Friday, 22 August 2014

Weekly Update #45: First Delivery!

First 'Delivery' of Cerebus Archive Number One
David Marsh Meets Dave Sim At 'The Print Cave'
Full details at Kickstarter Update #11

Howdy, everyone!

From the comments over the last week starting with Margaret's question about "negative touch-up", that was actually the next stage after the negative had been generated.  As Sean figured, they would take the negative and put it on a light table and scrape off any emulsion that was on there that was in any area that was obviously intended to be solid black.  And the scraping is clearly visible on the negative if you're holding it up to the light, less visible if you have it on the light table which tends to glow in your eyes (which assisted in figuring out where there was emulsion that shouldn't be there: you either had the white glow or you had a black speckle or streak of some kind).

Part of the reason for using George and Ringo was that I needed one of them to come back in his dotage at the end of GUYS and that required a Beatle who had made it to his dotage: Ringo actually looked like that by that time.  John only made it to 40, George to 46 (I think). Also they were the two Beatles who were "Beatle-like" without being musical icons in their own right.  The Ingrid haircuts, black suits, skinny ties.  It was like an approved Cirinist uniform.  They're neat and tidy, they can have their hair LONG as long as they keep it CLEAN.  Androgyny is BOTH APPROVED OF and REWARDED, slovenliness is NOT.  You trade your masculinity for a cushy job. Which, to me, in retrospect, was what The Beatles did when they went from hardcore Rockers to hardcore Mods.

Thanks to Paul Slade for the Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2 brushes which arrived safe and sound. You folks have a lot of guts, I must say. Someone tells me there's an embargo on importing sable brushes to North America and, mentally, I just kiss sable brushes goodbye.  I think it must be a generational thing:  "Dave needs these brushes.  I can get them.  Too bad, Canada Border Services."  Everyone is their own judge about what's legal and what isn't legal.  Pretty powerful. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. [Update: Link to US Fish & Wildlife Department's sable importation policy - via Damian T. Lloyd]
1.  "Drum scan" turns out not to be the way to go.

2.  "TF", our $10K Patron Retailer has sent a cheque to Sean's newly formed business Living The Line and that is now what we are using to finance moving HIGH SOCIETY ahead.

3. I'm getting seriously off-schedule on everything.

4.  Sean's keeping me posted on progress which has a pretty good variance day to day -- as low as 17 pages and as high as 35 pages. Which leads to a couple of options:

Adopt-a-Page where Sean, now that he's getting faster and better at this, estimates what it will cost to FULLY restore a page, attached that amount to the page and then individual CEREBUS fans sponsor that page being restored.

4a)  George Gatsis made the offer when we first came up with this of "cutting masks" for Sean on a volunteer basis so all Sean has to do with, say, tone repair is drop it into the allocated space.  I'm presenting this for discussion here.  Hopefully Sean and George will respond.

4b)  I'm asking Sean here if he can do a complete restoration on one of the "Mind Games II" pages along the lines of what I discussed last week:  sharpening everything so it matches my original intention of an "in line" white box, sharp corners, line work that doesn't intrude or extrude over the clear lines, cloning of tone where needed and let me know what he thinks that would cost on an hourly basis.

4c) I am in receipt of the three sample signatures from Lebonfon:  NORMAL, DARK and VERY DARK.  The signatures contain a variety of pages.  Page 560 of CHURCH & STATE, pages 33, 51, 54, 89, 90, 116, 141, 148, 205, 262 from HIGH SOCIETY and 10, 127, 137, 129 from CEREBUS.

5.  The first "delivery" of a CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE was made this week when I headed over to The Print Cave (Graphic Edge Print Solutions) to scan some bonus prints for the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO campaign and David M. of Waterloo dropped by to pick up his copy (see photo by John Funk)

6.  Unless something changed, all 30 Canadian CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE went out in the mail today.  Next will be International (so John can get experience making up the customs forms necessary) and then USA! USA!  Which will be bulk shipped both to FedEx and through Menachem Luchins of ESCAPE POD COMICS.  Thanks, Menachem!

7.  Speaking with Matt Demory, my Diamond Brand Manager, he says that 54 copies of the Remastered CEREBUS trade have been ordered and shipped.  Since it hasn't been in PREVIEWS, yet, that would be you guys!  :)!  So I'm going to authorize Sean to post his best post-mortem on the CEREBUS trade next week for discussion, on the assumption that 54 of you will have their books by then.  

