Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Church and State is Ready at Last

Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings all!

We are now one week away from delivering files to the printer for Church & State I. Yes, at long last, it's almost complete--the (dare I say) definitive, Legacy edition of this comics classic.

Yes, this means you can now order your own copy of C & S I from your local comics retailer. Or multiple copies, if that's how you roll. A hundred for your bunker. A thousand for every library in your state. It's up to you!

This week, I'm here to spill the beans on some big changes in our printing methods and physical format that I've been keeping under my hat for the past two months.

First off, we'll be printing with a brand new (to us) printer-- Tien Wah Press, an award-winning international printer based in Singapore. If there's a fabulous looking graphic novel from the past decade, there's decent odds they were a part of it. We'll also be printing with a new method, on a new type of paper. Gone is the web-offset printing of the last two books, to be replaced with sheet-fed offset, a slower and more exacting process that ensures a precise and less varied final product. We'll also be printing on a special multifine "woodfree" paper stock. "Woodfree" stocks have had the wood fibers stripped out in the chemical pulping process to make a less porous surface than any other uncoated stock.

What does this mean? Combined with their fantastic facilities and attention to detail, this means that the book will have virtually no visible dot gain, while still having a rich, lustrous black to the ink.

We ran some press sheets using a smattering of High Society files, picking out difficult pages that betray dot gain easily-- teeny tiny tone, teeny tiny cross-hatching, newsprint sourced pages... it was hard to believe the results when we got them back. The pages sourced from original art were the real standouts for me-- like holding little miniature versions of the original art in my hand.

Above-- a "dummy" copy of Church & State I, with a press proof page from High Society tipped in to simulate the interior art. All interior art going forward will be 104 percent of the normal 6" x 9" size.

The binding has also taken a huge step forward. Instead of going with the previous "perfect" binding style, i.e. grinding down the edges of the assembled signatures and then adding a strip of glue between the backs and the cover, we'll be working with a new type of binding entirely. Each 16-page signature is individually sewn before assembly, leaving the book able to lie flat, and for the entire gutter area to be visible at all times.

As with most improvements, the paper choice came with a few unintended consequences. The book is approximately 165 percent of its previous width.

Dave's response to this-- "The Microsoft Theory-- if you can't fix it call it a feature. CHURCH & STATE I-- NOW 50 PERCENT THICKER!!"

For me, though, it IS a feature. It's reassuring to look at a 600 page book and for it to have dimensions that correspond roughly to its complexity and importance. Not that different, I suppose, to the sentiment in this classic Kids in the Hall sketch.

What weights more: the Bible or the Bhagavad-Gita? Well worldy scholars and scientists have known for quite some time that the Bible outweighs the Bhagavad-Gita here by a pound to a pound and a half sometimes, outweighs the Talmud sometimes by three to four pounds, outweighs that mighty Koran sometimes by five to ten pounds. You think about that.
Many, many thanks to my industry pal Mike B. who pointed us towards TWP. And once again, my thanks to all of you who have made this process possible.

So, this wouldn't be a major update if I didn't ask you all for something. And so I have a question-- are you personally in possession of RECENT printings of any Cerebus books, from C&S I on? We're seeking digital photos (or scans-- any readable res is fine) of the indica pages of the most recent printings of Cerebus vol. 3-16, to be used to put together the indica pages for these new volumes. That is, we're looking for the page that lists the various printing and print dates. (As a for-instance, my copy of C+S I is a tenth printing, from March 2005. There are (most likely) two more printings after that, but neither I nor Dave know when those would have been. Can you help us? Send a snapshot or low-res scan to cerebusarthunt at gmail. We'd really appreciate it!

Edit 8/5/2015--

Menachem Luchins of Escape Pod Comics requested a high-res version of the ad above for making fliers for his store. So I thought, perhaps someone else is in the same boat? Here is a high-res printable pdf of the above ad for your printing pleasure. Feel free to disseminate far and wide!


Michael said...

Will High Society eventually be reprinted using this new paper/ printer?

Anthony Kuchar said...

Interesting write up on previews world:
" Thirty years ago, the idea that a genocidal, absolutist "fire and brimstone" faith-based ideology could actually steamroll its way across national borders, financing itself by looting its own citizenry was considered too far-fetched "even for comic books" so that it could only be addressed in the broad confines of the Ultimate Parody Comic, Dave Sim & Gerhard's Cerebus"

Makes you think. In real life, ISIS isn't funny. It's like, when Cerebus throws the baby off the building. Yeah, there's some initial humor to it, but it ultimately has consequences that stretch far and wide in the series. The reality of such a thing is pretty horrific.

Sean R said...

Hey Michael!

Assuming the books continue to sell, and assuming we eventually sell out the High Society inventory, then yes, we'll reprint with them, with all the other changes listed. But that will most likely be several years from now, if sales stay at their current rate!

Ibis said...

Slap a hard cover on that bad boy.

Max West said...

My congratulations on getting the new Church & State ready.

Dave Kopperman said...

What's the plan for expanding the cover art to compensate for the wider spine?

Sean R said...

Hey Dave,

Great question :)

There's a bit of give in the original art-- the image extends further on three sides than is neccesary for a full bleed image. So between using the extra bleed space, and some enlargement, I'm hoping to only lose a bit of sky. We'll see! Hoping to get the cover specs and/or template from the printer today.

iestyn said...

Why doesn't Dave use Diamond to get these distributed to BOOK shops?

I know he wants to supports bricks and mortar comic shops, but there are whole swathes of the US, Canada and other English speaking areas where people simply do not have access to comic shops, or those shop ONLY sell superhero stuff.

Why not consider compromising and distributing through companies that only work with independent bookshops?

Dave Kopperman said...

I'm loving the irony in the AV Club quote - funny that the new standard for digital restoration is coming from Dave Sim, one of the most deliberately computer illiterate cartoonists around.

Jeff Seiler said...

Wow! Now it actually IS a doorstop!

Sean R said...


Did you have a particular independent distributor in mind?

iestyn said...

I'm in the UK so probably not much help.

I know that I read an article that said a number of comics companies had gone with Consortium

see here http://www.cbsd.com/

They do the like of Koyama, Nobrow and Alternative.

AK Press - here http://www.akuk.com/ - used to distribute for Savoy comics and they were VERY extreme in content.

If that's any help.

Also - non-physical - Sequential seem to be trying to snap up quality publishers - They've already distributed Dave's Judenhass for free.