Friday, 1 August 2014

Weekly Update #42: A Postal Beatdown!

Cerebus Archive Number Two
Original Art, Cerebus #28 Page 2

  1. CEREBUS Volume One, 16th printing has arrived! George Gatsis declares: "This COULD be the Legacy edition".
  2. CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE is that much closer to shipping.  I've finished the last of the signatures (on the fully inked Cerebus head and ballpoint Cerebus head ones).  All that's left is final design of the shipping package.  John Funk has done three prototypes.
  3. Scanning of the ten earliest HIGH SOCIETY pages in the Cerebus Archive has been accomplished for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO.  Next step is to do the video and write the commentaries on the pages.
  4. CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO to feature Bonus Prints as per Mike Kitchen and John Funk's suggestion (among the Bonus Prints available for purchase will be: the LOCK & KEY variant cover,  the glamourpuss #1 Zombie cover, Cerebus Archive Zombie covers #1, #2 and #3, the five STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND covers, the full X-FILES variant cover of which IDW only used the bottom portion -- along with my original script and cover letter to Chris Ryall).

1.  George Gatsis' fax of 29 July reads in its entirety:  "I have reviewed the sample completed copy of Volume One and...very nice. And...I showed it to many people at my office, pros and novices...and asked them to point out which pages are bitmapped and which are greyscale...And they couldn't answer.  To a layman...this COULD be the Legacy Edition...No more work required. That's it on my thinking on this book."  

Arguably, George makes a very good point.  However, I'm reminded of the old ad slogan --  "an educated consumer is our best customer" -- which I think very much applies here.  I was very impressed with the book, particularly with the work that George did on the white-on-black lettering and restoring the lettering in the last couple of pages of "Swords Against Imesh".  THIS time around, readability was Job One and I think I can safely say that this is the most readable version of the CEREBUS volume, EVER.  At no point should you be taken out of the narrative by hard to read lettering.

I'm also impressed with the very advanced work that Sean brought to bear on issue 1 and issue 6.  There is definitely more detail there -- sharper detail and extensive detail -- than has appeared in any edition of the CEREBUS trade.  I'm ALMOST at the point of admitting that my early CEREBUS work doesn't suck nearly as badly as I've thought it has for the last couple of decades.


Sean has finished his grand tour of his work on the book -- profusely illustrated -- and we're just waiting for word that the CEREBUS trade has made it into the hands of a comic store (Menachem? Trent? We're counting on you!) and then into the hands of a purchaser.  A week after we have confirmation, we'll let all of you know that you can now get the book and leave time for the book to make it from Diamond to your local store and THEN I'll give Sean the "high sign" to post his tour and we can all "have at it".

It's probably best explained this way:  This IS the Legacy Edition, but it's not the ULTIMATE Legacy Edition.  The ULTIMATE Legacy edition can't be declared until Sean has learned everything there is to learn about restoration and EVERY page of art from the first 25 issues has been found, scanned and tweaked.  Is that EVER going to happen?  Mm. Probably not. But, I think I'm safe in saying that none of us are quitting until it HAS happened.

So, I hope all of you will enjoy the best of both worlds:  1) purchasing the BEST version of the CEREBUS trade ever to be brought to market and 2) following along as we all work to refine and improve what we're doing.

2)  This post should include John Funk's three prototypes for the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE shipping [see below]. Contrary to what I said before, the CANO that we shipped to Eddie Khanna did not come in in perfect mint condition. There was a small dent on one side of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE. Nothing major, and it might very well be an exceptional circumstance. But we're not relying on that.  Instead, we've jettisoned the idea of a bubble mailer in favour of extra cardboard all the way around.  Basically using the Amazon theory:  heavy staples and "redundant" cardboard as natural insulation and "buffer".  MY preference is for version B which I actually dropped -- corner on -- from the top of the stairs onto the hardwood floor in the entryway.  There was a mark but it was barely noticeable from that height.  I think any one of the three packaging forms will work.  And, of course, we are assuring everyone that if there is ANY damage, they can return their copy for a replacement.  The damaged copy will be destroyed, but you'll retain "your number" and get exactly the package that was already sent to you.  No difference. No replacement charge.

Coupled with the fact that MOST CEREBUS fans aren't usually "mint freaks", we can afford to cater to those who are and guarantee that everyone gets exactly what they ordered.

On the question regarding "Club 261" -- of the 16 people not included, most are people who donated $2 or so.  It would literally cost more to send them a membership card in the mail than they donated in the case of international orders.

If, however, you are one of the people who didn't order the actual CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE, but did order, for example, the bookplates, just let John know and I will make up an individual membership card for you and mail it to your personally.

I'd also like to personally apologize to Michael R who is one of our "birthday pledge partners" from the last day who pledged on the understanding that he would get an update from me on his birthday on what I was working on on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND that day.  As I wrote to him, it's a "bad news" -- I forgot your birthday (July 20) -- and "good news" deal: instead of just getting a copy of the page I was working on that day, you get one of the actual tracing paper transfer images that I was using to make that page.  I mailed Tim M his birthday scan of the page I was working on (July 30) and I'm all set to send one to David M (3 August) and Andrew L (Aug 23).

Hopefully we'll have this all nailed down in the next couple of weeks and there will be NO MORE FORGOTTEN BIRTHDAYS (not by us anyway).  

3. I've gotten the earliest ten pages of HIGH SOCIETY scanned in preparation for launching the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO Kickstarter campaign.

