Friday, 8 August 2014

Weekly Update #43: Options Moving Forward

Cerebus Vol 1: Remastered 16th Edition (2014)
by Dave Sim
Restoration by George Peter Gatsis & Sean Michael Robinson
Diamond Reorder Code: STAR00070
Executive Summary
  1. 16th printing of CEREBUS features some additional material: before and after scans of George Gatsis' restorations and a list of people who supplied original artwork for scanning
  2. Two-to-three week delay on answering mail and returning phone messages... hopefully temporary!
  3. Lots of options on the table for moving forward with HIGH SOCIETY and CHURCH & STATE scanning. Option A $40,000; Option B $6,000 - $9,000; Option C $250
  4. What IS the time-frame goal for getting HIGH SOCIETY done? Not as simple a question as it appears on the surface

Hello, everyone!

1.  Looks like we're still waiting for the 16th printing of CEREBUS to make its way through the Diamond Star System and actually into stores -- and into fan's hands -- that have ordered a copy.

Note to Tim Phillips from the Comments section last week: There isn't a LOT that's different on the 16th printing.  There is a list of the pages that were discovered and scanned in time to be included in the book -- and crediting each person that found them! -- but it's really only "to date" when George Gatsis was doing the major exclusive search and initial restorations.

(On my list of "to do" things -- which is getting longer and longer -- is a "Dragnet" certificate for anyone who found us a page with the page reproduced and my version of Cerebus as Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday and the "714" badge. You'll see it here at AMOC first!)

There's also a few pages devoted to George's restorations themselves with before and after pictures. Nowhere NEAR as elaborate as what you've been getting here week after week at AMOC, but a good ABC starter for the casual buyer.

When we have confirmation that the book has arrived in the hands of CEREBUS fans, I'll be asking Sean to post his self-critique of the work thus far (which he's evidently been adding to in the interim) and then we can have a fairly wide-ranging discussion on how we're doing, where we're going and how we THINK we're going to get there.

2. I'm really getting swamped keeping up with everything so there's now a two-to-three week delay on answering mail and returning phone messages. Sincere apologies. I will be getting to everyone, I just need to prioritize right now in order to keep everything chugging along.

Interesting message from a comic artist (whose name was garbled on the tape) where he cites me as his primary influence in getting into the business and added that he figured I was "the most hated and secretly admired person on the Indy comics scene -- and I can only hope to achieve that same goal some day."  It's an interesting theory -- the "secretly admired" part.  The "I don't believe Dave Sim is a misogynist" petition has flat-lined.  The last three signatories were, respectively, 2 weeks ago, 4 weeks ago and 2 months ago.

It certainly COULD be a sign of feminist power waxing and waning. And at the moment W!A!X!I!N!G!

That is, people going from secretly admiring me to having to REALLY SECRETLY admire me (Dave who? I don't know who you're talking about) when the perceived threat level of being crushed beyond recognition by feminists is at its peak.

I'm not really a participant in society as constituted, so I'd be guessing.

Waxing OR waning, it doesn't really affect me.  Feminism has obvious flaws that I've outlined and no one has been able to refute. Whether they're able to destroy me and my reputation completely now or in the foreseeable or distant future or long after I'm dead, to me, doesn't affect the central issue: identifying Reality and sticking with that.

I've got your number and I will be giving you a call. Good luck with "achieving that same goal". Just stick with what you believe to be true and let the chips fall where they may. 

3. Lots of faxes flying back and forth between me and Sean Robinson as we try to establish the best way forward. In answer to my (revived) suggestion about maybe trying to go with straight photography -- get a high resolution camera and use it to photograph the Dave Sim File Copies, Sean wrote:
"It's an excellent thought. When I dug into the topic two months ago, there were only one or two Hasselblad large-format camera digital backs that would us the res we need, and they start at $40,000 and go up from there.  Briefly considered renting one from a camera store in L.A. -- then I got the price quote and damage deposit [quote]"
Off the top of my head: a) how much of that is "L.A." where pretty much everything photography related is going to be overpriced? b) If it's $40,000 (and up) in 2014, what are the odds that you'll be able to do the same thing with a $50 cellphone in another five years?  That's always going to be in the back of my mind:  cost coming down exponentially and how NECESSARY is it that the trades be back in print RIGHT NOW? Seems a good reason to limit our work to HIGH SOCIETY right now instead of getting TOO far ahead on all 6,000 pages.  I go back and forth on thinking that, however.

