Defining the AE formats

Beginning in 2010 with Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer Artist’s Edition, the AE format encompasses the range of books printing scans of original comic book artwork.  IDW continued with the AE moniker with Artifact Editions and Artisan Editions, and along the way, Dark Horse, Titan, Graphitti Designs, Dynamite and Rebellion have joined the fray.

Based on reader feedback there seems to be confusion as to what constitutes each format, so let’s take a look at each.

Artist’s Edition, Gallery Edition, Art Edition, Original Art Edition, Original Art Archives, Studio Edition, Apex Edition, Archival Edition

These are all names for the same format, just from different companies. IDW uses Artist’s Edition, Graphitti Designs and Dark Horse use Gallery Edition, Dynamite used Art Edition, Titan uses Original Art Edition, Genesis West uses Original Art Edition, Fantagraphics uses Studio Edition, 2000AD uses Apex Edition, Hermes Press uses Archival Edition. Whew!

IDW defined the Artist’s Edition format, and here is their official definition which they began to use with the solicitation of their second volume, Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor Artist’s Edition.

While appearing to be in black and white, each page was scanned in color to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art—for instance, corrections and blue pencils. Each page is printed the same size as drawn, and the paper selected is as close as possible to the original art board.

Here is Graphitti Designs’ definition from their first volume, Batman: Kelley Jones Gallery Edition.

Graphitti Designs’ Gallery Editions reproduce the look, feel and attitude of the original art as it was originally created by the artist. Though it appears to be printed in black and white, the contents of these books are sourced from high-resolution, full color scans taken directly from the artwork. Each high-quality, Smythe-sewn hardcover book captures every detail of the art at actual-size, and are printed at 200 line-screen on a rich, heavy paper stock.

To sum up, for every publisher: a book presenting, at the full original size, the original art pages. While every company strives to have every page of original art for that issue or story included, sometimes that’s not possible. Therefore in these editions, you will find pages included that are not from the original art and instead from the printed comic, tear sheets, colour guides, and a variety of other sources. They are marked along the bottom as not being from the original art.

Artifact Edition

The second format from IDW, with the definition provided from their first Artifact Edition, Dave Gibbons’ The Watchmen Artifact Edition.

Like an Artist’s Edition, an Artifact Edition presents pages scanned from the actual original art. While the Artist’s Edition line produces only complete stories, Artifact Editions allow IDW to present books even if all of the original art cannot be obtained, and will include extras such as advertisements, portfolio pieces, colour guides, and more.

While appearing to be in black and white, each page was scanned in color to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art—for instance, corrections, blue pencils, paste-overs, all the little nuances that make original art unique. Each page is printed the same size as drawn, and the paper selected is as close as possible to the original art board.

Same as the Artist’s Edition, except it is not complete stories.

Artisan Edition

This one is hard to define, since IDW has changed what they include. Here’s the definition from their first Artisan Edition, Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artisan Edition.

Introducing a new format within the Artist’s Edition brand—the Artisan Edition! Softcover format, 8 x 12 inches, but still collecting complete stories that are all painstakingly scanned from the original art.

And the definition from Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer Artisan Edition.

An Artisan edition is done to the same exacting quality standards as IDW’s award-winning Artist’s Edition series, just at a smaller (and more manageable!) size.

Since then IDW has released Jack Kirby Pencils And Inks Artisan Edition, which is a hardcover collecting original art that wasn’t an Artist’s Edition first. As well they’ve announced Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer Artisan Edition following the same format as listed above. Last month Teenage Mutants Ninja Turtles Artisan Edition was announced, a hardcover edition collecting original art at a reduced size. For IDW the Artisan line collects scans of original art at 8″ x 12″.

We’ve seen a few books from other publishers following this format, original art pages at a size less than their originals. Wallace Wood Presents Shattuck Original Art Edition from Fantagraphics and The Art Of The Simon And Kirby Studio from Abrams come to mind.

IDW also has the Marvel Artist Select Series, which is “an exclusive line of limited-edition books featuring iconic issues from Marvel’s most legendary artists. Presented in an oversized format, each book in this line features a series of issues hand-picked by the artists themselves”. This line is frequently confused with Artist’s Editions but are oversized collections of the comics, akin to DC’s Absolute format, and not original art.

For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index.

Published January 9, 2017.

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.