Being a devout fan of IDW’s Artist’s Editions line of oversized comic art books I’ve been looking forward to Will Eisner’s The Spirit Artist’s Edition since it’s initial announcement at SDCC 2011.

The Spirit Artist's Edition Cover

An oversized, hardcover collection, WILL EISNER’S THE SPIRIT: ARTIST’S EDITION will feature 144 pages of beautiful Will Eisner stories. All the pages in the ARTIST’S EDITION will be scanned from original art to ensure the highest possible quality reproduction. While appearing to be in black and white, each page will be scanned in color to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art—for instance, white-out corrections and blue pencil notations.

WILL EISNER’S THE SPIRIT: ARTIST’S EDITION ($125, hardcover, black and white, 144 pages, 15” x 22”) will be available in 2012.

Unfortunately several shipping dates have been listed in Diamond’s Retailer database but they’ve all come and gone. I checked with Diamond last week and saw a new date, March 27th; it seemed liked another opportunity for disappointment but in IDW’s retailer newsletter yesterday they had this to say.

On-Sale 3/27

Will Eisner’s The Spirit Artist’s Edition HC
Will Eisner (w & a & c)
Will Eisner was one of the most influential and important creators of all time. He virtually wrote the book on sequential story-telling and remained a vital creator throughout his long career. Now, with the full cooperation of the Eisner Estate, IDW is proud to offer Will Eisner’s The Spirit: Artist’s Edition. A beautiful collection of Spirit stories, all from Eisner’s well regarded post World War II period, and each one shot from the original art. This massive book measures an astounding 15 x 22 inches—time to get new bookcases!and comes in its own custom made box to ensure safe delivery—If you are an art fan THIS IS ONE BOOK YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS!
HC • BW • 144 Pages • 15″ x 22″ • ISBN: 978-1-61377-175-4

There has been rampant speculation as to why the constant delays, mostly about IDW scrambling to locate all the original art pages from the stories being printed. Not sure why is was solicited for March 2012 though if everything wasn’t in the bag. I tweeted Scott Dunbier, the project’s editor, a few times asking for a release date but didn’t get a response.

The Artist’s Edition line is really picking up speed with exciting announcements for 2013 like Mark Schultz, Best of EC and John Byrne. If only IDW would change their stand on pricing and provide a suggested retail price with the proper retail discount.