Absolute Promethea Golden White…

Monday September 28th 2009, 12:13 pm

This Wednesday, at finer comic shops and bookstores everywhere, will see the release (according to Wildstorm) of Absolute Promethea Volume 1. I received my copies Friday so it should be out this week as noted on the Wildstorm website. Unless of course the information on their site is wrong, which on occasion has been known to happen.

Seeing this book brings a lot of different feelings for me. It has been a full decade since this material was originally produced and strange seeing it again in a form that forces me to examine just how much I’ve grown as an artist. I can see so many things that I would do differently now, but that was then and this is now, criticism in hindsight. I have to keep telling myself that it has been ten years, so of course I’m going to take issue with some things, but it just doesn’t feel like it has been a decade. I think this is due to when working on the new slipcase art and wraparound cover for the book and the interior design pieces, it was like going into a timewarp, putting myself back to then. So seeing this new volume has a fresh relevance for me. It’s not that I’m trying to degrade my own work, or to say it wasn’t worthy, it’s just impossible for me to not look at it with my current level of knowledge and thought. Reflecting on the material in analytical ways. Even with this perspective in my mind, I recognize this material as the beginning of a coming of age for me, the beginning of finding my footing in the realms of art. I certainly had been doing professional work for awhile when Promethea first came along but I feel that certain things were set in motion, certain things were released in me that allowed me to try and reach for greater potentials. This new Absolute Edition is a landmark in time, a statement of beginning growth of the mind. It was very personal work for me and so I tend to look at it in intimately critical terms. But I love it in all it’s beauty and flaws.

I’d like to briefly talk about some new things done for this book. There is the new art done for the slipcase which is printed with gold ink on a mat white finish, the result looks nice and unique. The book itself has new art for the cover, a wraparound psychedelic image with intricate spot varnishing on a mat finish. There is no dust jacket with this edition. I decided that it just was too large in size to accommodate a jacket. I’ve got other Absolute editions that have dust jackets and I found it cumbersome, so I felt it best that we not bother and just place the art onto the hardcover itself, I really like the way this came out. There are new endpapers designs by me and new chapter head designs by me as well. These new chapter heads were fun and deceivingly simple. but as the chapters progress over the course of all three Absolute Volumes, these chapter head images slowly puzzle together the Qabbalistic Tree Of life, and also have other images that appear and disappear with each new chapter. the image above is the backdrop art for these chapter head designs. These were a lot of fun and a lot of work. And lastly, there is a very nice afterword by my friend and author Brad Meltzer, best known for his work at DC Comics and most notably for his recent best selling novel The Book Of Fate. You can find more about him at

To those of you who have already read Promethea and plan on buying this new edition in order to experience it again in a new way, I thank you, I hope you will find enjoyment from it for many years to come. To those of you who may be picking this up for the first time, welcome and I hope it tickles your brain in ways you might not expect.

bad fuzzy photo…

35 Comments so far
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Those chapter heads are DA BOMB!

Really nice stuff!

So proud to say I was involved in producing this fantastic book!

Thank you, JH!

Comment by Mick Gray 09.28.09 @ 1:07 pm

i had the pleasure of reading promethea back when it was bi-monthly (those were the days). i even got the special edition last issue w/ the huge wall poster, i was dead broke but i found a way to get that 75 dollars

thx J.H for making a truly awesome art experience in Promethea.I’ve been following you since Chase and i cant wait to pick this up

Comment by steven 09.28.09 @ 1:26 pm

Hey there Mick
I’m glad you like them and it was brilliant working with you.

Comment by jhw3 09.28.09 @ 1:27 pm

Hey there Steven
Thank you so much and thank you for sticking with me all this time. I hope you enjoy this new edition.

Comment by jhw3 09.28.09 @ 4:14 pm

Hey JH this looks great and I can’t wait to pick it up. I like the decision to not go with a dust jacket, I also have some absolutes and you’re right they are a nuisance. But I wanted to ask when you think the other 2 volumes would come out? Also would you mind putting up a picture of the book itself? Thanks alot.

Comment by Devin 09.28.09 @ 5:42 pm

Hey there Devin
I’ve updated the blog with a photo, it’s not a very clear one, but you get the rough idea.

Comment by jhw3 09.28.09 @ 7:45 pm

Beautiful work as always. I’ll have to pick this up.

