Friday, 19 September 2014

Weekly Update #49: The Puma Blues Returns!

Fax capability has been restored:  519-576-0955

Not really sure what is going on, but I got the same "Not connected to the Internet" notice this week at the coffee shop and have now moved to An Undisclosed WIFI Location where -- with a certain amount of "futzing around" -- I have managed to get connected to the Internet!

  1. We are definitely now in "soon" mode for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO.  "Soon" meaning: before next week's Update unless John posts a STANDBY notice before then
  2. Dr. Mara to provide restoration "clean-up" options for me to view.
  3. I'll be doing an introduction for the collected PUMA BLUES from Dover Books.
  4. Final approval given of the box artwork for HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL

1.  I'm actually more psyched about CEREBUS ARCHIVE than I thought I was going to be. It is a very nice package and I still haven't put the four Cerebus Archive copies away even a few weeks after John gave them to me.  Which is a very good sign -- still have a POSITIVE response to seeing them "right over yonder" in the office.

John and I talked on the phone about the Major Variable this time out with which we have no previous experience: the Bonus Prints.  I sketched in a "point of greatest reduction" option on it: basically everyone who signs up gets an option to buy either one or two of the bonus prints for $8 each.  And then if we can hit the same $34K summit we did on CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE, everyone would have an option to purchase an unlimited number of prints for -- something less than $8.  HOW much less, we haven't really determined.

I pointed out to John that the Bonus Prints really complicate his job a lot more than they do mine.  For me it's just more prints to sign.  For him, it's going to be a lot to keep track of:  who ordered which prints and, consequently, which prints go in which folder?  So, that was why I was pitching it to him as a "point of greatest reduction" option:  if the one or two prints are an option for each individual, all he has to do is to "crunch" one or two extra items at a fixed price.  Basically, two pledge options that you can check off when you're signing up.

And then if we have an unlimited number of prints at the $34K threshold, then the volume of work that John will have to do -- and be compensated for -- should justify the complexity.

Of course, John "got it" right away and said that, no, he didn't think a "greatest reduction" option was going to work:  it's just too big a jump from "one or two for anyone signing up" to "as many as you want if we hit $34K".  There needs to be a series of plateaus "getting there".  So, that's what I'm leaving up to him:  to "crunch" his own numbers.  "This is the volume of business I would need to do in order to justify two or three extra layers of complexity".

So, if "soon" turns out not to be before the next Weekly Update, that's probably what will be in back of it.  And John will let you know what his progress is.

I also think it's going to be BONUS ITEMS as opposed to Bonus Prints, including signed copies of IDW variant covers that I did.  $8 or so seeming like a good "ballpark" figure for a signed variant where the increased cost of shipping shouldn't be a factor:  I'll just bag and board the comic books and John will tape the bagged comic or comics onto the cardboard mailer (which is getting rave reviews, by the way).  I expect the X-FILES and LOCK & KEY covers to be particularly popular.

Anyway, we should have a wide variety of items on offer which will -- hopefully -- keep bringing everyone back for future Kickstarter Campaigns. 

2.  I'm sure we all appreciate Sean Robinson keeping us all posted on the restorations process.  It's certainly interesting for Low Tech People like myself and I imagine it's quite a kick for the High Tech People among us as well.

The latest development is with Dr. Mara's clean-up work.  Sean wanted to know if I wanted to see, say, the first 60 pages.  I thought it made more sense to do a "Goldilocks" test, where Dr. Mara would do various stages of clean-up on the scans, starting from what she would consider "Adequate" up through "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" level and print out copies of, say, two or three pages where she hit each threshold.  And then mail them to me along with her own comments on where she thinks the "Goldilocks" spot is and why she thinks that's "Goldilocks" spot.

As we've seen with the CEREBUS trade, it's going to be hard not to revisit these questions as both Sean and Dr. Mara get better at what they're doing.  Time and distance are going to apply to the CEREBUS trade, as well, I think: give the two of them a year away from it and they're apt to see it differently -- and some obvious fixes.  That's where all of you come in as supporters of the CEREBUS ARCHIVE Kickstarter Campaigns.  It's not as if we won't have MANY ways to spend the money -- from training more clean-up people, revisiting earlier work, developing more intricate processes.  Those "curves" on the graph aren't going to stay stable.  OVERALL: they've managed to refine what they're doing down to around 20 minutes per page.  That's the primary "curve" and it's coming down.  But there are plenty of variables.

Still sticking with a Zero Deadline approach:  the secret hope is that we're going to be able to get close to or AT the Legacy Edition with this printing of HIGH SOCIETY.  We're watching our retailer patron, TF's, $10K contribution as it erodes.  I have SOME cash reserves (STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND money and a few thousand dollars from the Diamond cheque that paid for the CEREBUS trade) (which is now OFFICIALLY available, the Diamond order code unchanged, although it is called the REMASTERED CEREBUS VOLUME ONE).  I'll be talking to Tim at Diamond as we get closer to the printing time period to find out

a) how the CEREBUS trade is doing

b) if it's doing good enough to justify Diamond taking the same quantity of HIGH SOCIETY

c) if there are enough orders for CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE (the unsigned edition) to pay for the full page ad we did for it and generate a profit and a purchase order

A lot hinges on having hard numbers to base their decisions on and hard numbers require leaving time to for them to accumulate and time is what we tend not to have in abundant quantities.

Stay tuned.

