Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Annual #11, DC Comics, 1960, Art by Rube Grossman.
The POP Retro Cover Of The Week continues its examination and celebration of Christmas comic covers from the 1960s through the 2000s, this week heading back to 1960, when DC was finishing a run of Christmas comics featuring the most famous reindeer of all.
From 1950-1962, DC capitalized on the instant popularity of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—a craze started by Gene Autry’s hit song of 1949, later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame—by creating a series of annuals with new adventures. If only DC had hung on another two years, when the Rankin-Bass stop-motion animated tv special made Rudolph’s popularity skyrocket even higher.
Rudolph’s covers and interiors were all solidly illustrated by Rube Grossman, an industry go-to artist for funny animal comics, and a former animator for the Fleischer Studios, who worked on some of their still-awesome-today Superman shorts.
The cover to issue #11 shows Santa proudly giving a bandana-wearing Rudolph a Sheriff-star-type medal for FASTEST NOSE IN THE WEST. Grossman’s simple line style is complemented by beautifully airbrushed tones, shadows, and highlights. Rudolph’s fur even seems to have a texture to it.
The trade dress is beautifully designed and hand-lettered without lots of clutter, but I can’t believe the graphic designer placed the Rudolph title logo behind the DC bullet logo, a result, no doubt, of a desire to make the Rudolph logo as large as possible. It was already being partially obscured by Rudolph’s portrait.
The Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Compendium states these annuals took place on Earth-12, so Santa and Rudolph were an actual part of the DC Universe!
We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing this month-long holiday edition of POP Retro Cover Of The Week!
Next week: Forward to the groovy, innovative 1970s!