Sean Michael Robinson:
This is turning out to be another busy week over in San Diego, as I jump from one task to another. Last week I finished prepping the Cerebus In Hell? raw materials, and today it's a Previews ad for CAN5, and then on to Cerebus In Hell? #1 and finishing my essay for Cerebus Volume One in order to put that volume to bed. Then I can start into the adjustments and actions stage of Jaka's Story...
But first, a reminder! Yesterday afternoon I received my copies of Going Home from Marquis. I both dread and anticipate this moment every time it happens, the moment when I knife open the box of books and see the finished result for the first time. Has something gone horribly wrong? Is an otherwise perfect book marred by some strange production flaw? Worse, is it MY FAULT? Or are the digital elves to blame??! Rising panic...
And thankfully, the anticipation was the worst part. Going Home looks great, the best book so far, in fact, by a long shot.
Due to the exacting restoration and prepress processes, and due to the phenomenal web-offset printing by Marquis, there is a shocking amount of detail present on every page that was never present in printed form before. I've written about Going Home before as a design-heavy book, and while I maintain that stance, flipping through it now the impression that I get is all of the incredibly nuanced facial expressions, rendered in the tiniest pen lines I've seen in print, the smallest Hunts 102 crow-quill lines, tapered to infinity, then shrunk perfectly to the smaller format of the book. It's really something. Same with all of the densest areas of hatching and tone, areas that previously filled to black, now open and filled instead with that detail. And the rich textural variation is also rendered now with the same detail, and the same weights, that it was originally drawn.
More than anything, looking over the book makes me eager to get to Jaka's Story. As soon as the other items are cleared from the docket!
Here are a few side-by-side comparisons, with the usual caveats that this is more dramatic and clearer in print (hence usually presenting closeups in these updates)
The early half of the book, Sudden Moves, features a lot of this technique, Dave scratching into the inked surface of the art board with a craft knife. It's a nice texture all by itself, featured on some of the cobwebs here, on Jaka's hair in dramatically lit scenes, and a few other places as well. White on black in general is more susceptible to fill-in, as most white on black techniques, excepting actual scratch board on an inked clay surface, present a little less contrast than really black ink on white. Less contrast generally means less definition, which means more line breakup in photography. Additionally, fine white lines are more susceptible to dot gain, as the ink is welling in on all sides.
I always though this was a striking sequence full of boldly composed images. But until examining scans of the original artwork, I never noticed the presents of the "voids" on each page, some more subtle than others. This one in particular almost disappears in the original printings, because the light density of the star area is made up mainly of small white dots, very susceptible to dot gain.
And that's it for me this week! I'm looking forward to hearing your comments on the book once the orders start coming in. Just ask your local comics retailer for STAR10981 to get your fully-restored Going Home!