2019 is the 20th anniversary of IDW Publishing and here Scott Dunbier, IDW’s director special projects, talks to Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows about helming their Artist’s and Artifact Editions and how the company has changed and evolved since he has been there…
TRIPWIRE: How has IDW changed since it was started 20 years ago?
SCOTT DUNBIER: Well, I’ve only been at IDW since 2008 so I can only comment on the last 11 years. In that time IDW has grown from a company of about 10 to more than 60, and we have continued to diversify and expand. I think that spirit of wanting to try new and sometimes daring things has remained constant. I mean, before I was hired, Ted Adams and I had several discussions about what I would like to do, I showed him a list of 10 or 12 things and he laughed. Not because he thought they were funny, but because he liked them so much. And, honestly, some of those ideas were fairly radical. Some happened and some did not, but all were at least considered. So I’m not sure I can really address how IDW has changed, because, to me, there has always been that willingness to break new ground.
TW: The artist’s and artifact edition line has gone from strength to strength. How has it adapted and changed since you started it?
SD: Well, with a few exceptions, I’ve been able to do books on many of my artistic heroes. From Kirby and Wood, to Kubert and Simonson. I’m not sure how many Artist’s Editions I’ve put together, I think it’s in the area of 70 at this point, which is pretty insane. As for adapting, I think the Artisan format, which is basically a smaller and cheaper version of full size AE books, while maintaining the quality, is a way to open the format to a wider audience.
TW: Is there one holy grail series or book you would love to produce as an artist’s or artifact edition? and if there is, what is it?
SD: I don’t have any one that stands out, I have dozens. Steve Ditko, Richard Corben, Crumb, Frazetta, Herge, Otomo, Frank Hampson, Frank Bellamy, Jack Cole, I could go on and on.
TW: How do you think the market has changed since IDW has launched?
SD: Well, between my output and the other publishers who capitalized on our success, there are a lot of AE books out there. In the early days there were collectors who would buy every volume… that just doesn’t happen anymore. People are being much more selective in their purchases, and by consequence, I need to be just as selective in the books I choose to do.
TW: Other companies like Dark Horse and Graffiti have also started producing oversized editions the last few years too. Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery?
SD: Sure, but it would have been okay with me to be flattered a bit less.
TW: What continues to be the biggest challenge for you working on one of thee books?
SD: By far the biggest challenge is finding great material to scan.
TW: If you had to choose one edition you had worked on as the one you are most proud of, what would it be and why?
SD: Sorry, I really can’t, too many… Wally Wood, Dave Stevens, Mazzucchelli, Best of EC, Jack Kirby, Kubert Tarzan, Ennemy Ace, Eisner’s Spirit, Simonson’s Manhunter… How can I pick just one?
TW: Would you say you are very good at thinking laterally? Presumably sometimes it takes detective work to track down specific pages and pieces of art if you don’t have them yourself?
SD: Darwyn Cooke used to say I was tenacious. I liked that.
TW: What can we expect to see in terms of artist’s and artifact editions moving forward over the next year?
SD: Hopefully a few good books!
Scott Dunbier will be a guest at Portsmouth Comic Con 4-5 May 2019. Tickets are available from here