Why Was Mister Miracle Uncolored on the Cover of Mister Miracle #3?

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com).

Just like last time, the question this time around wasn't technically asked of me. The great comic book writer/artist, Dan Jurgens, posted the cover to Mister Miracle #3 on Twitter

and said of the cover:

Mister Miracle mystery question! Bought this issue as a kid and MM has no color on the cover, which I've wondered about ever since. Not part of the story inside. Anyone know the reason?

My friend Justin then tagged me on Twitter to see if I knew.

The answer might have something to do with how Mister Miracle was originally colored when he debuted.

You see, Jack Kirby originally had one color idea in mind for Mister Miracle but when the issue was then colored by DC, their production department handled the coloring of the character and they did not consult Kirby on what the character would look like (Kirby and DC's production department were at odds with each other a bit at the time).

Therefore, in the first issue of Mister Miracle, his costume is a different color in the issue...

Here's how it's been colored since (they re-colored the pages in reprints since to make it fit what Kirby wanted it to look like)...

However, when Kirby asked them to change the colors on the costume, to make the costume more red, Carmine Infantino agreed to spend the money to alter the cover to the first issue. The interior pages remained the same, but at least the first cover was changed.

As an aside, please note that while Kirby's earliest drawings of the character who eventually became Mister Miracle were colored a whole other way...

That was not what Kirby wanted Mister Miracle to be colored. That was just a prototype drawing. That original character wasn't even necessarily "Mister Miracle" yet - who knows what Kirby was thinking with that guy. He was an early concept that he then developed into Mister Miracle. So the coloring of that character had nothing to do with how Kirby wanted Miracle colored in the first issue.

Anyhow, back to the main story. Okay, so they colored it correctly on the cover of #1 and #2, but then the third issue came out and the Mister Miracle figure on the cover wasn't colored at all! It didn't match the scene within the actual comic...

And later, whenever DC reprinted the issue, they colored the character...

It wasn't what Kirby wanted. Mark Evanier recalled that Kirby checked with DC to find out why it wasn't colored and they never gave him a good answer, noting "As for why Mister Miracle was completely colorless on the cover of #3…I have no idea. At the time, Jack asked and he got all sorts of double talk that he took to mean no one there knew why, either. He told us, 'It looks like their infallible Production Department screwed up.'"

So since Kirby didn't intend for it to be uncolored and it has always been colored in reprints, it sounds like Kirby's best guess back then really IS the truth - it was just a simple screw-up. However, it might be that the confusion about the coloring of the costume due to the change in issue #1 LED to the screw-up. You know, like they waited to see what coloring to use and then just forgot about it and sent it sans coloring (or perhaps it was even a bit of a mini-protest). The specifics of it are unclear, but the basic answer is still - screw-up.

Thanks to Dan (indirectly) for the question (thanks to Justin for passing it along). Thanks to Mark Evanier for the answer! If anyone has a question about comics that they'd like to see answered, feel free to drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com.

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