The other thing we've been discussing is "scanning speed" because that's a primary variable.  If you're scanning 3,800 pages of artwork and/or 6,000 pages of Dave Sim File Copies at high resolution IS there a way to cut down on the labour costs by getting a faster scanner?  To which Sean replied:
"I took the speed thing and ran with it, looking for the fastest possible flatbed scanner. Fast in every respect including not having to fuss with settings or a computer. There is a German company that just got a new Ontario distributor that makes what they say is the fastest scanner in the world.  They claim 12 SECONDS for a 12" x 18" 600 dpi scan. Which would put this into a whole other category.  No computer required [!], just plug in your USB stick, place the [original art page] down, and hit the button.  I have made contact with the distributor, am waiting for them (patiently, patiently) to get back to me. Based on the weasel words of the distributor I got on the phone, they probably sell for between $6,000-$9,000 CD.  The Ontario distributor also rents and services.  I will need to speak to their techs and get some demonstration files before we went any further, but I am cautiously optimistic. You could scan the whole thing in a week :)"
Depending on what the rental charge is, I might want to put in a few 72-hour days at that :)  Seriously, the 12x18 has a lot of appeal when you're scanning 3,800 11 x 17 things.  They don't need to be "square on", just inside the 12x18 boundary.

The third possibility was a $250 scanner -- 8.5x11 -- where I would scan the pages in two sections that Mara would then stitch together (with a new tech tool which all but makes it a keystroke!).  The problem with that is "coverage".  The pages don't quite split into two 8.5x11 sections.  Which means having to scan and check coverage, as well as making sure that nothing is out of focus where the page overlaps the lip that runs around the outside of the scanning plate (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt).  I like the $250 part, but I'm not crazy about the extra time it would take that I could be devoting to THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.

Discussions are on-going!

4.  Earlier in the week, Sean had asked if I had a time frame goal in mind for getting HIGH SOCIETY done. My answer was:
Too many variables:  
a) Can pledge revenues be maintained on CEREBUS ARCHIVE?  
b) How much money does your restoration eat up and how quickly? 
c) How fast do you get and how quickly? 
d) Do you hit a peak where you have no more to learn and, consequently, can justify doubling back and getting your previous work up to that same peak [significantly, Sean has already indicated that there's a difference between his "earliest" restoration pages and the pages that he's doing now: how wide does that disparity become as he goes along?] How far along are you when you double back? 
e) How much work have you done on CHURCH & STATE and continue to do while working on HIGH SOCIETY?
All of those are going to move the goal posts
Bottom line for this week:  At least for the foreseeable future, I think we have to just go "full speed ahead" on HIGH SOCIETY with all that that entails (i.e. doing no further work on CEREBUS' 17th printing and not diving into CHURCH & STATE). John Funk has done a Full Report on the Kickstarter financial situation which he'll be posting next week so everyone can see where the money has gone.

(And it "has gone" -- not "is going", although part of that is the weird situation of having had to pay for the completely jettisoned HIGH SOCIETY printing at the end of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE campaign. TECHNICALLY, that payment should come off of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO campaign. Also, the printing bill for the CEREBUS Trade hasn't come in but has been allocated for.  There will be a profit on the copies that Diamond agreed to take, but that money won't be coming in until mid-September at the earliest.)

I want to deal with variable (a) that I presented to Sean and that involves getting the video done and the commentaries for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO.

Which is a big reason that there's a two-to-three week delay on-going in answering the mail and returning phone messages.  The sooner we know how many of the 261 Kickstarter supporters are going to be sticking around, the clearer an idea I have of how much rope I can "Play out" for Sean and Mara.

