Issue #6, Pages 20-21: Vertical Double Page Spash

The Eternals
© 2005 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

by Neil Gaiman, John Romita Jr. & Danny Miki
Issue #6, Pages 20 & 21:
Vertical Double Page Splash
Graphite and ink on board
17" x 22"

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Neil Gaiman’s success with Sandman forever changed comic books. Since that series ended in 1996, any comic book bearing his name has been an event. His Eternals reboot was his first longform commitment to Superhero fiction since Miracleman in 1992 and gave a celestial backstory to all the super powers in the Marvel Universe.

Neil Gaiman is something akin to the William Shakespeare of comic book writers. He is often considered the best, and you could fit his entire output on a single bookshelf. He transcended success in the comic medium to attain success as a novelist, screenwriter and pop-culture icon. He is one of only a handful of comic book writers to top the New York Times Best Seller list, and he has more Eisner Awards than any other writer (19), but he’s also won the World Fantasy Award, the Hugo Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the Nebula Award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and the Locus Award –some of them more than once. He was the first author in history to win both the Newberry Medal and the Carnegie Medal for the same work. A full list of his accolades would scarcely allow room for anything else.

John Romita Jr. is comic book royalty. He is the son of silver age wunderkind John Romita Sr., and he has never let that fact speak for his own credentials. He co-created Spider-Man villain Hobgoblin and Daredevil villainess Typhoid Mary and penciled an extensive run on Uncanny X-Men (with Chris Claremont). He has worked with many comic book notables including Frank Miller, J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Millar, with whom he co-created Kick-Ass and served as a producer on the film adapted from that work, directing an animation title sequence as well. JRJR as he is known, won an Inkpot Award in 1994 and an Eisner Award in 2002.

The page above is quite unusual: it’s a vertical double page splash. Most double page splashes are horizontal, using the side-by-side design to capture epic battles or present monolithic scale. In this DPS, the size of the central image indeed makes a statement about scale, but this time necessitating that the reader turn the entire comic 45 degrees to reveal a creature so massive, that a single splash page would just not convey it. Gaiman’s redesign of The Eternals presented them as great celestial beings with a history indicative of their name. He went back to Jack Kirby’s original source material, Chariot of the Gods, and brought a level of academia to the proceedings that comic scholars could scarcely believe was deserved. The finished series (which was extended from six to seven issues to accommodate the escalated scope of Gaiman’s story) is without doubt the greatest cosmic tale of the Marvel Universe, far exceeding expectations –which is especially impressive when you consider the credentials of the team that created it.


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