May 2013 solicitations came out a few weeks ago and one that caught my eye was Tarzan: The Sunday Comics Vol 1: 1931-1933 by Hal Foster. Here’s the blurb from Dark Horse.

Tarzan The Sunday Comics 1931-1933 coverBeautifully restored and printed at giant size, this first volume in Dark Horse’s comprehensive collections of Hal Foster’s Tarzan Sundays reprints over one hundred strips on high-quality paper and in eye-popping color, replicating their appearance when they were brand new! Featuring historical essays on Tarzan and Foster, this astonishing volume is a must for every collector! Collecting every Tarzan Sunday strip from September 1931 through September 1933! From Hal Foster, creator of Prince Valiant! Introduction by Mark Evanier!

  • Dark Horse: July 31, 2013
  • Format: FC, 120 Pages; HC, 15″ x 20″
  • Price: $125.00
  • Age range: 12
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-61655-117-9

Without question this will be a beautiful book, capturing an otherwise neglected period in Hal Foster’s career. At 15 x 20 inches they’re printing them at or almost the size the strips originally ran in the newspapers.

Two options for the source material: either scanned newspapers or printer proofs. Proofs look much better and give a cleaner product, but they’re not always available. Scanning original newspapers require someone to go over them and do a lot of corrections, if only to combat the yellowing of eight year old pulp.

My concern is to what level is the material being worked, updated and “beautified” to meet this very high price tag. While it might not be fair I’ve purchased a few Dark Horse reprint hardcovers, such as Nexus, and the reprint quality was poor. Others like the Manara Library are clear and very well done. Brain Boy lies somewhere in the middle.

Little Nemo In Slumberland So Many Splendid SundaysReally though, that eye-popping price is what has me concerned. $125 for 120 pages of material is a lot to swallow. At first it struck me as a new high, but Sunday Press Books and their Little Nemo hardcovers are 128 pages, 16 x 21 inches for $125. Not too hard to see where Dark Horse found their price model. Yet Sunday Press is a very small publisher with a few employees doing all the work of scanning, correcting and publishing.

Fantagraphics and their Prince Valiant line is the best bargain right now: 112 pages, 10.25 x 14 inches, $35. All from printer proofs with high quality print and binding.

I noticed a Dark Horse price hike with the Manara volumes: $60 each instead of the usual $50 for that size and type of material. Yes it’s a little larger than a standard comic, but the last few have been completely black and white. Of course supply and demand dictate but they must be selling, and I admit to buying four so far.

In the end I’m just whining about paying that much. I already know I’ll be buying this first volume to see what it’s like, and Amazon is offering it as a preorder for $68.68 so that helps the sting, but just a little.