Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Jack Kirby’s Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth, Vol. II is the second Artist’s Edition to feature original Kamandi art pages pencilled by Jack Kirby and inked and lettered under his supervision by Mike Royer. This volume reproduces six consecutive issues of artwork for issues 11 to 16 in this very large (430 x 280mm) hardcover book of 144 pages. There are only two pages in this book not scanned from the original art: the covers to issues 12 and 13.
Every Artist’s Edition from IDW contains reproductions of original artwork which have been photographically scanned in colour at very high resolution and then printed actual size, on heavyweight paper. This process produces the sensation of looking at original drawings exactly as created by the artist with all the pencil marks, corrections, different pens and inks and other artefacts visible. These handmade traces are not visible when printed at reduced size, so these pages can often appear very different to the familiar comics versions.
Unlike previous inkers, Mike Royer followed the contours of Kirby’s pencilled art with total fidelity, erasing and redrawing nothing, and adding no embellishments of his own. The crisp lines give these pages a chiselled, high-energy vitality far more vivid than in the pages from Mister Miracle inked by Vince Colletta, to name one example. Erik Larsen in his introduction to this second collection describes its most attractive features very well:
“Kirby’s pencils were pure magic and Mike Royer’s inks are perfection personified. As you pore through these pages it’s hard to find a hint of correction fluid–the slightest error from Royer. The pages are flawless. Inks are jet black, pencils neatly erased. If you’re one of those who buys these things looking for clues as to how pages were created, there’s precious little to see here.” What there is, however, is more dazzling art and story by Jack Kirby. This is another superb volume of work from American superhero comics’ greatest visionary, presented in an impressive hardcover.