Monday, 17 June 2013

High Society 30th Anniversary Signed & Numbered Edition: Update

Cerebus Vol 2: High Society
30th Anniversary Signed & Numbered Edition
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
It's amazing how complicated getting HIGH SOCIETY back into print continues to be. Lisa-Marie who has been shepherding the project ended up quitting and moving back to her hometown just last week. I hope it's not another HIGH SOCIETY-related casualty.  I suspect, at least, it wasn't a matter of her saying "Oh, but I'll miss out on all this HIGH SOCIETY FUN if I leave!"

Anyway, the next thing was correcting all the mistakes in the proofs which took some time: George and I going back and forth on what we can live with and what we can't live with.  Then the unbound copies of HIGH SOCIETY came in -- that is, an example of finished printing, but not bound yet.  And there were a lot of mistakes that didn't show up in the proofing stage but did show up in  the printing stage.  So, as I'm typing this on June 15th, George is going through the printed copy and the proof copy and cutting out and stapling examples together for the printer to look at.  Which is KILLING him as a CEREBUS fan. He so badly wanted to have the proof copy and the unbound copy for his collection and there he is having to cut them apart (AAAAGGHHH) and staple them together.  I think I'm going to send him mine. I am LOUSY with proof copies of the trades.

Anyway, we are down to crunch time.  How many of the signatures need to be reprinted (each 32 page section of the book -- pages 1-32, pages 33-64 -- is called a signature: there are 16 of them in HIGH SOCIETY)?  So I had George break the mistakes down by signature.  If there's only one mistake in a signature can we let that go?  Well, we don't WANT to. We WANT everything fixed but, you know, "Waahh".  What's the grown-up thing to do?

That's when I got the phone message from my Diamond rep, Matt, saying that they have the final numbers -- 702 copies -- and could I call him to discuss how many MORE copies above that I want him to get approval for.  That was part of the deal from the beginning.  Diamond can have as many as they want but there's only one printing so it has to be a lump sum.  I'm only going to do as many Gold Logo copies as they're willing to order.  So, okay, it's 2013, it's not 2005.  The economy sucks.  Let's not get greedy here.  The 702 copies will pay for about 3/4s of the printing bill for 3,000 copies.  That's a Good Deal for me.

So I phoned Matt and I said, well, it seems like a sign that it's seven hundred and TWO.  So we aren't going to do 700.  So how about if you see if you can get 750 approved?

And he laughs and says, "I've got approval for 1,100."  Okay.  Let's not quibble.  1,100 it is. So, here at the 11th hour I'm looking at a whole new situation board.  The 1,100 will pay the entire printing bill and that means that I can now look at printing an additional 2,000 copies so I have LOTS of inventory on the one of two books that I never want to have out of print.

And I can now say to the printer:  at least half of the signatures already need to be reprinted.  George will be sending you stapled together (and probably tear-stained) proofs and printed panels that show that things that were wrong did not show up in the proofing stage.  Since you already have to reprint half the book, why not scrap the entire print run -- recycle it or sell the paper to a recycling company -- and let George fix everything on THIS printing? And get paid for printing 5,000 copies instead of 3,000?

There's a risk.  That's a lot of money to shell out for inventory even for the best-selling books.  If the comics market suddenly has a convulsion or even a serious hiccup it could be a while until I'm able to sell the books I'm printing.  But, those are the kind of calls you have to make if you're a self-publisher.

And what a great A MOMENT OF CEREBUS cliff-hanger, eh?

The biggest problem is the tone on Cerebus.  Literally there are dozens of mistakes and maybe three of them AREN'T the tone on Cerebus.  I have to ride hard on the printers more than I've been doing. I accept that you can't hit 30% exactly every time out, but I really need for them to find a lower range: between say 27% and 32%.  There are just too many Cerebuses between 35 and 40%.  The other problem is scanning from the original artwork where the adhesive UNDER the tone has gone bad over the years, peeling up, bubbling or discolouring.  That's the thing that didn't show up in the proof stage but did on a number of pages in the printed stage.

Also, George, in restoring the two books has scanned the tone as a gray scale.  That gives you a dot screen on top of a dot screen and creates what is called a moire pattern:  basically Cerebus looks like he's gray plaid.  George knows how to fix that: basically you shift the pattern until it warps out to one big plaid square instead of a lot of little gray squares.  The same thing happened: ones that he had fixed on the proof stage were back to plaid on the printed page.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the Most Plaid George has gotten pretty much everything between 5 and 10.  So, I'm trying to get rid of the 3s and 4s and living with the 1s and 2s.  Signature by signature.

ALL of it can be fixed on the NEXT printing, but we really want it fixed for the 30th anniversary edition.

Depends on how negotiations go with the printer over the next week.

Yes! A perfect A MOMENT OF CEREBUS cliff-hanger!

1 comment:

Eddie Campbell said...

hey Dave,

The horrors just came back to me. I went through this with the big Alec book (as you can imagine). On one panel I replaced a wide background screen of tone dot by dot. I zoomed in big on the computer screen and replaced a small area. Once I had a square 16 by 16 i copied and pasted and moved the copy sideways to cover the next 16 by 16, and then I had a big 32 by 32. etc. It was the only way I could think of to do it, and that one panel took a couple of days. I figured it was at least an interesting experiment. In the end I had it down to just four or five places in the whole book that had a moire pattern. When printed, a new one appeared that had been fine in all the proofing. But I was happy with the average in the end.
best to you, old friend!
Eddie Campbell