Previously on 'A Moment Of Cerebus':
Dave Sim, working with George Peter Gatsis, has remastered the first two collected volumes of Cerebus to restore details and quality in the artwork lost over the thirty years since they were originally published (as detailed here and here). After Cerebus' original printer Preney Print closed its doors, Dave Sim moved his printing to Lebonfon in 2007 as at that time they were still capable of working with photographic negatives and making printing plates as Preney had done. And then Lebonfon switched to digital scanning and printing - a technology which struggles to faithfully reproduce Cerebus' tone without creating moire patterns (as detailed in Crisis On Infinite Pixels). Dave Sim continues to work with Lebonfon to ensure the print-quality of the new Cerebus and High Society editions (as detailed in Collections Stalled). Now read on...
- CEREBUS hardcovers are not possible in the present situation.
- Kickstarter campaign being developed to make the BEST possible reproduction of CEREBUS artwork in the CEREBUS ARCHIVE available to collectors
- George Gatsis forwards raw CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY digital files and what he considers his Finished files to Sean Robinson
- Imprimerie Lebonfon President Alain Roberge to visit Aardvark-Vanaheim Wednesday 9th
I'm HERE, Tim! I'm HERE! At least, I hope I am. We'll see what happens when I hit PUBLISH.
This was my idea, to give Tim a day off. Type and PUBLISH instead of Type and SAVE.
First off: to Dave Kopperman and "adampasz" in their comments on last week's Update.
Believe me, if I could just snap my fingers and make it happen, I would. But unfortunately, we have to deal with the Reality of Dave Sim and CEREBUS as constituted, much of which is hidden from us -- ALL of us. To me, CEREBUS being self-published is of central importance. If it isn't possible to self-publish the books, I'm inclined to just let them go out of print. I own the material. That's the important thing. CONAN, to cite one intellectual property "close to home" was completely out of print for decades and then had this Surge Of Interest in the 1960s with Frank Frazetta's paperback covers. And cruised on that for a while and then had a Surge Of Interest when the Arnold S. films came out. And now CONAN isn't -- non-existent -- but there just isn't the Surge of Interest. Different properties behave in different ways. They have different internal rhythms.
No, the photocopies that I'm talking about are full-sized copies on glossy card stock of 600 dpi colour scans. Speaking as someone who is looking at fine-line photorealism comics material through a magnifier lamp and trying to reconstruct what size the original penlines were for, you know, a living right now I'm HYPER-aware of what the best reproduction is.
That would be my pick.
In fact if anyone is inclined to download RIP KIRBY or HEART OF JULIET JONES or Al Williamson from HA.com and print them out on glossy card stock at or close to the original size and send them to me, I will give thanks for you in perpetuity.
With full-size 600 dpi copies on glossy stock, it's still pixilated, but the size of the reproduction makes it more accurate than MOST of what you are looking at in the high-priced reprint books.
I'm finalizing plans right now for the first batch of 10 -- the earliest CEREBUS pages in the Cerebus Archive -- Artist's Editions, first generation copies from the original artwork. It'll be done through Kickstarter and -- if you're a Kickstarter pledge partner from 2012, you'll be hearing about it first. Hopefully within the next two or three weeks. The only thing in question is the frequency. When do I do the "next 10"? I'm guessing quarterly but I can't rule out bi-monthly if there's a large enough core of reader/patrons.
See, I can get confirmation of that. Here's how many people. Here's the level of quality that I want to have to be a Good Custodian of the Intellectual Property.
With hardcovers I can't have that. I appreciate that you two guys will buy them, but I don't know how many people there are. And if there aren't enough then I've got ONE hardcover of the CEREBUS volume and no plausible way to do the second one. Or the first three and no way to do the fourth one -- the situation in France, Italy and Spain right now where I signed to do reprints and all three companies are either moribund "just resting" or vanished having only done HIGH SOCIETY and CHURCH & STATE I. When that's the Given -- rather than the "given" -- about an intellectual property, that's the Given and you deal with the Given if, like me, you're the custodian.
We Really Want CEREBUS Hardcovers To Be Viable is worlds away from CEREBUS Hardcovers Are Viable and, unfortunately, most fans and collectors don't understand the wide difference between those two things. The French, Italian and Spanish publishers Wanted CEREBUS Hardcover Translations to be viable. And they weren't. Lesson learned.
