Joe Kubert’s Tarzan of the Apes Artist’s Edition

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ most enduring creation, Tarzan of the Apes!

Joe Kubert was one of the most acclaimed comic artists ever. His career in comics lasted nearly 70 years. Throughout all those years his hallmarks have been a mastery of sequential storytelling and exceptionally fine drawing. Highlights of his career include work on Hawkman, Enemy Ace, Tor, Sgt. Rock, and the Viking Prince. But of all these exceptional artistic achievements one stands out: his remarkable adaption of ERB’s Tarzan.

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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.

A complete and engrossing collection, Joe Kubert’s Tarzan Of The Apes Artist’s Edition shines. This was IDW’s first Artist’s Edition with all DC material, and the last to have a title indicating ownership by the creator. All future DC Artist’s Editions drop the apostrophe “S” after the creator’s name. Perhaps it’s because Tarzan was a licensed property, or nobody noticed until after it was published.

Six issues of Tarzan are included: 207-210 and 212-213, including covers. The four issue story arc is a retelling of Tarzan’s origin and the last two are standalone tales. It’s an excellent introduction to the character through Kubert’s eyes and a strong sampling of the art from his run. I don’t know if Kubert kept his original art or this came from the Burroughs estate, but either way every page is here with no fill-ins.

The four part origin story was previously reprinted in DC Limited Collectors’ Edition C-22, a treasury type oversized comic from September 1973. The fold out poster above is the only “extra” in the book, first appearing in that reprint. The book opens with a two page introduction by Joe Kubert and closes out with a one page biography.

The scans are well done, with blacks showing varying levels of application on the original art pages. Some pages show yellowing but not enough to take away from the art. It’s a complete well presented package.

Book design by Randall Dahlk is without colour but features art images in compelling uses such as the table of contents above. Chapter dividers are extreme close-ups of different characters, and end papers are also pulled from panels. It’s a clean monotone approach.

Fit and finish is excellent and follows IDW’s well-heeled Artist’s Edition format. The binding was a bit tight, but most pages lay flat with some exceptions at the front and back. The book was shrinkwrapped inside a heavy cardboard case, well designed and able to stand up to years of use.