Kevin Nowlan is a true “artists artist.” He has won the coveted Eisner Award for his art on Jack B. Quick, in collaboration with Alan Moore, as well for inking Batman: Sword of Azrael, over Joe Quesada. This volume will contain a selection of Nowlan’s best works for Marvel Comics – covers, pages, and two complete stories, most notably his fully painted, 62-page Man-Thing graphic novel, written by Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber. A true labor of love, the graphic novel took Nowlan 25 years to complete.
- IDW Publishing, April 11, 2023
- ISBN 978-1-68405-972-0
- 12″ x 17″, 184 pages, hardcover
- $150 USD
- Order online: Amazon, Things From Another World, Forbidden Planet, Books Etc
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.
This is an eclectic collection of material spanning Nowlan’s career: a full-length painted graphic novel, three complete short stories, thirty-one covers, twenty-nine pages, twelve specialty pieces, and several layouts. But not only are we treated to inked work, but pencilled pages of several pieces along with one short story. Add to that an introduction by Mike Mignola and a one-page biography to finish.
The book is organized differently than previous IDW Artist’s Editions, with the covers, random pages and gallery at the front of the book and the complete stories following. The gallery section is organized alphabetically by type, while the complete stories are neither alphabetical or chronological. Perhaps a chronological organization would have helped show Nowlan’s path as an artist.
No issues with the scans: pencils, inks, and painted pages all show very well. Not many margin notes, but Nowlan asks for the pages to be sent back for colouring on quite a few. The inks are quite polished, with all signs of pencils erased, but we get to see quite a bit of process and technique in the pencilled pages. Thankfully the pencils are printed on the left and the inks on the right. Sparce use of correction fluid. Very little gradients on the blacks. The painted pages stand out, and Scott Dunbier confirmed these printed pages match the originals with its matte paper. Older pages show some paste-ups. Pages have aged to varying degrees, from off-white to light tan. We even get a little zip-a-tone.
I really enjoyed Dahlk’s colour choices and play with squares, rectangles, bullets, and interchanging the two focus colours. No chapter breaks: we have two tables of contents with page numbers but no page numbers in the book. The enlargements used throughout show well and really pop.
Production is excellent: thick matte paper stock in a sewn binding. The book lies flat when the center is smoothed, except where the signatures are glued. The book comes shrink-wrapped in a cardboard case that bears a small colour sticker with cover image, ISBN and price.
I never noticed Nowlan’s manipulation of perspective with enlarged body parts in the foreground until this volume. Really exceptional.
Depending on the age of the work, some of it is lettered and some is not. I continue to be firmly in the “letter it digitally” camp but can understand people wishing to see all the art with nothing covered by word balloons.
I’m not sure about the term “artists artist”. It seems to indicate an artist other artists like but the general public doesn’t, or have yet to discover. For AE format books it gets used for artists that have a smaller body of published work. Mignola mentions this in his introduction, saying he views it as a badge of honour. Or I’m just jaded.