Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Rocketeer: Jetpack Treasury Edition

It's always exciting when a new treasury comic is published, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more appropriate subject than Dave Stevens' classic The Rocketeer! Courtesy of IDW comes this handsome Jetpack Treasury Edition, reprinting the first two issues of the original series at the classic treasury size.

But that's not all! This is just the first of a series of treasury editions IDW is publishing this year, so interviewed IDW's EIC, Chris Ryall, to talk about The Rocketeer and what IDW has in store, treasury-wise: When and how did the idea for The Rocketeer treasury come about? Was it ever anything Dave Stevens indicated he wanted to do at some point?

Chris Ryall: This one came from editor Scott Dunbier. Scott was also the one who made Rocketeer happen at all for us, so everything that we've done with that property so far: the deluxe, recolored re-presentation of the original Dave Stevens material, the oversized Artists Edition book, and the new anthology series, those were all Scott. We'd talked in the past about doing some projects in the Treasury Edition format, but nothing came of those earlier talks. We decided we wanted to get those going to end this year and roll through 2012, and The Rocketeer made perfect sense as the debut book. This was partly due to the fact that the Stevens stories that Laura Martin recolored were only available as $30 or $75 hardcovers, so we wanted fans to be able to see this Eisner-winning work at a lower price point.
Stevens never singled out this format as a way to show his work, but Scott's very close with the family, they've been very supportive of everything we've done and talked about how much Dave would've liked the great packages we've done to showcase his amazing work.

TC: I understand IDW has a number of other treasuries scheduled for release! What are some the titles? How do you decide which ones would "work" in this over-sized format?

CR: We do! In fact, a project of mine, Zombies vs Robots (created with artist Ashley Wood) is next; that one hits stores on December 23, followed by Danger Girl a month later.

We're also planning a G.I. Joe book, TMNT, a 10th Anniversary 30 Days of Night Treasury Edition in mid-2012, and a couple of other special ones, and onward from there.

TC: Have any creators come to you and said "I'd love to do a treasury edition of my book" or do you generally go to them with the idea?

CR: We went to them so far, but I do expect that to change once people see the first few. In fact, we did have an advance copy of the Rocketeer Treasury Edition at the Long Beach con in early October and a few creators there said how much they'd love to see their work that way, too.

It just strikes me more and more that, with digital comics playing a more prominent role in today's world, it's more important than ever to produce this nice, lasting, oversize editions that digital will never be able to replicate. Not till they create a 10" x 13" iPad, that is, and not even then, really…

TC: I remember reading about DC's Wednesday Comics series that part of the reason they went with the folded-newspaper format was so they could be shipped and displayed alongside other regular-sized comics. Of course, The Rocketeer treasury and the others don't fold in half, so was there ever any retailer resistance to these books?

Oh, there are always little bits of initial resistance to anything that doesn't fit alongside regular-sized comics racks. But that usually lasts until they see these nice books, so I expect these to go over well. It as important to me/us to keep the size as close to the originals as possible, both out of love for that format and also to make sure that these new editions fit in the existing bags/boards that are in the market already.

TC: In 1975, DC released a treasury edition of Dick Tracy Sunday strips--the only time they ever published the character--which has always been one of my favorites. IDW has issued so many great collections of classic newspaper strips, are there any of those you'd love to do as a treasury?

CR: We've talked about Bloom County, but yeah, I love the idea of doing Dick Tracy as an homage to that old edition--that's the same reason we want to do G.I. Joe, to pay tribute to that old treasury edition, which was the first G.I. Joe comic I ever read.

TC: Do you read the classic DC and Marvel treasuries growing up? What were some of your favorites?
CR: Roughly…all of them. The first one I ever got was the first Fantastic Four Treasury Edition, and I just loved everything about it. That was my first exposure to the Lee/Kirby issue with the Impossible Man, the Galactus Saga, and I still vividly remember that inside-back-cover schematic of the Baxter Building. Hell, I remember Ben Grimm's eyeballs being opposite one another on the cover, too. So that one and the subsequent FF book, with the Dr. Doom/Sub-Mariner comics from issues 5-6, plus I think FF 94 (the one with the Frightful Four--seeing her cat turn into that giant panther-thing on these larger pages just knocked me out). But I also loved the Spider-Man "Sinister Six" one--I'm going from memory here, a Hulk book, Captain America's Bicentennial Battles, the holiday edition that Marvel put out…it's obvious I was a Marvel kid, since I have a fond memory of reading, say, Two-Face's origin in a Batman treasury but can't recall more about it than that. Whereas with the Marvel stuff, I even remember some dude called, like the Black Hole in the Howard the Duck Treasury Edition. Loved that stuff, just adored it. I read my way through two copies of the Goodwin/Simonson Close Encounters of the Third Kind adaptation, too.

Although, thinking about them all, I guess other than that first FF book, for me, the be-all, end-all of Treasury Editions was that first Superman/Spider-Man book. Such great, great stuff, and they really used the format to throw some big, impressive images at us, didn't they?

My love of the format was what made me so happy when Paul Dini and Alex Ross brought it back with their books (although those stories weren't as much fun as the old goofier Marvel comics. But they sure looked great. And don't get me wrong, Dini wrote some good stories, but they were definitely more serious stories, not really the kind of thing you go back and re-read over and over). So now it's our turn to remind people how great this format is, and hopefully the books we're doing work as well for new readers as the original treasuries did for me.
(From the treasury collection of Chris Ryall)

Looks like there's some really exciting stuff coming from IDW (I mean, more than usual)! can't wait to add all these new books to the site, and thanks to Chris Ryall for the interview!

1 comment:

Ella said...

retroish site :) reminds me Helicopter Game