Review | Frank Thorne’s Red Sonja Art Edition Vol 1

The first in Dynamite’s Art Edition library, Frank Thorne’s Red Sonja Art Edition is a boon for fans but suffers visually, be it ever so slightly.

Frank Thorne's Red Sonja Art Edition coverCelebrate the seminal work of legendary fantasy illustrator Frank Thorne with this gorgeous hardcover collection, presenting for the first time the actual storyboard artwork from his complete 1976 run of swords-and-sorcery icon Red Sonja appearances in the Marvel Feature comic book series. Scanned in high-resolution color and printed at original size, Frank Thorne’s Red Sonja Art Edition preserves every detail of the artist’s meticulous skill and hard work, while simultaneously presenting a complete storyline for the enjoyment of longtime She-Devil fans.

  • Dynamite, April 2014
  • 12″ x 17″, 120 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1606904442
  • $150 USD
  • Order Online: Amazon

As with all original artist’s gallery editions 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.

This is the first and to date only Art Edition from Dynamite, joining the growing market created by IDW and their Artist’s Editions. Here is Dynamite’s take on what that means; capitals are theirs.

PRESENTING THE ART OF THE DEFINITIVE RED SONJA ARTIST AT ITS ORIGINAL SIZE IN AN OVERSIZED HARDCOVER EDITION! FEATURING HIGH RESOLUTION, COLOR SCANS OF FRANK THORNE’S ORIGINAL ARTWORK FROM HIS PERSONAL COLLECTION!

Frank Thorne's Red Sonja Art Edition Vol 1 interior 1

And like IDW they initially solicited the book with a different cover and it was five months late. This is a collection of Marvel Feature issues 2-7 including covers, written by Roy Thomas and Bruce Jones and art by Frank Thorne. All but ten pages are scanned from the original art, and those ten are clearly identified (see last image).

It’s enjoyable to experience this work as one cohesive unit, with no missing issues or pages. Without the colour from the published pages, and printed at their full size, Thorne’s art shines. Readers are treated to all the details presented.

Frank Thorne's Red Sonja Art Edition Vol 1 interior 2

Let’s get to the issue with the book straight away: the scans are dark and slightly blurry. These are the darkest and possibly worst preserved original art pages to appear in this type of collected edition that I’ve come across. When holding the book the pages appear much darker than in the samples on Dynamite’s site or even in the photos included here. That’s not Dynamite’s issue, it resides with their source material.  Dynamite’s issue is the slight haze or blurriness with the scans: it’s not pronounced but is noticeable, especially when looking up at the top of the page while reading.

Frank Thorne's Red Sonja Art Edition Vol 1 interior 3

Physically the book is well done: thick paper, sewn binding, great overall fit and finish. Pages stay open mostly, with some rolling at the spine as seen in the photos. There was some glue on the bottom middle of my pages but carefully separating them as I read produced no ill effects. The endpapers are clean and clear, using costume and character design pages from Thorne. There are some separator pages throughout using the red from the cover to create a unified experience, with panels also in the same red appearing there.

Along with the full content of the issues and covers, we’re treated to a short biography of Thorne and a lengthy introduction by Roy Thomas that gives substantial detail to how this creative team came together. Frank Thorne may not be a familiar name to most comic readers but art enthusiasts owe it to themselves to give this volume a look.

At $150 for 120 pages it’s slightly high in price, but Dynamite offers it at normal discount levels to comic shops and retailers so expect to find it at a discount. As well Dynamite has offered it at a steep discount to comic shops twice this year; I was able to pick my copy up for half price. Even though the solicitation states “Limited to initial orders ONLY” two discounted offers and a low first month’s showing indicate stock sitting around somewhere.



Frank Thorne Red Sonja Art Ed HC Vol. 01 – $120.00

Retail Price: $150.00
You Save: $30.00

Scott VanderPloeg Written by:

Editor-In-Chief. Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans. Joe Shuster Awards Harry Kremer coordinator.

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One Comment

  1. January 2, 2015
    Reply

    This is a fair review. I returned my copy due largely to the criticisms cited above by Scott. The art itself is faultless, but there was something about the overall production of the book itself that left me torn. It was definitely below IDWs standards, and Graphitti’s entries are going to raise the bar even higher. Thorne is a remarkable talent and what he does on the page does not get enough credit as far as I’m concerned, from his remarkable use of L-shaped panels to some of the most sublime figure work you’ll ever see in comics. This book does not live up to those high standards.

Make It Good.