1.  Sean had a bee in his bonnet that wouldn't leave him alone about getting a "drum scan" done of one of the pages.  He backed off of that when he got an outrageous quote for one.  I suggested that he go ahead.  With "bee in your bonnet" stuff you really need to cross it off the list of options or you'll always have it in the back of your mind.  Sean's verdict when he finally got the drum scan in:  "It looks slightly sharper as-is on screen, but behaves the same as the regular scan under process.  No benefit to it."  Which is more than a bit of a relief.  Had it created a superior digital file, where do we go from there? How superior is it and how much money do we have to pay for it.

2.  I'm still trying to figure out how best to compensate "TF" our $10K Patron Retailer and will be discussing that with him in an upcoming phone conversation.  Without his contribution, we would -- at this moment -- be in the situation of my having to pull the plug on Sean and Mara at least until CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO was generating revenue.   As Sean says, this guy should be CELEBRATED in some way.  But. Some people aren't "into" being celebrated and you have to respect that.  The big question will be, Does he want something personally or does he want something for the store?  I'm thinking of doing fully inked drawings of Cerebus on THE FIRST HALF and the THIRD QUARTER posters which should like nice on the wall of a Cerebus fan or a CEREBUS store.  Of course, that involves getting caught up on and staying current with everything, which hasn't been working out lately.

3.  Last Friday I allocated my entire 21-hour non-fasting day to writing the commentaries for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO and getting the video for the Kickstarter campaign done in raw form (so I could get it to Fisher for editing).  This was the reason that I said there would be a two to three week delay in my answering the mail -- which is starting to pile up -- and answering phone messages. As it turned out, it took the 21-hour non-fasting Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday until I had everything done.  On the one hand, this is a good sign -- the total commentaries on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO run to 21 pages in rough form rather than the 11 pages on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE.  So, more bang for the pledge partner buck.  Also, Sean will be pasting the commentary pages up and actually incorporating illustrations of what it is that I'm talking about.  However, this is dragging me away from a lot of other things that I'm supposed to be handling.  And, of course, it's dragging Sean away from his restoration work.  Then Matt Demory reminded me about doing a CEREBUS Trade ad for PREVIEWS which then needed to be done for the end of this week.  So, I ended up having to interrupt Sean doing the HIGH SOCIETY restorations to get him to do CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO production and then had to interrupt him to get him to paste up an ad from my mock-up.

I'm HOPING that at some point things start going more smoothly, but, right now, it was all I could do to get one page of STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND done this week.

4a)  An example of things that have been left behind as I try to stay current with everything is George's offer a while back to cut masks for Sean on a volunteer basis so that Sean could stick with the pure restoration (and I apologize to everyone for the things that I haven't gotten to).  I'm not sure how that would work, but it is gratefully accepted as an offer if he and Sean can find a way to make it work.  I think we can all agree that -- with the bulletins that Sean has been posting that -- we're better keeping Sean investigating all the ins and outs of what's "under there" on the negatives -- and how to bring those things out -- where possible.  On a related note:

4b) This is along the lines of the "drum scan" scenario.  We might as well find out exactly how complicated we can make the restoration so that it matches my original intention from 30 years ago.  I'm anticipating serious "sticker shock" but I might be surprised.  Sean is estimating about $20 per page for the restoration he's doing now.  But, that's like asking me how long it took to do an average page of CEREBUS.  There really aren't average pages, just different pages with different problems.  And,  in this case, because what I was attempting to do on "Mind Game II" was outside of the range of my abilities 30 years ago, we might be looking at a one-time 20-page charge that is exceptional. MOST other pages won't require that level of sharpness and concision.  It would be overkill.

4c) Sean has already indicated to me that the mezzotint that I used on these pages -- the really dark sort of fleck tone (LT 307) -- got very special treatment from Preney.  A lot of research on Sean's part to get All The Way In There and see what they did.  They masked the areas off and shot them separately.  There's a faint residue of the edge of the masks on some of the pages.

Coincidentally, CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO contains three of these "Mind Game II" pages, so those of you pledging for the package will be able to see in meticulous detail what the mezzotint actually looks like on the page and how difficult it is to reproduce.  This was also one of the reasons that I picked HIGH SOCIETY page 141 as one of the test pages. The Cerebus Demon Head is done in mezzotint.  Page 141 reproduces well sometimes and not so well other times.

5)  I'm happy to say that we seem to be reaching the point of actually getting CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE delivered to everyone who has been waiting so patiently. [Full details at Kickstarter Update #11] David Marsh came by Graphic Edge Print Solutions to pick his up the other day and becomes the first person to actually get one of them! They came out, I think, really well.  Exactly the way that I pictured them.  We had some last minute "tweaking" on the packaging -- abandoning the staple idea (and John's subsequent glue idea)  for packing tape on all four sides.  My thinking was that the three layers of cardboard serve to make a good storage container for the portfolio itself.  If the cardboard was glued, you'd really have to rip the top layer of cardboard off and definitely lose the "storage box" quality.  It's a comic-fan thing.  Like the plastic bag that the portfolio comes in.  It's not quite form-fitting, but -- hey! -- we always want a plastic bag for something of value!

