This is the 3rd year that Scott Dunbier has hosted the IDW Artist Editions panel at WonderCon. IDW President Gary Goldstein arrived later in the panel after Scott had announced the current and upcoming slate of titles.
The one noticeable thing about the panel was the smaller attendance this year. It has been no secret that a lot of buyers of the Artist Editions have been complaining about the increase volume of editions coming from IDW and now other players like DC/Graphitti Designs, Dynamite, Dark Horse Comics and Titan to name a few. The market is now flooded with them and at $130.00 and up, buyers are becoming more selective on their purchases.
Scott started off the panel with a slide show that started with the just released Mister Miracle Artist Edition and noted that the variant pencil cover was available at the show and online at the IDW store.
The John Romita Spider-Man Artifact Edition is 200 pages and there is a funny story about the cover for the book. The regular cover was going to be the variant cover but the printer mixed up the covers and the variant cover became the regular cover. Most people preferred the regular cover of Spider-Man fighting the Green Goblin.
Best of EC Comics Volume 2 and has material from many artist like Bernard Krigstein’s The Master Race along with 4 or 5 of his other stories that will include In The Bag, Harvey Kurtzman’s Air Burst! along with 3 of his other stories including Food For Thought, along with Al Williams among others.
The long-awaited Jim Steranko Volume 2 and Scott said that Steranko is working it and there is no firm date currently. The dimensions of the book will be different from volume 1. Volume 1 was 15 X 22 and volume 2 will be 12 X 17 because the change in the size of artwork at Marvel at the time to current page size. It will include the rest of the Strange Tales stories, the Nick Fury Stories and all 3 of his Captain America stories. It will include the 4 page spread from the Strange Tales as a double fold out. Hopefully it should be by the end of the year.
The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck by Don Rosa Volume 1. It’s at the printer and will be out before San Diego Comic Con. Rosa told Scott that nobody would care to see his original artwork in a book. He was a fan of the Artist Editions and said if Scott wanted to do it go ahead. Scott said he got one of his favorite emails ever from Rosa about the book who is notorious perfectionist and told him the book was perfect. There will 3 volumes that will collect the entire story and each volume will have lots of extras in the editions.
Jack Kirby’s Kamadi is one of his favorite books in the upcoming schedule. It will include issues 1,2,5,6,7, &9 and he was unable to find the original artwork from issues 3,4, & 8. It will have recaps of these 3 issues. The book will be out in May and he had the FNG version of the book in his hotel room. FNG is Final Not Glued from the printer to check the book for mistakes. There will be a convention variant pencil drawing cover for this edition. It will have a few special extras like some splash pages from later issues.
The Goon will showcase the wonderful washes that he uses on the artwork that the pictures on the slide don’t do justice to the artwork that you will see in the book. It will be out in time for SDCC.
The Frank Miller’s Daredevil Artifact Edition it will collect mostly his Daredevil work but will include some of his other Marvel work. There are pages from Wolverine along with lots of covers and some of his very early work. It will also include some pages from the Death of Electra story.
Mike Zeck’s Classic Marvel Stories Artist Edition that will include Punisher 1 (40 pages) & 2 (24 pages), two-part Captain America story, Secret Wars 1, and the first Kraven Spider-Man story. There is a ton of great covers by Zeck including over 10 Captain America covers, all 6 of the Spider-Man Kraven covers, some Secret Wars covers, all of the Punisher covers from the mini series and much more. There will be a convention variant cover for this release.
The Miracleman Artifact Edition just announced will include work from Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben interior artwork and covers from the early run of the book. When asked about the later work by Mark Buckingham from the Neil Gaiman run and he said that there would not be any of his artwork in the book.
The long-awaited Graham Ingels Artist Edition is finally going to come out by the end of this year or early next year. Finding artwork for this edition has taken longer than anticipated and there was specific stories that he wanted to include that has held up the book.
The one new announcement at WonderCon was The Return of Tarzan by Joe Kubert will include the entire story. It’s a 5 part story as well and 3 single issues that will be just as amazing as the first Kubert Tarzan Artist Edition that came out a while back. Scott said that this book was a true pleasure to work on because of the great work from Kubert. It’s currently scheduled for October.
This was the books that were announced at the panel then the floor was open to questions.
Are there any re-marked editions coming out?
Yes there will be one for the Mike Zeck Edition and he has just finished them. Scott loves to do them but it’s dependent on artist availability and hope to do more in the future.
Any stories about artwork from collectors?
IDW does pay for collectors time to scan their artwork for the books. They have to make sure that the scans have to be a certain quality for them to be able to use. He is always looking for artwork from various sources. The other day he got an email from a person who had a Frank Miller page out of the blue and he sent the scan to them and it looked great. He also talked about how IDW will sometimes pay to re-frame artwork from collectors that have custom frames for their artwork.
On the Don Rosa book did he keep all his original artwork and are there any extras like ads etc?
I have an interesting story about the artwork on this edition. The size will be 14 X 20 and Rosa draws in half pages so all of the artwork is cut in half when he draws them and they are stitched together when they are printed. You will be able to see the lines of the cut artwork in the edition. They had to composite the pages together.There was also debate about the lettering for the books because the original artwork was not lettered because of the translations into different languages. The problem was that Rosa drew all of the word balloons for the dialog so they decided to re-letter the original artwork so you would be able to read the story. Rebecca at IDW not only scanned the artwork for the book she also scanned the lettering for the book and inserted them onto the artwork.
What is the hardest Artist Edition that you have ever worked on?
