Thursday, 17 July 2014

Weekly Update #40: The Presses Are Rolling!

Lebonfon President, Alain Roberge, checking printed signatures of CEREBUS coming off press.

Executive Summary
  1. First pages of the CEREBUS volume were rolling off the presses at Lebonfon today. You should be able to order a copy at your local comic store the first week in August
  2. We're counting on the CEREBUS fans who order a copy of volume one to help us move, a step at a time, towards the Legacy Edition
  3. CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE is getting pretty close to being done. I signed Plates 5 through 9 earlier this week, so right now I only have the front of the folders to sign and Plate 10
  4. Operation Sable Airlift is on hold until I get the "miniature" and "standard" brushes that Tim sent me and can determine if they're the same as what I'm using.

1.  Sorry, I'm late getting here. No caffeine for Dave during Ramadan and that means mail-answering Friday is just a regular 12-hour day instead of the 21-hour day I've gotten used to. Good news is I'm all caught up on the mail!

Got a fax first thing this morning from Dean McCoy letting me know that pages were rolling off the presses at Lebonfon. He said that they got a couple of pictures of Alain Roberge, the company president, looking over the first few pages and e-mailed them to Tim. So, Tim I'm guessing is just waiting for me to post this stuff so he can plug the photos in. It's going to be WAY past Tim's bedtime by the time I'm done here, but we're all pretty happy that we're this close to having finished books after a couple of years of hard work. We're also all pretty confident that this is going to be the BEST version of the CEREBUS trade to date.

Lebonfon President, Alain Roberge, checking printed signatures of CEREBUS coming off press.
2.  As you've read in Sean's update from this week, our first major concern when we all have printed books is going to be: what is the best way to improve on what we've accomplished so far?

George has already composed a list of "clone tone" pages:  pages where the tone had shrunk on the original artwork or where there is smudging or I just didn't trim it properly.

 It raises the interesting question:  if I didn't trim it properly 35 years ago, isn't that an idiosyncratic trait of the artist that should be retained where possible?  I don't think so:  if I had been able to just snap my fingers and have the tone exactly where I wanted it and not where I didn't want it, all of the cutting would be 100% accurate.  So it has more to do with intention than ability.

George has also flagged a couple of panels that he thinks could develop the dreaded moires in the finished printing.

The big plus with this edition is that it's going to have Sean's solutions and George's solutions side-by-side.  So we should be able to have a "guided tour" by both of them when we have the finished books.  All of us.  Including those of you who are going to order one.  And then we can ask the most intelligent questions:  which of these solutions works the best in YOUR opinion?  What matters to you as a reader and what doesn't?  

How important is 100% accuracy?

These are the areas we're going to get into: this is what it looks like NOW on the 16th printing.  Is this what we're happy with it looking like from now on?  The obvious answer is "no" from mine and George and Sean's perspective.  We're going to want to improve things and we're going to want to develop a policy on how to do that.  And that gets into financing.

Sean and I exchanged faxes on the subject with him pitching the idea of "adopt a page".  If we agree that we want all of the tone to be 100% accurate, Sean will be able to give us a ballpark figure on what it's going to cost to do that.  Some pages are going to be more complicated than others, depending on what interference there is between the tone and the artwork under it.  More complicated means more hours and that means more expensive.  So "adopt a page" seems to make sense:  here are the pages that Sean is going to be working on in the near term, a list at A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.

So, how many people are willing to adopt a page and pay the amount needed?

Well, we'll see. If you have a copy of the book and you're looking at the page(s) we're talking about and you can't really see any difference, the odds are you aren't going to want to adopt too many pages :).  Which doesn't mean that we don't do the restoration, it just means that we have to slow down to what is affordable on an on-going basis with basic revenues.

Of course, there's a bright light on that horizon, too:

Right now, we definitely have our Patron Retailer, "TF", on board for a $10K donation...

(even more interesting was "TF"s suggestion that Sean and Mara shoot footage of themselves restoring the work and that we make a documentary about Restoring Comic Art.  Which seems like a GREAT idea.  And also solved one of the problems I was facing: not wanting to have the $10K as income because A-V would have to pay tax on it and I'm already having to guess if the CEREBUS ARCHIVE KICKSTARTERS are going to maintain the current income level, how many we will end up doing before the end of the year, etc.  So I suggested that "TF" become the producer of the film and pay Sean for filming it.  Coincidentally, for the same amount of money that Sean would charge for his restoration work.  And that Sean would "comp" A-V his restoration work in exchange for permission to film my work without paying any fee for the rights), as I see it, we're going to be able to see "adopt a page" in theory before we see in it practice.  Sean will be posting a list of pages along with the charge for the restoration and we can see how fast that eats up "TF"s $10K.  Which SHOULD tell us if we just keep going along steadily or how much "start and stop" we're going to need to do as we wait for the money to replenish.