3)  Got a phone message "out of the blue" (nyuck nyuck nyuck) from Dover Publishing saying that Michael Zulli and Stephen Murphy have gotten together to finish THE PUMA BLUES (they were within pages of being done when they ended up going separate directions) and they wanted to know if I would write an introduction.  Which I said I would.  It's really pushing the boundary of "going out in public" vis-a-vis me being popularly believed to be a misogynist...

(By the way, thanks to Dave O'Connell and Michael Cohen who signed a week ago and two weeks ago respectively, bringing us to 563 signatures on the I Don't Believe Dave Sim Is A Misogynist iPetition.  One signature a week being WAY WAY above our average lately)

...but, if there was something I would make an exception for, it would be THE PUMA BLUES.

I've spoken to their editor a couple of times on the phone and had a nice half-hour chat with Stephen the other day, so we're all "on the same page" as to what it is that I'll be doing.

Realizing that they would be going through the same restoration headaches (actually more -- I don't know if you remember that Michael was using duo-shade artboard on MANY of the pages: so even if they can find the original art -- which has been scattered hither and yon -- that duo-shade tends to die over the period of time since publication) that we're going through, I referred their editor to ANYTHING SEAN ROBINSON HAS POSTED AND WILL POST TO A MOMENT OF CEREBUS.  I also said that I was sure that Tim W would be more than amenable to let AMOC be used to promote the project as it goes along.

I also told their editor that I still have a stack of 17x22 PUMA BLUES posters that we did back in the late 1980s that's basically just a photo of Michael and Stephen on a mostly black field -- there must be at least 300 of them -- and he was more than welcome to them if he was willing to have Packaging Too build a RELAY BOX and a SHIPPING BOX for them (the idea being I would ship them to Stephen and Stephen would sign them and then ship them to Michael and Michael would sign them).  He was pretty sure the "higher ups" would be fine with that and that it would make a good retailer incentive when they get to the actual solicitation process (next year? Mid-next year? Late next year?)

Anyway, they're paying me a VERY generous fee for the introduction (which they've also agreed to make the introduction RECIPROCALLY OWNED by Michael and Stephen -- that is, EITHER Michael or Stephen can use it whatever way they want if they go their separate ways at some point -- as opposed to JOINTLY OWNED.  I'm hoping that Michael and Stephen would see THE PUMA BLUES the same way, but that's up to them) so it should be a number of pages long -- it will be nice to read the Entire Book in one sitting and to be one of the first to do so! 

4) Just on my way down here, the FedEx truck pulled up with print-outs of the final artwork for HIGH SOCIETY AUDIO DIGITAL.  It's a VERY nice looking package.

I faxed Justin at IDW and asked if he wouldn't mind posting the images here and doing a Q&A will all of us (well, except me -- I'll "bat clean-up" the following Friday).

No promises. He's a very busy guy. But, I do have to say that -- for folks going through their first time putting together an Audio Digital Book -- they've really batted this one out of the park.

Okay, I want to do a quick Patreon update and then it's back to THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND!

Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by donating at or via Paypal.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (2008 to 2012), The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond is an as yet uncompleted work-in-progress in which Dave Sim investigates the history of photorealism in comics and specifically focuses on the work of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond and the circumstances of his death on 6 September 1956 at the wheel of fellow artist Stan Drake's Corvette at the age of 46.


Birdsong said...

The Puma Blues? Finished? Oh my, that is surprising news and very welcome. I thought it was one of those things left to time that would never be finished. This is exciting.

I was wondering if the recently found and scanned original pages will be considered for inclusion in the Cerebus Archive portfolios at some point. It's just like scanning the pages from the Archive in Kitchener so why not?

Cerebus Archive Number One hasn't left my desk since I got it. I know I'll have to find a spot to store it and the next ones at some point, but for now I really love it and flipping through my trades to imagine huge prints of some of those wonderful pages from the series.

Ooooooooooh and prints, gotta have the prints.

The book plates were a awesome and very popular. They could continue to be a money raising option for sure.

Dave, if you haven't done it already, perhaps the coffee shop has a guest password for the free wifi and you could ask them for it. Just a thought.

Ok Cerebites, y'all have a good weekend and if you'ns can't be careful then don't git caught.

Tony Dunlop said...

I think I've been inside a comic shop maybe seven or eight times since Cerebus 300 came out…but a complete Puma Blues book would definitely bring me in. Very good news indeed.

Eddie said...

This is awesome news! A big thank you to Stephen and Michael and Dave and Dover and everyone involved in helping to bring it back from extinction.

Travis Pelkie said...

Puma Blues complete sounds cool. I found a few of the individual issues in a cheapo box several years back, and flipped through them a bit (!), and they look amazing, of course. Dover sounds like they're getting a lot of nice comics that "fell through the cracks" (Sam Glanzman's A Sailor's Story, originally a Marvel GN, is being done by them, iirc from BC), so this should be cool. Any word on whether this edition will include the "benefit" book material done by other people?

Bonus items like signed variant covers sounds way cool. I loved seeing them here at AMOC and would love better to be able to OWN the things in physical form, so that will be a cool bonus. Only worry is if you're offering TOO much at once, it may keep some people (like me) who want it all but can't shell out for it all at once out in the cold, so that's something to keep in mind.

IDW has apparently listed the Covers book in Previews -- I sent Tim a message on the side of the site message thingy, but who knows if it actually worked. Not only is IDW apparently offering it in the newest Previews book (coming this Wednesday) for early January release, but now on the Previews site, it's a featured item:

So hopefully you can carve out the time to get to that, although I'm still hoping you're getting the time to work on Strange Death too.