Thursday 18 April 2013

Cerebus Vol 2: High Society - Remastered

Cerebus Vol 2 (Cover Detail)
11th Printing, Remastered Edition (May 2013)
Also available as Digital Download
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Notes on the 11th Printing Of Cerebus Vol 2, 18 March 2013)
There were times when it seemed as if this book would never be completed. Starting last summer, Sandeep Atwal was scanning all of the original pages from HIGH SOCIETY still in the Cerebus Archive (182 of the 500) as well as using my brand new photo-negative scanner to scan the original negatives which needed to be cut apart from the "flats" they were on (8 pages per flat: that's how web-offset printing was/is done). With Kickstarter providing much-needed revenue for an audio-digital version of HIGH SOCIETY ($63K largely eaten up with expenses but paying Sandeep for a period of time to do scanning), (scanning so that he thought his brain would melt and turn to cream cheese -- pretty much the way I felt annotating all the material and performing it into a microphone, as well as spending 12 hours a day signing comic books and doing sketches).

I finally overcame what I had come to see as my paranoia about letting irreplaceable material off-site or out of secure off-site storage. "Dave, seriously, what do you think is going to happen to them a few miles down the road in Waterloo?"

On August 23rd, just after I had delivered the last of the negatives to Sandeep, I got my answer. Turns out the question wasn't rhetorical. In late afternoon, the building his apartment was in burned to the ground. He was able to get out with just his wallet and the clothes on his back. He's still just sleeping on a friend's couch and looking for work in a city where layoffs are the order of the day. We're going to do further benefit auctions for him (and thanks to all who donated on the first round!) when he has a job and a place to live, so stay tuned.

Into the breach stepped George Peter Gatsis who is known for his restoration abilities on comic art  that needs to be shot from printed copies and extent materials. Which he has been doing -- tirelessly and for no pay -- since last August. Just for the record: there are 504 comic pages in total, 182 pages of original art in the Cerebus Archive which could be and were scanned, 200 negatives (issues 41 to 50 ) were destroyed in the fire before they could be scanned, and 130 pages needed to be recreated from scratch from the best possible printed copies of the books, the Dave Sim File Copies: 20 of each, I had bagged, boarded and stored as each was printed, starting with No.1 in 1977.

Just a partial list of what George has accomplished:
  • All of the lettered text on page 18 has been cleaned up, more clarity in the dark areas in the 1st, 4th and 5th panels (particularly the 5th panel) has been clarified by meticulous tweaking. Oh and now missing for 30 years, Cerebus’ 30 per cent dot screen is placed on his leg in panel 1.
  • More detail in the tones has been recreated on pages 26, 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 37.
  • On page 39 there is new cropping on the black border and the page number has been installed in white in the black border.
  • The page 49 title has been cleaned up.
  • All of the pages in MIND GAME II (originally issue 28: pages 49 to 68 of this book) have been extensively worked over to have the light and dark fleck tones I used on the backgrounds cleaned up and enhanced for greater detail and clarity.
  • Page 57 is also notable for the clean-up and clarity in the dark tones.
  • Page 70: in the third panel there is significantly greater clarity and definition in the floor.
  • Page 76 and 89: more detail in the tones in all of the panels.
  • Page 104: Finally has a 30% gray tone on Cerebus  in panel 4, which has been missing from the day it was first published in the early 1980s!
  • Page 109: more detail in the tones.
  • Page 110: a significant improvement in the clarity in the cross-hatched pen work on the Roach's forehead in panel 4.
  • Page 129: improved clarity in the "Alliance" title lettering.
  • Page 149: more detail in the tones.
  • Page 158: the border pattern in bottom right under Cerebus' "WIPE THAT GRIN..." balloon has been cleaned up.
  • Page 173: - Although I tried to keep everything to reconstruction without defacing the original material by re-drawing it (I don't...and can' or letter the way I did thirty years ago, so doing so seems, at least technically, like defacement), I actually re-lettered the "SLAM" sound effect since it was filling in because of my original inking. And it seemed like a purely technical correction. But I'm still not sure I haven't defaced the page.
  • Pages 254, 255, 258 and 259 - the typed page insets have been cleaned up.
  • Pages 270 to 288 - more detail brought out in the dark tones.
  • Page 302 - more detail in the fine lines.
  • Page 309 to 312 - the "Goat" story logo has been cleaned up, the horizontal lines and type repositioned to be consistent. The artwork has been registered to bleed correctly and match up with its facing page.
  • Pages 313 and up - all the panel borders, thick line and double line (thick AND thin) have been cleaned up and closed where they were broken.
  • Page 346 - panels 7 and 11 now have Cerebus' (again, missing for 30 years) 30 per cent dot screen.
  • Pages 493 to 495 - the "ECHO" display lettering has more detail and definition.
At this point, we thought we were done when George supplied me with the following list of pages, indicating which pages were rescanned from the original comic books (the Dave Sim file copies) and which pages had been scanned from the original artwork in the Cerebus Archive.

I noticed, a couple of weeks later, that the earliest art page to be scanned was from issue 41. What had happened to the scans from issues 26 through 40 (of which there are roughly 60 pages in the Cerebus Archive)? There's no real answer to that, so at the 11th hour it was necessary to dig those pages out of off-site storage again and have them scanned, again, at 600 dpi. At the same time, George noticed that there were small hairline scratches on many of the pages scanned for volume 1. George re-inspected volume 1, fixing the problem in the films and incorporated the last 60 pages into volume 2.

The job isn't done and -- even as we let this latest/best-possible-under-the-circumstances printing go ahead -- I'll call your attention to the fact that the only original art scanned for this edition that was NOT from the Cerebus Archive are the pages that were supplied by Brian Stockton, page 20 of issue 41 and Daniel, Daniel Parker, King of the Wild Frontier, page 3 of issue 46. Thank you, Brian and Dan! I'm hoping everyone will "pitch in" and help track down as many of the pages that are out there that haven't been scanned and get them scanned for us. In many cases, this involves "de-framing" the page, getting it scanned and then re-framing it. Having had the experience of doing that with Gerhard's cover of the Regency Hotel, I have to say that the cost is really quite reasonable: $16 to have it de-framed and re-framed, and it is a large two foot by three foot piece. If you want help financing your own de-framing and scanning and re-framing, please mention it when you (hopefully) contact George with your "Cerebus Page In the Wild".

Send scans - one at a time, please - scanned at 600 dpi, RGB - to George Gasis at: tbdeinc [at] gmail [dot] com

I've also acquiesced to the universal preference for white paper instead of newsprint (so far as I know Chester Brown and I are the only two people who prefer comics on newsprint to comics on white paper). While it's not how I pictured/picture or prefer the artwork to be, sometimes you how to bow before the universal consensus. It should certainly help with some of the recreated detail and the detail laser scanned for the first time from the original negatives and artwork.

Also, if you happen to be on the internet, drop by for a visit at

Thanks to everyone for their patience and help through this very trying experience, the longest period of time that HIGH SOCIETY has been out of print since the late 1980's.

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