America’s Best Comics Artist’s Edition Reviewed

America’s Best Comics Artist’s Edition Reviewed

American Beauties

♦Tripwire’s Editor-in-chief JOEL MEADOWS reviewed IDW’s mammoth America’s Best Comics Artist’s Edition

America’s Best Comics Artist’s Edition
Writers: Alan Moore, Steve Moore
Artists: Chris Sprouse, Art Adams, Hilary Barta, JH Williams III, Gene Ha, Kevin Nowlan, Paul Rivoche, Alan Weiss, Jerry Ordway
IDW Publishing

Over the last four years or so, IDW with the significant assistance of editor Scott Dunbier have been archiving some of the most important comics work of the past sixty years in their Artist’s and Artefact’s Editions. America’s Best Comics, which reprints a selection of the line that Alan Moore and a selection of artists spearheaded at the now defunct Wildstorm at DC from the 1990s to last decade. Unlike the other Artist Editions, America’s Best Comics was edited by someone called Scott Dunbier, who is now a senior editor at IDW. So he has a real connection with the material.

Moore tried to create a fairly diverse line with ABC and this is reflected in this massive book here. It opens up with Chris Sprouse’s work on superhero adventure strip Tom Strong, first showing off his inked work by Karl Story and then displaying his pencils. Then we move onto JH Williams III and Mick Gray’s Promethea which looks incredible at the larger size. There is an intricacy and a delicacy to his work, enhanced by Gray’s inks, and giving it room to breath really makes it feels even more epic here. We then get treated to Zander Cannon and Gene Ha ‘s Top 10, a police series populated by all manner of odd creations. Their work really comes to life at the larger format here too. This is followed by the incomparable work of Kevin Nowlan, Jack B Quick from ABC’s anthology, Tomorrow Stories. Nowlan’s work always looks amazing but it is even more spectacular here and you could spend hours just staring at each panel. They are presented lettered too so you can read them, reminding you that sometimes Moore has an aptitude for humour too. Then we have the modern day good girl art of Art Adams in Jonni Future, a strip that ran in the other ABC anthology Terrific Tales. Written by the sadly now departed Steve Moore, Jonni Future has a denseness and a detail to its art that would have been lost reduced down and coloured and published in regular comic format. As a total contrast, we then have the crazy satire of Hilary Barta on Splash Brannigan, originally running in Tomorrow Stories. Barta’s work comes from a classic comic tradition and it too looks pretty impressive in this Artist’s Edition. The book wraps up with a Tom Strong tale drawn by Paul Rivoche, another Strong tale illustrated by Jerry Ordway, a young Tom Strong story by Alan Weiss and a Grayshirt short by Alan Moore and drawn by Rick Veitch. We also get a cover gallery to round up the collection.

One of the strongest things here is just the sheer variety of what is on offer. What other book can you think of that features Art Adams, JH Williams, Chris Sprouse and Kevin Nowlan all in one place?

Dunbier and IDW have done a great job of assembling all this material and yet again, of offering the reader that original art feel without having to spend thousands of dollars or pounds. It is easy to forget just what a diverse line America’s Best Comics was in terms of what it offered and it is a shame that we aren’t likely to see any new adventures from any of the creations featured here. However, America’s Best Comics Artist’s Edition is a reminder of what a fabulous job Dunbier and the creators did back when the line was a going concern. A worthy and exceptional addition to IDW’s ever-growing line of quality archive material.

 

JOEL MEADOWS

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