Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Cerebus In The Gutters

Sean Michael Robinson:
If you ask me, more than any one subject, Church & State is about scale.

Which goes some way to explaining why I took so much pleasure working on the book last week.

The negatives, representing less than a fourth of the total book this time, were all scanned over the past weeks, Karen Funk finishing up the last one this past Monday. After adjusting all of them one by one, my first major task way to address one of the significant problems I'd seen working through the adjustment-- the gutters.

Throughout the book Dave and Gerhard used their newly-found artistic powers to show off a bit, and expand the canvas of the page, by including double-page spreads that wrapped across the gutter of the monthly book. Unlike a few of the earlier spreads, these were drawn on adjoining illustration board, ensuring a seamless image when photographed together.

But the "perfect" style binding of the collected volumes has always obscured the center of the spreads themselves, eaten up a good 3/4" of image area and, over progressive printings, obscured the damage at the center of the spreads.

Yup. For whatever reason (the way that they were mounted? moving them around to accommodate the changing dimensions of the book?) the center (i.e. the inner edges) of these negatives has been damaged over time. If the books were to continue to be perfect bound, this wouldn't be an issue as the center would continue to be obscured. But at we've switched the binding over to stitched, which allows the majority of the interior page to be visible, this would have to be addressed.

In many cases it was clear what to do, as only a little bit of image was actually missing.

In the above spread, for example, almost all of the missing image was simply black that needed to be filled in. The exception is the small segment above, which needed to have a slow game of "connect the crosshatching" to complete the image.

In the above example, there's actually a big hunk of panel on the right hand side that had been trimmed off at some point. Mara's scanning that one from the monthly book. Some images, like this one, will never be perfectly seamless-- so I'm marking in the margins the exact placement for the image in the gutter, so that the "seam" will be obscured by the stitching.

(We're actually ending up scanning about 12 pages total from the monthlies instead of the "negative" we have. Strangely, for these few pages the actual negatives appear to have been replaced at some point by new "negatives" shot from some type of photocopy or print of the monthly book. It's very strange... any prepress people want to give me some insight into why that might have happened?)

Aaaand that's it for me this week. One quarter of the book done, a full kettle of original artwork to go! Thanks to Mara Sedlins (project organization, digital cleanup, newsprint scanning), Karen Funk (negative scans, negative cleaning), and Sandeep Atwal (original art scanning, promotion), this is going to be the most efficiently-produced and slickest-looking Cerebus restored volume yet.


CerebusTV said...

Maybe the negative regeneration happened when there were previous reprints, such as the biweeklies.

Sean R said...

Just to be clear, it's only that handful that were replaced. All mothers appear to be the original negatives.

Sean R said...

aargh "others" not "mothers: :)

Travis Pelkie said...

Yeah, that's a few books ahead still :)

CerebusTV said...

Yeah, those would be the "Mothers of All Negatives" !