A Few of my Favorite Things #1
Like any comic book collector, I have certain items that I am particularly fond of. They are not quite: ‘during a house fire do I grab these books or the baby?’ items but its close. The artist edition books started by IDW are a perfect place to start.
The artwork presented in the artist editions are scanned from the original art pages and printed in the size of the original art pages. I love original art. I am fascinated by the use of “zip-tone” sheets. I am amused by hastily applied white-out. Scribbled notes in the margins enthrall me. Sometimes a 2 inch by 3 inch panel doesn’t convey the amount of effort the artist spent on it. Have you ever wondered how much detail is lost when page is shrunk down to 7”x10”? Now you can find out.
The first Artist Edition IDW released was in August of 2010 and it recreated the breath taking Rocketeer series by Dave Stevens. I admit, I missed the first edition (which sold out immediately). The Rocketeer had been recently reprinted in color in two separate editions and as I had bought them both, saw no reason to procure a third black and white version of the series. The proprietor of my local comic store, Andy bought one for himself and when he showed it to me, my head nearly exploded. One of the biggest challenges The Rocketeer series had was Dave Steven was a slow albeit meticulous artist. A chapter would come out and it might be a year before the next installment surfaced. When one spends the time to revel in the skill and details of the original art, it is much easier to understand why they took so long. A second printing was released a little bit later and you know I was on it.
The Rocketeer artist edition contained 136 pages, each 12”x17”. That is a big book and it was not cheap. As I recall, it was about $125.00 at the time. Clearly it was a success. A year later (it didn’t seem that long) IDW in tandem with Marvel released an artist edition representing Walt Simonson’s historic Thor run on issues #337 to 340 and #360 to 362. Six months later it was John Romita’s turn to be highlighted in a volume that reprinted the original artwork from Amazing Spider-Man #67-69, #71, #74-75.
Then IDW came out with The Wally Wood Artist Edition, reprinting eighteen of Wood’s stories for various E.C. comics in the 1950’s. This volume was humongous. It was 15”x22” in size and contained 144 pages! It is an amazing tribute to Wood and his craft.
At this point it was clear as a consumer, one had to pick and choose which books to buy because they were so expensive (but oh, so worth it). In short succession, IDW released David Mazzucchelli’s Born Again run in Daredevil, Sergio Aragone’s Groo, Joe Kubert’s Tarzan, a volume of Gil Kane’s Amazing Spider-Man comics. All books featuring some of the best artists at their peak.
In March of 2013, IDW released the first if two volumes reprinting the pages from some of Will Eisner’s The Spirit stories. This volume was also 15”x22” since the pages artists used in the Golden Age were bigger than were used in the Silver and Bronze ages. Those two were keepers.
In short succession, books featuring Jack Davis, John Byrne, Mark Schultz, Joe Kubert (again), Jeff Smith, John Romita (again) and Basil Wolverton. There was a Jack Kirby artist edition featuring some of his stories from The New Gods. April 2014 saw the release of a Jim Steranko, Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. volume. Steranko personally designed this volume. It won the best domestic reprint Harvey Award in 2015.
The books kept coming, Mike Mignola, Walter Simonson’s Manhunter Saga, John Buscema, Don Rose, Mike Zeck, Eric Powell, The list goes on.
Then came Artifact Editions. These were books presenting various pages where the artwork for the entire stories were not available. Some of Dave Gibbons’ work from Watchman, one book offered Frank Miller Daredevil pages. IDW then had the idea of offering portfolio editions. These were huge folio envelopes that contained individual, rather than bound-together pages. Neal Adam’s infamous Thrillkill from Warren Magazines Creepy #75. One with work from Wally Wood’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents.
Dark Horse, Dynamite and Fantagraphics printed various runs of artist and their works. Graphitti Designs teamed up D.C. Comics to publish seven or eight volumes spotlighting special runs.
I hate to admit it but, Wikipedia has most of the various Artist Editions listed, if you are a completest or just curious to see the complete roster of talent offered. Side note; if you do not know any of the names listed in this article, go ask about who they are at your local shop. If the store is any good, they will be able to provide you with some amazing reading.
For most people, owning original comic book pages are unattainable. The various artist editions, although expensive, are much more reasonable than trying to pony up the money for a single page of say John Byrne’s or Will Elder’s artwork. If you have a spare credit card you want to melt and truly love artwork by some of the comic book industry’s masters, then you should definitely seek out the Artist Editions. Word of warning; do some serious comparison shopping before you commit to buying one of these books. You can find multiple copies of the same edition at the larger conventions with wildly fluctuating prices.
WHAT IS THE HERO INITIATIVE?
The Hero Initiative creates a financial safety net for comic creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. Since inception, the Hero Initiative has been fortunate enough to benefit more than 50 creators and their families with over $950,000 worth of much-needed aid, fueled by your contributions! It’s a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.