Saturday 31 May 2014

Kickstarted! Cerebus Archive Number One!

(from the Kickstarter Q&A, 31 May 2014)
How much has fan support exceeded expectations on this Kickstarter? WILDLY!! I mean, it isn't on a scale with STAR TREK fans bringing the television show back from the dead and getting a movie made. But in its own way, it's all the more impressive. 272 people paying down The Lebonfon Printing Debt in one go (assuming that we don't run across any hidden expenses that eat up the whole $32,500 -- that's not something that we're going to know until we walk through it). I mean, it really was -- and IS -- a matter of "I've taken CEREBUS about as far as I can go. I'll KEEP going -- but now it's up to the fans to establish how FAST and how FAR we can move ahead." 

Pretty fast and pretty far, as it turns out. :)

Adrian Duma -- Alan Stephen -- Alister Blake -- Andreas Kraft -- Andrew Bartel -- Andrew Boscardin -- Andrew Holt -- Andrew Lariviere -- Andrew Lohmann -- Andrew Wilson -- Andy Davies -- Angela Chng -- Anne Jones -- Anthony Edwards -- Anthony Houge Dunlop -- Anwar Ganama -- Ari Koivuniemi -- B -- Bagoombah -- Beanbag Amerika -- Beaudette Tristan -- Ben Le Foe -- Bill Kraut -- Bill Ritter -- B'jamin da Bass -- Bob Bretall -- Bob Chapman -- Børre -- Brett J. Brucklacher -- Brian Eckfeld -- Brian J. McCall -- BrianDenham -- Brooke Devine -- Cameron Davis -- Car50n -- Carl Hommel -- Cerdic Grimbly -- Charles Armstrong -- Charles Nilsen -- Charles Rowles -- Chris Allingham -- Chris Mannes -- Chris McClelland -- Christopher Day -- Colin M. Strickland -- Collector's Shangri-La -- CON -- Cory Foster -- Craig Gunderstorm -- Curt Rissmiller -- Dagon James -- Damin J. Toell -- Dan Schmidt -- Daniel Callahan -- Daniel Elvén -- Daniel Preece -- Daniel Theodore -- Daniel W. Cisek -- Daryl Davis -- Das -- David Banks -- David Birdsong -- David Blumer -- David Gray -- David Lamontagne -- David Marsh -- David Rankin -- David Shaw -- Dean Edney -- Dean Reeves -- Docmac -- Dominick Grace -- Don Alsafi -- Don Koch -- Don Smith -- Doug Bissell -- Drew Woodworth -- Dustin Cissell -- E G -- Ed Boyle -- Ed Wilson -- Eddie -- Eric Berry -- Eric Fennessey -- Erik van Oosten -- Florian Schiffmann -- Frankie -- Frankie Ramirez -- Future Pastimes -- Gabriel McCann -- Gary DeWulf -- Gary Dunaier -- George Peter Gatsis -- Gestalt Comics -- Giorgio Soldi -- Glen -- Gordon Burnett -- Greg Kessler -- Greg Rosa -- Gregory Benton -- Halhan -- Iain Ross -- Isobel -- Jack Kusler -- Jacqui Mercado -- Jake A. Capps -- James Coniglio -- James Moore -- Jamie Tanner -- Jan Elvsén -- Jarret Cooper -- Jason Boyd -- Jason Dougherty -- Jason Ford -- Jason Lempka -- Jason Penney -- Jason Sacks -- Jason Sperber -- Jason Trimmer -- Jay Perry -- J Cork -- Jeff Boison -- Jeff Constable -- Jeff Seiler -- Jeffrey Flam -- Jeffrey Grill -- Jeramy B Lamanno -- Jesse Lee Herndon -- Jesse Nelson -- Joe Field -- Joe Gutierrez -- Joel DiGiacomo -- John Boreczky -- John Brainard -- John Carmine -- John Dalzell -- John Long -- John Mosher -- John Osmon -- John Simms -- John Tinkess -- John Waclawski -- John Young -- Jon Hill -- Jonas -- Jonathan Hamlow -- Jonathan Rutledge -- Jonathan White -- Jose de Leon -- Joshua Leto -- JR Riley -- Julian Orr -- Kai Ylijoki -- Keith Callbeck -- Keith Young -- Kendall Swafford -- Kent Kowalski -- Kevin Kairys -- Kevin P. -- KevinR -- Kimmo Puhakka -- Kirk Spencer -- L Jamal Walton -- Larry Wooten -- Lee Thacker -- Leonard Wong -- Linda Stevens -- Linkmachinego -- Lorraine Capps -- Lou Valenti -- Luc de Chancenotte -- Luke Crane -- Lunaro -- Marc Laming -- Marc Lynch -- Marco Giuntoni -- Margaret Liss -- Marioeverardo -- Marios Poulimenos -- Mark Byzewski -- Mark Kadas -- Martin Waterman -- Marty Trengove -- Matt Daniel -- Matt Dow -- Matthew Barber -- Matthew Cettei -- Matthew Edwards -- Matthew Price -- Matthias Kraft -- Menachem Luchins -- Michael J McIntyre -- Michael Lucas -- Michael Polo -- Michael R Romano -- Michael Ragiel -- Miguel Corti -- Miguel Ruiz -- Mike Hunt -- Mike Kitchen -- Mike Lee -- Mike Losso -- Mike Ortiz -- Mint City Comics -- Morten S. Eriksen -- Murray Roach -- Nathan Cubitt -- Nathaniel Oberstein -- Neil Campbell -- Nick Hines -- Nick Pendleton -- Night Flight Comics -- Nolan -- Norman Jaffe -- Olav Beemer -- Palac -- Patrick Hess -- Patrick Taylor -- Paul Powers -- Paul Ripley -- Peter Stein -- Phill Warren -- Pyroflam -- Rafer Roberts -- Ragged Claws Network -- Rajesh Shah -- Randy Wood -- Richard Meehan -- Rob Barnes -- Robbie Foggo -- Robert H Lambert -- Robert Mino -- Roberto Accinelli -- Robin Farley -- Rostow -- Russel Dalenberg -- Samuel Fiddian -- Scott Kruse -- Scott Lazerus -- Scott Yoshinaga -- Sean Canning -- Sebastien Roy -- Shaun -- Shaun Pryszlak -- Shiri Rokshin -- Sigrid Smitt-Jeppesen -- Sordel -- Stephen -- Stephen Dennis -- Steve Harold -- Stuart Martin -- Taylor Ramsey -- Terry Stewart -- The Amazombie -- Thiery Adam -- Thuy Nguyen -- Tieg Zaharia -- Tim Burdick -- Tim Hall -- Tim Klassen -- Tim McEwen -- Tim Phillips -- Tim W -- Tobias Glister -- Tom Bither -- Tom Palmer Jr -- Tony Solomun -- Travis Pelkie -- Trevor Towers -- Troy Thompson -- Truls Arnegaard -- Utter Fool -- Vitas Povilaitis -- Warsaw Wolf -- Wayne Welgush -- Xavier Hugonet -- Zane Zielinski 

Source: Kicktraq
(Click image to enlarge)

Friday 30 May 2014

Dave Sim's Kickstarter: Ends Today!

