Sean Michael Robinson:
First off, a hearty thank-you to all the contributors to Cerebus Archive Number Five, which ended this weekend. If you haven't had a chance yet, take a look at Dave's posts from Friday for some thought-provoking discussion on how the archive project is evolving, and give some input, if you have the time!
Some good news — Going Home is currently on the schedule at Marquis, the files have been delivered, and it will most likely be shipping a little over two weeks from now, assuming there are no more bumps in the road. For those keeping track, this book has the highest percentage of original artwork of any book that's been restored so far, with about ten percent of the book sourced from photo negatives and only two pages total restored from print copies. I'm thrilled with the result and am eagerly awaiting delivery of my comp copies of the book...
For this week's post, I thought it might be interesting (or, more likely, useful) to take a look at some of the minutia that surround book publication, all of the tiny details that need to be attended to before sending a book out to the printer.
To the left you'll see a raw scan of my fourth-printing copy of Going Home, circa 2004.
I'd say there are two basic approaches to putting together a design for which you no longer have original files or negatives to work with. One is essentially reconstruction, using the original design as a template and recreating the image from available sources. The second type is restoration, using only print images to make a workable file.
In the case of the Reads cover, I had every element that Dave and Gerhard had sent to the printer to construct the cover originally, every drawing, every photograph, every scrap-paper mockup with detailed instructions on the side, blue-line pencil indicating shading areas and percentage value and even screen numbers (lines per inch).
With Going Home I have almost none of that. Just my print copy of the book, a scan of the hand-drawn logo for the front cover, a print copy of the first issue of Going Home which features the same image in a different cropping, and a scan of a match print of the cover of the book, sans spine info.
The cover is based on a blowup of a slide by Gerhard taken "from my driveway at 'Camp Woolner', located out past Chicopee Ski Hill in Kitchener." Unfortunately, the original slide is MIA, so I had to restore the main image from a print copy (a detailed how-to post about that here).
But, that still leaves an awful lot of elements missing. Hence the scan to the left.
For a variety of reasons, I'll be better off finding matching fonts and redoing the rest of the cover text in my design program of choice. So how to find the fonts?
There are a few "free" services out there that will match fonts for you, or give you a list of likely subjects, based on uploaded images. And that's what I did here, using my favorite font service, Font Squirrel Matcherator. Upload the images, and in a few seconds you'll see a list of fonts with similar characteristics, along with download links.
I used the scare quotes around "free" above because the service actually runs on referrals, taking a cut of linked font sales. In this case, though, once I had the identity of the font family, I was able to find a free and functional version of the font in question. Belwe Roman, designed by German typographer Georg Belwe way back in 1907 and thus firmly in the public domain.
(Want to make a Cerebus mockup of your own? Belwe Bold, 33 pt for the title and 14 pt for the author's names.)
As for the design element at the bottom of the page, George Gatsis had previously reworked this box from scratch, but I would need a new numeral. Another Font Squirrel search netted me the name of the second font family — Bodoni, once again, a historic face in the public domain. I found a workable free version (Libre Bodoni, appropriately) and matched the numeral at 22 pt.
Once I had my font information, it was time to drop it all in the layout program. Marquis' prepress department send me a mockup of the cover with the appropriate measurements, which I used to make a new Indesign document. I then dropped the flattened, restored image in, pulled down some blue-line guides to keep the text aligned, and then added all of the text elements. It took a bit to match the color of the logo and other text to my two print samples, but I finally settled on C0 M10 Y40 K0, or ten percent magenta and 40 percent yellow.
And here's where that brings us —
Now all we're missing is the dreaded barcode!
ISBNs and barcodes are really, really large and really, really, boring topics. So rather than diving all the way into it here, let me just point out a few resources to you —
BookOW has a free barcode generator that packs in a lot more options than most. You can also manipulate and edit your barcode afterwards using your favorite image editor of choice, as long as you flatten it to a one-bit bitmap afterwards so it isn't halftoned when it's printed. There are also a lot of esoteric rules governing size of the barcode itself, specifically, its vertical height. You are of course welcome to memorize these — or, hey, you could borrow on the expertise of others by finding books with barcodes that you find unobtrusive and taking some measurements from those.
Publishing a book that will be sold in a modern retail environment? Then you'll need an ISBN, which you can get here. In the case of Going Home, though, all I needed was ISBNsearch.org, and the new price of the book, which will also be included in the extended barcode.
And that, friends, is how it's done.
Of course, I'm missing the part where you agonize for half an hour, moving it back and forth and wondering how you'll ever find the perfect spot, what part of your glorious artwork will be covered by this abomination...
I only had to worry about this once, though. I sent Dave a fax of the High Society cover, with a potential placement and a host of other options. Should I put it up in the sky where there's white space? A little higher so it's aligned with the stairs? Back came the reply. "It's just covering some crosshatched stairs. There's more on the front." Or something to that effect.
Oh, right. This big ugly machine thing is on everything. It's ubiquitous. No one notices it anyway unless it's pointed out to them.
That's what I tell myself at night...
By the way, anyone notice anything about the two cover fonts, Belwe and Bodoni? Do the names give you any insight how they might ave been selected?
(Find any of this useful? Interesting? Let me know in the comments...)