Friday, 31 October 2014

Weekly Update #55: "Life Is A Process Not An Event"

  1. Massive emergency renovation underway to the rear of the Off-White House.  Top priority. Damn The Torpedos, Full Speed Ahead
  2. Solid sales on the remastered CEREBUS Volume One through PREVIEWS:  475 copies ordered.  This bodes well for the remastered HIGH SOCIETY volume.
  3. Full Speed Ahead for me, transporting and scanning the artwork, as soon as the actual Kickstarter funds arrive.  Sean and John to follow.
  4. CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE the unsigned edition is most of the way to completion.  Funkmaster John and Funkmistress Shotgun have really outdone themselves "getting 'er done" in the midst of restructuring Graphic Edge Print Solutions.

1.  As I'm writing this, the rear wooden deck on the Off-White House is being carefully removed, plank by plank, in order to provide greater access for Tom H to that pesky left rear corner which turned out to be in more dire condition than originally thought.  Basically there are two layers of bricks that are supposed to be flush with each other and are now about six inches apart.  The house is pulling one way and the left rear corner is pulling another way and both are sinking.

This has caused a "knock-on" effect in our planning:  it doesn't really make sense to remove the deck, fix the foundation corner and then reattach the deck only to remove the deck again to start the dredging of the basement sometime in the next year or so.  Basically, what we've decided is "Full Speed Ahead": removing the deck, fixing the corner, removing the rear steps going down to the basement, removing and replacing the world's creepiest door (as Scott N has christened it) with a Top Security steel door and then working in four-foot increments into the basement.  (Yes, this can be done during the winter: Tom H is our brick-laying expert and he does brick-laying year round).  The idea (something of a theme for this week, as you can see from the Executive Summary) is that we move Full Speed Ahead while the Kickstarter money is there, with A-V getting billed currently and frequently.  When the money starts sinking to a dangerous level, the word is STOP.  Hopefully we can hook up to the next Kickstarter and the drop-off in pledge partners -- but the increase in $ because of the bonus prints (that many of you picked up on as the source of the $34K to $42K jump) -- will provide a sufficient base.

Scott and Tom both understand what we're doing here:  building a world-class research facility with climate control, secure storage and preservation.  The way to do that is not QUICKLY but THOROUGHLY.  Four feet at a time. For however long it takes.

Tom has a number of photos of the foundation restoration -- just to give you an idea, Scott originally had the job scoped as requiring six bags of cement and we are now up to, I believe, eighteen before Tom has even tackled the back corner -- and will be making a report here as soon as he gets his long-AWOL computer back up and running (which he has scheduled for tonight).  He has fifteen years of experience laying brick and was trained by the Old School Germans here in town, so anything you want to know about his decision-making, he'll be more than happy to fill you in.

2.  As Matt Demory, my Diamond Brand Manager said, It's hard to compare the CEREBUS trade to other items Diamond is selling because the book has been on the market for so long.  The long and the short of it, though, is that 475 copies represents a good chunk of the copies that Diamond ordered to help make the printing of the book -- and restoration -- possible.  As I'm fond of saying, Life is a process not an event.  What happens from now -- how many RE-ORDERS there are of the CEREBUS Volume One trade -- is going to be a factor.  But Matt and I are both cautiously optimistic that we're going to get back up to the numbers we were selling prior to the remastering.

Also a factor will be what kind of orders we get on the remastered HIGH SOCIETY 30th ANNIVERSARY SIGNED AND NUMBERED GOLD LOGO edition.  It's been so long since Diamond solicited the retailers with it that we really did need to cancel the orders and give the retailers another crack at it.  We've also decided that the number of signed and numbered copies will be based on how many copies are ordered through PREVIEWS.  On the one hand, it means the CEREBUS Loyalist stores have the opportunity to get a low print-run signed and numbered edition (the scuttled printing was signed and numbered out of 1100 and it seems unlikely that we would hit that mark on a straight "how many copies ordered" basis) while also putting the decision-making into the individual retailer's hands as to how deeply invested in CEREBUS they want to get.  This will be the only chance to get a signed and numbered HIGH SOCIETY, after all.

