Tuesday, 14 March 2017

On Sale 25 Years Ago: Cerebus #156

Cerebus #156 (March 1992)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

Diamond Order Code: OCT140536

12 comments:

Margaret said...

This was the first issue with one of my letters printed. . .25 years ago you say? Wow.

Dave Sim said...

Hi Margaret! Thanks for the postcards from "The Regency" (coming up on the Weekly Update this Friday, God willing).

Yes, 25 years. The thing is, it goes faster and faster so it will be 2042 before you know it.

Jeff Seiler said...

Boy, howdy, does tempis fugit! My first printed letter in Aardvark Comment was in 1998, IIRC.

Jim Sheridan said...

I'll go Waaaaayyy off topic because I'm snowed in and middle-aged. I just read "Tomb of Dracula" Essentials Vol 3, a Marvel reprint tome called a "coloring book" because it is a b & w reproduction on pulp paper. Not too far off in size and basic appearance from a Cerebus "phone book," but of course Cerebus was MEANT to be b & w, so it looks better.

Well, quite frankly, IMO, Cerebus is better written and drawn than just about anything out there. 1970s Marvel plotting can be pretty iffy and the prose rather purple.


However, that Gene Colan art translates INCREDIBLY well to b & w. What a master. What a distinctive stylist.

This has nothing to do with Cerebus other than that it is such a joy to spend a full day immersed in a lovely phonebook.

Michael Grabowski said...

Jim, I would love to see what Sean could do to those Marvel Essentials books (and DC's showcases). They look like utter crap as it is. If one is hoping to appreciate the line art of classic Marvel artists they won't get it there.

Of course A-V's own pre-Sean reprints weren't much better, but Marvel has much more money to pour into reprinting their work the right way and it's a shame that they don't.

Jeff Seiler said...

Yes, Jim & Mike, you are absolutely correct. The Marvel Essentials are pure D crap. They should be sued by the original artists.

Having said that, I cannot recommend highly enough the Marvel Omnibus of Master Of Kung Fu, Volume III, wherein they reprint the beginning of Gene Day's brilliant run that would be his apotheosis.

Jim Sheridan said...

How is the quality of the reproduction on that? Not every expensive hardcover book has done a good job with reproduction quality - some of the Nexus books had some rough pages.

Dave Sim said...

Jim Sheridan, hi! It depends on what you're used to. I stopped buying TOMB OF DRACULA on a regular basis around the time that Harry Kremer at Now & Then Books bought a couple of original pages from one of the issues and I could actually see what Tom Palmer's inking looked like and compare it to the printed pages that I had.

Years later, I definitely picked up one of the "mid-run" TOD Essentials for that reason: however bad the repro because it was in b&w it was going to be much closer to the actual art than anything I had seen to that point (don't get me started on the Masterworks computer colour atrocities).

But -- Reality Check! -- Marvel isn't doing the ESSENTIALS volumes to provide me (and other artists) and fans who know the difference with accurate reproduction. They're doing ESSENTIALS because they can just pump them out with whatever stats and negs they've got lying around and use it to fatten up the bottom line for that quarter. At the volume they're working at, the cost per unit is negligible. Arguably, from a business standpoint, that makes sense. The audience for 100% accurate Tom Palmer inking reproduction is too small to pump any amount of money into it.

Sometime in the future, when Sean's book on how to reproduce b&w artwork is widely disseminated, the business equation is still going to be the same. Marvel will "sit still" for any "gang digital manipulation" in the bag of tricks -- so they can put REMASTERED on the cover -- but actually seeking out original pages and tweaking specific elements? I'm not seeing it.

Dave Sim said...

Sean - Which I think argues in favour of you doing a TWO-TIER approach to REMASTERING comic art:

Tier 1: Here's what you can do en masse if your business model doesn't allow for expensive pre-press and
Tier 2: Here's everything that you can do to get the best reproduction possible

Jim Sheridan said...