And, as I say, we're going to want your input as involved CEREBUS fans.  I'm guessing you will be less obsessive than me and George and Sean but probably more obsessive than, say, the average comics retailer.

The Cerebus press sheets on skids wait to be bound.
3.  We were in the process of developing "Kickstarter Helper" and just today John informs me that there's a Kickstarter being done for that.  Basically software that will let us do more things more quickly and efficiently in order to cut down on the "execution time" on each Kickstarter.  A lot of it is just "routing" problems:  As soon as the campaign is done, I should have a list of all the people who are getting stuff personalized to them.  Kickstarter isn't really set up for that, so we need to graft the ability onto the information.   But, as I've said before, we want to be all the way through the process of packaging and fulfillment before making any hard decisions about CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO -- which I should be starting on soon.

The Cerebus press sheet samples heading out to Dave, Sean & George.
4. MANY thanks to all of the people who are out tracking down Winsor & Newton Series 7 #2 brushes for me.  A GREAT relief to find out that the idea that the sable is an endangered species didn't originate in England -- home of Winsor & Newton -- in which case I would figure the worldwide supply was down to single digits.

Nope. Evidently Winsor & Newton still makes the brush and sells it on their website.

Do they just not ship it to North America?  Is it North America or just Canada?  Sean said as far as he knew there weren't any Series 7 #2's in California.  I plan to take a day when Tim's brushes come in to compare them to the two best I have right now.  And then compare those to the sable/nylon blend and nylon versions I got from Wyndham's.  Sean suggested that the nylon brushes don't work as well or last as long but -- at $8 each instead of $36 each -- you can afford to blow through them a lot faster.

I'm inclined to think that the actual problem is my hesitancy in having too much money tied up in brushes -- when the right way to think about it is: the more brushes I've got, the better the odds that I have the ones that I need.  The two best ones I've got for sharpness of line and flexibility are quantum levels better than the other four.  Stands to reason that if I can get in even, say, 20 or 30 of them that those odds are going to go up.  I might even find one that makes dog meat out of the best two that I have right now!

This is on my mind because I've just run across largely the same problem with pencil sharpeners and ink.

I keep refilling the same ink bottle from a larger ink bottle and getting used to the texture of the ink.  Which is thick and then needs to be thinned.  Well, this week I ordered a small ink bottle of Speedball Superblack.  Which seems counterintuitive:  why would you order a dinky little 2 ounce bottle of ink that you have a 30 ounce bottle of?  But it made a world of difference.  I've come to the conclusion that the Speedball Superblack is the perfect consistency when you get it, but it dies pretty quickly.  And diluting it and doctoring it is the equivalent of putting electrodes on a dead horse and then running juice through it so the muscles twitch and saying "It's ALIVE!"  No, it's dead. Put it to one side and start over with a new horse -- er, little bottle.  Like, once a month, or every time I order new artboard.  EAT the $5 charge or whatever it is.  You're making your life a lot easier.

Same conclusion that I came to with the electric pencil sharpener.  The Xacto one that I've got works beautifully.  Needle sharp pencil points which is what I need.  Needle sharp for about a month and then it doesn't really sharpen like it used to.  The blades have worn down.  Now, it seems completely Looney Tunes to buy a new electric pencil sharpener every month.  But, how does the expense compare to the 20 minutes it's taking me to sharpen pencils for the really tiny, detailed -- under the magnifier lamp -- faces I'm doing?  First in the pencil sharpener, then with an Xacto knife, THEN on coarse sandpaper?

I know these things and then I have to relearn them.  DON'T "Make Do" -- do what you need to have optimum materials and keep them that way.

Maybe I can sign my electric pencil sharpeners and sell them on eBay with Cerebus head sketches on them or something.

See you all next week!


Anonymous said...

Amazing! Congratulations to all who contributed! I'll definitely pick one up as I don't currently own a copy.

I'd like to suggest selling large-scale posters or mounted prints of the some of the phonebook covers with the text removed. Especially the first four covers are striking images on their own, would fit nicely in a landscape format, and would probably sell the best. Sergio Aragones is currently selling a Groo poster for $60.00 a pop (at grooposter dot com) as a point of comparison.

- Reginald P.

Birdsong said...

I would love to see that and they would make very nice Kickstarter rewards for future Cerebus Archive portfolios.

Anonymous said...

I dig the pencil sharpener/ebay idea. Also, seconding Reggie and Birdsong.

-Wes Smith

Jp Pollard said...

They definitely sell Series 7 sable brushes in Chicago.

David Groenewegen said...

Or maybe Dave could just buy replacement blades for the pencil sharpener - e.g.