For the past three years Jeff Conner has been the editor and lead designer for IDW Publishing’s “alt-lit” prose program. Prior to a stint working in the entertainment industry—setting up Top Dollar Comics and editing a series of original Crow novels for producer Edward R. Pressman, performing similar activities for Conan Properties—Mr. Conner ran Scream/Press, a micro-publisher specializing in short story collections and novel reprints.
He won a World Fantasy Award for his efforts there, but his biggest reward was from working with writers like Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Karl Edward Wagner, Dennis Etchison, Ramsey Campbell, and John Shirley; and artists like JK Potter, Jeff Jones, and Harry O. Morris.
Notable Conner-produced releases from IDW Publishing include the “blended novel” V-Wars, Z-Boyz in the Robot Graveyard (a new Zombies vs. Robots novella by John Shirley), Classics Mutilated (a subversive mash-up collection), and In the Shadow of Dracula (an annotated collection of key Victorian-era vampire fiction). All of IDW’s short story collections feature new illustrations from a variety artists.
The trade paper version of THIS MEANS WAR!, the Zombie vs Robots collection, is notable for its full-color illustrations, pages tints, and other design details. How is the limited edition different?
You mean do we have more in the tank, book-wise? Well as you say, the mass market version is a trade paperback, so the slick hardcover binding and snazzy slipcase are noticeable right off. We went with printed boards so a dustjacket just seemed redundant, especially for a slipcased book. Dustjackets were originally just plain paper wrappers so that the books wouldn’t get scuffed during shipping. So what was once just disposable packing material has over time become a sales device, which is fine, but they can be awfully fragile. That said, the V-WARS signed limited will have a dustjacket, printed boards, and a slipcase as well, so you can see that I’m flexible on these points.
Sure, but back to the differences…
Well, aside from what I’ve already mentioned, there’s a red ribbon to hold your place, and unique printed endpapers featuring alternate cover art from the fabulous Fabio Listrani. This double-page spread has never been released to the public, so the limited edition will mark its debut. I should also mention that there’s an unsigned, unslipcased version as well. It doesn’t have the ribbon, and it has a lot of text on the back, the same as the with the trade paper version. The limited has limited text on the back so you can enjoy the cover image more fully.
I think the biggest thing is the tip-in sheet with thirteen hard-to-find signatures. We have all eleven writers, namely: Nick Kaufmann, Norman Prentiss, Nancy Collins, Sean Taylor, Jim Moore, Lincoln Crisler, Joe McKinney, Steve Rasnic Tem, Jesse Bullington, Brea Grant, and Rachel Swirsky. That’s the order they signed. Plus ZVR co-creator Chris Ryall, and myself as your humble editor and book designer. (It’s the first sheet I’ve signed, for those keeping track at home.)
I got into publishing as a fan, a way to work with my favorite writers at the time, people like Dennis Etchison and Ramsey Campbell, Robert Bloch and Richard Matheson, and later Clive Barker and Stephen King. For me, books are repositories of magic, and having a creator’s signature just adds so much to that. (I know that sounds like hippie nonsense but I hey, I used to live in Santa Cruz, so I’m entitled.)
As for THIS MEANS WAR, to have thirteen signatures on the same sheet, and all signed with same pen I might add, that’s pretty freakin’ cool. Tracking down those folks on your own would be a real chore, so if you figure a $5.00 service fee per signature that’s a $65.00 value right there, and the book’s only priced at $60.00. So it’s practically free, when you think about it properly! (Also, never buy a book purely as an investment, it lowers the value. True fact.)
You mentioned Clive Barker and Stephen King…