Joe Kubert’s Tarzan and the Lion Man Artist’s Edition

Collecting the brilliant Joe Kubert’s final Tarzan stories in the acclaimed and multi-Eisner Award-winning Artist’s Edition format. Including the third Tarzan novel adapted by Joe Kubert, Tarzan and the Lion Man, as well as five additional stories. Includes Tarzan issues 224, 224, 227, 228, 229, 231, 232, 233, and 234. Featuring Kubert’s masterful handling of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic creation—this is truly as good as comics get!

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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.

Nine, count ’em, nine complete issues from Joe Kubert’s run on Tarzan. All but five pages scanned from the original art. I left the typo in the solicitation, but the issues included are 224-225, 227-229, and 231-234. No gallery this time, but we don’t need it when the page count is filled with complete issues! Also included are short introductions from Andy and Adam Kubert, and the book closes out with a one page biography.

There are softness issues with the scans. It’s a few pages at the beginning and then the entire issue 229. The Lion Man issues are clear. Blacks are rich and deep; gradients clearly visible throughout. No art notes in the margins, just spelling corrections. The pages are off white to tan, with the aging of complete issues versus individual pages; perhaps they were stored as complete issues in different locations and environments.

This is Dahlk’s third time designing a Kubert Tarzan Artist’s Edition, and I appreciate the design tying in with the other two volumes. The cover’s border colours play off on the title page, indices, introduction and table of contents to great effect. Love the tan. No chapter dividers this time. The endpaper illustrations suffered from enlargement.

Production is IDW’s usual excellence, with some issues. The binding on this volume is the tightest I’ve seen; only the middle of the book would lay flat, no matter how I wrangled the pages. The borders are enough to avoid gutter loss on the double page spreads, but just barely.

The book comes shrink wrapped in a cardboard case with colour sticker showing cover and UPC. The cardboard case wouldn’t stay together when I tried to put the book back in; it kept flopping open. It has three small tabs, one on each of the open sides. I checked the last IDW Artist’s Edition, Ross Andru’s Spider-Man, and it has four wide tabs. Wondering if the printer keeps them around and tries to fit new books to existing cases.

Joe Kubert is a perfect artist for inclusion in the Artist’s Edition format. He knew what was needed from his artwork for print. You can go page by page and see his decisions: small characters in the background as black outlines, full details of key characters in that panel, fully detailed environments and the barest of backgrounds. You can’t help but pause on every page to see where detail was added and where it was purposely left off.

Adam Kubert says in his introduction that “He was moving on pages as quickly as he possibly could…the pages you see here are him thinking out loud”. Doing the entire book himself, save colouring, gave Kubert the freedom needed to produce this level of excellence on a monthly schedule. Artists take note.

This material is well suited to a scan of pencils and inks: so many of the pages are dripping with as intense use of inks. Again, Kubert’s experience shines with his use of varying panels: three quarter splash, close up, panel on panel, panels on splashes. At this size every technique employed can be fully appreciated.