Limited Edition Sets Of 10 Signed Prints
Plus Headsketches, Bookplates, Birthdaycards, Off-Whitehouse Tours
Don't Miss Out!

Weekly Update #33: Square One

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 his search for a workable solution to this problem, which is delaying the reprinting of the Cerebus and High Society collections (as detailed in Collections Stalled). Now read on...
Cerebus #112/113 (July/August 1988)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard

This week I'm going to be replying to Sean Robinson's post from last Friday with my reasons that I'd like him to do a close assessment of an unbound copy of the CEREBUS trade which (God willing) Lebonfon has already sent him.

Hi Sean!

Thanks for your posting last week.  As is usually the case with me, it requires actually getting back to or close to "Square One" -- in this case potentially having all or most of the money, thanks to the AMAZING generosity of the Kickstarter pledge partners --  for me to start thinking coherently about where, exactly, Square One is.

In this case, that seemed to me to be:  okay, how good or bad is the CEREBUS volume (volume one) as it stands right now? And it seemed to me that you were potentially a very good judge of that because you're such a big fan of my work (and thank you for that!) and you have quite a bit of experience in reproduction in 2014 both in your "day job" and with babysitting your own comics projects -- with LOTS of tiny little lines -- for 100% accurate reproduction.

In short, you should have been sent an unbound copy of CEREBUS some time ago.

Lebonfon, based on my own assessment of a year ago, makes the point that there are far fewer pages that need to be corrected on the CEREBUS volume than on the HIGH SOCIETY volume.

So, one of the things that I'd like to hear from you is:  do you think that's the case?  Looking at the book as a fan of the cartooning on CEREBUS, as a fellow artist and someone already familiar with the book: as a fan of CEREBUS itself.

I'm recommending a head-to-head comparison, going page by page with your own copy of the CEREBUS trade or with CEREBUS back issues or both.
Cerebus Vol 1, Page 205
Before & After
There's a lot of heavy lifting that George Gatsis has already done.  I was just checking again the tops of pages 205-206 (originally in issue 9, the sword fight between Cerebus and K'Cor) which had been in need of restoration since...issue 9 came out if I'm not mistaken. The line work is still missing on most of the backgrounds (it would be GREAT if those pages ever came onto the market!) but George has carefully cloned CEREBUS lettering and replaced pretty much every word. That isn't something that just happens on its own.
Cerebus Vol 1, Page 206
Before & After
You've remarked yourself on the amount of clean-up that George has done, including replacing the banners on all of the splash pages and sharpening the corners.

So, obviously, we want to retain all of that.

(and it also needs to be said that George and I have both "written off" the entire issue #12 that I did in duo-shade. It's as good -- which is to say terrible -- as it's ever going to be. I have thought of completely redrawing it, but I don't draw that way now and haven't for over 30 years, so it would be a matter of making something really bad into something even worse or as bad in a different way).  

But there ARE other questions:

For example, we are coming down to crunch time on culpability:  where there are flaws are they, in your view, George's fault or Lebonfon's fault primarily? i.e. how bad is the printing job itself? You've already said that you think, from your experience with pre-press, that Lebonfon should have contacted me when they saw the digital files and alerted to me as to what the printing was apt to look like. Which was very helpful to the guy (me) who has to make these judgement calls about culpability without expertise in digital pre-press.

Or is the job that bad at all? This is where I need another set of eyes that aren't those of the guy that drew them and which are as familiar (if not more familiar) with the original artwork than with the reproduced form of the work. Which stands to reason.  I spent the better part of a day or two looking at the original artwork while creating it while I probably spent less time with the printed copy than the average reader!

The printing on the CEREBUS trade will soon be paid for.  Which means whatever you think is USABLE of the PRINTED signatures -- which is what you will be looking at in the unbound printed copy, is something we won't have to pay for on the second round. I'd prefer that you not refer back to my own list of "parfait" signatures, but do your own assessment, as I say, head-to-head.

I mean, even being as brutal as you can be about what's there on the printed page, if even ONE signature is viable and (another question) if you think Lebonfon is viable as a printer, then that's one signature that we won't have to pay for on the next around (assuming that we ARE sticking with Lebonfon: which hasn't been established).

Be as specific as you can be.  It'll make for a LONG post, I know, but that way I can do screen captures and then go through my own unbound copy (and George can go through his) checking what it is that you're talking about.  And then we can offer our own agree/disagree assessments on each item.

What I'm trying to avoid is just forging ahead and incurring another $10,000 printing bill -- or most of another $10,000 printing bill (if we stick with Lebonfon).

I go on the basis of "what sticks with me" reading people's comments.  One of the things that has stuck with me from your recent comments was the results of scanning pages from the printed books at 2400 dpi -- that the line work was breaking up at 600 dpi and 1200 dpi but that at 2400 dpi they looked like enlargements from the books themselves.  Which sounded good to me  :).

Which leads me to ask: are we over-thinking this?  In terms of simplicity and guaranteed results are we better just scanning the printed books at 2400 dpi and -- anywhere that there's a visible flaw in the printed page -- then retreating to negatives or the original artwork (where possible)?

As you've also said, Who is going to notice the kind of flaws that we're talking about besides you, me, George and maybe a handful of other people?  And that's definitely part of the call I'm asking you to make.

But -- let me put it this way -- as a VERY fine-line pen and ink artist, you're aware of the experience of looking at someone else's reproduced work for inspiration.  And, I'm sure, you're also aware that that tends to be a "where the rubber hits the road moment" when you start looking closely and realize that you can use THIS reproduction in THIS book to see what's actually going on.  Whereas THAT reproduction in THAT book just isn't clear enough to do that kind of assessment or derive that kind of assessment. "I thought I could use this when I saw it in the bookstore but that was just wishful thinking."  I had that experience back when I used to go to The Beguiling in Toronto.  A big book on Comic Art with a beautiful reproduction of a 1956 RIP KIRBY strip shot from the original artwork and reproduced quite large.  Do I pay $79 for a coffee table book with ONE IMAGE that I actually want? I decided no and I've regretted it ever since.

Or with images on the Internet.  They LOOK clear on Google Image, but as soon as you print them out or try to enlarge them on the screen, they go fuzzy in a hurry.

So, I'd definitely like to know if this unbound printing of CEREBUS falls into a THIS book or THAT book category.  Or if ALL of it does or MOST of it does or WHICH SIGNATURES do.