I got some criticism last week for not posting regular updates to the Kickstarter site. Of course, last time, I took flack for posting TOO MANY updates to the Kickstarter site.  You can't win.  I think all I can honestly say is that we are doing the best that we can and we're going through it for the first time.  We're learning a lot of things as we go, and I'm sure we'll be learning more things because we're not all the way through the process yet.  Hopefully by the time CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER THREE and FOUR are shipping, a lot of the (this time) unavoidable glitches will have been smoothed out.

One of the things we'll be doing differently next time is doing finished portfolios -- say 40 at a time -- and shipping those, rather than my signing 300 plate 1s, 300 plate 2s, etc.  It doesn't sound like a huge volume but it does fill up the Print Cave (as you can see by the PARTIAL stack of the cardboard in behind me in the photo John took).

It means not everyone will be getting their packages at the same time, but hopefully we can also let you know where you are in the "batting order" as we go.

6)  Please don't hold me to this!  This is one of the reasons that I haven't been posting updates.  I'm not in control of shipping.  I had asked John that the Canadian orders would go out by last Friday which he couldn't do and then promised for Monday and, now, here we are a week later.  It happens.  I told HIM that I would have everything done on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO last Friday.  And I didn't have it done until Tuesday.  Late on Tuesday.  There is an inherent disconnect between what we intend to do and what we actually do.  I don't know if that just has to do with age.  John's 54 and I'm 58.  I'm sure it's part of it.

Anyway, we won't be launching CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO on Kickstarter until everything is out the door and on its way to you.

And, as always, if anything is wrong with your order, please let us know and we'll make sure to replace anything that needs to be replaced and reimburse you for your shipping costs.

7)  Nothing to add to this one except:  I did commit to a full-page ad in PREVIEWS for CEREBUS VOLUME ONE REMASTERED.  I'm hoping that this will generate some sales to help with the restoration costs.  This is something I'll have to be monitoring with Matt:  what is the pace of sales on the CEREBUS trade now that it's back in print and do we anticipate HIGH SOCIETY doing the same thing when we have it back in print.  As with everything else, I couldn't promise him a delivery date for HIGH SOCIETY with Sean in the middle of it.  And, of course, he can't promise me a figure on ordering the book until he sees how CEREBUS sells.

As I indicated to Sean, the goal posts definitely keep shifting in this game.  So, it seems the most sensible thing is to forge ahead on HIGH SOCIETY, get HIGH SOCIETY back in print and then see where we're sitting.  Do we keep going ahead at the same pace or take a break until we see how CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE does through Diamond as an unsigned edition and CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO on Kickstarter?

Right now, I've got to run.  Sincere apologies, again, to everyone waiting for an answer to their letter and/or phone message, to the Patreon Patrons because I didn't have time to do an Update there this time around...and anyone else who needs to be apologized to.

I'll be back here -- God willing -- next Friday.   


eric fennessey said...


Don't fret about the odd slide to the right, we're a patient bunch!

Eric Fennessey

Jeff Seiler said...

Once again, Dave,I'm honored by your having called me to check in on me during my recent illness. Given your level of work, currently, those 25 minutes were precious to both of us. May God bless you in all of your current and future endeavors, and you know I'll be there to support all of them.

Paul Slade said...

Hi, Dave - glad the brushes reached you OK. They took a month longer about it than the UK Post Office assured me they would, but no matter.

I wouldn't overestimate the "guts" required for this - after all, the police here in London are hardly likely to come kicking in my door over such a trivial matter. Worse case scenario is that the brushes get confiscated somewhere between here and Kitchener and I've wasted a few quid.

I'm not sure how much of a generational factor is at work here either - I'm 56.

Incidentally, are we even sure import restrictions apply when sending brushes directly from the UK to Canada (and hence avoiding the US altogether)? I can't find anything online that suggests there's any legal problem with that route anyway.

Anonymous said...

In case anyone's worried, it seems that the ban on importing brushes into USAnia may be a temporary SNAFU involving improper paperwork. See, for example, Hopefully, once the kinks are worked out, smooth supply will be resumed.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, wnn

Anonymous said...

My package arrived today in excellent shape. I have to say, it is way nicer than I was expecting! As such, I'm definitely interested in the future interations.