FINALLY! We’ve been saying it for years, but a methodical reprinting of Marvel’s greatest hits is a license to print money….and Taschen evidently paid for the license. Marvel and Taschen have just announced The Marvel Comics Library, an “exclusive, long-term collaboration between TASCHEN and Marvel.”
The decade long project will see comics classics including Spider-Man, Avengers and Captain America reprinted in a full color, extra large format. And it kicks off next year (we assume) with Spider-Man. Vol. 1. 1962–1964,which features the first 21 Spider-Man stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The volume will include a historical essay by Marvel editor Ralph Macchio, an introduction by collector David Mandel, original art boards, rare photographs, and behind the scenes materials.
The next titles in ‘The Marvel Comics Library’ series will be Avengers. Vol. 1. 1963–1965, Fantastic Four. Vol. 1. 1961–1963 and Captain America, all scheduled for release in 2022 and 2023.
This announcement follows news of Marvel’s introduction to the venerated and venerable Penguin Classics series, another, more budget priced, collection of the greatest Marvel Comcis from the Silver Age and beyond.
TASCHEN is known for its glorious art books, so when they promise a “meticulous” reproduction, believe it. The price has not been announced, but expect it to be collector level, i.e. high. And how this oversized version compares to the established “artist edition” size also remains to be seen.
TASCHEN’s extra-large format, close in size to the original artworks, reveal startling new details in the work of Marvel’s most acclaimed artists. For each title in the series, the most pristine pedigreed comics have been cracked open for reproduction in close collaboration with Marvel and the Certified Guaranty Company. Rather than recolor the original production artwork (as has been done in previous decades’ reprints of classic comics), TASCHEN has attempted to create an ideal representation of these books as they were produced at the time of publication. Beginning with high grade, top-quality comics sourced with the assistance of the CGC, super-high-resolution photographs of each page were made as printed more than half a century ago, using modern retouching techniques to correct problems with the era’s inexpensive, imperfect printing. This included improved and balanced ink densities and color matching, proper registration of the four-color printing and correction of thick/thin lines resulting from the flexible plates “smudging.” The end result is a finished product — as if hot off a world-class printing press produced without economic or time-pressure constraints – tailored for readers, fans, artists and collectors alike.
Each volume features an essay by a comic book historian alongside hundreds of photos and artifacts. The books use three different paper stocks, including an uncoated and woodfree paper exclusively developed for this series that simulates the feel of the original comics.
The first 5,000 copies of Spider-Man. Vol. 1 will be numbered and released as a ‘Famous First Edition’. The book is also available as a Collector’s Edition, limited to 1,000 copies featuring an aluminum print cover tipped into a leatherette-bound spine, foil embossing, and housed in a slipcase. Each book is individually numbered. The inaugural purchase of the Collector’s Edition entitles the collector to preemptively secure the same identical edition number for all forthcoming Collector’s Edition titles in ‘The Marvel Comic Library’.
Seeing Marvel begin to license out its legendary library to other publishers is definitely a chance for readers to own some of the most influential comics of all times in modern editions.