CCI EXCLUSIVE: IDW Announces "Mad: Artist's Edition"

IDW's Artist's Editions bring stunning, oversized new life to comic book history by reprinting the original pages lovingly crafted by some of the comic book industry's most revered talent from Wally Wood to Walt Simonson to David Mazzucchelli. At the IDW Artist's Edition panel at Comic-Con International at San Diego, senior editor Scott Dunbier -- who created the Artist's Edition format -- announced the Harvey Kurtzman-era of "MAD" comics (which later turned into "MAD Magazine") is next in line for the Artist's Edition treatment with "MAD: Artist's Edition."

"You can't understate the importance of Harvey Kurtzman and "Mad" comics to American culture," Dunbier told CBR News. "If you go back and look at how many people were influenced by "Mad" - as both a comic, and later as a magazine, it's sort of staggering. All of the underground cartoonists cite Kurtzman and "Mad" as a huge influence... I think the landscape of pop-culture would have been a lot different if it wasn't for MAD."

Dunbier said from the get-go he wanted to bring "MAD" into the Artist's Edition family.

"Mad was originally part of the EC line of comics, which I've always felt was pound-for-pound the greatest line of comics ever done."

Unlike the Wally Wood and Jack Davis' EC Comics artwork secured for their respective Artist's Editions, IDW worked with DC Comics for the first time to secure the license from them to produce the book.

"We approached DC ... we sent them some samples of the Wally Wood book, which definitely made them more interested. They enjoyed that book a lot," said Dunbier. "[MAD Magazine editor-in-chief] John Ficarra loved it and he was instrumental in making this whole thing come about, as well as several other people at DC.

"You can't really say how much this is a Harvey Kurtzman book. Kurtzman developed "MAD" and nurtured it the same way he did his war titles. Many of the stories were written by Kurtzman. There will also be a stunning selection of "Mad" covers, and even some roughs in the book."

Additionally, the "MAD: Artist's Edition" features work by the amazing cartoonists that graced the early days of the comic, including Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Basil Wolverton and Bill Edler.

One of the stories included in the "Mad" Artist's Edition is Wolverton's "Mad Reader!" story, which Dunbier described as a series of illustrations "of what your typical MAD reader looks like. And it's brutally over-the-top. These portraits crazy and nightmarish," said Dunbier, laughing.

Dunbier also referenced "Bat Boy and Rubin," one of MAD's most infamous superhero parodies. "It's just a terrific Batman and Robin parody that was one of the true classics. It's just a brilliant story," he said.

While there have been problems with tracking down the art, Dunbier admitted for the most part, he had some good fortune assembling this collection.

"Luckily, this is some of the most sought after art from the original EC line. When it was originally sold in the early '80s ... they were sold as complete stories, and then many were kept together as complete stories, which is a testament to how well regarded they are -- that people wanted to have them in their complete form," he said.

An art collector himself, Dunbier talked about working with the original pages that are nearly sixty years old.

"For me, part of the pleasure of this is to see what the art actually looks like. To see all the little nuances of it, and as it ages, it just looks more and more like something you would find in the Smithsonian, or something you'd find in a box at the end of Indiana Jones, when they nail up the Ark of the Covenant."

"MAD: Artist's Edition" is scheduled to be in stores December 2012 to help celebrate MAD's 60th Anniversary.

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