Sandman cover rough by Jerry Grandenetti
A few months ago I posted on a cover rough that Jerry Grandenetti did for the 1974 version of the Sandman. Kris Brownlow provided an image from an old eBay listing which, to put it kindly, was of a rather poor quality (the eBay lister’s fault, not Kris’s). Happily I have been able to obtain the original piece through the help of Scotty Moore.
The better image of the Grandenetti cover is welcome indeed. Now we can make out the text from the top of the cover:
HE’S BACK! THE MAN WHO BROUGHT YOU ALL THOSE WONDERFUL STORIES AND HORRIBLE DREAMS
This obviously refers to the golden age version of the Sandman that Simon and Kirby produced. Potential readers would likely have been aware of that Sandman from reprints that had appeared in the back of the various New Gods titles.
Sandman #1 (Winter 1974) art by Jack Kirby
Now that it is possible to have a good understanding of the cover rough, it is clear that there is a correspondence between Grandenetti’s rendition and Jack Kirby’s published version. I previously pointed out that the machine head guy on the lower left was common to both. Also the group of snakes became represented by a single serpent. Now it can be seen that other figures correspond as well. The small man a little left of center on the cover rough becomes the scaly man on the bottom of the dream scene on the published cover. Also a little left of center is a figure whose body is nothing more then a circular head with small face surrounded by a rough or folded skin. In Kirby’s drawing the face becomes larger to encompass the entire head, but the folded skin and lack of a true body leave little doubt that it represents the same figure. Grandenetti’s muscle man on the upper right was retained by Kirby although the arms, originally in a Frankenstein pose, were changed to bring the hands together. Grandenetti had a number of circles with multiple legs (spiders?) on the left, which Jack did not made use of. Further Jack dropped the arm holding the doll and added a mysterious and threatening set of eyes. Of course the most important change is that Grandenettis’s Sandman had been delegated to the side almost lost among the dream figures. Kirby instead placed Sandman front and center using his signature exaggerated perspective. There is no doubt in my mind now that Jack saw either this Grandenetti cover or, less likely, yet another version of it.
This is convincing evidence that the bronze age Sandman was originally a Joe Simon concept. At that time Joe had been doing a number of projects for DC. Simon would be the creator and writer while another artist, generally Grandenetti, would do the art. Originally Sandman was going to be nothing more then another comic that Simon would produce for DC. However remembering the success of the golden age Sandman, Carmine Infantino probably twisted Kirby’s arm to got him to team up once again with Joe. But Jack had a long period of creating and writing material without getting the proper credit and had only recently been able to escape that fate. Now he was thrust back to teaming up with another and, worse yet, working on someone else’s concept. Despite the success of the new Sandman, Jack would not, in all likelihood refused to, continue his collaboration with Joe. Thus a Sandman was the first comic that the Simon and Kirby teamed did for DC and it would turn out the last not only for DC but anyone else as well.
The resurfacing of the Grandenetti cover is very fortuitous as I was planning to sometime in the next few weeks to post on the golden age Simon and Kirby Sandman. If that is not enough Sandman for you, I will also post sometime soon on a question I was asked by Scotty Moore about what was used as the basis for the inking of the published version of the Sandman #1 cover.
The back of the Grandenetti cover draft has some enigmatic text:
I’VE GOT IT, JUST
WHAT YOU DEMANDED
THE CASH -
THE LOOT -
An idea for a crime comic proposal?