Eric Powell’s The Goon Artist’s Edition

This beautiful Artist’s Edition features Powell’s Goon original graphic novel, Chinatown and the Mystery of Mr. Wicker, the opus that earned the writer/artist two Eisner Awards! Each page of this Artist’s Edition was scanned under close supervision by Powell himself to ensure the finest reproduction possible of his delicate and stunning original art—many pages of which were in colour washes and sepia tones as storytelling devices.

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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 first painted Artist Edition, Eric Powell’s The Goon Artist’s Edition presents an interesting look at Powell’s process and technique.

This work brings a new dimension to the Artist’s Edition format: watercoloured (or colour wash) original art pages. This was part of the announcement for this book, but holding it in your hands and the fine details come forward. First of all, the colours are very subdued and absorbed into the paper. Along the bottom of every Dark Horse art page shown here reads “USE ARTBOARD FOR BLACK AND WHITE OR COMPUTER-COLORED BOOKS ONLY!”. The published graphic novel has bright and clear colours throughout so at some point it was touched up and coloured (or recoloured) by Powell. Some pages here are a match to the published work, save for a matte look, while others have had significant colour added, such as the Wicker Man burning.

The pages are all clear, clean and exceptional. They appear to come directly from Powell, and it shows throughout. This is clarified on the small forward by Powell that states “and my son Cade for the scanning assist”. As well the thanks section is only to Eric and Cade Powell.

There aren’t many corrections, only in the text, but it give the volume a feel of originality and authenticity somehow. The margins on the pages are quite large so there’s a significant border of white space. Also included is a half splash redone on another page; see below.

There are extras aplenty. A few pages of breakdowns and roughs, cover prelims and character designs, followed by twenty-two pages of pencils with lettering and then the two finished covers, one for the hardcover and one for the softcover. Those pages of pencils are reason enough to pick up this volume: a clean and unique look at Powell’s pencil work. Comparing these pages to the finished story at the front it’s difficult to tell how much inking is done before the colour wash.

The completed lettering over pencils gave me pause. Was the lettering done separately and then put on top of the pencils and scanned? The lettering looks to have been cut out and placed within the dialogue balloons, but how these came to be is a mystery.

As always a strong and clean design by Randall Dahlk. This time around it’s matching the palette to the originals very closely: a stark contrast to the Kirby Kamandi design. In fact, the overall design fits harmoniously with the original pages and creates a seamless experience. Here is Dahlk’s take.

Since he fully paints the pages, there is a tonal quality that isn’t in most comic book art. When designing this, I wanted to attempt to give the design pages the same look as his story pages. With the design, you never want to detract from the real focus of the book, which would be the story pages. I use a limited color palette to add variety, but not overwhelm. I tried to recreate the “wash” feel of his art. The book should have rhythm and feel continuous. The design pages shouldn’t cause you to stop and think, “This looks out-of-place.” 

Superb production, as always a hallmark of IDW’s Artist’s Edition line. Cardboard case with black and white ISBN label. Sewn binding that almost lets you lay the book flat to any page. A one page biography of Powell to close out the book.

Originally solicited as Eric Powell’s The Goon: Chinatown Artist’s Edition, the published title makes it sound like this will be the only Eric Powell volume, which would be a shame. An introduction would have been an appreciated addition, especially if it had been from Powell about the project and his process. These are nitpicks only: all in all another superb addition to any art lover’s’ library.

Eric Powells The Goon Chinatown Artist Ed HC

from Things From Another World