Thanks for your work on the bookplate.  Good call on the size of dot on Cerebus.  You really ARE a Cerebus fan.  It'll be interesting to see yours and George's work on a single sheet of Avery labels.

To all of you:  hope to hear from some of you tomorrow as the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE Kickstarter comes to an end.  I'll be (God willing) in the "COMMENTS" section from 4:30 to 8 pm.  I'll be answering COMMENTS from #37 and up if you want to "get a jump" on everyone. John will also be tuning in to answer any questions you have about your pledge items and George will be there for a special announcement at 6 pm!

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Cover Parodies: Dave 'n' Ger's

Original: Avengers #4 (Marvel Comics, March 1964) by Jack Kirby & George Roussos
Tribute: Following Cerebus #3 (Win-Mill Productions, February 2006) by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(Click image to enlarge)
(from Following Cerebus #3, February 2006)
The Jack Kirby / George Roussos cover for Avengers #4 (Marvel Comics, March 1964) featured the return of Captain America (he'd disappeared from the comics scene for a decade) and was such a powerful image that the design has been used over and over (including a nice version recently by Alex Ross for a deluxe print).

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Cover Parodies: Dialectic Comics

Original: Detective Comics #31  (DC Comics, September 1939) by Bob Kane
Tribute: Following Cerebus #3 (Win-Mill Productions, February 2005) by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(Click image to enlarge)
(from Following Cerebus #3, February 2005)
Detective Comics #31 (DC Comics, September 1939) featured just the third Batman cover ever. DC's Batman Archives edition does not identify a cover artist, though it's almost certainly Bob Kane, the original artist of the strip. It perfectly captures the early menacing atmosphere surrounding Batman. Neal Adams did his own version of this cover for Batman #227 (November 1970).

Monday 26 May 2014

Cover Parodies: Weird Following Cerebus

Original: Weird Science-Fantasy #29 (EC Comics, May 1955) by Frank Frazetta
Tribute: Following Cerebus #3 (Win-Mill Productions, February 2005) by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(Click image to enlarge)
(from Following Cerebus #3, February 2005)
This is based on Weird Science-Fantasy #29 (EC Comics, May 1955) by Frank Frazetta. The cover has been called the greatest comic book cover of all time, and we wouldn't argue with that assessment. Frazetta has often spoken about the history behind this cover -- that it was drawn quickly and intended as a Buck Rogers cover for Famous Funnies (he drew the covers to issues 209-216 from 1953-1955) but publisher William Gaines turned it down (too violent, as we recall). Frazetta made some slight alterations (so that the central character didn't look as much like Buck Rogers) and sold it as WSF -- but only on the condition that Frazetta got to keep the original artwork (which was not done in those days). Gaines balked but couldn't deny the quality of the cover and so bought it anyway. (Marie Severin provided the beautiful coloring job on the original comic.)

Sunday 25 May 2014

Cerebus: In My Life - Kevin Harrison

Cerebus (Convention Sketch, 2006)
Art by Dave Sim
I accidentally haggled my way into an amazing deal on a full set of Cerebus issues today, so I thought I would take a moment, not only to answer this, but to confront my own feelings regarding Dave Sim, Cerebus, and in general my feelings about following the work of someone who would publicly state things I might find privately detestable. 

It was 1987, and I had a summer job delivering pizza flyers.  I was only 12, so money meant one thing:  more comic books.  X-Men, GI Joe, and Spider-Man, mostly.  There were a couple older guys who had the same job -- and a car! -- and once, while driving us to another neighborhood, I found a copy of Cerebus underneath the backseat.

I thought he looked like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. (TMNT was a name I couldn't help but notice at the comic shop, but it was placed in the out-of-reach, mature section due to its hyper-violence -- that's right, the Turtles definitely weren't for kids back then.)

"Yeah, they did a crossover, but Cerebus is better.  He's got this badass sword, and he can kick anyone's ass.  It's way better than that X-Shit you're into," one of told me.

Of course, years later I realized that that this would've been right around issue 100 so towards the end of Church & State, and Cerebus -- with a few notable exceptions -- was more involved in the drudgery of running a religion than in ass kicking.

Since I wasn't even a teenager yet, I didn't pay him any mind, and even then I didn't give much credence to the words of elitists.

But I started noticing Cerebus on the shelves of comic book stores. Sometimes I'd flip through an issue or two, lost in 20 page increments that were clearly (and confusingly) part of a larger narrative, and wrapped inside a cover that seemed more eloquent than anything that had ever previously graced a comic book rack.

When I was 16, I bought the first Cerebus collection on a whim...then the second, then the third. Pretty soon, I was caught up with the regular series and collecting issues of Women, but leaving them unread in a stack to be read in the latest 'phone book' collections.

All of this waiting wore me down after a dozen issues or so, and instead of buying monthly issues, I would catch up with the volumes I was missing every few years, rereading the entire story from the beginning.

I think I petered out around Rick's Story (though, I have Going Home).

And now, as of today today, I have all of the issues.

I can't pretend to imagine how Cerebus has influenced me creatively, but it's been immense.  The idea of story arcs within story arcs within story arcs.  Of fitting non-sequeters, asides, fictionalized real people (and fictionalized fictional people), and sliding wildly between comedy, drama, analysis, intensity, and just taking your fucking time with something instead of forcing it.

Most of all, no one paces like Sim, and few people ever approach that level of sheer craftsmanship.  I've brought artists to tears showing them the sketch of the Regency from the cover of High Society and explaining this was cranked out in a week or less by a guy while he wrote and drew 20 pages of (sometimes equally detailed) comics every month (plus a cover), and all while reading and replying to virtually all of his fan (and not so fan) mail.

Sim taught me that focus, attention to detail, and consistency meant that you could create a world that could contain everything.  Every genre, every concept, every character, every reflection, belief, strife, and joy...sort of just like our own world, except Cerebus has more Lord Julius in it.

And because of Sim, many of the creators I discovered during, after, and even before Cerebus were people who may never have taken their first steps (and sometimes final missteps) into publishing:  Martin Wagner, Shannon Wheeler, Stephen Murphy & Michael Zulli, Colleen Doran, Eddie Campbell, and Jeff Smith to name a frightfully tiny number of them.

I think of Dave Sim's fine, detailed lines, and sweeping story, and I wonder how I ever concerned myself with debates on whether The New Mutant's Cannonball would ever be ready to lead The X-Men...

When I was 19, I met Dave Sim at a con.  We showed up late, and he told us he was supposed to be at a panel, but that he would sign one book for each of us, and that if we came back tomorrow he'd give us free sketches.  (The very concept of free sketches by a major, working professional seems almost laughable, but Sim did them for every fan who asked.)

