IDW Publishing's "Artist's Edition" series -- hardcover books reprinting celebrated comic book stories at the same dimensions as the original art boards -- has already cemented its stellar reputation among comic book art appreciators. Saturday evening at WonderCon 2014 in Anaheim during the "One & Only Original Artist's Edition Panel," IDW announced two more classic series to join the franchise: John Buscema's "Silver Surfer" and Walter Simonson's "Manhunter." CBR News has the exclusive first details, and word from those involved.
"John Buscema's Silver Surfer Artist's Edition" will contain Marvel's original "Silver Surfer" #5 and #6, two 40-page issues originally published in 1969, plus additional work from the legendary artist, also distinguished for his work on "Avengers," "Conan the Barbarian" and more. "Walter Simonson's Manhunter and Other Stories Artist's Edition" will include all seven chapters of Simonson and late writer Archie Goodwin's 1973 "Manhunter" story, plus other DC Comics stories illustrated by Simonson, starring characters like Dr. Fate and the Metal Men. No release date has yet been specified.
Scott Dunbier, who's edited the line since its first release in 2010, told CBR News he's "thrilled" to welcome the two upcoming Artist's Editions into the series.
"John Buscema was an elegant artist," Dunbier said. "He had a classic style that brought The Avengers, Thor and Conan to life on the page. And, of course, his Silver Surfer was magnificent."
Dunbier said he's loved Simonson's work on "Manhunter" since he was a kid.
"Anyone who has ever talked comics with me knows that I'm a rabid Walter Simonson devotee, and his work (brilliantly written by Archie Goodwin) on Manhunter had a huge impact on me as a kid," Dunbier continued. "I probably love Manhunter even more now, 45 years later, than I did as an 11-year-old!"
"Manhunter" will be the third Simonson work to get the Artist's Edition treatment: An Eisner-winning collection of his seminal "Thor" work was released in 2011 as the second-ever Artist's Edition, and IDW announced last year at Comic-Con International that a "Star Slammers" book is in the works.
"I love it," Simonson told CBR. "I think it's really cool to have my art published so folks can see it pretty much as it was when it left my drawing board -- yellower in some cases as the paper has aged, but essentially the same. I've always loved those glimpses behind the scenes at process. And I've had the good fortune to be involved to a satisfying degree with the design and content of the books of my work that have been published to date."
"Manhunter" is a personally significant work to Simonson, as it's commonly credited as a turning point in his career and a pivotal step in him becoming one of comics' most revered creators.
"'Manhunter'" is the work that established me professionally," Simonson said. "I'd been working in comics as an artist for about six months, starting in 1972. I was drawing mainly back-up stories in DC's war comics and a few SF short stories, most of them for the editor, Archie Goodwin. Archie was also the editor of Detective Comics at that time and was working to create a new back-up feature to run in the comic behind the Batman lead story. He asked me to draw the strip he was going to write. That turned out to be the 'Manhunter' series.
"Before I worked with Archie on 'Manhunter,' I was getting work but wasn't particularly known. Just one more young guy drawing comics. However, the strip was well-received professionally and won several awards. As a result, my professional reputation was established, and I had no difficulty finding work as a freelancer from that time on."
Stephanie Buscema, granddaughter of John Buscema and an acclaimed artist who's illustrated distinctive covers at a variety of publishers in recent years, said that IDW has kept both her and her grandmother in the loop during the production process on the "Silver Surfer" book.
"It's a huge honor," Buscema told CBR of the volume spotlighting her grandfather, who passed away in 2002. "My family and myself are absolutely thrilled to see this work showcased and in such a beautiful format. I feel it's so important for this work to be seen and available to everyone to view, it's part of comics history and honors the work my grandfather left us all. His run on 'Silver Surfer' was, in my opinion, some of his most beautiful work in comics, and we couldn't be happier to see this being published.*
As an illustrator with an impressive family history in the comic book world, Stephanie Buscema said she has a definite appreciation for the Artist's Edition format.
"The Artist's Edition books are absolutely stunning things. They've become a real staple in our home art book library," Buscema said. "To see the work laid out beautifully and in large page format is of great value, to both artists of all ranks and fans alike -- it gives the reader a sense of how the artist actually works and provides an almost 'behind-the-scenes' glance at what the actual art looked like as it passed over the artist's table."
Simonson has found something of a home at IDW as of late, between the Artist's Editions, "Star Slammers Remastered" and the upcoming new comic "RagnarÃ¶k." He told CBR that IDW is the right place for him for a variety of reasons.
"Scott Dunbier, my editor at IDW, is an old friend," Simonson said. "We've known each other for years, and worked together a few times when he was an editor elsewhere. It was a chat we had maybe 16 years ago that became the seed that finally blossomed into 'RagnarÃ¶k.' I also like the folks at IDW. And the company publishes some great books, so I'm happy to be there in the mix."
The Artist's Edition books have received widespread praise from industry professionals and attention from discerning fans. Cover prices start at $100, with many now out of print. Books from the line have earned the "Best Archival Collection/Project - Comic Books" award at the last three consecutive Eisners, and three of the five nominations in the category this year are Artist's Editions.
"I get calls and e-mails from my peers and lots of feedback from fans at shows," Dunbier said. "It's been overwhelming, to tell the truth. Still many books in the works, too early to talk about many of them yet, but I've got lots of things coming that are so unbelievable, they almost make me want to pinch myself!"
IDW's Artist's Edition output has steadily increased since the release of "Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer" in 2010, and Dunbier makes it clear he has no plans to slow down.
"The selection process is really a three-part thing," Dunbier said. "First, thinking of projects I want to do -- and there are a lot of those! Second, is the art accessible? Can't do it if not. Third, are the rights available? That's really it. As I've said in the past, both [IDW CEO and co-founder] Ted Adams and [IDW COO] Greg Goldstein have been ultra-supportive from the very beginning, which makes things much easier."