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Ed Piskor: The Fantagraphics Studio Edition

Ed Piskor: The Fantagraphics Studio Edition highlights the work of this Eisner Award-winning cartoonist, focusing on his two best-known series: Hip Hop Family Tree and X-Men: Grand Design. In addition to excerpts from these two major comics projects, this impressive tome features dozens of other gems from Piskor’s archives, including commercial art, designs for a line of Public Enemy action figures, and much more.

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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.

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Fantagraphics has presented another excellent book in its Studio Edition line, enhancing the AE format with each new volume. The standout feature in Ed Piskor: The Fantagraphics Studio Edition is the copious footnotes, accompanying almost every image. Here’s Piskor on their addition.

Studio Editions that are constructed directly from an artist’s original artwork have been the greatest new idea in comics the past ten years, and I had to jump at the chance to have my very own. As a newer cartoonist in comparison to living legends like Jaime Hernandez and Charles Burns, there’s still lots of evidence of discovery on my pages—lots of figuring things out, brush strokes, white-out, and general process, which is my favorite part of these kinds of editions. And I felt like it would add value to include some annotated chatter about each page as well. Readers are going to dig looking at this stuff in a different context.

With a footnote on almost every image, Piskor immerses the reader into the process: thoughts, actions, references, techniques. An invaluable resource to those who want to see behind the curtain. They also account for why the book is longer than most AE format books.

The focus is on each page as a standalone artifact. There are many small groups of consecutive pages but no complete issues so this doesn’t “read” or flow as a story, but is a representation of Piskor’s labour on Hip Hop Family Tree.

Scans are clean and clear. Gradients in the blacks are very present. Blue pencil on every panel, showing pentimento and used as guidelines for all the lettering. Minimal correction fluid. The pages show no signs of ageing, only discolouration around the edges from handling.

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Convey’s design is quite minimal. Less is definitely more. Title page with logo only, and colophon using the cover’s center image. Solid single colour endpapers. Glad to see page numbers, and the material covered on that page is a nice addition. The tan borders on the pages with a minimal shadow push them to the forefront. Excellent wraparound sticker on the cardboard case; love the extra attention paid to everything. Textured cover and spine, with the logo in metallic copper. A flat copper for the endpapers, logo, and footnote headings. Everything tied together.

Production is superb. A sewn binding of heavy matte paper stock. Almost all pages lie flat after smoothing the center. The book comes shrink wrapped in a white cardboard case. There is a sticker on the front that wraps to the spine, with title on the spine and a reduced cover image with UPC, price and sales blurb on the front. Execution of the sticker was poor but the design and intent were excellent.

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It was a disservice to Piskor and his work on X-Men: Grand Design for the solicitation to say “focusing on his two best-known series: Hip Hop Family Tree and X-Men: Grand Design“. This book is all about Hip Hop Family Tree, with only eleven pages from Grand Design and two other X-Men images. Better to leave them out, or better yet give us a second Ed Piskor Studio Edition.

While on the subject of solicitation hyperbole, “dozens of other gems from Piskor’s archives, including commercial art, designs for a line of Public Enemy action figures, and much more” implies at least twenty-four images of this material that’s not Hip Hop Family Tree or X-Men: Grand Design. There are that many images, most four to a page, but it’s the last seven pages.



Fantagraphics Studio Ed HC Ed Piskor

from Things From Another World

By Scott VanderPloeg

Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at Comic Book Daily and eBabble. Modest art collection at Comic Art Fans.