Earlier this year, "2000 AD" publisher Rebellion reprinted Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell's '80s opus "Zenith" for the first time ever in a single, hardback edition limited to 1000 copies. Despite courting controversy by not receiving Morrison's blessing for the project, it sold out almost immediately.
Rebellion PR Coordinator Michael Molcher has now exclusively informed CBR News that Rebellion is moving ahead with a second all-new reprinting of "Zenith" -- this time in a non-limited set of four hardcover collected editions. Each of the four hardcovers will contain one of the four "Phases" of "Zenith." The first volume, subtitled "Zenith: Phase One," is expected to ship in October 2014 with volume two following in December. No dates have yet been set for the third and fourth volumes.
Molcher recently spoke with CBR News about the "Zenith" announcement, revealing how their limited "Zenith" printing experiment turned out, why they are pushing ahead with these controversial printings, and what artist's Steve Yeowell's thoughts on the matter are.
CBR News: Mike, how did the first printing of Zenith turn out for "2000 AD" and Rebellion?
Michael Molcher: We were really pleased with the complete "Zenith" book -- so much so that we brought the release date forward by two months once we saw how it had turned out. It looked gorgeous and our lead designer, Simon Parr, did a fantastic job framing Steve Yeowell's artwork within a superbly designed deluxe book. It was part of a stand-out year for "2000 AD" -- I think we've surprised a lot of people over the past few years by showing that we still have what it takes to surprise, to shake things up; there was the world-changing "Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos" storyline and the British Comics Award-nominated "Trifecta" crossover last year, plus the Eisner nomination this year.
Make no bones about it -- "Zenith" is one of the all-time classic stories from "2000 AD." It has inspired writers and artists, and even people like Simon Pegg can be counted amongst its fans. It's a unique take on superheroes that combines them with commentary on contemporary culture and copious references to pop music. With Grant having gone on from "2000 AD" to bestride the comics world, it's fascinating to see not only his first major work but also how the themes in "Zenith" pop up again and again throughout his work.
I think the complete "Zenith" did two things for "2000 AD" -- firstly, it showed it really has been (and remains) a powerhouse of new talent. If you look at a lot of the output of Marvel and DC it's notable just how many of the new artists and writers making a name for themselves started and honed their craft in our pages, Grant included. Secondly, "Judge Dredd" is always our strongest performer yet we have a veritable galaxy of characters and the "Zenith" book showed that there are career-defining moments from some of the biggest names in comics waiting to be discovered by a new readership.
Was it always the plan to release these smaller hardback volumes after the single-volume edition sold out?
Not at all, we thought we'd bring out something special but limited [in the single-volume edition] and that would be that. But the huge response was overwhelming -- it was the first "2000 AD" title to ever sell out so quickly and the demand for more has been unceasing. We've had a lot of requests from people who either couldn't afford the complete volume in one go or were too late to secure their copy, so releasing the story in its individual parts -- or Phases -- so that readers can see how the story and, just as importantly, the art develops over the course of the series.
Are these new volumes limited releases?
No -- these will be regular trade releases on both sides of the Atlantic and the first will be available to order direct through Diamond's Previews catalogue in August (for October), as well as our distributors Simon and Schuster. The North American editions aren't imports either -- they'll be printed in the US and won't come with hefty import costs. However, we're really pleased to be able to give fans the chance to pre-order the first two books almost a year in advance through the "2000 AD" webshop on December 2, 2013.
Why allow pre-orders so early?
"Zenith: Phase One" will be published in October 2014 and "Zenith: Phase Two" in December 2014, with the other two books out in 2015, and costing Â£20 in the UK and $25 in North America (though pre-orders through our website from outside the UK will costs a extra due to currency difference). We're offering these for pre-order so early because want to give readers the earliest opportunity to secure their copies.
Why not go with softcovers for this release?
The tremendous impact the four "Zenith" stories have mean we want to make the trade releases special in their own way, so these editions will be hardcovers with a special design running across the spines. When the series concludes with "Phase Four," the plan is to also offer a special slipcase that will complement the design of the books.
Will there be any new material in these books?
Yes, the books will include newly commissioned material to complement each phase, with both art and feature material.
Finally, Rebellion has chosen not to comment on Grant Morrison regarding "Zenith," but what are co-creator Steve Yeowell's thoughts on the new editions?
You're best off asking Steve! But he was very pleased with the complete "Zenith" book as it finally allowed new readers to discover his break-through work in its entirety for the first time. We hope he'll be able to contribute to these new editions.
"Zenith: Phase One" is available October 14, 2014 from Rebellion.