Comment by Ray 09.29.09 @ 10:39 am

Thanks a lot JH. Looks gorgeous. You may have a different opinion but I still think this is your best work. Just because of the fact that your style changed for almost every issue, I’ve never seen anything like it. And I mean your best as an overall series. My favorite single issue you’ve done is Seven Soldiers #1 again because of the style changes but all in the context of one issue. Any idea what the time line is for when the other volumes come out? Thanks again and keep up the good work.

Comment by Devin 09.29.09 @ 10:44 am

Thanks, Ray.

Comment by jhw3 09.29.09 @ 1:36 pm

Hey there Devin
I can see what you mean about the style explorations, those really hit their stride in the qabalah storyline, which comprises the second volume. Now I’m doing multiple styles per issue, per page, or sometimes even in one panel. The Batwoman work is a good example of this I think. As for the schedule of these new editions, I think the plan is one a year.

Comment by jhw3 09.29.09 @ 1:43 pm

How does this handle the double page spreads that make up the bulk of Promethea? My one complaint about some of the other Absolute volumes has been the breaking of double page spreads into two separate boxes, and so I’m a hair hesitant about this if every single page is going to be broken up.

Comment by Snowspinner 09.29.09 @ 3:02 pm

Hey there Snowspinner
I’m not sure of what you mean by breaking up double page spreads into boxes. Can you explain this or show me an example? I ask because the book looks as it should, meaning that the art looks as it did in the original issues and trade paperbacks but with minor corrections here and there. So everything matches according to what was previously printed.

Comment by jwh3 09.29.09 @ 5:07 pm

Wow… any chance you’ll be selling signed copies in your store, J3?!?

Comment by Pam 09.30.09 @ 6:42 am

Hey there Pam
I may end with a few for the store, I don’t know yet. I’ve got stacks of books from forever that I really should put into the store.

Comment by jwh3 09.30.09 @ 10:23 am

I know what everybody in my life is getting for Christmas!

JH, I don’t think you realize how great of an achievement Promethea is. It stands above almost everything else that humans have accomplished on paper.

I found a strange synchroncity to prove it the other day. Check this out:

Thank you, so much, for the best comic book ever created.

Comment by Rian Fike 09.30.09 @ 11:41 am

In the new Wizard magazine #217 (out today) you’re listed as #2 on their Hot 10 Artists list (I think you was on the list last month also – actually you’ve moved up from #4) – it’s on page 217. They say: “fans cannot stop raving about what J.H. Williams III has done to Batwoman.

All of us here have alreay known about your art prowess for years, but it’s great that others are also seeing this.

My little blog entry today on the Absolute Promethea:

Comment by Ralph Mathieu 09.30.09 @ 11:42 am

I never read Promethea back in the day (yes I know, shame on me, actually that’s shame on shame since I’m a big WW fan) so this new edition is a perfect excuse to finally pick it up. Looking forward to it.

Comment by Karl 09.30.09 @ 1:47 pm

Hello Rian
Thanks for your sentiments, I appreciate it. And thanks for the link too. The interesting and strange thing about you providing that link is that I just came across that blogpost last week, very ironic considering some of what that post talks about.

Comment by jwh3 09.30.09 @ 2:26 pm

Hey there Ralph
Thanks for blogging about the new edition of Promethea. Your enthusiasm is awesome! This project needs all the hype it can get. And thanks for letting me know about the wizard feature. There is supposed to be a lengthy interview published in wizard at some point. Have you seen that in there yet?

Comment by jwh3 09.30.09 @ 2:38 pm

Hey there Karl
Of course you should pick this up, and of course I would say that.

Comment by jwh3 09.30.09 @ 2:40 pm

Sure thing – shows basically what I mean – that one’s not a double page spread, but you can see that the two pages each have white borders around them. And that’s true of every page of the Absolute Watchmen – including the double spread at the center of Fearful Symmetry (which I can’t find a picture of online). So that center panel of Veldt whacking the guy with the pillar is cut in half, with a white border between them. Which kind of spoils the effect.

That said, as I look at images from other Absolute editions, it looks like there are pages that go all the way to the edge of the page instead of having the white border. So maybe (hopefully) Promethea doesn’t have this problem.

Comment by Snowspinner 09.30.09 @ 3:46 pm

I just flipped through just about all of the pages of the Absolute Promethea and didn’t see any examples of anything in the two page spreads getting lost within the spine. Bigger is better!

