We kick off a recurring series on IDW and their superb line of archival books — from Artist’s Editions to Yoe Books to the Library of American Comics … and so much more.
IDW is a comic-book publisher. They have a raft of their own titles, from creator-driven books like Walt Simonson’s Ragnarok to popular licensed books like Star Trek and Transformers.
You know this already.
But I’m pointing it out because rare (unique?) is the comic company that actively celebrates the works of their nominal competitors. IDW does that by producing hundreds of books that celebrate Batman, Superman, Spider-Man and so many others — books that speak that special language that only devoted fans understand.
Before you start wondering, no, I’m not on their payroll. But you can’t help but admire what a company like IDW does with their various lines of reprint editions.
I’m a huge fan of their Library of American Comics newspaper-strip collections that are overseen by Dean Mullaney.
Craig Yoe’s Yoe Books captures that zany sense of comics as anarchic tool. (Weird Love is my personal favorite.)
And the Artist’s Editions? Well, the Artist’s Editions, masterminded by Scott Dunbier, are some of the most beautiful albums on the market, by some of the biggest names. Kirby. Romita. Kubert. Gibbons. Miller. That’s only five.
When I finally gave in and dug into my wallet for the Kamandi edition earlier this year, I felt like I should have been wearing a monk’s robe or something. It was an oddly mystical experience, seeing Jack Kirby’s fevered imagination put into powerful strokes on the page.
(I would love a Mazzucchelli Batman: Year One edition, by the way.)
Over the next couple of months, we’re going to trot out a series of stories that will give you some insight into what IDW does with all these brilliant comics by the giants of the genre.
Oh, and I can promise some surprise revelations along the way, too.
To start, I talked with IDW President Greg Goldstein about his company’s approach to the comics zeitgeist.
“It’s our ongoing initiative to really have a complete and diverse line of archival projects because we definitely have a passionate commitment to preserving parts of comic book history, preferably in unique ways,” he said, “in some ways that other publishers have done before and in some ways where we are the trailblazers and others have followed us.”
Here, we talk about the heart of IDW’s reprint line: the Artist’s Editions.
Dan Greenfield: Obviously, you’re very well known for the Artist’s Editions.
Greg Goldstein: So there’s the Artists’ Editions obviously, and you have the Artifact Editions—the distinction being Artist’s Editions are the complete stories and Artifact Editions are great pieces of art that make be lacking sequences or the original pages are not complete stories.
And yet, with those two the printed format is identical. We’re on our 40th book at this point, over a period of five years. And obviously we created the category, the idea. Here at IDW it was the brainchild of Scott Dunbier and we’ve really been gratified by the response from the marketplace.
People had never really had a chance to see most original art—certainly not in one place because so much of it is scattered among collectors. … It’s a complete delight for the fans because they’d just never even been able to go to an art gallery … and say, “Oh, look! There’s a piece by Walter Simonson.”
You’ve just started with the Artisan Edition now as well, right?
Yeah. … It’s hard to say today whether or not that will be an ongoing line or occasionally a one-off. You know, the Wally Wood book has gone out of print twice now in hardcover and we love the material and wanted to see if we could make it available in a less expensive format without diminishing the quality and collectability of the Artist’s Edition. The Artisan Edition is basically a smaller softcover reprint of the Artist’s Edition. We’re likely to do them from time to time without necessarily doing them on any sort of regular basis.
Name two or three of your “white whales” as far as Artist’s Editions go: What you would love to do, if it were all up to you.
It’s funny. I used to answer that question a lot more easily before I had competitors out there sort of chasing the Artist’s Edition. But I would love to do, obviously, Jack Kirby at Marvel.
We obviously have a great relationship with Marvel, they’ve been extremely loyal to us. We’ve done a lot of great volumes. We have a lot of great volumes planned for the future. The Frank Miller Daredevil (has just been released). … We had a variant at (San Diego) Comic-Con and everyone went nuts for it. We have a great Herb Trimpe Hulk book. We cover Herb’s best material from his classic era. We’ve got some other Marvel books in the works. I would say, at some point … you and the fans can draw your own conclusions about us getting to do something along those lines. …
Here’s (another) one of my whale pitches: Mike Mignola sold all of his art on Dracula and a lot of it is in Europe from what I understand, but an Artist’s Edition of that book would be amazing.
I own a piece of original art from that series and I remember all that art came into my offices at Topps (when I worked there). I remember it. That’s almost an impossibility to try and track. There are probably 88-90 pages plus covers and maybe one or two extra promo pieces, but again all sort of scattered to the wind.
What about someone like Neal Adams? Some of his DC work — his Batman or his Green Lantern, or any of that stuff?
I would love to do it. Again, with Neal, a lot of that stuff is scattered to the wind. I would love to do that. A Marvel book would be tougher because it’s just so much lesser (output).
I would love to do a Neal Adams covers book, which would be amazing because he redefined the DC look in the late ’60s and early ’70s. I’d love to do that.
Probably a lot of items on my wish list just ultimately are not that realistic in terms of access to the material. There are probably a couple cases where rights are still a problem.
What teases can you give to readers? Maybe some names that they can look forward to seeing that you haven’t mentioned but you hope will be hitting stores some time in the next 12 months?
Twelve months. OK, so we’re looking between now and next Comic-Con. Yeah, I would say there are still some artists we have done but we have not covered all their great material yet.
We’ve got a couple of ideas around with people who are good friends of IDW. So some of the artists that we’ve already done, we potentially want to see what else they’ve put out. So I’m dealing with those particular artists.
I look for some classic artists or classic runs that haven’t quite made it. I look at a sort of fan favorite. A list of what were their favorite Spider-Man stories, what were their favorite X-Men stories, what were their favorite Avengers stories.
I mean, there’s certainly some opportunities there, depending on whether or not we can grab the material and obviously make sure it works.
This Q&A was edited and condensed for clarity.