Three Artist's Edition books from IDW

How IDW Makes Money On Artist’s Editions

The following is a reprint from a November 2013 column.

I completely forgot about writing it, which is why it made me chuckle today. I’m sharing it here, apropos of absolutely nothing in particular.  (Though you can read my in-depth review of the “Born Again” Artist’s Edition, if you’re so inclined…)


Faux Press Release: IDW Publishing Announces Its Crazy Publishing Scheme

San Diego, CA (November 19, 2013) – IDW Publishing, the largest publisher of the largest books, is proud to announce that neither “Jeff Smith’s Bone: The Great Cow Race Artist’s Edition” HC, nor “John Byrne’s Fantastic Four Artist’s Edition” HC are sold out. Buyers can still send IDW money and IDW will still happily send you one.

As it turns out, keeping product in stock for people who might want to buy it after it’s released and been reviewed is a good business decision. IDW is proud to walk that course alone, bringing you the rare press release-worthy “Books You Can Still Buy From Us.” Moving forward, IDW will be using the BYCSBFU acronym across its websites and social media strategy.

“Yes, we ordered enough to cover all the initial orders and then some,” said format creator Scott Dunbier, a man who believes that bigger is always better in comics. He refused to respond to rumors of the “Jack Chick Artist’s Edition” or “Bazooka Joe Artist’s Edition” books that three message board regulars have started petitions for.

Jack Chick Tract as IDW Artist's Edition

(This is a work of parody. IDW is not actually publishing this thing. Yet.)

“We’ve determined that our job as publishers is to make books that readers want and then to let them buy them,” Dunbier added.  “It decreases our potential press release output pool, so we saved a bunch of money by firing the marketing guy.”

The only delays reported in the process come out of ULine, who can’t make cardboard fast enough to produce the ridiculously honking huge box sizes that IDW requires to ship these books.

“One of their customers ordered three books at the same time. We went out to our parking lot to chop down a tree to fulfill that order. Corrugating cardboard, it turns out, is a real pain in the keister,” said ULine representative Woody R. Cooper.

This isn’t slowing IDW down a bit, though, as Dunbier has promised to announce new Artist’s Edition books at the next ten conventions he travels to in 2014. While not ready to pre-announce his pre-announcements, Dunbier said, “We’re thinking it’s time to go in a new direction with the line, and so we’ll be shrinking art down to fit the over-sized formats. We’re talking to graffiti artists whose canvas is the side of a building. We’re hoping to scan in buildings in full color and do the first ever 3D-printed edition of AE at the local UPS Store. You need to feel the brick and concrete texture to grasp the importance of those bold creations.”

Then Dunbier laughed, “You thought our previous books were a ^%$#& to ship? Wait til you see the shipping charges on these bad boys. Start saving your pennies today! We hear the postal service is armoring their cars up to carry the extra weight.”

A hopeful and forward-thinking Dunbier also requests, “If anyone has Banksy’s email address, tweet me, OK?”

Andy Runton Owly Artist's Edition

I mocked this up one time for a Twitter gag. It’s about time I found a use for it in Pipeline.

IDW has also heard your complaints about the increasingly unwieldy names of the books in the series, and has thus canceled plans for “Frank Brunner’s Stan Lee Presents: Marvel Comics’ Giant Sized Swamp Thing Annual Artist’s Edition.” Dynamite Publishing is said to be picking up that license, instead. The cover will feature a cutified kiddy version of the green guy.


2016 Follow Up

The John Byrne “Fantastic Four” volume is now sold out and out of print.  The Bone “Great Cow Race” is still available, though.  Go buy one of those today to convince IDW and Jeff Smith to print the rest of the series at this size.



  • Sean Clarke July 25, 2017 at 7:09 am

    I don’t think there’s a huge upside on these books, as IDW pays licensing fees to creators. But as far as content goes, people like me send in high-res scans of the art used in the books for free. They pay to design the contents pages, end papers etc, but most of the content is unaltered scans of artwork printed as-is (as it should be) provided by collectors.

  • Sean Clarke July 25, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Oh… and collectors like you, as well!

  • Augie July 25, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Yeah, it’s a tricky business move, for sure. They’re so expensive that you can’t afford to print lots of extra for fear they go unsold. They’re so expensive, the audience will always be limited. And you’re right: the only reason it probably works at all is the good will of art collectors (and Scott Dunbier’s network/good reputation) and artists who never sold their work in the first place. (Thus all the Walt Simonson editions.)


What do YOU think?

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