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2010 SKETCHBOOK (60 pages, black/white/tone, print run 100 copies)


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Dave Stevens' Rocketeer Artist's Edition....the most expensive book I ever bought!

It was an extravagance, but I purchased a copy of Dave Stevens' Rocketeer Artist's Edition. It was a $100 purchase, plus $20 in tax and shipping...I think it might be the most expensive book I own.

Except for 2 pages, all the art is reproduced from new "shots" or "scans" of the original artwork. I am guessing about the "shots", but I believe that most of the pages that remained in Dave Stevens' estate possession were shot with a digital camera. I say this because of how the shadows from the past ups appear on the printed pages, the shadows tend to indicate a consistent light source that makes them look 3D and I know that when pages are scanned (or at least when I scan them) the paste ups are hard to distinguish. A few of the pages must have ended-up in other collections and those were definitely re-scanned and sent in for publication. The "shots" appear more like gray scale drawings (showing the lettering underneath the paste ups, the white-out touch-ups, as well as the pencil notes) and the "scans" tend to have more contrast and appear like black and white drawings. Again this is just a guess based on my experience with scanners and digital cameras.

In any case, the reproduction is great and the larger black and white format makes it real easy to appreciate the care that Stevens' put into his line work and rendering. The book is oversized, but it well put together. The paper stock is real nice and the binding appears to be strong (which is a trick with a book this size). I very much enjoyed it, it truly is just like handling original pages (or at least as close as I will ever get to handle Stevens' original pages).

It was interesting to read that IDW is hoping to do this some more with other series if there is enough of a demand and since they sold out of their 1,600 copies (at $100 a pop...$160,000) I would imagine companies like Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse might hop on the band wagon. It seems that while monthly comic sales are trailing off, big comic art books are on the rise ("Absolute" editions, "Al Williamson's Flash Gordon" by Flesk Publishing, DC's over-sized collections like "Batwoman" and "Wednesday Comics" and Adam Hughes collection of covers, the recent Nino in Slumberland collections....)

I wish Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein illustrations got the same treatment (!).


norm said...

I got mine too.....but I'm wondering, does your title page (the one with "Art For Arf's Sake" on it) have a couple brown stains on the lower right hand side?
I hope they're just part of the reproduction of every little smudge and flaw of the originals.
I'd be upset if it was a real flaw.....

Alex Sheikman said...

Brown spots?!?!?!? Yak!

Actually mine has that as well....I think that was the designer's way of making the title/chapter pages look like it was part of the artwork. I liked how he did the letters in blue line and then partually inked a few to give it that "still on the drawing, Dave just stepped away for a second look", very clever.

Leif Jones said...

Looks like you have some blog-spammers, Alex! At least it's not 正玲正玲正玲正玲 the Chinese spambot.

I hadn't heard about the Dave Stevens book until now, thanks for sharing. I do agree that artbook versions of highly regarded comics is a growing trend. The idea of having different versions of a comic at different price-points, depending on a person's interest level is a good one.

If you get the chance, I recommend you take a look at the seventh issue of the artcomix anthology KRAMER'S ERGOT. It's a hardcover, 96 pages, with page dimentions at a whopping 21 X 16 inches! Holding it in your hands will make you feel like a small child. I believe it's priced at $125.

Alex Sheikman said...


21"x16"...WOW! Now that is a REAL artbook!

As far as spammers go...I am one of the few who gets Russian spam..