Tuesday, 23 February 2016

C + S II Restoration Update: Look At The Pretty Pictures

Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings Cerebites!

After polishing off Reads two weeks ago, I've been pounding away at the remaining work on the Church & State II restoration. Good news--I'll be done with the bulk of the work (excluding layout, essay, and any revisions) by the end of this week.

All of this cleanup work, especially the tone cleanup which takes up the bulk of the work time, gives me a strange kind of relationship to the artwork. Specifically, I get to see it up close. Really up close. Closer--so Gerhard told me--than it was ever intended to be seen.

Mostly, this leaves me with a greater admiration for the sheer sweat expended on these pages, the visual invention and flare, some of which never made it to the printed page.

I was interested to see Michael G's comment this week on the just-released Church & State I--
 I hope we get to see some convincing updates on the progress on Vol. 2. In any case I can't wait to read it, and I hope that a quality printing of both volumes generates some newfound enthusiasm among Cerebites for these books because they're just as great to re-read as HS and Jaka's Story.

What better way to see the improvements than to take a look at one of my favorite issues with some direct comparisons?

Issue 89, "Dead Friends", is the third "Odd Transformation" story in the series so far. It's a dream sequence, and like the previous Odd Transformations stories, is visually stunning, but in a more subdued way than the previous installments, which relied on more dramatic cinematic techniques and double-page spreads/size of images to carry the visual weight. Instead, "Dead Friends" has a fairly static "camera," and it's the imagery itself, and the drawing and rendering itself, that is powerful and surreal.

Which makes me very happy that we have scans of all the original artwork for this issue!

Here's a scan of the lower right panel of page two, from a ninth-printing copy of the C & S II graphic novel, followed by a cleaned up version scanned from the original artwork.

This is a particularly dramatic example, as this page was replaced by a second-generation negative at some point in the print run of the book. Second generation negatives make up around 4 percent of the whole book previously.

On page 13 is another image that's made illegible in previous printings by fill-in in photography and dot gain in the printing. Bran and Weissapt/Thrunk fight in the Prime Minister's office while the tower grows around them. These dense dark areas, especially with fine lines or tone, can be difficult to keep "open" in print.

Page ten has some really inventive use of photocopies on the part of both Dave and Gerhard. I always wondered how they achieved this effect-- now, looking at the color scan, it's clear-- Gerhard photocopied the panel, cut arcs out of the photocopy, and then pasted down the remainder on top of the original drawing, leaving a sort of visual distortion/smearing effect across the architecture. (Am I mistaken in thinking the Weisshaupt figures are photocopy transfers, i.e. acetone rubbed on the back of a photocopy to transfer the image to the art board? notice the gray area of overlap)

The panel directly to the right has some similar work in both the figures and the background, with the repeated, size-varied figures standing in really well for the dizzy/seeing stars result of collision.

(This required a bit more cleanup than normal, as the raking light of a flatbed scanner tends to exaggerate paste-up/height differences in artwork, turning cuts in paper into visible lines)

Poor elf was suffering from second-generation neg syndrome as well. Here she is, renewed and rejuvenated.

Hope you enjoyed this peek under the hood. Next post we'll take a look at the original artwork, and some designs, for another favorite sequence of mine, "So."

Questions about the restoration work or the original artwork? Hit me up in the comments!


Cory Foster said...

Wow, these look incredible. Great work!

Tom Whiteley said...

There's an original page from Church and State II up for auction:


Might be able to get a scan somehow?

Michael Grabowski said...

Great to hear about and see evidence of the progress! Looking forward to the eventual book. Dying to know how Cerebus gets out of that jam at the end of Vol. 1. Thanks, Sean!

Sean R said...

Hey Tom,

Thanks for letting me know! Jason Crosby of ComicLink has been very kind to us, providing scans for all the pages that come through ComicLink-- this one included :)

Sean R said...

(I wish I could say the same of the other auction houses... Comic Link, however is a real class act. Can't recommend them highly enough!)

Jeff Seiler said...

Hi, Sean--Beautiful work. Dave had told me to proofread Reads, as it was to be next for remastering, and then Jaka's Story. I've proofed all of Reads and then all of the word balloons for JS. But if you're so far along on C&S II, then I guess I'll proof it next, right?

Jason Winter said...

That panel by panel comparison of the door blew me away! So much detail
lost and now regained. Than you so much for the wonderful work!

iestyn said...

I wonder what it looked like in the original comic - that paper wasn't brilliant either.

So amazing.

You should really set-up a separate site with these comparisons and the GIF someone did ages ago.

That would be an easy reference to send people to see the changes...

Maybe just a tumblr with next to next

Sean R said...

Jeff--sounds good! I haven't started work on JS yet, whereas C + S II is almost done, and C V1 is halfway (or around there) done.

Iestyn- good idea! Animated gifs will arrive at some point...

Jeff Seiler said...

To be clear, I called Dave after I posted here yesterday. He said that the focus for my proofreading right now is Reads. That is stalled briefly just now for complicated reasons, but will resume soon. After that's done, I'll finish proofreading Jaka's Story.

And, to further clarify, all proofreading corrections are subject to Dave's final approval before they are made on the remastered pages.

Jeff Seiler said...

Stay tuned for a post or posts, soon, which will give examples of the types of proofreading I do, as well as the types of fixes that will have to (or, may or may not) be done.