A Daring Cover

Daring Mystery #8
Daring Mystery #8 (January 1942) art by Jack Kirby

Daring Mystery had a rather sporadic schedule. Issue #7 came out seven months after the previous issue and it would take an addition nine months for #8 to be released. What a difference an issue made. Daring Mystery #6 was produced shortly after Simon and Kirby started working for Timely. It included a Fiery Mask story, a hero Joe Simon created for Timely as a freelance artist when he had just started in the comic book business. DM #7 came out shortly after Captain America #1, Simon and Kirby’s first big hit. Issue #8 came out the same month as Cap #10, after which Simon and Kirby moved on to working for DC.

So even though the cover for Daring Mystery #8 is only two issues away from that of DM #6, which I previously wrote about, what a difference that makes! While I am less then enthusiastic about the cover for DM #6, with DM #8 Jack seems to be in full form. One difficulty with anthologies is what do you put on the cover? The most common technique was to just depict one of the comic’s heroes and list the others by text. While that works it may not be effective in attracting buyers more interested in one of the other characters. Some comics therefore include small images of some of the other features. But too many of these small images would limit the area for the main image. For Marvel Mystery and some other Timely comics the solution was a large image that included two or three key heroes (Human Torch, Sub-Mariner and Captain America). To be fully effective that technique required a good artist. someone like Alex Schomburg. But Daring Mystery did not have any of these key characters, its features were constantly changing. I do not know if Simon and Kirby were the first to present a solution like that for DM #8, but Jack sure makes it look easy. Five heroes charging in a ‘V’ formation makes effective use of the cover area. At this point Kirby excels in the use of exaggerated perspective so even the simple act of running looks exciting.

An inserted image shows a rare example of a Simon and Kirby drawing of a female superhero. But more importantly it shows how far Jack has advance in depicting a hero(ine) slugging a foe. In the future Kirby would improve on this even further, but already he made it one of his trademarks. Kirby did not use realism to make the scene so effective. Someone felled by a fist would not have their lower legs come up like drawn here. And exaggerated perspective is not a realistic view at all. A stop action camera would never capture anything that looked like what Jack drew. What Kirby has done was obtain the correct balance of stylized drawing that makes the final result look truer then reality.