He was nice and personable to a fault.  This was NOT the Sim I'd been used to reading in his letter columns:  A clever, funny guy who loved being a jerk when he could get away with it.  Nor was he the Sim we've all read about with numerous, long-standing feuds with several people who were once close to him.  This was just a nice guy who loved his work, and loved making time for the people who enjoyed what he did.

Since we could only get one autograph, I picked my favorite of Sim's work:  Jaka's Story.

Here, in Jaka's Story, were the best elements of all Sim's work:  Social commentary, religion, autobiography, politics, art, parody (including regular appearances by Oscar Wilde, Groucho Marx, and Margaret Thatcher), repression, the nature of art (or, I think more exactly, the nature of being), and love (in all its most difficult forms.)  The story lacks some of the intensity characterized in earlier Cerebus works, but what Jaka's Story lacks in action, it more than makes up for in life, humor, horror, and magic...mostly magic.

Sim also doesn't shy away from the gender politics that take front seat in (and alienate many from) some of his later work, but rather incorporates those elements directly into a tiny story about five characters living on an isolated path along a mountain side, in the days following a (temporary) apocalypse.

And let's be clear:  Sim has issues with women, which he makes very clear in the next story arcs.

So, what does that make me, as a purchaser (and likely enjoyer) of 300 issues of Cerebus, the vast body of text written by Sim, and one of the longest running narratives in human history?

I don't think it makes me anything.

Honestly, I don't think I have to justify myself for enjoying someone else's expression that doesn't gibe with my own feelings on an issue.  Sim is not without misstep by any means, but few books have the beauty, elegance, imagination, or sheer craft of any single issue of Cerebus.

I will be the first to admit Sim's faults, and the last to defend them.  As I will with Lovecraft, Chaplin, or pretty much anyone who played rock'n'roll between the 1950s and 1970s.

Most of us who have something to say, and tremendous arguments to make (whether veiled in fiction or more straightforwardly via essay) do that because WE ARE FLAWED, and we are lucky to find that wormhole of accessibility that allows others into our reality (and vice versa.)

More than that, I'm not interested in the sum total contents and values that are already contained within my head.  If you have something to say, and you can say it cleanly and concisely and brilliantly, I may still disagree with you, but I'd like to hear it.  I will enjoy hearing it, and hopefully I will learn something hearing it...even if that "something" only reinforces that I disagree with you.

I think that's something that we really lose in the modern world.  It's easy to live in a vacuum without real provocation or acceptance or synthesis by/of those we might find repugnant on paper.  Worse, I think we're turned off by the idea that in the right hands those ideas that we find repugnant might actually look beautiful on paper.

And that is power of magic.  Of comics.  And of Cerebus.

This article first appeared on Kevin's Tumblr: Tales Of Drunkenness & Cruelty.

Saturday 24 May 2014

Cerebus At The Great Wall

This was a huge (2x3') drawing of Cerebus done in 1983 by Dave Sim... As far as I know, I kicked off the idea of having Gerhard go back in and fill up the white space on an old Sim drawing. The concept has definitely caught on as a thing. 

(via Comic Art Fans)

Friday 23 May 2014

Cerebus & The Guys

(from Gerhard Art)
Another example of me adding a background to a 30 year old Cerebus drawing, done on typing paper.

Weekly Update #32: Observations

Cerebus Trade Paperback Bookplate
'Unsigned', 'Signed' & 'Your Name Hand-Lettered By Dave Sim' Options Available

Howdy folks! No Executive Summary this time.  Having read everything Sean wrote (and thank you Sean) and everything George wrote (and thank you, George), I think I know what my lines are.

By the way, I've been waiting for my cheap-o scanner/copier/fax machine to run out of ink as the signal that it's time to go and get another one.  Yes, accepting the fact that that's the age we live in. It's about three years old. It's dead. Get with the program, Dave. And I got the signal that the BLACK INK is dying and I don't have a replacement cartridge.  This could be VERY good news if I'm able to get a scanner/copier/fax machine tomorrow and find out that it's just that the fax attachment died (as the colour printer is now green-striping itself into oblivion).  Otherwise that means that it's the fax connection that is on the fritz and I need to be Home From 9 am to 5 pm For the Bell Person Who Can't Narrow It Down Any Further Than That.

Today actually started with a very light load so I was able -- by about 2 am -- to do a Voyage To The Bottom of The CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY Pile and pulled out the original unbound copy of the CEREBUS volume as well as a lengthy fax that I had sent to Josee (Bonjour Josee!) 17 June of last year.

So, a few observations:

1)  At the TIME, I had declared that Signatures 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16 were parfait!   Perfect (that is).  Which I really didn't think looking at them this time.  I was making allowances: it's never going to be as good as Preney did, so, hey, I'll live with it.  It's been a strange year.  Basically George and Sean -- in different ways -- have half-convinced me that much better quality is possible. But only HALF-convinced me.  And mostly in the sense that to the degree that I believe better quality is possible, I'm not sure what the method is to achieve that better quality.  I'm still looking at two computer churches here.

2)  So I backed off from that a bit and said, "Well, at the very least, I think I need to get Lebonfon to FedEx Sean an unbound copy of CEREBUS and let him have a look at it. And their original scans they deemed to be finished and the scans George deemed to be finished"  (which I think might have already been done with the scans: there have been a lot of episodes of As The Pixels Turn and I lose track sometimes).  So I sent Josee a fax at 4:30 this morning asking her to do that. The questions for Sean, it seems to me, would be: how do you think the book looks?  And if you think something's wrong with it, do you have any idea what is wrong?  And do you know how to fix it?

3)  What struck me most, coming at the unbound copy with fresh eyes was how grey the blacks were. And I'm not sure why that is.  Another self-publisher told me they thought Lebonfon had gone downhill around the time that Lisa-Marie left.  And my "quel domage" fax over Lisa-Marie's departure  was in there right when they were printing the unbound copy.  I wondered if I was paranoid, thinking that Lisa-Marie had said, "I don't want to play this anymore. This is going to turn into a nutcracker." Of course, a year later things may have improved.

4)  The biggest complaint that I had about the unbound copy versus the "proofs" was the variance in the tone.  Cerebus is a 30% tone and I have a visual tolerance for a range from 27% to 32% roughly.  I know the difference just from experience...

(a side note on that: at one point I asked Preney if they could manufacture tone for us.  I mean, what's the base cost for an 11x17 transparent adhesive sheet?  So they did it.  Actually put Preneytone at the top in the Letraset typeface. And that was when I figured out how and why Letratone charged that much for tone.  The quality control is very exacting.  I could go through a dozen sheets and say, "This is about 27%, this is about 35%, this is about 28%, this is 30%."  So thus ended the experiment. You can't START with 27% and 35% and expect consistent results.)

