I always enjoy stumbling across easter eggs, cameo appearances, and messages hidden in the artwork of comics. It’s something about the fact that it’s something the artist didn’t have to draw, that they just put in there purely for the fun of it or to let you know something about them. Alex Ross is probably one of the best-known for this, putting the Beatles into Marvels, the Monkees into Kingdom Come, etc. etc. etc., but there are thousands of easter eggs, hidden messages, and unauthorized cameo appearances scattered throughout the pages of comics of all types. Sometimes they’re obvious, sometimes they’re subtle, sometimes you wouldn’t even know they were there unless someone pointed them out to you. Some are just cool little shoutouts, some have gotten people fired. Groo The Wanderer used to have a secret message in every issue, and back when I was a kid I used to spend hours poring over my Groos trying to find them. Some were really easy to spot but I’m sure I never found a lot of them. These days I don’t really have the time to go specifically looking for hidden messages, cameos, and easter eggs, but I try to note them when I spot them, and here I present a bunch that I don’t recall seeing documented elsewhere before.
Check out this panel in Marvel’s Strikeforce Morituri #7 (June 1987) drawn by Brent Anderson & Scott Williams:
“The Horde” is an alien race in the future that Strikeforce Morituri fights, and which has apparently managed to somehow collect not only Captain America’s shield, the Silver Surfer’s board, and a miniaturized Galactus helmet but also a bunch of Green Lantern power batteries, Batman’s giant penny, and even Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet!
What do the X-Men do on their day off? Hang out in the future at the same bar as Sun Boy from the Legion, apparently — that’s Kitty Pryde, Colossus, and a standing Professor X there chatting it up. Note this backup story from Tales of The Legion #320 was some of the first pro work of future name creators Dan Jurgens & Karl Kesel — even the letterer of this story is still working, on and off.
It’s been pointed out many times how much stuff Darick Robertson snuck into Transmetropolitan. He’s still at it — from the cover of The Boys #7:
Shoutouts to comic creators of the past are pretty standard, especially in Batman comics where it’s always “Hey there’s a crime down on the corner of Sprang and Giordano”, but I liked this from Detective Comics #785 by Brubaker & Zircher:
Those are the full/real names of (top to bottom) Dick Dillin, Don Newton, Gene Day, and Gil Kane. I assume that would be Win Mortimer at the bottom.
From the fantastic Solo #7, Mike Allred’s love letter to classic Silver Age DC Comics: Captain Action, a licensed toy character that hasn’t been seen in the pages of DC Comics since 1968 (and that DC doesn’t have the rights to):
From Elementals #9, David Letterman (ironically announcing his rival-to-be as the next guest following the Elementals’ Fathom) and Larry “Bud” Melman.
Unauthorized guests always seem to sneak into comic-book weddings (those crowd scenes must just be too tempting — or too boring to draw), but on this Elementals cover the unauthorized party-crashers far outnumber actual Elementals characters: among others are Cerebus, Casper, the Phantom, Space Ghost’s sidekicks, Prince Valiant, Snarf, Gumby, Doc Savage, the Lone Ranger, Superman’s lurking behind the Comico logo, and even Calvin & Hobbes snuck in.
Finally, this is a cameo of sorts but other than that I really don’t know what to say about it other than that it’s somehow sadly hilarious. From the letters page of Joe Matt’s Peepshow #10, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer:
What easter eggs, hidden messages, and cameo appearances have you found lurking in the pages of your favorite comics?