Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer Artist’s Edition

IDW Publishing and the estate of Dave Stevens are pleased to announce a very special book honouring the work of this esteemed creator. Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: Artist’s Edition will be a mammoth 12” x 17” hardcover book printed in glorious black and white. Nearly every page in The Rocketeer has been scanned in colour from Stevens’ original art to ensure the best possible reproduction and the highest degree of accuracy. Printed on uncoated stock and at the same size as the original art, Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: Artist’s Edition will be the next best thing to holding the actual art by Dave Stevens.

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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.

The complete adventures of The Rocketeer, in all their original art glory. All but two pages are scanned from the original art pages. The one that started it all. Originally solicited as an IDW website exclusive but changed to include comic shops, I was hooked from the initial announcement.

Scan quality is excellent. Every page is clear, with no softness or blur. Pages are in various stages of aging; like new off white to yellow and mild browning. The blacks are quite uniform. Some process visible on the pages; word balloons, pencils outside the margins, corrections. The fill-in artists in the last chapter are easier to spot here in the original art.

Dahlk’s design is very clean. The endpapers and indices page are eye catching in their use of art and design, but the chapter dividers and tables of contents are inspired with their art deco vibe and the half inked art and lettering to pull the reader into this raw art collection. Here are his thoughts on this work.

Even though the artwork is basically black and white, all the pages were scanned in color. Because of this, you can see all the blueline art that was part of the creation process. This is the closest you can come to looking at a Dave Steven’s original without owning one. When it comes to illustration work, I’m kind of a process junkie. I love seeing all of the peliminary sketches and design that go into creating a page of art. These pages are certainly an eye opening experience. The detail that Dave puts into each panel can only be appreciated at it’s actual size. It was almost like discovering his art for the first time. His ability to create atmosphere and character expression, along with the craftsmanship of inking with a brush really shines on these pages. 

Production is IDW excellence. Sewn binding of thick matte paper stock. The binding a little too tight to allow all pages to lay flat. The book comes shrinkwrapped in a cardboard case with a small black and white sticker showing art and UPC. The cardboard case is different than any other IDW has used, as it folds over the book and is smaller then later cases.

While no longer available from the publisher, this book is readily available on eBay in its first or second print. As well there’s an Artisan Edition available, albeit with a reduced page size (8″ x 12″) and a reduced cover price.