The Design of Army-Navy

Part 2 - The Covers


Judge a book by its cover? Yes, yes you should. Books are given covers for you to judge and HOPEFULLY become interested in them and possible buy them. Now, if you were to ONLY judge a book by its cover then we can start talking ethics and morality.

Here’s a century’s worth of Army-Navy covers for you to judge. This spectacular collection is scattered throughout the internet, especially Pinterest. Well, here it is in all its glory, in one convenient place. We did our best to locate as many covers as we could. If you are aware of others, please drop us a line and let us know.

We did leave out the West Coast Army-Navy game covers from this collection. So be sure to check you are not submitting and Armistice Game cover - was that a pretentious footnote?? Yeah…good.

What’s your favorite Army-Navy cover? Let us know in the comments.


the early years

You are most likely unfamiliar with names like Robert Foster, Lon Keller, Howard Chandler Christy and Percy Crosby. But these excellent illustrators were behind the earliest of Army-Navy Game program covers. The hallmark of these covers is reverence, patriotism and rivalry.

The start of WWII provided certain inspiration and gravitas to the works of Lon Keller in 1941, 1942, 1943. Keller would create several program covers (1940-1967) for Army’s & Navy’s regular season match-ups.

Prior to that it was Robert Foster’s Art Deco approach that dominated the early 30’s (1931-1932-1933-1934-1935). My favorite is highlighted below. The style of these covers is remarkable.

Howard Chandler Christy rounds-out the 30’s with his distinct style, reminiscent of his “Christy’s Girl” for which he was most notable known - she was a prototype for the ideal American woman: high bred, aristocratic and dainty though not always silken-skirted; a woman with tremendous self respect.

Percy Crosby illustrated the 1940 cover - including his famous comic strip character Skippy, who would go on to influence comic legends Bill Schultz and Bill Waterson.



the Gib Crockett years

Gib Crockett’s work on the program covers is one of my all-time favorite sports collections. It’s Americana at its finest.

The prolific work produced many standout covers (I implore you all, take several minutes and click through each and every cover, you’ll be a better Army-Navy fan for it) . The longevity of his efforts is incredible. Its hard to pick a favorite.

Football-faced Uncle Same. 1958 & 1959 are stellar, 1944 is ingrained in my subconscious when I envision Army-Navy, and the dueling nature of players, officers, kids and fans is portrayed with life and ingenuity year after year - but to go out like he did in 1984, its hard to not highlight an artist being an artist.

Well done, Sir, well done!



the past 30+ years

It was hard to follow in Gib Crockett’s footsteps. And after 5 years of coming up short, the program’s cover began to shrink in production value. There are a few nicely illustrated covers from the early 90’s but nothing that sinks into the subconscious and evokes the rivalry like those that came before.

Don’t get us wrong 1990 and 1999 are great covers. But…

Once photographs became the driving force and USAA started to dominate the real estate on the cover, the efforts have become bland, uninspired, indistinct from each other and simply embarrassing compared to their predecessors. Something is absolutely lost here. We are so glad that the uniforms have taken up the slack that the covers have left behind.

But we’d love to spearhead a revitalization of the Army-Navy Game Program cover. Someone wanna get us in a room with USAA? It’d be good for Army-Navy, it’d be good for America.