...and that was something I definitely saw in Allan Harvey's work on A DISTANT SOIL.  He converted the 40% tones to 35% tones.  But it wasn't really AROUND 35% it was pretty much BANG ON 35%.  There was quite a range on the unbound copy of CEREBUS.  The Cerebus on the first page of #2, as a example, was definitely in the 40% range and then dropped to 30% on the subsequent pages.

5) I can see what George is saying:  We got it down to 111 problem pages out of 1,000 pages.  But, as I say, looking back at the book almost a year later, I don't think the track record was as good as that.  Again, it's Dave Sim, publisher ("Is the average fan going to see this?") versus Dave Sim artist ("This just isn't accurate and I'm not sure which is the better course of action if it can't be made accurate: just let it go because people want to read it or let it go into suspended animation until I'm certain of the results:  and just stick with CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE, NUMBER TWO, NUMBER THREE, etc. because there I can see, it's either accurate or so close to accurate that I have no problem with quality control.  We're on it." I've thought a few times, Steve Ditko has let MR.A go out of print for years at a time. It sure hasn't hurt the demand or the cachet of ALL published versions of MR.A.  Does being a good custodian of the material mean being a slave to the material?)

6)  There are still CALLS that have to be made on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE, but I've made most of them while being open to Sean tweaking them.  The same choices that Heritage Auctions makes with their catalogue (which, to me, is the best reproduction in the field).  There are yellow pages.  If you don't SHOOT it AS yellow, you're going to miss what's actually there (the latest catalogue there's a Jack Kirby/Vince Colletta THOR cover that is YELLOW.  But most of the other Kirby pieces around it are white).  And there are WHITE CEREBUS pages. The page from #18 and the page from #22 are white pages.  Darkened up a bit so you can see the white paint on the #22 page AS white paint.  But not darkened up enough to show it as whiter than the page  As Ger and I got better, MOST of the pages are white.  You can bring up minor discolouration, but you're going to have to make the whole thing too dark (in my opinion) to show that that's a blob of white-out there.  These are choices that can't really be made on the trade paperback without intruding on the reading experience.  It's a much narrower window where you want the blacks to be black, the whites to be white and all of the lines to be there.

7)  I'm not saying This Is The Case: but that seems to me to be the problem with "batch conversion" -- we might not be there YET with the technology.  We might get there in a year or in ten years.  I'm very wary of agreeing to anything that costs $60,000 with the potential of going, "Oh, gosh. Who knew that that would be a keystroke come 2017?  Sorry, Kickstarter people!"

8)  But PART of me goes, well, isn't that what these quarterly Kickstarters, arguably, are all about? If we can keep 200 or so people psyched about making this happen, can't we, arguably, waste tens of thousands of dollars going, WHELP, THAT sure wasn't it.  I mean, living WAY below the poverty line in any conventional sense -- walking an extra five blocks to get carrots for $1 instead of $1.49?  It's. A. Little. Weird. To. THEN. Say: "Okay Sean, 'batch convert' four signatures in CEREBUS and get your people to tweak them. Here's $20,000."  I'm not ruling it out, I'm just saying it's a little weird. MORE than a little weird. I'd feel like I was the government or something.  :)

9)  Likewise with the "tweaks and adjustments 10 minutes per page".  The bottom line to me on that is that you have to see it printed out and you have to see the printer's "A" game.  And it's occurred to me that that's a major problem here.  I'm the one who says "LAUNCH" and then I'm the one who has to pay the multi-thousand dollar invoice -- first for scanning and tweaking and then for printing.  I mean, I'm not naive enough to say, "Okay, Sean -- if I don't like how it looks, YOU pay the printing bill, right?"  Or George.  The buck -- the tens of thousands of bucks -- stops here.

10) At the very least, I think I'm going to get Lebonfon to ship however-many signature #1s from the CEREBUS volume to John Funk and John will throw one in With Every CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE Package Ordered!  Just think of it as my way of saying, "Hey, thanks, CEREBUS fans for giving me the chance to treat money the way, you know, The Pentagon does! Have a misprinted signature!  On me!"

Thanks to Alastair who signed the petition 19 hours ago, Daniel Callahan who signed it four days ago and Justin Wallner who signed it 6 days ago.

And thanks for all the birthday best wishes last week!  I forgot that was going to be in the mailbox today!

And thanks to everyone who bid on the DOCTOR WHO and THUNDER AGENTS covers.  Coming soon -- but not TOO soon:  glamourpuss art auctions!

Cerebus Archive Kickstarter: Calling All Comic-Retailers!

Cerebus Berserker
Cerebus Archive Number One
Make Your Kickstarter Pledge Now!
Greetings fellow retailer,
My name is Menachem Luchins, owner and manager of Escape Pod Comics in Huntington, NY. I’m reaching out to you today on behalf of Dave Sim, the creator of Cerebus and the upcoming Strange Death of Alex Raymond. Odds are, if you’re getting this e-mail, that you know who Sim is and Cerebus’s part in comic history. As a retailer, you are probably also aware that the first two volumes of the Cerebus phonebooks are out of print.

Sim’s most recent Kickstarter is aimed to solve that problem: all the profits from it will go towards getting the printing issues he’s been having with the digital restoration of those books settled once and for all. The Kickstarter itself is for a wonderful folio of Cerebus Art, each print with a broadsheet style page of commentary by Sim about the creation of the piece featured. The plan is to do a series of these Kickstarters over time, each focusing on a different period in the Cerebus work. This first one is from the earliest period and has 10 prints in it. More details on the Kickstarter page, here.

Now, the retailer level that was added today is for FIVE copies of this limited edition, signed & numbered, version of the folio- retailer copies will also have a “sub-signing” on theirs with their store name (eg: #256 of 500, Night Flight Comics #1 of 5)- at a discount of 35%. I have spoken with Dave and he has informed me that he has no problem with retailers selling the prints individually as well, so your price point for selling is fairly adjustable as well.

Now, concerning the issues about backing Kickstarters that many of us face, I’d like to make a few points.

Fulfillment. We all fear backing Kickstarters because of the horror stories (and sometimes personal experience) of not getting the rewards on time, things being changed, etc etc. Now, I can’t make any promises but… this is Dave Sim we are talking about. On the last kickstarter he was involved with, Sim sent duplicate rewards to many backers JUST IN CASE they had missed something. Beyond that, there is nothing in this kickstarter that doesn’t EXIST, in some form, already. No waiting for the writer to find an artist or the artist to draw the page or the special limited edition cover artist to finish his job.

Diamond. Nothing burns me up like seeing an item I backed on Kickstarter in Diamond only a few months (or weeks!) after I received the book, especially as the traditionally distributed version is usually cheaper and packed in a way that’s easier to sell. Sim WILL be offering this folio through Diamond, eventually. By the time the UNSIGNED and UNNUMBERED version is featured in Previews, though, the Kickstarter for folios 2 and 3 (High Society and Church & State, respectively) will have already passed. Beside for that, the Diamond version of the folio will be MORE EXPENSIVE (retail price) than the Kickstarter one [$89 CAD as opposed to $79 CAD] and, most likely, will be offered at the same 35% discount. This means that when a customer sees the item in Previews, you can tell them that you have it AND THE SECOND FOLIO already, signed and numbered, with the third on the way.

