It has been a long time coming but Blank Slate Books is very pleased to announce that the Nelson Special Edition is now available. What is this, you ask? Read on.
Nelson was an ambitious project initiated by Rob Davis and steered to completion by Woodrow Phoenix with the collaboration of fifty comics artists from around the UK – and one living in the USA. A collective graphic novel idea that attracted a lot of attention and curiosity from the moment news about it began to spread. Most people doubted it would ever be finished, or that such a disparate group of artists could make a coherent story that was worth reading.
When it debuted at Thought Bubble in late 2011, it obliterated those doubts and amazed everyone with its imagination, the range and style of its content, and the way it built to a complex, rounded and very human portrait of a life in a way never seen before in the comics medium. In short, a triumph. The awards and plaudits that followed helped to prove it. Nelson was an instant classic.
We noticed right from the beginning that people really wanted to get their copies signed by as many of the artists as possible. That first weekend at Thought Bubble was like a Nelson scavenger hunt as excited fans went from one table to the next tracking down every creator they could find. When we launched Nelson at Gosh! Comics in Soho with a signing party a few weeks later, several people brought along their previously purchased copies to see who else they could catch to complete their set!
But even with almost twenty artists there that evening, they were never going to get everyone. The contributors were so spread out around the UK they’d never all be in the same room at the same time, and a couple of people were about to leave the country altogether! Paul Peart-Smith was heading for Australia and Ellen Lindner back to the USA.
This gave Kenny Penman an idea – he thought we should do a special autographed edition of Nelson signed by all the creators that would be a real collectors’ treasure. The complete roster: in one place. A brilliant idea – and making it happen took another two years!
First the sheets that everyone was going to sign had to be designed, the design had to be tested and then printed on nice paper that could handle lots of different inks. And then we had to get them signed. The simplest way to do that would have been to put the sheets in a box and post them from one person to the next in a relay… but we just couldn’t trust the postal service not to lose them before the end of the chain. So it had to be done in person, and that meant Kenny and Woodrow taking those sheets around the country, making appointments to drop in on creators at home or meet them in bars and cafes to watch them write their names over and over again. With 53 sets of signatures to collect, it turned into quite an odyssey! But we reached the end, finally; with the small problem that despite our efforts there were two Pokemon that we just couldn’t catch. Philip Bond in New York, USA and Dan McDaid in Dundee, Scotland sent us their signatures and they are represented on these pages by facsimiles, hand-stamped individually and faithfully by us, but reproductions nonetheless. They look pretty nice though, and if you run into either of them they promise to sign them again in person right on top.
That left the collating and binding into a new edition, which also has a couple of tweaks inside and out. We had the opportunity to do one more thing. We had hoped that Frank Quitely, one of the most inventive and inspiring artists working in superhero comics today, was going to be part of Nel’s story but with his deadline-packed workload we just couldn’t sync our schedules. He did carve out the time to make one drawing: and that beautiful picture is the missing leap-year chapter, now complete and on the cover of the slipcase. We are really happy that Frank found his way into Nelson at the end and we think you’ll agree it was worth waiting for. It makes our Special Edition extra special.
The Nelson Special Edition is a deluxe version of the original book, reprinted in a hardback edition with new endpapers, a redesigned cover and a bound-in extra of two pages of autographs. Every single copy is a personalised piece of group creation! Your copy of this book will not look like anyone else’s, it will be uniquely yours.
This deluxe volume has an equally deluxe housing in a beautiful slipcase that features two illustrations of Nel; a picture on the spine by Rob Davis, and a front cover by the amazing Frank Quitely.
The slipcover also features a debossed version of the Nelson logo that you will definitely want to run your fingers over, and the box itself has a ribbon that makes it easy to slide your book in and out of its housing, effortlessly.
Did we mention that this was a limited edition? Due to the nature of its production, it’s very limited. There are only 70 copies available. So you won’t be seeing very many of these floating around. Once you have yours, you’ll be part of a very exclusive group indeed. All in all, it adds up to a beautiful, significant and worthy tribute to a milestone in the ongoing renaissance of British comics.
The Nelson Special Edition is available nowhere else but directly from Blank Slate Books, here in the BSB Webstore for £75. a great price for a bona-fide slice of comics history.