WC11: IDW Goes Deluxe for Stevens & "Parker"

In addition to announcing a new "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" series and "Walter Simonson's The Mighty Thor: Artist's Edition," IDW Publishing revealed two additional prestige hardcovers at WonderCon, one focusing on the little-seen sketches of a beloved artist and the other presenting one of the publisher's most acclaimed series of graphic novels in a new, oversized format. CBR News spoke with editor Scott Dunbier about the "Dave Stevens Sketchbook" and "Parker: The Martini Edition," which collects the first two of Darwyn Cooke's Parker books at a larger size and with additional material.

"I'm a very lucky guy to be able to work on so many great books," said Dunbier, who also oversees the Artist's Edition line and the new "TMNT" projects. Prior to the Dave Stevens sketchbook, Dunbier had been responsible for IDW's collections of Stevens' most famous work, "The Rocketeer," in standard and deluxe hardcover volumes as well as the debut Artist's Edition title and Dunbier is also editing the upcoming "Rocketeer Adventures" anthology series. Dunbier said the sketchbook collection will be presented in hardcover, roughly the same size as "The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures" deluxe edition. "It'll be eight by twelve inches. It will be 256 pages, it's being designed by the same gentleman who did the 'Complete Adventures,' Randy Dahlk, who does just beautiful work. It'll have the contents of the four self-published sketchbooks that Dave did in the early 2000s as well as a number of illustrations that were not in those sketchbooks and a fair number that have never been published anywhere," Dunbier said.

Dunbier laughed when asked if there were common themes to Stevens' sketches. "He liked to draw women. You'll see that crop up again and again," the editor said. "But he just really loved to draw. You'll see some life drawing images, you'll see things he did for fun, doodles, sketches, preliminary pieces for covers or pages -- there's a lot of really nice stuff in there."

"The Dave Stevens Sketchbook" will, on the whole, present the material as it originally appeared and will not feature additional annotations, commentary, or other editorial content, Dunbier told CBR. "The original sketchbooks were pretty bare bones and we've kept to that. There is an introduction by Bob Chapman, who was a friend of Dave's and he runs Graphitti Designs. We also publish one of the early Rocketeer albums and then at the end of the books we have an index of where most of the pieces appeared -- not all, but most. That was something that Dave had put in the original sketchbooks as well, so we're trying to keep to that."

The editor noted, though, that even with the rare and unseen material, this cannot be considered Stevens' "complete" sketchbook. "You can never have a complete sketchbook, because that would mean you have every sketch that a gentleman's ever done," Dunbier said. "That's just not possible. But as many as we could find that we thought were good examples of his work, we wanted to put them in.

"There's a couple of examples of his early work, his comic strip work, he assisted or did a couple of complete strips on his own for 'Star Wars' when Russ Manning was doing it -- I'm not sure how many people have seen those, but there are a couple of those in the book," he continued. "Also some portrait work, he did some pictures of some movie stars I'd never seen before -- Robert Redford, Marilyn Monroe."

As to the other big announcement -- pun intended -- Dunbier spoke about "Richard Stark's Parker: The Martini Edition," which collects Darwyn Cooke's lauded adaptations of "The Hunter" and "The Outfit" at a size similar to the "Man with the Getaway Face" preview comic, which bridged the gap between the Parker graphic novels. "It's called the 'Parker Martini Edition,' because we wanted something that got the feel of the book," Dunbier said. "Fans really reacted very well to the 'Man with the Getaway Face' preview comic we did last year, which was 8x12 inches. We are actually doing the Martini Edition a little bit larger than that, it will be 9x13 inches, it will have a slipcase, it will be 344 pages. That'll contain both of the graphic novels that Darwyn did -- both of them were pretty widely acclaimed. It'll have a number of illustrations, sketchbook material, a lot of cool little extras. One of the best is, it'll actually have an original eight-page story that will only be available in this Martini Edition."

Though the "Man with the Getaway Face" is the most immediate influence for "Parker: The Martini Edition," the deluxe volume also continues a pattern in Dunbier's editorial interests. "Anybody who knows my past history knows that I like to do big books," Dunbier laughed. He was also responsible for DC Comics' Absolute Edition line and of course IDW's own Artist's Edition books are presented at a larger size. "Part of it's just my general nature likes to do things like this."

Even with his avowed interest in big books, though, Dunbier recognizes that not every artist would benefit from the large-as-life treatment. "If you look at Darwyn's work, he's a very interesting artist in that his art works on a number of different levels. We do the regular graphic novels, they come at 6x9 inches, which is considerably smaller than 8x12. It works perfectly in that size and format, but I think it works just as well in that larger size, too. And a lot of artists can't do that. You have a guy who is printed very small and it looks great, but then you blow it up and it doesn't look quite as good. But with Darwyn, the nature of his style allows it to be large and small and not lose what makes it special."

With two more Parker books coming from Cooke in the future, it's a safe bet there will be a second Martini Edition, as well. "It would kind of seem like a wasted opportunity if we didn't," Dunbier said. "I would think that probably just having one on your bookshelf isn't enough."

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