John Romita Sr Artist’s Edition

My favourite Spider-Man artist, out of all the artists that have ever been, is John Romita Sr., so it goes without saying that I was very excited when IDW announced this Artist’s Edition. Artist’s Editions, for those who need to know, are full-sized reproductions of complete issues using the artists’ original pages. Published by IDW, they allow a unique look at the art as it would have originally been before the colouring process, but after it had been inked. This allows fans to get as close as they ever could to owning the original art, all nicely packaged in a slick, hardcover book.

Lots of people will go on and on about Steve Ditko and how he is THE Spidey artist. I would never knock the guy’s work, after all he did help create Spider-Man and many of his most famous villains, but it was John Romita Sr. who developed the iconic look that has stuck indelibly in peoples’ minds. When one thinks of Spider-Man, the picture is that of a John Romita rendition. And for as much as that is true for Spider-Man himself, it is doubly  the case when looking at his supporting cast. Harry Osborn, Gwen Stacy, Mary-Jane, Aunt May, and more all become much more fleshed out, much more real under Romita’s pencil.

It is interesting to the see the creative process on the pages. Some leftover blue pencil marks show where Romita was laying out the panels and setting up the scene. I assume that artists would get even more enjoyment out of this than I do, for when you pick up a pencil yourself you gain a greater level of understanding of the craft.

This edition has issues 67 to 69, 71, 75, and 84 which include a great Mysterio story (and one of my favourite covers with issue 67, as well as story lines that see Spider-Man attend a campus protest and fight Quicksilver. The final issues are some excellent early Kingpin tales that highlight Romita’s contribution to creating such as key Marvel villain. Ideally would someone want other issues? Maybe, but that isn’t the point of Artist’s Editions, you get whatever you get, copied from collectors that have the complete issue in original artwork.

The only complaint that I have is that the large format means that it can’t really fit on my shelf. One of the best features of the work is that it retains its original size, and yet it is this giant size which makes the book too unwieldy for my shelf. I am complaining needlessly. This Artist’s Edition is a must have for any Spider-Man fan and while pricey at $150 you will get your enjoyment out of the book. I have no regret about dropping the cash and will enjoy this for years to come.

Anthony Falcone
Anthony Falcone

Anthony Falcone is a freelance writer living in Toronto and he is the Ayatollah of Rocknrolla. You should definitely follow him on Twitter.

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12 years ago

These books are great because they provide you with a good look behind the scenes, which I’ve always found to be more interesting. The blue lines, white outs and various little notes are insightful.

These are difficult to produce because of the source material, obviously, so it’s a real treat to have them collected like this… and not too expensive if you consider the production cost and compare it with the cost of original art.

And for you speculators out there… these seem to go up in value as well so buy 5, 10 or 20 books! Hold them for a few years then let ’em ride on eBay… You’re friends will think you are a financial genius!

9 years ago

My main problem with this volume (being a huge Romita fan, seeing he was my first Spidey artist) is that it’s not really Romita, is it? These are Romita breakdowns and layouts, not true pencils, finished by Jim Mooney. The storyline is also broken up by the fact that Buscema drew a couple of very fine issues in the run, and are thus not included. I would bill this AE as Romita/Mooney to give Jim his proper due. Personally, I did not keep this volume. Volume 2 is true Romita, and the forthcoming Artifacts Edition promises to be very special, even though Romita downplays this work as the bridge between Ditko’s style and his own (inking with a pen instead of a brush, nine panel grids, etc). Although this volume contains two of my favorite Spidey stories from the time, they are not the best representations of Romita as a sole credit, in my humble opinion. Beautiful work though, if you were a fan of Mooney’s finishes! And it’s always good to see Gwen alive and kickin’.