Don Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Artist’s Edition, Volume One

Rosa’s Eisner-award-winning work on The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, told the story of the penny-pinching mallard’s early days before he made his legendary fortune.

“Don Rosa’s stories are as fresh and entertaining today as they were when I first read them 25 years ago,” said IDW Special Projects Director, Scott Dunbier. “They are timeless treasures.”

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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.

Collecting the first six issues of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck in their entirety from Uncle Scrooge issues 285-290, including covers. No fill in pages here, all scans of original art.

The book leads off with this note, and I for one am thankful they went in the direction they did.

The goal of the Artist’s Edition series is to present an artist’s work as closely as possible to the existing originals. Occasionally we have had to make adjustments (shrinking pages to fit, for example). In the case of Don Rosa’s Uncle Scrooge art, there were two such adjustments. First, Rosa generally draws his pages in two halves, so it was necessary to merge them to form a single unit. Second, because of foreign editions, all the pages were lettered on overlays and added later. Normally we would forego the lettering (such as in the Mike Mignola Hellboy Artist’s Edition) but Don draws each of his work balloons–omitting lettering would have been aesthetically unpleasing. So we opted to drop the lettering into the pre-existing balloons. Rosa was consulted and agreed with our decision.

The pages are very clean. It appears Rosa doesn’t make many mistakes or margin notes, as the pages were spotless except for the clear label at the top of every page. No aging of the pages, all white and obviously well stored.

The scans are very clear, with no issues. In fact they look so good, and combined with the lack of aging, the pages look too clean and new. An overall beautiful presentation of original art.

Extras come in the form of the Don Rosa Gallery, and it’s not really a gallery at all. What you get is thirty-five pages of Rosa’s thumbnail pages for the six issues included in this volume. Every single page is shown in thumbnail form; yes, every page.

For my tastes this takes far too many pages from the main portion of the book. I enjoy seeing the artist’s process, but we don’t need to see every page broken down. I can’t count the number of times I’ve looked through a book’s extras and wondered why they didn’t include more if it was available; more prelims, more thumbs, more sketches. Now my wish has come true in this volume and I see that there can be too much of a good thing.

Yet for aspiring artists and those who want to follow Rosa’s process from breakdown to finished page and compare panel to panel for entire issues this is an excellent resource.

As always it closes out with a one page biography.

Randall Dahlk’s design is top notch. The muted colours give clear definition to the material without distracting from it. Here are Dahlk’s thoughts on the design.

My approach in designing this book was to embrace the artwork of Rosa and to elevate and isolate it. Because Rosa uses silhouettes quite frequently in his storytelling, I wanted to make use of that in some of the design work. I also tried to pick and choose images that were representational of each of the individual chapters. I picked blue and orange… because I like that color combination. Design doesn’t really have to be complicated or overdone, in this case it can be pleasant and fun.

Production is up to the usual IDW excellence. Sewn binding, slightly too tight as always, almost allows for the book to have flat pages. Thick paper stock. The book ships without shrinkwrap in a cardboard case with a small bar code and cover sticker.