CCI: IDW Spotlights Archives and Artist's Editions

IDW Publishing set aside Sunday morning at Comic-Con International in San Diego to go over what their award-winning archival team has been up to and what to expect in the next year. The panel opened with a quick video showing Joe R. Lansdale discussing his new story "Dread Island" which launched at CCI. The novella is the first in IDW's "Classics Mutilated" line that mashes up classic stories with horror. In the case of "Dread Island," Lansdale mixes Tom Sawyer with HP Lovecraft.

The editor of "Classics Mutilated," Jeff Conner, was on hand to discuss the prose initiative. "It's a corrective to the Jane Austen and zombies type of book, which is really just an SNL skit run way past its expiration date," said Conner. Future stories include "Little Women in Black" and "Android of Green Gables."

The e-book version of "Classics Mutilated" will feature two more stories than the printed version and the entire collection is set to be released in three printed volumes.

"It's sort of a gateway drug way to literature," said Conner.

He then moved on to discuss IDW's G.I. Joe prose anthology, "Tales from the Cobra Wars." All of the stories, written by thriller and crime writers, will be in the IDW G.I. Joe canon. Conner revealed that IDW would be doing a lot more franchise-based prose in the future.

Next Conner announced a prose adaptation of Ashley Wood's popular "Zombies vs. Robots" comic books, featuring 35 different writers' takes on "Zombies vs. Robots."

Dean Mullaney, Creative Director of the Library of American Comics, spoke about several of his upcoming projects next. "Chuck Jones: The Dream that Never Was" is a book that chronicles the existence of Crawford, a character that was featured in many of famed animator Jones' pitches that never made it to the screen. The original intent of the character was to be the star of a daily newspaper strip, which Jones tried to get off the ground for almost three decades with little success. The book features pitches, sketches, storyboards and more, all relating to the long lost character from 1962-1980. The book will be out this November.

"This stuff looks so beautiful, how could it not have been a hit?" wondered Justin Eisinger, IDW's Collections Editor.

Other passion projects for Mullaney include a collection of the "Steve Canyon" newspaper strips and the next volume of "The Life and Art of Alex Toth," with co-editor Bruce Canwell.

"Tarpe Mills and Miss Fury," edited by Trina Robbins, showcases the first female superhero to be created by a woman. Tarpe Mills, the creator, actually put herself in to the strip, with Miss Fury bearing her likeness, her personality and even her cat. The comic strips have been unseen since their original publication in the '40s. The character became so popular that pilots would paint Miss Fury on to the nose cones of their planes.

"It's a very personal strip, it's a fascinating strip, because of how much the creator put herself in to the strip as the heroine. These are like her personal fantasies," said Robbins.

Craig Yoe has edited a few recent archival projects at IDW, including "Archie: A Celebration of America's Favorite Teenagers," "The Art of Steve Ditko," and "The Carl Barks Big Book of Barney Bear."

One of Yoe's collections, "Amazing 3D Comics!" will feature an all-new cover drawn by industry legend Joe Kubert.

"[Joe Kubert's] 83 years-old and he can draw. I deal with a lot of old cartoonists and they have shaky hands and some of them just don't have it anymore. It's kind of sad, but Joe is amazing," said Yoe.

"Bob Powell's Terror: The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics vol. 2" is the next book in Yoe's series of Bob Powell horror comic collections. The first one was so well received that a follow up was inevitable. "He's pretty much a known genius," Yoe said.

Special Projects Editor Scott Dunbier took the microphone to discuss his many Artist's Edition books, which will be heavily expanded after the huge success of "Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer: Artist's Edition." It won two Eisner Awards this year for Best Comic Book Archival Project and Best Publication Design. The Artist's Edition books attempt to recreate classic comics so they look as close as possible to how they would have looked on the artist's table, using original art pages that have been scanned. This includes printing the pages on art boards, before inking and coloring, and having the artist's hand written notes all over the pages.

Next up in the line are Artist's Editions of John Romita, Sr.'s "The Amazing Spider-Man" featuring material drawn by the artist in the '60s and '70s, "Wally Wood's EC Stories" and Will Eisner's "The Spirit."

"For my money, Wally Wood, when he was at the top of his game, was the best artist in comics ever," said Dunbier on why he picked Wood to feature in the Artist's Edition line. The Wood book will be an oversized 15" x 22" hardcover book, dwarfing even the other oversized Artist Edition books.

Dunbier then opened the floor up to a quick Q+A session. The first question asked what exactly "The Spirit" Artist's Edition would contain.

Dunbier said they aren't planning to release the book until next year so they are still in the process of selecting which stories to use. He pointed to the time period of 1946-1950 as a place they are heavily mining for material, however.

Any plans to do an Artist's Edition on Jack Kirby material?

"It's something I've talked about with Marvel. I would like very to do a Kirby book and I have a pretty good idea of what's going to be in it," said Dunbier.

Unfortunately, DC Comics does not want to allow licenses for any of Kirby's DC work. "The Spirit," which will have an Artist's Edition, was a special case, since DC doesn't technically own "The Spirit" they just license it themselves. He cited "Kamandi" and "Superman's Pal: Jimmy Olsen" as potential series he would be interested in doing.

What will Trina Robbins' next project be?

Robbins said a collection of Lily Renee comics is her next goal, having just discussed the project with an IDW editor on the convention floor that weekend. Renee was one of many women who created comics in the '40s, when many male comics collectors were all being drafted into the war.

"Everybody does Jack Kirby books, which is not to say anything about Jack Kirby, but I like to pick something that no one has seen and really deserves to be seen," Robbins said.

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