I asked John to post the scan of CEREBUS No.28 page No.6 to Tim and Tim to post it here to show you one of the decisions that I've already made:  As you can see the "stats" of the typesetting are very badly corroded (this results from the stat not having been cleaned properly after it had developed -- the developing chemicals stayed on it and eventually pretty much ate it alive).  Another stat is missing.  Coincidentally, Sean -- we he got them -- said how much he liked seeing the handwritten text written in blue pencil visible through the yellowed adhesive.

"Hey, you know what?"  I thought.  "I bet these stats are so badly rotted that they're just about ready to let go.  Why don't I peel them up and reveal all of the blue pencil hand-lettering?"  So that's what we're going to do.  Means having to have the pages re-shot, but that's kind of a no-brainer, I think. 

 4.  I'm going to be trying the Bonus Print idea suggested by Mike Kitchen and seconded by John Funk on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO.

Not REALLY sure how it's going to work specifically yet but theoretically what I want to do is to use it to hopefully keep the revenue up even if we lose a bunch of people who are just not in the "solvency" situation of being able to support us on a quarterly basis.

Basically, we start with the idea that everyone can order a Bonus Print for an extra, say, $15.

But JUST one.

That's if we can generate, say, $10,000 over 30 days.  If we go past say $20K then everyone can order two prints and instead of paying $15 each, you pay $12 each.  And if we hit $30K as we did last time, then you can order as many of the Bonus Prints as you want for the $8 each you're already paying for the HIGH SOCIETY pages.

That's not carved in stone, so feel free to offer suggestions and criticism.  Just remember that the idea is to generate as much money as possible so we're able to keep moving forward on the restoration and preservation of all 16 volumes.

I'm even thinking of some NON-print Bonus Items you can opt for:  like (for instance) a complete set of COMIC ART NEWS & REVIEWS on disk or COLLECTED LETTERS 3 on disk or the complete glamourpuss on disk.

ANYthing to keep Sean and Dr. Mara burrowing through those 6,000 pages. 

Answering some questions from last week:

a) On the subject of pencil sharpeners, I'm pretty sure that the High Volume X-acto model is the one that I've gotten.  It still sharpens pencils, it just doesn't sharpen them NEEDLE sharp, which is what I need, particularly for tiny, tiny photorealism drawings.  Neal Adams and Al Williamson are about the best at it -- to me, it's what separates the Top Rank guys from the second stringers -- which is doing figures that are an inch high and getting all the same detail (facial features, tiny pen lines defining the curve of the cheek, etc.) into a figure an inch high that they do into a figure that's standard size.  In fact I just intentionally did two or three pages of "Dave as narrator" with me only an inch high in the panel just to get some practice at it.  They came out pretty good but nowhere near Adams or Williamson level.  And part of that is my inability to get a pencil sharp enough -- NEEDLE sharp -- even using the pencil sharpener, AND an X-acto knife AND coarse sandpaper.

I'm going to see about getting replacement blades for the sharpener that I have but I don't think Staples carries the blades separately.

I have tried mechanical pencils but, again, the problem isn't the pencil, it's the sharpener.  The one that they supply with the pencil and pencil leads just sharpens to typical pencil sharpness.  Sharp but not NEEDLE sharp.

The best I've been able to do to date has been the combination pencil sharpener, then whittling with an X-acto knife (whittling the point of the lead, not the wood), then maintaining the resulting NEEDLE sharpness with the sandpaper after every two or three tiny little pencil lines.

It's educational, I must say!  Torturing yourself doing figures an inch high makes inking normal sized faces and figures nearly effortless.  I wonder if that's how Adams and Williamson got that good?

b)  Hi Jake!  Thanks for your inquiry!  The Winsor & Newton brushes are SERIES 7, number 2 sable brushes.  The series 7 brush comes in a variety of sizes from #1 up to #9 (I believe).  Raymond used a number 2, Stan Drake used a number 3 -- both series 7

c)  Paul Slade:  on the Legacy printing:  See above!

Back next week with another Update!   

Packging Prototypes:

Taking A Beating:
(Click image to enlarge)

Surveying The Damage:


Tim Phillips said...

It's fascinating reading about the production process, not just the creative process, of something we all seem to care great deal about.

From a business standpoint, it's a marvellous way to keep us all engaged with a product that has taken time to get to market. It could have easily been a boring press release scenario, but the postings have been entertaining, educational and baffling (trying to understand moir for the first time, anyone?!). Thanks again.

Everyone, please keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Hey, how many Mike R' s are there? This Mike R was born on May 26.

Anonymous said...

STAR00070 as of a few minutes ago is still only back-orderable in Diamond's system. On the plus side it now says "Cerebus Vol 01 TP Remastered Ed".


CerebusTV said...

"However, I'm reminded of the old ad slogan -- 'an educated consumer is our best customer'"

Concurrent with that ad was the commercial which had Sy Sperling addending, "...I'm not just the President, I'm also a customer."

Anonymous said...

"I'm ALMOST at the point of admitting that my early CEREBUS work doesn't suck nearly as badly as I've thought it has for the last couple of decades."

I really think you should quote this on the cover of the legacy edition. Funny stuff.

- Reginald P.

Anonymous said...

Update - the Cerebus TP Vol. 01 Remastered Ed. (STAR00070) is now listed as in stock and orderable in the Diamond system. The only thing missing is an updated estimated shipping date.


Tim Phillips said...

Just wondering, besides the remastered pages, how does the 16th edition differ from the previous? New introduction, extra pages?

Christopher Judge said...

I had a shipping solution that I'm going to try out again once I send out all this kickstarter stuff. I'm completely uncertain if it's less costly in materials, but probably in labor (did you guys build those envelopes by hand? Sheesh.

I cut a piece of stiff cardboard about half an inch bigger than what I was sending and then plastic wrapped the item to the center so it wouldn't move, then inserted it into a bubble mailer.