Wednesday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, IDW Publishing made its first of three announcements about upcoming Artist’s Edition volumes. “Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artist’s Edition,” due in October, will be the third in IDW’s series of deluxe, limited-edition books reprinting classic creators’ work from the original inked art at actual size. The first Artist’s Edition, collecting Dave Stevens’ complete “Rocketeer,” debuted last year at Comic-Con, and this year’s convention features the debut of “Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition.” Wood was best known for his science-fiction shorts at EC Comics and humor strips for MAD, though he also worked for Marvel and DC, did illustrations for Galaxy magazine and created the “Thunder Agents;” the Artist’s Edition will collect his EC Comics work. Two more Artist’s Editions will be announced this week at CCI, one on Thursday and another Friday. CBR News spoke with IDW editor Scott Dunbier about the Wally Wood edition and teased about the most exclusive version of the Simonson book exclusively for CBR readers.
With “Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition” debuting at CCI, CBR asked Dunbier about fan and industry reaction to the project since its announcement. “It’s been very, very positive. The orders have been strong, both from retailers and through the IDW web store,” Dunbier told CBR News. “We will have copies on hand at our booth at Comic-Con (#2643), and we’ll have Walter signing all five days at our booth. Walter’s thrilled with the way the book came out and so is his wife, Weezie [fellow comics writer Louise Simonson]. Actually Weezie came up with the great tagline for Artist’s Editions (and I told her I was totally going to swipe it for an ad). She said they were like reading comics in IMAX — which not only is cool sounding, but it’s pretty accurate!” IDW will also be offering a con-exclusive variant, which features the cover to “The Mighty Thor” #338 rather than the regular version’s #337.
“We’re also doing another edition of the book that’s really nothing short of amazing,” Dunbier revealed. “We’re doing an edition that is limited to 10 copies — yes, really, 10 copies! Each one comes in its own hand-made slipcase, which is unique to this edition, and each one has a hand-drawn cover by Walter. Which is why we’re only doing 10! The drawing is a fully inked piece by Walter, each one unique. The slipcase was made to protect the cover art. It’s really incredible! “I really think that, in a convention full of great exclusives, this will be the most exclusive exclusive anybody can find at San Diego Comic-Con.”
There will be one copy on display at IDW’s booth that Simonson has drawn, and fans will have the opportunity to come by and look at it. IDW will make these rare editions available to collectors at a later date, once all the covers have been created.
The next Artist’s Edition will collect stories Wally Wood completed for EC Comics. “I think most people would agree that at EC Comics Wally did his finest work,” Dunbier said. “Some of the stories will include ‘My World,’ which is probably Wood’s most famous story and arguably his best. ‘Mars is Heaven,’ which is an adaptation of a Ray Bradbury story; there’s a story called ‘Perimeter’ from ‘Two-Fisted Tales,’ which is just a beautiful story. ‘He Walked Among Us,’ another classic science fiction job. EC stories were so beautiful but also so much fun to read.”
The availability and accessibility of original art is a major consideration when planning an Artist’s Edition, Dunbier explained. “A lot of people have suggested different Artist’s Editions to me, and I always appreciate hearing what they would like to see in this format. The one thing that needs to be remembered is, you can’t put together an Artist’s Edition unless you have access to the original art,” he said. “With the ‘Thor’ book and the Wally Wood book, we had access to all of the originals we need — every single page is shot from an original. In the Stevens book, there were two pages that were shot from stats, not from the originals. And we printed those two pages with a notation that said, this is one of two pages that were not shot from the originals. But so many classic stories have been broken up and scattered to the winds — it’s nearly impossible to do as an Artist’s Edition, because you have to literally track it all down. People have asked about Neal Adams’ ‘X-Men’ work, for example. Again, it would be a great book to do, but it’s a book that would require you to find all (or nearly all) those pages.
“Luckily, Wood’s work is very well regarded and prized by collectors, and many of his best stories have been kept together,” Dunbier continued. “There was some detective work involved, but it’s a Hell of a lot easier when you have shorter stories that were intact. Many collectors were very generous with their time and art, either loaning stories to us or having them scanned to our specs.”
Another major piece of the puzzle is actually deciding which artists should receive the Artist’s Edition treatment is more subjective — as Dunbier put it, “What would I want to see more than anything else?” “Well, really on the top of that list would be Wally Wood’s stuff, especially his EC work,” the editor told CBR. “I contacted the Gaines Estate and I spoke to their agent, and they were very open to the project.”
There is one significant difference, though, between the upcoming Wally Wood volume and the existing titles highlighting the work of Dave Stevens and Walter Simonson. “An Artist’s Edition is as close as we can get to the actual original art. The other books we’ve done — this year the ‘Thor’ book and last year ‘The Rocketeer’ — those were modern books,” Dunbier said. “They were drawn at the post 1966 art size, about 10 x 15 inches, with the Artist’s Edition measuring 12 x 17 inches. Wally Wood’s EC work was done at Golden Age size, also referred to as ‘twice-up’ art. Twice-up art measures about 12 x 18 inches. So, with the art board, the Artist’s Edition itself will be a whopping 15 x 22 inches — when it’s all said and done this will be a spectacular book!”
Stay tuned to CBR Thursday and Friday to discover what other legendary artists will receive the Artist’s Edition treatment from IDW.