I normally don’t go out of my way to purchase an art book – especially one featuring nothing but cover art – but when it’s an art book featuring the cover work of Adam Hughes, I’m sold.
I first became aware of Adam Hughes in 1988 when I first saw his work in the pages of Comico’s Maze Agency, and then after when he started doing work for Justice League of America. The series that sold me on Adam Hughes as one of the greats didn’t come until the release of his four covers for the Legionnaires between 1993 and 1994. From there I followed his work closely, and if the cover of any comic featured Hughes work, the issue found its way to my buy pile, whether I read it or not.
BUT IT’S JUST COVER ART
In Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes, readers are not only presented with the final art as it appeared on the stands (sans company and title dress), we get a peek into Hughes mind as to what he was thinking while creating the covers. While the descriptions aren’t highly detailed (probably my only complaint about this book), they do add that little extra something to this tome. Accompanying the final art are sketches and thumbnails depicting the evolution of the cover. Seeing the stark black and white next to the computer colored final renderings really show how the cover is built and developed. If nothing else art students hoping to reach Hughes level would do well to study each and every sample provided in this book.
While a selection of Hughes work at DC covers his time with the company, it can be divided into three sections; Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and everything else. During the early 2000s Hughes did a massive run on Wonder Woman, and pretty much defined what the character can look like when done with a bit of cheesecake, a touch of humor, and respect for the craft and character. In light of recent DC news about the change in costume, Cover Run might be a place for old costume fans to retreat to until the craziness dies down. The same is true for the Catwoman covers, but I think it is the Wonder Woman covers that really catch my eye with all the attention to detail and subtle references and jokes scattered throughout his run on the book.
While a sampling of his other work is present, it sort of feels rushed to be included, and possible page restrictions resulted in a page of covers scaled down to small thumbnail size, doing the work some disservice. Hughes work is big, bold, and beautiful, and it needs to be showcased in all its glory.
BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT
Fans of Adam Hughes need to buy this book. While the page count isn’t high (just over 200 pages), Cover Run will serve as a great reference, a historical record, and a great way to strike up a conversation about comic book art when your non-comic book friends come over for a visit. Cover Run is well worth the cover price and earns 4.5 out of 5 Stars.