Dark Times Gallery Edition
Dark Times Gallery Edition
Writer: Randy Stradley
Artist: Doug Wheatley
Cover Artist: Doug Wheatley
The Dark Times Gallery Edition is a magnificent collector’s piece. The binding, the page quality, the format, all of it is top notch. For comic fans, though, this is a rare glimpse behind the curtain. Readers can see the scripts and direction artist Doug Wheatley worked from to present us with such amazing visuals. We get to see the thoughts running through writer Randy Stradley’s head as he conceptualized what the characters are doing and how it might look on the page. Furthermore, by presenting Doug’s uncolored pencilled artwork without any word bubbles obstructing the panels, we get to see the art in all its original glory. The amount of detail in the panels is a thing of pure beauty. While this book might not be for everyone, for fans of Dark Times, Doug Wheatley’s artwork, and those looking to get a better understanding of the comic making process, this is the holy grail of comic collections.
First off, let’s cover the physical format of the book. The Dark Times Gallery Edition is larger than a standard comic book at 9″ x 13-1/4″ compared to a normal comic’s 6-3/4″ x 10″. This extra space allows them to showcase Doug’s artwork at its original scale. The book is 248 pages long with a thick hardcover and good quality binding. The pages are thick, too. It’s setup so each left hand page is the script for each page of the comic. Each right hand page is the corresponding uncolored pencilled artwork with no word bubbles or text. There are some extra pages whenever Doug needed to do a panel that would get layered on top of another. The book also includes the pencilled artwork for the covers of each comic. Dark Times #1 through #5 are covered in the book. There’s also an intro from Sue Rostoni, Randy Stradley and Doug Wheatley.
As for the content, this book is stunning. The artwork looks magnificent. It’s easy to get lost in Doug’s drawings, studying the detail and realistic depictions of the characters. On top of that, Dark Times #1 through #5 is one of my favorite chapters of the saga. It focuses on a Jedi who survived the purge, his little dinosaur companion, and the band of misfits they hook up with. Along side their journey is Darth Vader and his struggle to make a life for himself when there are no Jedi left to hunt. But the gut wrencher is Bomo’s quest to find his wife and daughter which leads to one of the darkest stories ever told in the Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Legends).
Of even greater interest is the story that’s not told. By seeing the original script side-by-side with Doug Wheatley’s artwork, we can see the differences in interpretation. On one side is Randy’s view of the story, and on the other is Doug’s. The creation of the story is a collaborative effort, and throughout this book you’ll see where Doug chose to do something different from what Randy suggested. You’ll see notes from Randy on source material, reference images, even notes to Sue and Leland Chee. One of the coolest things I noticed was how much Randy drew upon existing material, be it novels, films or other comics. It’s a tremendous insight not only into how comics are made, but to the lengths Doug and Randy went to to create Dark Times.
Like any good comic, half of this story is told through the text and the other half is told through the visuals. In this case, they’re both outstanding. If you’re a fan of the Dark Times series, Randy Stradley, Doug Wheatley or the comic making process, this is an outstanding book to pick up. Having read it cover-to-cover, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But best yet, the amount of information that’s revealed in this book lends itself to numerous re-reads and closer study. One of my only complaints about the book is not having another two pages showing the colored artwork and then the final page so that the entire process can be compared and contrasted. Nevertheless, the Dark Times Gallery Edition delivers a lot of fun and entertainment for the right kind of fans. I say that because this book does run at a high price point and is not your standard comic. It’s a different kind of experience and a different kind of story. For what it is, I give it a five out of five metal bikinis and shall cherish it as one of the centerpieces of my Dark Horse comic collection.