Literally. Next June (2013 for those counting the years), IDW will release Mark Schultz's Xenozoic Tales Artist's Edition, 144 pages printed at a whopping 14" x 20" size. It's their latest in a series that's seen big ol` versions of Walt Simonson's The Mighty Thor, Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer and others. You get to see blue lines and all that jazz, almost as if you were holding the original art in your hands. It should prove as instructive as it is aesthetically pleasing. As both an artist and an art junkie, I'm going to buy this book when it hits the streets, probably leaving a massive crater. Mark Schultz is just amazing. I've already read these stories dozens of times each, but I never get tired of looking at his pages. If you can get the regular comics or one of the many reprint books it's more than worth a lazy afternoon charting the Schultz's growth as a writer and artist. You can actually see him working through various techniques and influences, starting with Wally Wood, then Al Williamson, Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta plus others whose work I'm actually not familiar with until he emerges as a unique synthesis of all these classic elements, his personal style as easily recognized as that of any of those other giants. The plot itself goes from EC-inspired vignettes to something more epic as Schultz gains confidence as a writer, too. It's a super cool progression.
IDW must love huge books because I've got their Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth book and that crazy thing must way thirty or forty tons. We had to hire a special heavy lifting crane to winch it into my apartment and it's left the floor permanently depressed. Not only that, but it's the first of a trilogy of books. I'm going to have to build a special annex with some sort of carefully engineered load-bearing elements and perhaps a shock-absorbing system installed in the floor to handle them. I find these kinds of books worth the expense, though.
You'd have to be some kind of nut not to be excited about this next piece of news. You're not a nut, are you? No? Great! Then, let's celebrate because it's official! At the Flesk Publications panel during this year's San Diego Comic Con, Schultz promised when he finishes his book Storms at Sea, he's going to do another issue of Xenozoic Tales. Finally! It's been something like 16 years since he left us hanging with mechanic-shaman Jack Tenrec ousted from City in the Sea and planning to head back to Fessenden's Station where the story began. The last few issues of Xenozoic Tales raised a lot of questions and its hiatus left them hanging in the air. What are the reptilian grith? What's their relationship with Hannah Dundee and how much do they know about her mysterious origins as a foundling? Can the sometimes bull-headed Tenrec maintain his tenuous new alliances, retake City in the Sea, reinstate the Machinato Vitae and restore the balance between humans and nature before destructive elements in control of his home cause another catastrophe? These questions drive me to distraction at times!
It may take a while for Schultz to get around to it, but in the meantime, here's a cartoon version. You know, for kids...