Column by Rob Salkowitz
Posted by Rob Salkowitz on September 6, 2022 @ 5:42 pm CT
But no. Every year brings another escalation in the degree of luxury, reproduction, design and expert introductions. No matter how familiar the material, some fans will need the latest and greatest. That’s good news for retailers, since these are big-ticket, special-order items. Here’s a rundown of a few that have landed heavily on my desk recently and left a mark.
Marvel revisited. Marvel’s Silver Age lasted a mere 8 years and spanned fewer than a thousand comic books altogether, but it’s been an inexhaustible lode for the past half century. Marvel itself has not had the best record of keeping this work in front of the public as the baseline Marvel Masterworks books go in and out of print, but lately, they and their licensed partners have stepped up their game.
’The Eternals’ in ‘Monster Size’"). Clocking in at nearly two feet tall and around $100 suggested retail price, these are a fabulously satisfying way to enjoy the work of Marvel’s groundbreaking artistic titans. Some are still on the shelves or in warehouses if you can find them.
Penguin Classics to Publish Marvel"). The first few volumes are in-market now, and while I haven’t seen them, I understand the curatorial hand of Ben Saunders helps create a good context to revisit key moments from Spider-Man, Captain America, Black Panther and others.
For those who prefer to inspect the classics with a magnifying glass, there’s Fantastic Four No. 1 Panel by Panel, which came out from Abrams late last year (see "ComicArts Goes Deep into Marvel History"). Designer Chip Kidd and photographer Geoff Spear dissect the ur-text of the Marvel Age in exacting detail, with commentary by Kidd, Tom Brevoort and Mark Evanier. Abrams also just advanced the Fantastic Four mythology with the deluxe new volume by Alex Ross, Fantastic Four: Full Circle (see "ComicArts Lauching Marvel Line"). It’s nice to see Ross return to sequential storytelling, with a looser and more nimble "unplugged" style, but the real revelation is the solid story that picks up from the classic "This Man, This Monster" story from Fantastic Four #51.
’Marvel Comics Library’"). The German art book press never fails to deliver, but their new Marvel books set a new standard. The second in the series (following Ditko’s Spider-Man), is the Avengers. This monstrous edition runs more than 600 pages and reprints the first 20 issues, complete with covers, letter columns and selected ads, following an expansive introduction from Kurt Busiek. Somehow Taschen has found a paper fiber that accurately reproduces the ambiance of newsprint but feels rugged and archival. After reading a reprint done using this technology, everything else falls a little short.
Let’s not also forget that Fantagraphics has been doing nice work with the old EC Comics library – frankly, a hard market to find a new angle, since ECs have been getting the deluxe reprint treatment since the dawn of time. This fall, look for a neat collection of all 28 of EC’s adaptations of Ray Bradbury stories (both official and "unofficial"), featuring the usual gang of idiots (Wally Wood, Al Williamson, Frazetta, etc.), titled Home To Stay. This edition features new scans from the original art reproduced in sharp black and white, and includes introductory materials from sci-fi greats Greg Bear and Ted White. Grab it in October for $75 (see "Fantagraphics Fall 2022").
Magnetic Press rolls on with its collections of the eye-popping work of Italian great Sergio Toppi. Volume 7, which came out this spring, re-presents Toppi’s adaptation of the Arabian Nights stories, Sharaz De, which was previously available only in Archaia’s out-of-print edition from the early teens. All of Magnetic’s European editions, from vintage to contemporary, are masterpieces of production and worth a look.
Deets on ‘Blacksad’").
In short, if you like your comics fat, heavy and colorful and don’t mind shelling out for lavish editions that sit proudly on your shelf or coffee table, the good times just keep getting better.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Rob Salkowitz (@robsalk) is the author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture.