Review | America’s Best Comics Artist’s Edition

Alan Moore was the braintrust behind America’s Best Comics, one of the most acclaimed imprints in the history of comics. Comprised of four main titles: Tom Strong, Top10, Promethea, and the anthology Tomorrow Stories, the ABC line paired Moore with the finest artists in comics. This volume will present a beautiful overview of the ABC line, including complete stories from Promethea #10 (Eisner Award-winner for best issue of the year) and Top 10 #7. Additionally, a fine selection of shorter stories featuring Tom Strong, Jack B. Quick, Splash Brannigan, and Greyshirt will be included. Plus a stunning gallery section. The best stories by the best artists in the best format!

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.

A wonderful selection of America’s Best Comics material, including my favourites Jonni Future and Jack B. Quick. It’s an interesting mix from a lettering standpoint: Tom Strong 36, Top Ten 7 and Leap Of Faith from Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales 4 include no lettering while the rest of the stories do. Not sure if the lettering was done with overlays or digital but this book seems to cross that era of the lettering transition.

There is a lot of material here, showcasing America’s Best Comics’ finest. The work is presented with issue cover and then interior art, if both were available. That is followed by a gallery of covers and a bonus one page Jack B. Quick. Since it’s an anthology there is no closing biography page; a short history of America’s Best Comics would have been a good fit.

These pages seem to come from a variety of sources, yet the scans are all very clear and without issue. All pages but two are scanned from the original art, and the two replacements are wonderful Sprouse pencils that fit right in. Blacks are fairly consistent, with gradients only showing in the Rick Veitch art. Little in the way of margin notes, but we do get a quick costume design by Ha, and some colour notes.

Another knockout design by Randall Dahlk. The colour choices are wonderfully harmonious, with clean usage of panel enlargements. No chapter breaks or separating pages, so we only get tables of contents for the issues and the gallery.

When solicited the book was offered with the Chris Sprouse Tom Strong cover or the “variant” J.H. Williams III Promethea cover. Oddly both were offered through Diamond at the same price point and solicitation date, a first for a variant cover. Looking in the indices it lists these as “Cover A” and “Cover B”, so the same as the Marvel Covers: The Modern Era Artist’s Edition.

Production is excellent. The usual Artist’s Edition treatment, thick matte pages in a sewn binding. It’s a thick book, and most pages lay open with a smoothing of the center. The book comes shrink wrapped in a cardboard case, with a small colour sticker showing cover and UPC. It’s the four tab cardboard case, and it’s a tight fit but the case closes well after numerous openings.

Americas Best Comics Artist Ed HC – $152.00

Retail Price: $190.00
You Save: $38.00

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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  1. mel taylor
    February 13, 2017

    Hi Scott
    I’m curious to know why the cover of the ABC Artist’s Edition that Jim Williams displays on his website is completely different from this one since it shows Promethea on the cover rather than Tom Strong. Surely these guys aren’t pumping out variant covers on these high-priced books! any idea what’s going on here?

  2. February 13, 2017

    Yes, two covers were offered. Check the second to last paragraph above. I’m not a fan of variant or alternate covers, and it makes even less sense for these type of books.

  3. mel taylor
    February 13, 2017

    Sorry, missed that. I can’t believe they are offering a variant cover on a $190 book. Somebody might actually be crazy enough o buy both!

    That being said though, it is a beautiful book and reinforces just what a fine stable of artists helped Moore see his vision to fruition. I can hardly wait to get out my crayons!

  4. February 13, 2017

    🙂 Be sure to post some photos of your crayon masterpieces!

  5. Graham
    May 22, 2017

    I thought about getting this when it was announced just because I thought there might be a few pages of Arthur Adams but decided it was too much for so few Adams pages (based on what my lcs guy had to say). now I see pages 120 to 163 are wall to wall Adams! I’m having a moment here, I would quite like this but may have missed my moment. The hunt is on.

  6. Eisnein
    May 25, 2017

    Great overview, as always. I bought this as a fan of Alan Moore and the entire ABC line-up. It was one of the reasons I got back into comics as an adult in the late 90’s, after abandoning the medium a few years earlier when DC and Marvel took a nearly suicidal nosedive in quality.

    While J.H. Williams III, Gene Ha & Kevin Nowlan were the main draw, it’s an artist who was one of my childhood favorites who steals the show; Arthur Adams’ ‘Jonni Future’ stories are absolutely stunning. I was only interested in the characters as long as Alan Moore was scripting them, so the work written by his pal Steve Moore from ‘Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales’ was a true revelation. It reminded me what it was that made Arthur Adams one of only a dozen or so artists that impressed me enough as a kid to remember, and made me wish I had revisited his artwork earlier.

    He was certainly a standout in his brief Tom Strong appearances, but seeing his intricately cross-hatched original art at full size and minus the coloring… wow. Unfortunately, he hasn’t worked on many books I’m interested in story-wise, but I’d love to own an Artist’s Edition collecting his best work over the last few decades. He flat out kills it with every panel of ‘Jonni Future’, combining solid line-work and delicate texturing that reminds me a bit of Serpieri and Moebius, particularly the former’s kitschy brilliance when it comes to rendering super-voluptuous women.

    I’ve heard this book didn’t sell that many copies, even relative to the crappy numbers most Artist Editions do. People are missing out. The issue of Promethea illustrated by J.H. Williams III is fucking fantastic, and there’s a reason Kevin Nowlan’s at the top of the list when it comes to artist’s artists. He and Adams get the most pages, and I doubt anyone who owns the book has any complaints about that decision.

    I was surprised again by how small Gene Ha’s original art for Top Ten is, considering the incredible amount of detail he packs into every panel, and some might be bothered by the lack of lettering. Personally, I appreciated seeing his work uncluttered by dialogue, since I’ve read the material several times over, with the original comics, the hardcovers, and finally the Absolute Top 10 edition… which, to digress a bit, is the best Absolute edition yet, IMO; a 650+-page behemoth in a 9″ x 12″ format that reprints Ha’s art at about 80% the original size. Sprouse’s contribution is the least impressive, but the finished pencils are still a nice contrast to the rest of the book. IDW did a great job.

Make It Good.