Jim, I’ll give you a heads up when I see Wizards in depth article on you – it hasn’t appeared yet.

Comment by Ralph Mathieu 09.30.09 @ 4:08 pm

Hey there Snowspinner
This edition of Promethea looks exactly like it has in it’s original form with some minor corrections, only bigger. I just leafed through my copy of Absolute Watchmen and from what I remember about the original, the art has always looked that way with the framing. This was the original layout for that. I think what you might be referring to is when the panels bleed all the way off the page. Watchmen I don’t think ever did that. Most comics, particularly older ones, always had white borders/gutters. I hope I’m making sense.

Comment by jwh3 09.30.09 @ 4:40 pm

Hey there Ralph
Yeah I didn’t really see that either, particularly if the book is laid onto a firm flat surface, it seems to open completely, allowing the art to show. In my copy, this problem of art being lost in the middle of the spine occurs only on maybe a few pages throughout. Which would happen in the regular stapled comics as well from time to time. it looks to me that they did their best to keep everything visible. I know that the editor was on top of that and the results look pretty good.

Comment by jwh3 09.30.09 @ 4:46 pm

hey jh

picked up the absolute edition today, and have to say it is an imposing big white brick of a book. as far as your artwork goes, i would have to say that the learning curve you put on display during the course of the series ranks with the best of the best in the history of the comics medium. i don’t say that lightly, either.
i would also like to mention that i hadn’t read promethea in a while, and damn, i missed her. thanks very much for your work.

Comment by george 09.30.09 @ 6:37 pm

Hey there George
Thank you very much and I’m thrilled that you like it so much. It is indeed a beautiful looking production and I’m extremely happy with it, especially with the newly designed elements.

Comment by jwh3 09.30.09 @ 8:55 pm

Hi JH,

My copy should be with me soon. I’m so happy to see this release as i signed the petition for an absolute edition way back when. It’s like christmas came early.

Thank you for so much fantastic art.

Comment by Bruce Murray 10.01.09 @ 2:19 pm

Hey there Bruce
Thank you and thank you for the support in getting this going.

Comment by jwh3 10.01.09 @ 3:50 pm

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

Promethea was the first comic that really showed me that comics could be more than generic superheroes. I love it so so much.

The first piece of original comic book art I ever purchased was a page from Promethea at the San Diego Comic Con a few years back. (I bought it directly from you JH, and the proceeded to spew fangirl all over you, lol).

Thank you JH (and you too Mick!) for giving us Promethea.

Comment by Carrie 10.01.09 @ 5:18 pm

Hello Carrie
Thank you so much! Your enthusiasm is very appreciated. I hope you enjoy this new edition.

Comment by jwh3 10.01.09 @ 5:52 pm

These look really nice. I always liked your artwork but it was reading promethea that made me realize you had a lot more to tell than the avarage comic book artist. Promethea was finally being published in Brazil after soooo many years and after a few issues the publisher went bankrupt and the series were discontinued. I think I’ll finally be able to read the whole thing trough now in a much enhanced version and be dazzaled by your fantastic artwork and way of building visual tales(even tough it was still in concept)

Comment by Caio Reis 10.09.09 @ 6:26 am

Thank you, Caio Reis
I hope you find enjoyment from this new edition. I also hope that there are other quality publishers in your country willing to bring in comics from around the world.

Comment by jhw3 10.09.09 @ 10:59 am

Okay, so I just wrapped up Absolute Promethea… and I’m stunned. I always kicked myself for never reading it monthly and not sure why I never read it in trade, but when I heard about the Absolute. I said “there’s no way I’m missing this”. Now my major problem you ask? I have to wait for Absolute Vol 2!!!

This book is incredible! Instantly fell in love with it. I’d buy the trades, but I don’t think the page size can do it justice after reading in large format. Loved it! ABSOLUTEly loved it!

Comment by Christopher Gumprecht 10.26.09 @ 7:02 pm

Hey there Christopher
Thank you very much and I’m glad you took a chance, and that we won you over with it. Production for volume 2 is starting soon so I’ll be talking about that when the right time comes. Volume 2 is when the REALLY crazycool stuff starts to happen!!

Comment by jhw3 10.26.09 @ 9:04 pm

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