Placebo effect

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Most of the time, I know immediately why I like a cover. Other times, though, I'm enamored with an image but it takes me a while to discover the reasons.

Tomer Hanuka's The Placebo Man is one of those "other times."

Yeah, I know the graphic novel was released by Alternative Comics back in November, but the cover escaped my attention until I saw a press release last week.

I've not read the book, which collects nine of Hanuka's short stories, so I can't say how well the image captures the tone of the content inside.

Oh, all right. I'll go out on a limb and guess probably pretty well.

The cover immediately puts us at a distance, casting the reader as observer, perhaps even more so than most comics, as we view New York City from across the river. We're not there, but maybe we long to be.

When it comes to the type treatment, I'm of two minds. I don't like that letters are unceremoniously hacked off by the edges of the cover. However, I do like the logo's simplicity, even if it reminds me of Marc Cozza's design for Fortress of Solitude (the same font, even). The title, in shocking magenta -- and in contrast with the muted earthtones of the opposite shore -- rises like the morning sun over the city, (crudely) outlining the buildings. Is that longing we feel again?

But what really clinches this cover for me is its most subtle element: the rotting wooden pier supports that mimic the New York skyline, right down to the antenna tower on the Empire State Building.

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