Obligation. One of the things I dislike is when a Kickstarter I backed sends me an email, a year later, asking me to back some NEW Kickstarter completely unrelated to this one. The only Kickstarters you are going to hear about from Dave Sim, as far as I know, are going to be about Cerebus and, as he has parcelled out the Archive Folios in sets of ten, Dave has over 100 years worth of Folios to sell (at 3 a year) so you REALLY don’t need to worry that he’s going to start spamming your email box to back his friends projects or for a brand new story he wants to do with Image Comics.

Lastly: If, in the event we really make an impact on this thing, 200 COPIES of the book are reserved by retailers the discount will drop to 40% for all of us. If we somehow, in the next 8 days before the project ends, get 400 COPIES ordered, it will drop to 45%! I know this seems unlikely to many of you, but I need you to know that I am sending this email to A LOT more retailers than you see listed here. All it takes is a large order from a few of the BIG BOYS like Newbury, Midtown, Jet-Pack and/or Mile High or all of us forwarding this on to our other retailer friends and getting some real word-of-mouth going and it COULD happen.

Right, so… I’ve said my piece. Once again, here is a link to the Kickstarter.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thanking you for your time,

Menachem Luchins
Escape Pod Comics
EscapePodComics [at] gmail [dot] com

Thursday 22 May 2014

Kickstarter: Cerebus Bookplates

Cerebus Trade Paperback Bookplate
'Unsigned', 'Signed' & 'Your Name Hand-Lettered By Dave Sim' Options Available

(from Cerebus Archive Kickstarter Update #6, 21 May 2014)
...Thanks to Alexander Hoffman of Toronto for sending me two Avery labels to sign for him to put in a couple of his CEREBUS trades. I had a bit of time so I sketched Cerebus on each and had him saying "Like HELL it's yours, put it back. This Cerebus trade belongs to Alexander Hoffman". 

Hmm, I thought. I had been looking for what I hoped would be a more generally affordable pledge item.

(The gag actually goes back almost 50 years now, back, back, into the Vanished Mists of Ancient Times to when men used to wear…hats! See, when you went indoors, you took off your hat. As deference to what were then known as "Ladies". I still do this compulsively in the winter even when I'm only going indoors for five minutes. Anyplace that had a cloak room also had a shelf for hats. And a lot of hats looked alike. So gentlemen tended to put an identifying label in the inside of the brim with their name on it. So it was not unknown for you to pick up a hat and check inside to see if it was yours. So, my Dad got this joke label from someone that said "The HELL it's yours. Put it back. This hat belongs to…" and then he wrote Ken Sim in it. His hat would often get a good workout with guys laughing and then pretty much having to show it to other guys to explain, you know, what EXACTLY did you find particularly funny about someone else's hat? As soon as I needed a gag for an identifying label -- well, what could be more a more Cerebus-like sentiment regarding YOUR personal property?)...

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Cerebus Dreams II

Cerebus Dreams II
 Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(originally published in AV In 3D, December 1984,
reprinted in 2D in Following Cerebus #10, June 2007)
(from Following Cerebus #10, June 2007)
The second Cerebus Dreams story -- Barry Windsor-Smith's innovation in Swords Of Cerebus volume five was the first -- was originally published in AV In 3D. Ray Zone, who did the 3D effects explained the process to us and, as I recall, emphasized using a thicker-than-normal ink line, which Gerhard did and which I chose to ignore for the most part. It's a very quick dream, perhaps a fever dream while Cerebus has his head cold, or a cat-nap dream...

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Dave On Dreams (II)

Cerebus #78 (September 1985)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Following Cerebus #10, June 2007)
...No matter how much research goes into it, we still don't have clue one as to why we dream or what dreams are. The dreams in the Cerebus storyline don't have any common thematic link unless it's something really vague like Cerebus' mostly unconscious certainty that he is intended to fulfill some Large Destiny or other and his, again, mostly unconscious awareness of all things that get in the way of that. Consciously, he tends to see it that he is supposed to conquer the known world and become King absolute ruler and dictator but that tends to be at odds with the reality of the Large Destiny so he gets locked into a yin-and-yang duality thing - the Large Destiny he's actually intended to fulfill getting in the way of the Large Destiny he envisions and vice versa. Apart from that I do have my own theorises of dreams, none of which have any more or less evidence to support it over the others. In Cerebus I tend to take the view that dreams are a hodge-podge of what we have gone through, what we are going through and what we will be going through all filtered through our own internal Iconic Imagery Assortment and turned into little entertainments which all parts of ourselves watch while we're sleeping and which are understood differently - and I suspect, more accurately by our higher natures (souls) than by our conscious-but-sleeping minds...

Monday 19 May 2014

Dave On Dreams

Cerebus #77 (August 1985)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Following Cerebus #10, June 2007)
...I definitely didn't intend for dreams to play a large part in the Cerebus storyline and, yes, Barry [Windsor-Smith]'s 'Cerebus Dreams' story triggered the resulting onslaught of dream content. When it came in I thought it was a great idea and particularly well suited to what it was that I was trying to do: an actual life. A good third of all actual lives are spent dreaming so it was really impossible to over-emphasize the presence of dreams unless I did over 100 issues of them.

Sean Michael Robinson: A Proposal

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). 

The following proposal was written by Sean Michael Robinson in response to Dave Sim's Weekly Update #31 (posted on 16 May 2014):
...I think we could be looking at compensation "going forward" for what Sean and George are doing and will be doing (as opposed to what they have done so far). It depends on how fast we want to go, in a lot of ways. That's definitely a question for George and Sean:  which would YOU do if you were me? Compensate you guys so as to be "front of line" in your working day or stick with the volunteer basis because all of this is going to take a while no matter which way we go?


Hey Dave,

I've read back over what you've written a few times now, and I'm going to take you at face value here when you're saying "how would you do this?" This. This huge document is how I would do this.

When I started chiming in with advice and bossy opinions a few months ago I had no idea what this would turn into. But not that I've been enmeshed in the process, I want nothing more than to see this project completed by someone, in the most effective way possible.

First off, I want to be clear about one thing -- the prior work on the restoration is not mine. I've done nothing so far other than to suggest ways that the already done work could be modified to print without half-toning, and eliminate the moire that was plaguing the pages. If I had worked on this from the beginning, I would have done things very differently, and I don't think it gives either George or I much credit to say that the current work represents me in any way, for better or worse. It's George's work, with my band-aid.

