As with anything in life, we'll start with the covers.
#10: STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES 126, by Joe Kubert
You can pretty much thank the great Pulp artists of the magazines, the subsequent Pulp-inspired covers to the lurid paperbacks of the 1950s/1960s, and the poster art for some of the greatest films of all time, leading to the elevation of the comic book cover to another level as well.
Us kids didn't know how good we had it, meaning kids growing up in the 1970s. We thought great covers and posters grew on trees. These bits of incredible art lured us to the outer reaches of imagination, providing clear sign-posts to find our way. Great times for everybody.
You only have to look around now to realize the expert salesmanship of our beloved culture has fallen on terrible times. We don't get anything cool any more. It's a punishment from the gods of commerce, or something. More likely, though, consumers are satisfied with buying crap that looks like crap, signifying crap. Because the culture has gotten more stupid, more pre-packaged, it is therefore unnecessary to convince people to see tripe like TRANSFORMERS 2: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN. People just assume that they are going to get exactly what they are paying for.
That wasn't the case in the 1970s, or farther back. See, the folks making movies and comics and television wanted to do everything in their power to convince you to see their product. They made clever trailers that didn't reveal anything, yet just enough to give any Horror/SF/Crime lover a massive rod-like projection in their pants to see the movie. Book covers of slender, tough novels about displaced private eyes and snake-eyed C.I.A. assassins, read by the extinct male reader, encapsulated their awesomeness by having a cover with a barely-dressed broad in stockings with a .45 in her hand getting ready to blow the head off a handsome tough with a cigarette dangling off his lower lip. Even porn movies and novels had experts working to convince the consumer they had to experience what they were selling.
Illustration and art worked hand-in-hand with our imaginations...who can forget the poster for the original JAWS, or the iconic Frank Miller cover for THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS collection the first time that thing hit the stands? Maybe one of the last of the recognizable icons of what is fast becoming another generation, The Batman is shown in outline leaping over a cityscape with a huge bolt of lightning slicing the night behind him. That lightning is a savage life, flowing through The Batman, drawing him toward the city, where his justice will strike.
#5: DETECTIVE COMICS 565, by Gene Colan
I hate talking about how much current culture sucks. I can't even generate enough interest to come up with a clever way of saying how much culture eats the pig offal straight out of the pig's ass. It's almost worth pointing out that my generation sh*t the bed where this is concerned, because it's my 1970s born/bred generation that allowed men like Bill Gates and his funky computers to overthrow the physical incarnations of art. Computer Generated Images have subverted everything we've ever believed. In fact, you can no longer trust anything you see or read anymore, can you? How do you know Bill Gates has not manipulated that image? How do you know that scanned book or novel or comic is the original version? How do you know anything, Neo?
So, my generation allowed the generation before mine, my father's hippie-infested generation of fake-tits and blondes with moronic ambition and plastic man-women ruling an airscape of relentless salesmanship, to fester in their own version of rebellion: to do nothing, they ruined everything. Now Oprah Winfrey continues to shill, our wars are fallacious, and where's the next original idea going to come from? Don't you hate existence enough by now not to ask the questions?
#3: OUR FIGHTING FORCES 155, by Jack Kirby and D. Bruce Berry
At any rate, while I'm waiting to die, I'm here to show you the Top Ten Covers according to me. The ones I think are fantastic, though not the only ones. Far from it. Everything is subject to change, and this is comic books. There's always an unseen, unknown cover lurking to surprise you.
#2: TOMB OF DRACULA 57, by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer
But for our discussion, these I've been showing are tops for me and Pulp Hero.
#1: MACHINE MAN 1, by Jack Kirby and Frank Giacoia