Chris Samnee’s Daredevil Artist’s Edition

IDW Publishing launched the very first Artist’s Edition in 2010. It was a bold concept that to date has garnered five consecutive Eisner Awards in the category of Best Archival Project. With the release of Chris Samnee’s Daredevil Artist’s Edition we continue to stay ahead of the pack by featuring not one, not two, but THREE versions of Samnee’s gorgeous original art — we like to think of it as an Artist’s Edition triple play! This amazing collection will be presented in TWO books. The first, a hardcover featuring Daredevil Issues 23 – 27. Since these books were lettered digitally, you will see more of Samnee’s original art than ever before! Additionally, all of Chris’ beautiful layouts will be printed here, again, scanned from the original art. The second book will be a horizontal softcover, printing all Mark Waid’s scripts — but that’s not all — Samnee’s artistic technique involves drawing thumbnail breakdowns ON the script pages themselves. Which means there are THREE versions of art presented, plus the actual script enabling you to read along with the story! Additionally, these two books will come in a handsome slipcase. You’ve heard the term “Artist’s Artist?” This will be an “Artist’s Artist’s Edition!”

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As with all AE format material (Artist’s Editions, Artifact Editions, Gallery Editions, Art Editions, Studio Editions, etc), this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index. Also, see What is an Artist’s Edition and our Artist Index.

Another first for IDW in their Artist’s Edition format: two books in a slipcase, providing scripts, thumbnails, page layouts and completed art pages. A one stop artistic resource on how a comic goes from script to completed product (minus colour). This package challenges what the AE format is all about, and where it could be taken.

Two books in a slipcase. The Artist’s Edition and the Script Book. Let’s look at each.

The Artist’s Edition book consists of six consecutive Daredevil issues, with cover, interior pages and layouts shown four to a page. The book opens with an introduction by Mark Waid (writer of these issues) and closes with a one-page biography of Samnee. All scans are clean and clear. The art is recent and shows little to no ageing. Samnee does the pencils and inks, and the pages show no process notes. Blacks show some gradients. Samnee mentioned in a great interview that his wife did all the scans, and did it twice since the first time wasn’t at a high enough DPI.

The Script Book contains the scripts as printed out by Samnee, who then does initial thumbnails and minor processes. Printed two script pages on each landscaped page. The book opens with an introduction by Samnee, fittingly about Waid.

Dahlk has handled the design chores with his usual skill; clean and cohesive. I really enjoy the colour scheme (it is Daredevil after all) and the art inside the silhouettes is eye-catching. Here are his thoughts.

The color scheme of the book is a nod to the red and black of Daredevil’s costume. The design silhouettes of the characters create a strong dynamic visual. The images contained inside the silhouettes are both a juxtaposition and relational. I believe there is a kinetic bold aesthetic throughout. The bold geometric shapes are an homage to the Bauhaus school of design (1919-1933). The type fonts I used are Spartan and Montserrat. The san serif fonts are distinct and clean. Both could be considered distant cousins to the Futura family. Which by the way, is a product of the Bauhaus era. Along with the double D logo, there are a few other design elements that tie the 2 books and slipcase together. The “front” cover of the slipcase shares the same image as the back-cover of the Art book.

Production takes on additional significance with this two book slipcased set. The hardcover is the usual IDW sewn binding of thick matte paper stock. Most pages would lay flat once the center was smoothed. The softcover is heavy paper stock and a thick glossy cover and glued binding. Unfortunately the softcover isn’t holding up well: after two removals and insertions into the slipcase the bottom corner is tearing. It’s also a chore to get both books back into the slipcase because the Script Book is landscape and you’re fighting to get those corners in.

The slipcase comes shrinkwrapped in a cardboard case with a small colour sticker showing cover and UPC. It’s the new design of the cardboard case, where the right side doesn’t stay folded and you have to push it back with your hand while closing it up.

I’m not an artist, so for me, the Script Book is something I can do without. It’s an interesting item and provides the possibility of “reading” the comic pages, as seen above, but it’s awkward and not practical. While the thumbnails are interesting, the process is better defined in the included page layouts. I would have preferred a few more issues in the Artist’s Edition instead. Since I’m also a fan of reading these books, I would have liked to see the word balloons added to the art pages like they were in Girl Power: Amanda Conner Gallery Edition, but I also know I’m in the minority. You get to see more of the art this way, especially in this volume since Samnee doesn’t seem to leave blank space for the word balloons. And it’s how the original art pages look; I know, I get it. But I still like word balloons.

Chris Samnee Daredevil Artist Ed HC

from Things From Another World