We still have the standing offer from "TF" our Retailer Patron for $10K worth of backup, but we really don't want to use that up just in the course of "keeping things going" if we don't have to. That amount, to me, is the canary in the mineshaft. If we're using that, we're down to the Hail Mary pass.

What we're all hoping for is a smooth transition from CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE Kickstarter to CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO Kickstarter so Sean and Mara are able to just keep going on HIGH SOCIETY, keep getting paid, etc.

Right now we're riding on gas fumes (the DOCTOR WHO covers money from Heritage Auctions, Diamond's quarterly payment for the Lebonfon inventory, STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND payment from IDW and a few other sources) but I'm loathe to "pull the plug" -- even temporarily -- as Sean and Mara are ascending the learning curve.

There's a LOT of money in the bank, but it's ALL allocated.  I celebrated the $30K coming in by buying myself two pairs of "Ramadan jeans" at WalMart (I dropped from a 32-inch waist to a 30-inch waist -- as I do pretty much every year -- and, under my t-shirt, I was looking like those ghetto kids with a good two inches of their undies showing).  $26 each.  

But, the money IS. THERE. Which is a big plus. There were several times I couldn't say that when I was repurchasing Gerhard's shares 2007-2011.

Hopefully next week you'll all be looking at your copies of the CEREBUS Trade 16th printing!  If not I'm sure Sean and I will have faxed enough "Blue Sky" concepts to fill another Update.

Stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

Hey so we DONT have to wait for the new CEREBUS volume 1 to be re-solicited to order it? It's not getting a new Diamond code? I can just tell my retailer to order the old star-code one but the new one will come in? How will retailers know this is a brand new edition, and the product of so much remastering consideration??

I'm sure this has already been answered but...


David Birdsong said...

Is there any chance there will be annotations of the earlier volumes as is the case with the later ones.? Yeah, that's even more to squeeze into a limited time frame, but if the 17th printing of CEREBUS is to be the Ultimate Legacy Edition then go ultimate I say. (This is why the newly hired folks at work hate me, I can ALWAYS find something for them to do,)

David Birdsong said...

I sat up all night wondering where the sun went and then it dawned on me that The Ultimate Legacy Edition could just include the introductions from Swords Of Cerebus and save tons of work. Sorry, I'll shut up now.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is necessarily overlap between "admiring Dave Sim" and "signing the petition". (And it's still funny that Dave thinks he's refuted feminism.) It's perfectly possible to admire someone's accomplishments while disagreeing with someone's viewpoints.

As for a time-frame for High Society: my understanding is that this is the best-selling volume, so keeping it in print is one of the best ways to ensure that Dave has a steady income-stream to allow him to concentrate on new projects rather than fund-raising efforts. That seems to argue for a "sooner rather than later" release date. Is there a "High Society Art Dragnet"?

-- Damian T. Lloyd, pdq

Sean M R said...


Yes, we're actively collecting original art for the entire series. Just last week, 5 of the 60 or so pages I completed on HS were sourced from original art owned by fans who submitted scans. I'm doing my best to balance speed with not getting ahead of the funding. The whole book could probably be completed in just a few weeks, if I was working 40 hour weeks, but it wouldn't make sense unless the money's there for both the work and the printing.



Travis Pelkie said...

How were the pre-orders for the High Society DVD set from IDW? I've got mine on order, and in theory it comes out this month (I think), but how big were the orders? That's something to keep in mind vis-a-vis a "stopgap" -- there is "A" version out there for people to order if they want the story.

Are the first kickstarter Archive sets in the mail yet? I know you tested the mailers but I'm not sure if everything's gone out yet. I'm hoping that I get mine soon, and so long as the set looks pretty good, I'm in for the next one too. (And I've got an idea about the kickstarters if the number of people does nosedive...)

I'd be one to second David Birdsong on not only wanting the Swords intros reprinted in the Ultra-Super-Mega-Legacy edition, but some sort of new intros/annotations. Because I think that Dave just doesn't have enough to do already ;)