Thursday, November 17, 2011

John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Artist's Edition

Cover for the Artist's Edition

Title page

About This Edition page

Chapter divider

Chapter divider

This book to me, created one of my most unique design challenges. I understood the direction I needed to go with the Rocketeer (Art Deco). With the Wally Wood book, it made sense to create extensions of EC comics logos and type styles. But, what do you do with 60s era Spider-Man? First of all you eliminate things it's not, it certainly isn't the psychedelic 60s. Paisley print and Woodstock posters weren't going to be the inspiration. Pop art and Andy Warhol didn't feel right either. I started thinking more Mid-Century design, Charles and Ray Eames, Alvin Lustig, Robert McGinnis paperback book covers, Mad Men TV show. That seemed like the right direction. I can just about image Jazzy Johnny Romita relaxing in his "Egg Chair." I love the research part of the job. Actually, I should clarify, I HATE it until I figure out what's going to work. I really had lots of anxiety over the direction to go, and Scott kept asking me if I had anything to show him. You really don't want to tell someone you don't have any idea what you're doing and that you are getting frustrated. But, here's the part I do love, after crawling through the desert for days, when you finally come to that design oasis, that you've been looking for, nothing is more exciting. Nothing.

That's where the fun begins. And it is fun, part of the process of design is problem solving, it's not all about making pretty pictures. Does the design direction you are going make sense, does it fit and enhance the project? It takes research time and inspiration to connect all the dots. That's why there was a real sense of satisfaction completing this book. It presented one of the largest challenges to me, but there is a sense of accomplishment when you are able to overcome the obstacles.

Each of the stories starts out with a design page that is unique. So, I had to create a design that worked with the other pages but was distinct in it's own way. Each story ends with another design page which shows a slightly different version of Spider-Man swinging through the city. I want each book I design to have it's own distinct personality. I love the idea of creating a book of art, that is also an artbook. It's hard to know if there is an appreciation by others, for some of the details that I try to put into the book design, but I would be extremely disappointed with myself, if I didn't put in my best effort.


  1. Randy,
    Your work on the Artist's Editions is simply fantastic. You kick it up a notch with every consecutive volume. I also decided to purchase the Rocketeer collection after seeing how you put it all together.

    Wonderful work and a very interesting blog. Keep it up!

  2. Thank you Alex. I really do appreciate hearing from you.

    I'm very fortunate to be able to work in an industry that I love. I always try to put my best effort into everything I design, sometimes at the sacrifice of a good night's sleep. There are a lot of gurgling noises that occur in my brain at 3:00 am. Sometimes those are the best "ah-ha" moments. I just wish that I could process those things at a more reasonable hour!