I note that the Pinis have licensed Dark Horse to do a 722 page volume of the first ELFQUEST serial -- in a black and white popular edition. It's the most viable thing, I think, a self-publisher can do. X number of people can afford this. 2014, economically, is not what 1995 was. Folks don't have a lot of walking around money.
The same as stores really only wanting to stock CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY. There's only so many dollars to go around. At least it IS CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY.
Speaking of which: on the reproduction issues.
I got a letter from Eddie Khanna mentioning a chat that he had with his LCS (they haven't signed the petition, so I don't want to blow their "street cred" with the Zero Tolerance People by associating them with Dave Sim the evil misogynist) where a couple of their customers' book just got picked up by Diamond and they were showing the LCS two versions of the printing and the LCS liked one version and the creators liked the other. A couple of things occur to me:
a) it illustrates how many options there are with digital printing. More on this in a minute.
b) if I was a creator, I'd tend to go with what the store liked. A store owner or manager looks at a work as a "surrogate customer": "this is what folks who buy comics like". Starting out, that's what you want your book to be: customer friendly. This is part of my idea in wanting STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND to be available as a colour comic book. It's the age of digital colour printing. That's what a comic book LOOKS like. And it's really about the only thing in the world that DOES look like that, apart from 3D movies and video games. You shouldn't give someone an excuse to put your book back on the rack, because with dollars as scarce as they are, they are looking for an excuse. NOT looking like what the customer expects a comic book to look like is apt to constitute an excuse.
My best guess, anyway. Okay back to a):
With the multiplicity of ways of reproducing comics, we really have a variety of different systems of reproduction belief. There are a BUNCH of different printing "churches". George Gatsis belongs to one kind of printing "church". Sean Robinson belongs to another printing "church". Lebonfon belongs to another. It's a natural outgrowth of anything linked to computers. People BELIEVE in their computer and BELIEVE in their computer's solution. Everyone else is a heretic.
George is not alone in his gray-scaling preferences.
Rick Norwood of COMICS REVUE was running Al Williamson's SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN a while back and he was definitely "grey-scaling" the strip. Which I can understand. There are tiny little lines you are trying to get and not lose. Williamson's work is notorious for not reproducing. I remember Russ Heath saying so pointedly to me on the phone. "You lose half of the drawing". Well, yes, but Williamson's work is a LOT more popular than Russ' work -- even though Russ' work reproduces a lot better.
Yoram M. actually gave me some of Williamson's personal CORRIGAN proof sheets. And Williamson has marked a bunch of panels where the lines didn't come up. That's the PROOF sheets for heaven's sake! The proof sheets are better than the book reprint reproduction -- ANY book reprint -- but the best Al Williamson I have on hand are the full-size photocopies I shot of the SECRET AGENT CORRIGAN originals that Yoram had when he visited a couple of times. SLIGHT loss of quality because they aren't on glossy stock, just 11x17 bond paper, but when I need to see HOW Williamson did something, that's the place that I go.
Among the "bitmap" adherents, we can add Lou Copeland -- who did all of the digital work on JUDENHASS and sent me a letter coming down vehemently on Sean's side. Which, at this point, I can only count as he and Sean going to, at least roughly, the same computer "church". I'm just trying to get what I consider the best reproduction possible in the trade paperback format.
It's not going to be a SWIFT process, to say the least: which is one of the ideas behind making the BEST possible reproduction available through Kickstarter through Artist's Editions. It means that I don't have to decide how to print the books because I've run out of time/money. The Artist's Editions will finance making sure that the decisions I make are based on "best evidence": what I see in front of me.
Okay, I'm coming to the end of my allotted "2 hours every Friday" getting people caught up here and at the Patreon.com site.
The latest word I have from George Gatsis is that he has shipped print-outs of CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY to me of his final digital files (final as far as he's concerned) and will be sending Sean the raw files and the final files. 70 gigabytes of data. I think it would be better to send it on a thumb drive -- or thumb driveS -- and bill me for them. Uploading and downloading that much is just going to be an imposition and a headache for Sean. So, please, George, send Sean thumb drives.
I got a phone message from Josee at Lebonfon (Bonjour, Josee!) saying that Lebonfon president Alain Roberge will be in the K-W area next week and would I be willing to meet with him?
So that meeting (God willing) will be taking place 10 am next Wednesday.
I'll let you know next Friday what we come up with.
Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond'
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by making a monthly donation at Patreon or a one-off Paypal donation.
Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (April 2008 to July 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.