By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu
San Diego Comic-Con 2014, for me, remains a gift that keeps on giving and in this case, quite literally. When I got confirmation that I would indeed be experiencing Comic-Con, I also made plans for some other auxiliary activities, some Con-related and some not so much. It was with great happiness I signed up for ‘An Evening with Dave Gibbons’, put together by IDW Publishing to promote their Artifact Edition of Watchmen. Even at $500 a pop, I drooled at the thought of having dinner and conversation with one of my all-time favourite comicbook creators, a bona fide industry master to boot.
The Artifact Edition, much like IDW’s now-famous Artist’s Edition, is a 12″ x 17″ hardcover, published in tandem with DC Comics, features over 100 story pages from Watchmen, reprinted from original artwork at full size. Given out after a sumptuous dinner at a swanky steak house, us lucky few got copies of an extremely limited run of 25 copies.
The dinner held after the first day of Comic-Con and my fellow guests were all seated in a relaxed atmosphere. As the three-course meal cruised on, Gibbons hopped from table to table, chair to chair, conversing with fans. He answered questions, too, on any topic you could imagine: Watchmen film rights, his next comicbook project and whether he’d work with Alan Moore again.
Gibbons and his lovely wife were very entertaining and gracious hosts, even as a warm, friendly atmosphere prevailed. I also finally got to meet Chris Ryall, with whom I’ve been ‘cyber-pals’ for almost a decade and I also made some new friends. After everything, we lined up and he signed and sketched our copies. I got No.2 in the series and I was torn between two characters while he patiently waited. I finally settled for The Comedian and soon as it was done, I walked away into the night, a happy guy.
I certainly had a great time and I sincerely feel IDW should continue with the idea of “An Evening With (insert high-profile creator here)”. I’m certainly up for one with Jim Steranko, hint-hint! And I’ll cherish the good vibes of that truly magical night, even as I unwrapped the book and gifted it to myself today. Merry Christmas, everyone!
IDW describes the book thus:
Watchmen has been called the greatest graphic novel of all time. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created a story and graphic narrative unlike anything that preceded it, and revitalized the entire art form that followed. It is the one book that nearly all comic readers know inside and out… or so you thought! Now, with the full assistance and cooperation of Dave Gibbons, comes Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen: Artifact Edition, crammed full of high-resolution scans shot directly from Gibbons’ original art. Covers, interiors, advertisements, portfolio pieces, and color guides—this is the ultimate collection of the ultimate graphic novel!
Like an Artist’s Edition, an Artifact Edition presents pages scanned from the actual original art. While the Artist’s Edition line produces only complete stories, Artifact Editions allow IDW to present books even if all of the original art cannot be obtained, and will include extras such as advertisements, portfolio pieces, colour guides, and more.
While appearing to be in black and white, each page was scanned in color to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art—for instance, corrections, blue pencils, paste-overs, all the little nuances that make original art unique. Each page is printed the same size as drawn, and the paper selected is as close as possible to the original art board.
Abdulkareem Baba Aminu is a Bleeding Cool contributor, award-winning journalist, cartoonist, comicbook creator and painter. The Nigeria-based writer has reviewed comics, novels, movies and music for a variety of platforms. He is currently the Editor of the Weekly Trust, one of the most influential newspapers in his country. You can follow him on Twitter @KareemReal