With the announcement of “IDW Limited: Monocyte,” IDW Publishing has once again raised the bar for what fans should expect from a high-quality collected edition. Taking a cue from projects like DC Comics’ “Absolute Edition” and IDW’s own “Artist’s Edition” lines, “IDW Limited: Monocyte” not only features an oversized hardcover collection on high-grade paper stock, but adds hand-drawn original art, a cloth cover, creator signatures and more to the package.
Initially released as a four-issue limited series by co-writer and artist Menton3 and co-writer Kasra Ghanbari, “Monocyte” is about two warring immortal races and the immortal necromancer standing between them who wants nothing more than to find a way to die.
“IDW Limited: Monocyte” is offered in both Red Label and Black Label editions, the Red Label edition limited to 150 copies and featuring a cloth cover, custom slipcase, satin bookmark and mounted signature page signed by Menton3 and Ghanbari. The Black Label edition, limited to 45 copies, has all the contents of the Red Label, but also contains a piece of original art by one of four artists, including Menton3. The other three artists are Ben Templesmith, Bill Sienkiewicz and George Pratt, their original art included in just five Black Label copies, each.
In speaking with Comic Book Resources, IDW Limited director Jerry Bennington described the new imprint as “a home for superior, handcrafted collectible books fans will treasure as their most prized piece of their collection.
“It’s more than just top-of-the-line because IDW Limited editions have never really been presented this way,” Bennington continued. “We’re placing an incredible attention to every detail including design, materials and content. Then to top it off, we’re delivering huge industry talent to participate with original artwork, signatures and even design direction for some projects. Many of the original art pieces included within select editions are so good, they could be book cover worthy and we’re giving fans a unique opportunity to actually own them.”
The inspiration for the IDW Limited line came from looking at other high-end comic collections and asking, “What else could we do to make this book the definitive collectible a fan could ever want? How about signatures? How about multiple signatures from talent that would be nearly impossible to get in one place? How about original artwork? And not just a quick con sketch, but a well-executed, highly detailed illustration in full color? So that’s what we’ve added to separate our editions from other collectible books.”
Fans can expect upcoming releases from IDW Limited to include popular IDW titles like “Transformers,” “G.I. Joe,” “Doctor Who,” “Judge Dredd,” and, of course, the sales-sensation “My Little Pony.”
On the eve of the release of “IDW Limited: Monocyte,” co-writer and artist Menton3 spoke with CBR about the inspiration for “Monocyte,” what it’s like to see his work collected in such a high-end format, potential sequels and more.
CBR News: Let’s start with the basics: How would you describe “Monocyte” to a new reader?
Menton3: Generalistically speaking, or when someone comes up to me at a convention or so forth and they’re asking what “Monocyte” is about, I tell them its about the horrors of immortality, that if you walk up to the common everyday person on the street, you know, your Wally World worker and said, “Hey, for free, I’ll give you the gift of immortality,” then most people would probably take that. That’s a little bit scary, and on a lot of levels it seems that if you just had a world where no one ever died, it could get pretty rough. Imagine a world where not only did George Bush stay in power, but he never died.
“Monocyte” kind of takes that whole idea to an extreme. Through our storytelling, Kasra and I very much tried to ask the question, “How would you have it be?” Everybody can tell you the problems and the ills and the issues they see with the world around them, but very few people kind of explain what they would do if they were in a position to change any of it. Or even ideas that make sense. And it’s not as though Kasra and I were trying to get to a place where we were trying to preach or explain what we would have it be. “Monocyte” more or less was about the question being asked and considered.
Where did the inspiration for “Monocyte” originate?
I’m an oil painter, and I got a commission to do a superhero character that I grew up loving. I was pretty excited, so I did it. I owned some of the older books that I had as a child, plus I went out and bought a bunch of newer comics. I was just reading them to brush up on the character to try and figure how I was going to get into this commission. It was my first super hero commission, and I was pretty excited. I was reading the older books, and they were just nowhere near what I remembered them being. They were much less. The stories were actually kind of terrible, and the artwork was nowhere near what I remembered it being. I was really disappointed, and I remember sitting there on my bed with stacks of comics around me, just being disappointed and kind of collecting the things I had thought and I had imagined under this character, at the same time asking myself the question, what would I consider a cool super hero now? I think “Monocyte’s” the closest thing I’m ever going to come to creating a superhero.