Well, I apologize if I'm throwing things a bit off topic, but I will say this: I lucked out in getting that Essentials Vol 3 Tomb of Dracula for 10 bucks. The first 2 volumes cannot be had for under 30 bucks, and sometimes economics are a huge factor in what I get to read. Even fuzzy Colan is good Colan, and as far as those Essentials go, as Marvel is reproducing color comic pages in B & W with no apparent love, Colan's art holds up better than most other stuff in the Essentials series does. Poor Dave Cockrum.

Dave, was your point about seeing the original art the idea that the reproduction of Palmer's inks didn't do them justice, or that Palmer's inks didn't do Colan's art justice? I'm assuming the former.

I'll offer some serious ignorance on my part about inkers here. What makes someone decide to be an inker rather than a penciller? Is it that a person is better with a brush than a pencil, basically?

I realize there may be other factors, such as speed.

From what I understand, the inking process is essential when comics are in color because pencils are too fine to stand up to color; they need the clarity of inking. Is it strictly ( or mainly) deadlines that would lead a penciller to have someone else ink his pencils?

I remember being very disappointed as a teenaged X-Men fan who thought that the late 1970s John Byrne / Terry Austin combo was the best, but when Byrne started inking himself with the Fantastic Four, I thought it was blotchy, lacking the smoothness and clarity that Terry Austin seemed to bring to everything (and Austin inked some greats back then: Michael Golden, Marshall Rogers). It was a harsh switch. So I came to wonder, whose magic touch had I really been seeing: the penciller's, or the inker's?

(Maybe I would see the Byrne self-inked stuff differently now. Back then, I loved George Perez, Jim Starlin, and John Byrne, as they all had a smoothness that knocked me out in ways that made me feel that what Kirby or Gil Kane were doing in the 1970s not seem as sharp. I've really come to love Kirby, and appreciate Gil Kane. In recent years, I have even seen some original Kirby art and could not believe the detail I was seeing. What did he make of that details' disappearance under inks and color?!)

ANYWAY....off the top of my head, I think some of the great P Craig Russell B & W stuff I have seen has been un-inked (Night Music?), and it was remarkable in its feathery detail. With some of his color stuff, was it that he didn't necessarily aim for such detail? Or did the inks and color wipe that feathery goodness out?

It is stating the obvious that a penciller takes a great chance in placing his art in the hands of an inker. I know there are inkers who have historically bad reputations as people who have obscured or overpowered the pencillers that they inked. I wonder how artists felt when their work was seen to have been IMPROVED by a Terry Austin.

I'm rambling about a topic that most people here have probably already considered at length. Apologies. I should (and will) just google this topic to consider what has already been said about it. However, I'm open to any insights on the topic here. Dave, have you been inked by other artists much?

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

For me, the best looking Cerebus (pre-Gerhard) was the "What Happened Between Issues Twenty & Twenty-One" Swords short story that was inked by Gene Day. It was still recognisably 'Dave Sim' art, but it had such a slick quality too it that hadn't been there before.

Anonymous said...

Jim, I think Dave's point was less about Palmer vs. Colan, and more about Marvel's printing quality as compared to the quality of the art itself, Colan/Palmer being way up there as artists/duos in the early-mid 70s.

Which is also at least one of the reasons inkers were so important. My father once explained it as "if a line doesn't get inked, it doesn't get printed." There might have been precedents somewhere, but the first time I'm aware of that this was really averted was in "Sandman"s 'The Wake' storyline, where Neil Gaiman managed to convince Karen Berger and everybody else up the chain to let Michael Zulli's pencils be colored and printed. I think they even did several test pages just to prove it could be done.

With John Byrne, I genuinely prefer him inking himself. It looks rougher than when inked by Austin, but what doesn't? I think Byrne tends towards minimalism in his art when he can, and since he was generally writing and pencilling what he inked, he made the best use of his time. If it's just a few head shots to deliver exposition, there's no point in drawing a background, that sort of thing. Byrne has pointed out that Austin was the one filling so much intricate detail anyway.

ChrisW