Sunday, 27 October 2013

Weekly Update #2: "Cerebus" & "High Society" Reprinting

Previously on 'A Moment Of Cerebus':
Dave Sim, working with George Peter Gatsis, has remastered the first two collected volumes of Cerebus to restore details and quality in the artwork lost over the thirty years since they were originally published (as detailed here and here). After Cerebus' original printer Preney Print closed its doors, Dave Sim moved his printing to Lebonfon in 2007 as at that time they were still capable of working with photographic negatives and making printing plates as Preney had done. And then Lebonfon switched to digital scanning and printing - a technology which struggles to faithfully reproduce Cerebus' tone without creating moire patterns (as detailed in Crisis On Infinite Pixels). Dave Sim continues to work with Lebonfon to ensure the print-quality of the new Cerebus and High Society editions (as detailed in Collections Stalled). Now read on...

(by fax, 25 October 2013)
Progress: George and I are in receipt of SHERPA 1440 dpi scan, XEROX 2400 dpi scan, Lebonfon 600 dpi which we have compared to George's 600 dpi print-out from Kinko's. The darkness in the last panel (the test page is page 12 of the CEREBUS volume) which has persisted through two rounds of proofs and the unbound printed copy (where it was much worse) is now within a more livable range. The XEROX 2400 dpi print-out is the best in my estimation.

George has inquired about the cost -- if any -- of the different versions and I've asked if we can just limit 2400 dpi scanning to "problem" pages like CEREBUS pg. 12 and to have that as part of the overall quote. We're waiting to hear back.

Tim: I'm asking George to email you the last panel on page 12 -- the 2400 dpi and the "unbound" printed version:

Thank you for your questions. The problem is the SEVERITY of the moire pattern which is -- and has been -- livable on the proofs we've received. Livable in that I don't think the average reader would notice it. The 111 pages, once printed but before binding, the moires were more pronounced so the average reader would notice them. The 35 of the 111 were the most noticeable. What we're hoping is that a combination of more accurate proofs -- the 2400 dpi XEROX -- and George "tweaking" the 35 based on the printed version and Lebonfon "baby-sitting" those 35 pages in particular will bring us as close to top quality as we can get in the Computer Age of Printing.



Tony Dunlop said...

For what it's worth, from a non-artist fan's point of view, I see little if any difference in the two versions of the panel presented here.
However, one thing I don't think I noticed before is just how Ditkoesque the two figures in the background are!

Michael Grabowski said...

Meanwhile the scan of the fax of the letterhead looks like complete garbage. 8-)

There's a digital download of Cerebus Vol. 1 available, right? What does that p.12 panel look like, for comparison's sake?

Anonymous said...

I agree, I don't see much difference in quality between the two images. For whatever reason, the dot patterns on both are not easy on the eyes. Maybe because when the dots are larger and more clearly discernible it looks worse?

-Reginald P

David Birdsong said...

As an artist and someone that has worked in the printing field I see a tremendous difference between the two panels. The top panel is poorly printed and would be entirely unacceptable to me if offered as a proof. It looks more like a photocopy than a printed page. The bottom panel is about as black as black gets and white as white gets. The problem with the dot pattern is that when scanned at too low a resolution they tend to lose detail and fatten up. The higher scan quality does bring each dot into more focus, but it also reveals a little too much. The tone he was using probably looks fine on the original art, but any reproduction is going to cause the dots to differ in how they appear. It goes back to what Dave has said before about the problem with reproducing tiny round dots digitally because they are now made up of square pixels. The dots aren't round anymore and they start to become hard on the eyes in a similar way over compressed music gets hard on the ears.

I have applied tone patterns in some of my art using a computer and it looks really wonderful that way and saves a lot of time that would be spent cutting the individual pieces. I don't think Dave wants to do that to these pages (and I doubt he could afford to pay anyone to do it). Short of that I think the bottom panel is about as good as it is going to get with modern technology.

I do have the digital version of the first book and it looks wonderful. In that version of this panel the dot pattern on Cerebus is darker and the dots appear closer together so the 2400 dpi example is the best one I've seen. There are no guarantees that it will look like that when printed so it's still unknown exactly how good it will look. I can say that looking at my 6th edition printing of the first phone book and my first printing of Swords Of Cerebus Volume 1 reveals that the new version is probably going to be better than even the original comics.

Anonymous said...

Just to reiterate, both look bad. Both look blotchy. If it were me, I wouldn't accept either one.

Maybe it's impossible to judge from looking at a computer screen.

I can only judge in comparison to my print copies. When I look at these dot patterns compared to my print copy of High Society, there is no comparison.

Preney did a beautiful job back in the day. Hopefully the new editions can equal it.

-Reginald P.

David Birdsong said...

Well, Reginald, there is nothing but blotchy in the first handful of Cerebus issues. I think you can chalk that up to the artist. He did get better.