Early next year, Marvel’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man swings over to IDW Publishing for a deluxe volume celebrating one of the wall-crawler’s greatest artists. “John Romita, Sr.’s Amazing Spider-Man: Artist’s Edition” was the second new Artist’s Edition announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego, following Wednesday’s reveal of a book devoted to Wally Wood EC stories. The Romita book will be the fourth in the Artist’s Edition series, which reprints original inked art at full size without corrections or alterations, and the second to feature classic Marvel characters and stories — the first, “Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor: Artist’s Edition,” debuted this week at CCI.
Romita’s storied career began as a ghost artist for a friend at Timely Comics, which later became Atlas and finally Marvel. Following a stint of exclusivity at DC Comics, Stan Lee personally coaxed Romita back to Marvel, where he illustrated eight issues of “Daredevil” before moving onto “Amazing Spider-Man,” where he would build his legendary reputation and helped redefine the wall crawler’s adventures. Romita’s son, John Romita, Jr., also enjoyed acclaimed runs on “Amazing Spider-Man” in the 1980s and 2000s.
CBR News spoke with IDW editor Scott Dunbier, who oversees the Artist’s Edition line, about Romita’s Spider-Man volume, the second of three new Artist’s Editions that announced this week at Comic-Con.
“We have a great selection of stories to choose from by Romita, we’re still whittling them down to figure out which ones we’ll be collecting in the first volume,” Dunbier told CBR. He did say, though, that unlike the Wally Wood volume, Romita’s selected works would all be from modern-size comics, printed the same size as the Simonson Thor and Dave Stevens Rocketeer Artist’s Editions.
With the process of choosing which stories to represent in “John Romita, Sr.’s Amazing Spider-Man: Artist’s Edition,” Dunbier said the final choice becomes “a matter of going through and carefully reviewing all the different elements and deciding what will look the best in this unique format. There are worse ways to spend your day than looking at gorgeous John Romita Spider-Man art!”
Dunbier added that Romita himself is keen on the project. “We’ve had some conversations, he’s very excited about the book. We’ve talked about doing a special signed edition,” the editor said. “He’s a very, very nice man, I think he’s happy that people take such an interest in his work, and deservedly so. His work has stood the test of time, he’s one of the classic Spider-Man artists. He took over from Steve Ditko, and that’s a really hard act to follow, but he really put his stamp on it. He made the character his own.”
When the Simonson Artist’s Edition was announced at WonderCon earlier this year, there was no small amount of surprise in the comics community that Marvel would hand over one of its marquee character to another comics publisher for a prestige format book. A Spider-Man book flying under the IDW banner may just up the ante. But, Dunbier said, the Artist’s Editions require an extraordinary level of care whether they feature the adventures of Spider-Man, Thor, Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer or the myriad science fiction creations of Wally Wood. “They aren’t our characters — it’s a responsibility,” Dunbier said. “We come into projects like this wanting — needing — to treat the characters and the artists right, give them the respect they deserve. You want to do the best possible presentation because, really, this is the only chance we’re going to have to do something like this. I’ve definitely had some sleepless nights on a couple of these books.”
Beyond Simonson’s “Thor” and Romita’s “Spider-Man,” IDW plans additional Marvel Artist’s Editions — perhaps including, as suggested earlier, further volumes by these celebrated artists. “There will be more to come in the future — that we are already working on — but those will be announcements for another day.”
Will that day be tomorrow? Or does IDW have another distinguished creator in mind? Check back Friday, when a third new Artist’s Edition is announced right here on CBR.