So, there are two distinct but overlapping projects here -- creating digital "negatives" for the Cerebus/High Society books, and creating digital "negatives" for the entire Cerebus series.

I realize that from a financial perspective, it might be tempting to address just the first project, since you still have some stock of the other books. But from an economy of scale perspective, I think it makes the most sense to, once we've definitively worked out our procedure, proceed on the whole enchilada. Several of the things I'm going to propose here depend on having trained people working in tandem -- it'll be easier to keep people if there aren't large gaps of time between production times.

But it's workable either way.

First off -- for those of you who aren't Dave, let me say a little about myself. I'm a freelance illustrator, designer, and writer. I had a book out last September by powerHouse/Random House, which I illustrated, co-wrote, designed, and did pre-press for. I've done pre-press for numerous clients over the years, mostly albums, but books and smaller publications as well. Perhaps more important for this project, I'm a cartoonist and print-obsessive.

Most of my work over the past year has been local work in San Diego. This month? About 30 hours of illustration for a financial app. Interior and color illustration and logo for a local band's debut album. A process portrait for an independent movie (drawn in stages so the actor can be filmed "drawing" on each stage). Posters. Sometimes (this week, for instance), I have more work than I can possibly handle. Other times (next week? Looking likely) I have little on my schedule other than, finally, making some business cards and a real website and drumming up some future business.

As an illustrator, I work at a rate of $50 an hour. I'm stating this upfront because, frankly, this is what is competing for my time. When I'm writing this right now, I have a roughly penciled album cover on my drawing board that I should be tightening up. I'll be teaching a watercolor class this afternoon for the same rate. Any time helping out on Cerebus, even just writing responses to tech posts here, is in direct competition with that work.

I told you over the phone, Dave, that I've been chiming in here, arguing, testing stuff, throwing out opinions, because I think you're the greatest living cartoonist in North America, and that it's a crime that your books aren't in print, in beautiful editions that are making you money and spreading your work around. With the right procedure, with the right capitol in the right places, I think we can make this entire thing happen in a matter of months.

So -- procedure.


You'll have to get a computer person to come in and advise you here before you buy anything. Perhaps John Funk can advise you? You'll need--

a. multiple hi-resolution (2400 dpi) large format document scanners that
b. can either work together on the same computer or
c. that each have their own computers

Older SCSI scanners could be attached in series to the same computer, but with newer USB scanners it seems to be more of a technical problem to have them all connected simultaneously. This is something that someone with more know-how than myself could hopefully solve in a few minutes.

The most affordable scanners that fit these requirements are the Mustek A3 2400, which are priced at $270 apiece. Even if you had to purchase a used PC for each of these individually, you could still be in the $650 range per scanning station.

The purpose of the multiple stations? To save on labor and time. 2400 dpi= an awful lot of time.

And where does your labor come from?

I have two associates whom I hire every time I have a high-volume technical task. They've worked for me doing scanning and photo adjustment, they've worked for my friend Tim doing audio book quality control. Depending on the client and the volume and the task, they generally get paid between $20 - $25 an hour.

I'd suggest you ask John Funk to find a few people similar to my associates in the Kitchener area. A technically-minded young person(s), ideally, someone who you can pay $15 to $20 an hour to sit and feed the scanners for a few hours a day for a few weeks. (I see that the national minimum wage in Canada is currently $11. $15 seems like a good enough amount over that to make up for the mind-numbing aspect of the task, and to ensure that you can keep the person once you've got them trained).

I'll have a Mustek 2400 arriving at my house in the next two or three days. As soon as it arrives, I'll do a few speed trials, and figure out exactly how long each scan will take.


A. negatives

Every negative in your possession, at 2400 dpi greyscale.

I'm now convinced that you're right-- 2400 dpi is the way to go, for half a dozen reasons. (Anyone reading this who thinks otherwise—I'd advise you to take an hour to read Dave's posts and my responses over the past two months. )Yes, there will be only a marginal improvement on the page from 1200 dpi to 2400 dpi, and only in the area of the teeny tiny lines (and possibly teeny tiny tone). But it matters to Dave, and it matters to me, and although the scanning will be much longer, the adjustment should be significantly less labor intensive-- no rescues of little lines necessary. It will also be significant in the future-proofing department.

B. original artwork

All original pages in your possession, at 2400 dpi color (possibly a slightly lower resolution, if there's a lower native resolution on whatever scanner we go with, that makes mathematical sense to the destination size)

And lastly--

C. printed pages, when missing negatives and original art

This could be done in San Diego, by my team, if need be.

I'd like to approach this book by book, so that the pre-press work could be happening simultaneously. So, scan every available negative for book X, then every available original page for book X, then any missing pages of book X from the best available printing.


I'd take a look at the first batch of negative scans and, using a representative page, put together a baseline exposure/adjustment. i.e., scanned on this type of scanner, at this exposure, the negatives will look the most like the original printings when adjusted at Y brightness control. I'd then set up a Photoshop script to do this as a batch adjustment, i.e. generate a second version of the scans using that baseline adjustment and letting the computer do the work without any assistance.

Meanwhile I'd take a highlighter to a Preney copy of the phone book in question and hilight any areas that are obvious flaws in the original printing (not too different than the notes I sent you via mail on those High Society pages. Was there dirt or pencil schmutz on the original negative? Do any corners need squaring? Any line breakup on the original negative? Missing tone?)

Next I'd have my associates Mara and Matt work through those pages represented by negatives only, and make those changes. Anything beyond basic adjustments like these I'd do myself, on a case-by-case basis.

As I was implying before, this works better when there's a large volume of work. If I had dribs and drabs of stuff for them, say, an hour at a time, it doesn't make sense for me to train them to do a task. I'd just do it myself. But at a high volume of work, it doesn't really make sense to pay me to do something when someone else who can do it equally as well will do it for less pay.

All of this is setup to minimize the amount of labor. You'd prioritize it by type of action.

Just setting up a batch conversion or adjustment (i.e. "Computer, that thing I just did? Do the same thing to these other 1,000 files") is essentially free, once you make the script. So there's no loss trying this, other than computing time and a little electricity in setting it up and doing test prints of your results and seeing how close that gets you.

Having trained and skilled but not necessarily expert people do guided work on pages is much cheaper than hiring someone who could be making $50 an hour doing something else to do the same work. So, you prioritize those people second, and give them all the work that they can do as quickly as an expert. (This is basically the situation at a small publisher, where most of the scanning and adjustment will be done by no-pay or low-pay interns, under the guidance of whomever is designing the book). I toyed with the idea of asking volunteer fans do this work as well, but then you're in a similar position as before. It's significantly easier to train someone in person, it's easier when it's people I trust and have worked with before, and it's easier to say "I need you to do this now, this week" to someone who's being compensated for their labor. I feel like if we farmed this out to fans, you'd have to have a significant vetting process, otherwise you'd be back to having to re-do work as it comes in, spending more on the back end because you tried to save money on the front end.