The second Steranko book is missing some pages he kept a lot of the artwork and he is slowly tracking them down. He knows where some of the pages are and the owners of the pages won’t let him scan the pages. All of the Artist Editions have their own challenges. Some of the EC stories have been tough and a number of the complete stories artwork is in Europe but he knows a lot of people and that helps.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and other publishers are starting to do similar books. What are your thoughts on them?
I do find it amusing that two companies uses the term Gallery Editions. Originally Titan called the Alien an Artist Edition and after he noted it in public they changed it. His feeling is that it’s a format so he doesn’t begrudge anyone from doing it. He asked if we were familiar with the Absolute Editions and that he gets credit for the format. He didn’t create the format that is a French format, he saw a French book and said that we should do this. The only thing that upsets him if you look at the text in their books and solicitations from some of the other publishers they use the same words to describe their books. One publisher even took the same cover design that looked identical to his. He feels that they should make it their own.
Now that Graphitti Design is working with DC Comics are you still working with DC?
We do. There are more Kirby books coming and some other books in the works besides Kirby and some are difficult to put together so it’s taking a while for some of the projects. When asked about the Kirby Who’s Who in the DC Universe artwork he has not been able to locate any of that artwork yet.
What is on your wish list?
He could easily have a list of 50 titles that he would love to do. Some would be very commercial like Jack Kirby Fantastic Four and others like Kirby’s Boy Ranch would be a lot less commercial. He would love to do a Bernie Wrightson book of his Warren work along with his Swamp Thing and House of Mystery work. Michael Kaluta Shadow book including the great stories from the 1980’s. Jack Coles Plastic Man would be a great book to do. If he was really dreaming he would love to do a Krazy Kat Sunday book by George Herriman that would be huge like 24 X 24. The list is really endless.
Any other compilation editions like the Marvel Covers books in the future and not necessarily from Marvel?
He is working on some books like that now but, he is unable to talk about those projects now. He would love to do a twice up Marvel Covers book like the Steranko volume 1 size book.
Any chance of reprinting some of the editions that are currently out of print?
They just went back to press on the Marvel Covers and the Jim Steranko volume 1 books. There are a few books that are sold out now like the David Mazzucchelli Daredevil and they are talking about a possible reprint of that.
IDW President Greg Goldstein arrived late to the panel and was asked the question about the large volume of Artist Editions that are coming out and that is taxing the market for the books.
He explained that because of the complex printing and putting the books together sometimes they get released in groups instead of their intended schedule. He noted there is a good wave of books in the works.
It seems as if you are releasing a large number of Artist Editions to a limited audience. Do you feel that is a problem?
Goldstein: We know that we are taxing some people’s budgets with these books and some people are trying to collect them all. Stylistically we know that some people are going to only get say the Kirby books and not so much Marvel or DC books. Once the mindset is changed from collecting them all to picking an choosing. I certainly don’t want to scale down the amount that we are releasing. Based on the number of our best-selling ones there is a finite amount of people who are going to buy a book with a $100.00 to $150.00 price tag. I don’t think that the audience is the same for each book but I think as long as the economics supports we will keep putting them out there.
Scott asked the audience with a show of hands who buys every artist editions? There were maybe 5-7 people who raised their hands. I said that maybe you should ask how many used to buy every artist edition and that would be a better question. When that question was asked about 15-20 people raised their hands. Then he asked who has to pick and choose and there were a number of people who said that they had to now.
It used to be that the Artist Editions were a special event and now we are seeing two listing a month and that’s a lot?
Goldstein: We get it and we are evaluating. If we do two in one month they have to be very different like Don Rosa and Frank Miller. The reality is that we have a attracted a lot of competitors and I would rather split the sales of our books than splitting the sales to our competitors.
Are there any more of the portfolios in the works?
There are some in the works that are almost ready to go.
Scott then asked the audience what Artist or Artifact Editions would they like? Gene Colan was talked about and we started to go through the list of the work he did. Neal Adams was brought up and Scott noted the Graphitti was doing his Green Lantern/Green Arrow as a Gallery Edition and that IDW did a portfolio of his work. I asked about Steve Ditko and that the Library of Congress had the original artwork from Amazing Fantasy #15. Scott said “and so do we” with laughter. He hopes that he will be able to do a book with his Spider-Man work. Then asked about contemporary artist like Eduardo Risso 100 Bullets work, but because the artwork was done digitally would people want to buy it? Goldstein noted that the Mike Mignola Hellboy was ridiculously successful Artist Edition for them. He would like to find more like that to do. Geof Darrow was noted and it was noted that his artwork is 24 X 36 and Scott said that he has been talking to him for a long time and eventually they would do something with him as a promise but don’t know when.
So that was the end of the panel and while there was only one new announcement there was a lot of great information that Scott had about the upcoming books. I love going to see Scott at the Artist Editions panels because of his love for the artwork and the comics medium. While I have reservations about IDW pushing too many of the books out the door and flooding the market, Scott just puts the books together and it’s out of his hands how the books are marketed.
The only thing that is a bit nagging for me is while I understand that Gary Goldstein job is to make money for IDW, I was a bit put off by his comments about a willingness to flood the market with Artist and Artifact Editions just to keep the lions share of buyers. While I do understand the long production and the time and money to put them together is not cheap, but the market for them seems to be collapsing on itself. I am not saying that each book does or does not deserve a release. I am saying that putting out a minimum of 12 of these books a year is far too many for a market that continues to dwindle. I have had to become much more selective and have quite frankly barely purchased any recently. There are other friends that used to buy all of the Artists Editions have also drastically cut back on purchasing them. It’s not for the lack of wanting them it boils down to simple economics of affording them. The last Artist Edition that I purchased was the Joe Kubert Enemy Ace back in December. I would love to get the Mister Miracle tax season has put that off.
They are becoming less of a special event and more of a cash cow for IDW.