So, this is another "Full Speed Ahead" in terms of getting HIGH SOCIETY into the January PREVIEWS with an ad modelled on the CEREBUS one (Great job, again, Sean!).  Basically the trajectory will meet in the first quarter of 2015:  we'll have solid re-order numbers on the CEREBUS Volume One trade and initial orders on HIGH SOCIETY sufficient to give us an accurate idea of how many Diamond can sensibly order.  I've also said that it's up to Diamond if they want more signed and numbered copies than the initial order.  HOW many is one of those "when we get there" questions, I think.

3.  Still waiting on the arrival of the actual Kickstarter funds, but we are ready to go with the scanner when the money gets here -- as you all saw with Sean's "George Washington Post" earlier this week.  Once I have it and the computer needed to support it, it will be "Full Speed Ahead' transporting the CHURCH & STATE I original art to the Off-White House from the off-site storage, scanning and then returning the pages.  This is the "least fluid" situation right now because I'm still the cheapest source of labour for Aardvark-Vanaheim at around $5 an hour.  The only thing that needs to be decided is "how many pages can I do at a time?" both transporting and scanning.  I need to get out ahead of Funkmaster John who will be scanning the negatives.  I don't want to pay $6 or $7 a scan if we have the original art and Sean doesn't need the negative...

(that's apt to happen with the tone shrinkage problem.  As Sean receives the scans of the artwork, he's going to need to do an assessment of whether it makes more sense to restore the damaged tone or to just use the negative or a combination of the two -- "Photoshopping" in the tone but using the original art for the fine line details.)

(And then he has to notify John as to which negatives to scan and which negatives to just retain and preserve once he's cut them off of the flats that they're on.  The further out ahead of John I can get, the more time Sean will have to do an assessment.  So, I'M Full Speed Ahead, with John and Sean really to follow suit once I'm FAR ENOUGH out ahead.)

And, as with the house, I'm making sure John and Sean know that A-V needs to be billed as close to immediately and currently as possible because the Kickstarter money is going to be "squirting out" in a number of directions at once.  It's my job to watch the level drop and go STOP when it's time to say stop.  Cash Flow really has become Cash Rip Tides.  And my job is playing Cash Rip Tides Chicken with the A-V bank account.

Gird up thy loins, guys!

4.  We are starting to get really good at turning the CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONES around.  As Funkmaster John said, compared to keeping track of everyone's number and making sure all the right numbers get into the right numbered folio, doing an unsigned unnumbered edition is child's play.

So, good news for anyone who wasn't able to get the signed and numbered edition: it's pretty much a lock (God willing) that all of the Diamond warehouses will have their unsigned editions in the next couple of weeks.  If, as a retailer, you ordered one (and thank you!) that means you will be seeing your copies before the end of November and in time for Christmas!

And, thanks to Diamond's generosity in upping their order on this first one (and Thank YOU, Diamond!), reorders should be immediately available from those same warehouses.

Okay, I think that's about it.

I did want to mention that the ONLY complete sets of CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER TWO BONUS PRINT FIRST RELEASEs -- all 21 -- will be sent to:

1. Tim W. who has, obviously, been instrumental in "Off-White House Communications" and this experiment in "open governance" of an intellectual property, while maintaining an "arm's length" relationship with Aardvark-Vanaheim itself.  This is a news site, not Dave Sim's blog and I think we can all agree that Tim has done yeoman's service in maintaining this even with a full-time job.

2.  Troy T and Tim F, our $10,000 benefactors on the first Kickstarter in 2012 and CEREBUS ARCHIVE NUMBER ONE, respectively.  Just our way of saying that exceptional generosity does not go unrewarded or forgotten around here.  No "But what have you done for us LATELY?" at Aardvark-Vanaheim.

3. Rich Johnston of BLEEDING COOL.  Although people don't seem to "register" the unbelievable and unwavering level of sheer courage that Rich Johnston exhibits in being the ONLY (I repeat: ONLY) comics journalist to a) mention me b) mention my work c) mentioned them both favourably, this, again, is one of those things that doesn't go unnoticed by me in the toxic political climate which continues to dominate the comics field and the direct market.

See you all next week, God willing!

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