And then lastly, you have the expensive work. Guiding the whole shebang, looking over the pages, doing most of the adjustment of the original artwork, which is more labor-intensive than the negatives, as the pages have to have a certain amount of panel-by-panel and even section by section adjustment to insure no breakup of lines. (Mentioned this last week, but, unlike the negatives, which have already been contrast-adjusted all those years ago, all ink lines are not created equal. You can have lines break up because of how grey they are, not because of their thin-ness, which just means you have to take a lot more care in how you adjust the page, especially if you want to maintain the original overall balance in the first place.)

(Alternatively, if you wanted to avoid this in the first place and all you wanted to do is create duplicates of the Preney printings, I think 2400 dpi negative scans plus book scans of the missing pages could get us there with almost no adjustment, relying on automated adjustment and conversion for most of the work. This is in all likelihood how Lebonfon would have handled the books, had you paid them to do the negative conversion. The main difference being, they were scanning the negatives at an unacceptable resolution, namely, 600 dpi. This is by far the most expedient and economical way to do this job).

So, what's the price tag for all of this? For the whole 6,000 pages?

We'd need to test a few things, and that would give us some data to extrapolate out over the entire enterprise. Either take Lebonfon up on their offer, or find another printer that will offer to do a free or reduced rate sample for you. And then ask John Funk to scan the first four “Night Before” pages at 2400 dpi. Get me those files, and I'll go through them from scratch and time myself. Meanwhile, when the Mustek scanner arrives, I'll do some speed tests here. When we run a sample, we can compare head to head 2400 dpi pages adjusted by me from the original pages, and 1200 dpi reductions of the same. Possibly throw in a few other versions if desired.

Just some rough numbers to give us an idea of the scale we're talking about--

Let's say I personally am working for a reduced rate of $40/hr. Given the volume involved here, that certainly makes sense.

If I personally adjusted every page of original artwork at, let's say, 15 minutes average per page--

2,000 pages X 15 min= = 500 hours X $40/hr = $20,000

Let's say that, given that the majority of the pages would be coming from negatives or original printings, that most of the work on these could be done through automated processes, but that, on average, the tweaks and adjustments could be kept to 10 min per page by my San Diego associates--

6,000 pages X 10 min/pg = 1000 hrs X $20/hr = $20,000

For the scanning, I'm going to have to do a few speed trials to make this have any kind of accuracy. But let's say you have 5 scanning stations and one operator. 10 pages an hour seems reasonable at that resolution. (might be faster. Will need some actual numbers here)

8,000 pages / 10 pg/hr = 800 hrs X $15 = $12,000

Add in somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 for equipment, another $5,000 management time and inevitable overruns, and you arrive at somewhere around $60,000.

For some perspective here, Colleen has paid $40,000 for the first book (?) worth of A Distant Soil restoration.

I don't see a cheaper way to do this unless you have the resources (and unpaid interns) of a publisher at your disposal.

If this seems like a large number to anyone, keep in mind that it represents several months of working time for at least four people.

There is a budget alternative for the first two books that, to most readers, will be indistinguishable from this--

Take George's files. Batch convert the whole thing to bitmap, print out test pages, and do finer-tuned adjustments when necessary. Print the book and move on.

I'd be happy to do this for you, next week or whenever the work lets up, if you'd like me to. I think to most Cerebus fans the result would be pleasing.

But to get to the level of minutia that you and I have been discussing, to make these printings equal to the level of detail in the Preney books, it's higher-res scans and files.

Scan all available negs at 1200 dpi (¼ the speed of 2400 dpi). I'll do some test adjustment, and batch convert and adjust the whole thing, with no additional changes.

But for something more involved than this, I just can't do that work on a volunteer basis. I hope you understand. It's already a struggle to get my own work off the ground again while spending so much time per week drawing for clients. I can't take on what essentially amounts to a full-time job for six months without compensation close to what I'd be getting for other work.

That said, if you have someone else that can do the work for cheaper, I'd be happy to consult on the work. These are all commonly-known procedures, and there are many people that I'm sure would do a great job of it. I'll also always be happy to take a look at files for you or give advice on anything you need. (Speaking of which—I'll be getting those adjusted portfolio files to John Funk this week-- just a little bit of sharpening required and then some test printing)

Anyway, unless we decide to go forward on any of these things, consider this my finished statement on all of this. This is what I think it would take to get it done. I think there's a marginal difference between 2400 dpi and 1200 dpi, yes, and it does make the scanning stage more expensive, but I think the amount of hassle saved futzing with the scans, and the amount of detail present in the finest areas, would more than justify the scanning hassle.

Lastly, I just want to say that, in my experience, up-front is the best place to spend your money, whether it's recording music, drawing, or pre-press. You draw it right first in pencil so you won't have to white out later on. Ya know?

Now, it's time to draw. Let's see if I can follow my own advice this time!

Sean Michael Robinson

Dave, I'll be sending you my book as soon as my order from Random House warehouse comes through! (don't have any copies right now) Thanks for your interest.

The other (probably long-shot) economic alternative--

Give a publisher (say, IDW) a contract to print an edition of the books, say, a single print run, in exchange for them creating a digital negative for you, from your specifications. I have no idea if a publisher would go along with something like that, but it might be worth making a few calls...

(As I said before, the economics involve make it cheaper for a publisher to do this kind of work, especially a publisher that works with interns)

Another possible money-saving device-- as I said above, don't use original artwork at all, only original negatives. Huge savings of labor. The only downside is you're resigning yourself to any line breakup present in the original printings.

Lastly, even if we were going back to scratch, I'd still be strongly in favor of using George's files and restorations for the early pages of Cerebus. The negatives are in horrible shape, and with those materials, there's no advantage to moving to a higher resolution. So I'd be in favor of just bitmap-converting his work and going from there...)


Okay, two more things--

I see in my rough math above that I have double-dipping--2,000 pages being adjusted (from the negatives) by one team of people, and then the same pages (from the original artwork) being adjusted again by another person. This obviously wouldn't need to happen.

Secondly, I hope it's clear here that I'm trying to spell out a procedure that could be used regardless of who's doing the work. I think having it happen by essentially three teams, tiered by their level of expertise, should be the real take-away here.
A. 2400 dpi. Scanning, stage one.

B. Batch conversion/adjustment, i.e. automated procedure for the entire thing. test printing, comparison to Preney editions.

C. Only adjust problem pages/problem areas/ previously flagged areas, and have those adjusted by people trained in those procedures.

D. Only really problem pages (or pages scanned from original art) adjusted by someone with line art expertise.
I hope that, even if nothing else comes of this, that this procedure can be of some use to you.


Be sure to visit Sean's website Living The Line.