. A photo feature on the making of this shot was printed in Amazing World of DC Comics #7. The back of that magazine featured another of these photo covers, but is clearly a bit of a rush job!:

Amazing World of DC Comics #7, back photo cover

Amazing World of DC Comics #7, July 1975

The Superman figure was drawn by Neal Adams.

Speaking of Superman, the next of the photo covers adorned one of his tabloid format appearances.

Limited Collectors' Edition #C-38, Jack Adler, DC photo cover

Limited Collectors’ Edition #C-38, November 1975

This spectacular cover has a Bob Oksner-drawn Superman and passenger flying by the photographic Statue of Liberty. A very strong, dynamic image, that again celebrates the joy of flight. Who wouldn’t want to be the boy on the Man of Steel’s back? The tabloid size of the original book merely adds to its allure. The book itself was the usual mix of reprints, posters, games and features. The back cover allowed one to recreate the front cover tableau in 3-D by means of tabs and cutouts. And, yes, you are led step-by-step how to draw Superbaby.

With that, the era of the photo covers was coming to an end. Adler was promoted and moved away from the day-to-day grunt work of cover production. There was still time for one last hurrah though:

AWoDCC #10, Jack Adler, DC photo cover

Amazing World of DC Comics #10, January 1976

This lovely image is something of a culmination of all the photo covers that have come before. Jack Adler (on the right) and Sol Harrison (Adler’s boss) chew the fat with members of the Justice League depicted by Murphy Anderson. Amazing World of DC Comics was DC’s in-house fanzine, and essentially DC’s answer to Marvel’s FOOM! magazine. It had articles relating to the creative individuals working for DC, as well as behind-the-scenes features on various aspects of comics production. It also had rare and previously unpublished strips and covers, as well as a complete checklist of the coming months’ comics. This issue has an in-depth interview with Harrision and Adler about their time in the production department, and the innovations they pioneered.

With that, the photo covers petered out. Later, Marvel tried several in the early 1980s, by which time technology had moved on and colour photos could be used.

And, then there was the bizarre “fumetti” craze of 1983. We may take a look at these in a future post…

Images ©2012 DC Comics