It was almost like a bit of an epiphany. In just 15 minutes of sitting there and thinking about these different sources of material, there was more or less the outline of “Monocyte.” I was pretty excited about the idea and started talking to closer friends of mine about the idea, and Kasra posed a lot of very challenging questions almost from the standpoint that this world that we were talking about existed. And very, very naturally, we just created this world. It wasn’t as though I asked him to co-write it with me; it was just that we were writing it together.
We were creating this world together, and we spent about six months talking about this huge story arc, and then trying to figure out what would be a good place to start. “Monocyte” takes place at a particular point in the storyline, where things are going to change fairly drastically. There’s a ton of information before and a ton of information afterwards, but the inspiration in a nutshell was to attempt to create a book we thought said something in some small way, trying to create a comic book that wasn’t aimed towards the old, “Let’s do this because we know people are really going to love it.” It was more, “Let’s do something we would really love, and see if people like it, too.”
You know, I remember very distinctly during the pitch to IDW that there were a few weeks where we were waiting to hear back from them, just wanting so badly to make this book so it would exist in some way outside of mine and Kasra’s head. Not to sound like a new-agey person, but it was a very meditative, surreal externalization of the internal process for both of us. It was a lot of fun, and I think we’re both very proud of the book.
How was “Monocyte” selected for the IDW Limited treatment? And how much input did you have in to the final look of “IDW Limited: Monocyte?”
I’m not sure why or how it got selected for that treatment. I really have no idea. The guys at IDW are always very kind and gracious with us, but I really have no idea. But we did an additional cover and were involved all the way through with new design and content ideas and decisions.
We did a ton of work to put the collected edition together. One of the things about oversized books is that they basically just take the pages and make them larger, and that kind of irritates me with lettering. For me, I want text to be as small as possible as long as that’s going along with that panel. When the text gets sized up with the rest of the image, it just drives me nuts. So, Kasra and I went through and completely re-lettered the entire book, completely re-ballooned the entire book and made some graphical changes we thought would work better on a larger scale. There were panels changed and a few rhythmic things changed as well as some dialog tweaks, just to make the story flow as a single collection. Because Kasra and I, being nerds and talking comics as a kid, we always thought of this book in floppy format. When we were writing and designing the series, we thought of it in different sections, so trying to put it together as a single thing was surprisingly fun but difficult at the same time.
How does the IDW Limited version of “Monocyte” stack up against other presentations of your work so far?
I think out of all the books I’ve done, I’m definitely most proud of “Monocyte.” It was very freeing on a creative level. On the days I would wake up and it was time to do pages, I could alter those pages as I went based off of what we both thought was better. There wasn’t a script we were locked into. I think the hardcover of “Monocyte” and the IDW Limited version is probably, up to this point, the thing that I’ve done that I think is the truest realization of what we had in our heads becoming physically realized.
Any plans for a sequel, either plot-wise or thematically, to “Monocyte?”
Yeah, I mean, like I said, the four-issue arc that we put out is a very small portion of the entirety of the story Kasra and I created. There was some debate on which point to start on, but there’s so much pre-story we could tell, and there’s a lot that happens after where we ended things. There’s so much cool and exciting stuff that happens that it would be really great to be able to tell those stories one day.
At the moment, there aren’t any official plans to do that, but it’s very much within the realm of possibility that Kasra and I will pick up the old bone sword and pen and attempt to articulate what we see happening after the end of the previous series. I mean, honestly, the storylines and content we have goes probably 2-300 years before and probably 100 years after. There’s an enormous amount of storytelling we could do, and it holds a lot of potential, I think. For us, it’s always been, do people want it? Is there legitimately an audience? We told what we wanted to tell as a story, and if people want to know more, then we would like to supply more and kind of have that interaction with the audience continuing with “Monocyte.” What do they want? Do they want the stuff before or the stuff afterwards? But, once the schedule clears up and there’s things going on with us at 44FLOOD, there’s definitely a lot of opportunity for storytelling in that world.
“IDW Limited: Monocyte” by Menton3 and Kasra Ghanbari from IDW Publishing is available for pre-order now at IDWLimited.com.