Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Cerebus Visits Lake Tahoe

Mara Sedlins:

After completing our first pass at cleanup and doing an initial layout of the pages, I took off for a couple weeks to visit family in Minnesota and Nevada. Besides being reminded why I live in San Diego (I swear, 40 degrees has actually gotten *colder* than it used to be!), I had some down time to read through and enjoy High Society as a novel.

A portion of that down time happened to be at Lake Tahoe, where soon after snapping the above photo I was approached by an elderly gentleman and his fluffy white dog. I had time to kill, so I didn't mind chatting with the guy for a good 20 minutes or so - turns out High Society is a terrific conversation starter (or at least an excuse for strangers to approach you). 

I talked to him about what a graphic novel is, about the idea of self-publishing, and tried to explain the work I was doing on Cerebus. He was intrigued, as well as impressed by the quality of the artwork, and promised to look it up - so Dave, you have a couple new fans in Incline Village, NV (Wayne, and his dog Sophia).

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.”

My little encounter at Lake Tahoe reminded me of this quote (attributed to Albert Einstein), often referenced in the context of scientific communication, but an interesting exercise no matter what you're working on. And as it turned out, I actually did have the opportunity to explain digital restoration to my grandmother (who turned 94 while I was in Minnesota).

At first I said some things about Photoshop and contrast and sharpening - but I think the only way I really got it across was with a side-by-side comparison of the before-cleanup and after-cleanup pages. Which I was able to do, since I brought a printout of the first hundred-or-so cleaned up pages with me, as well as our working copy of High Society.

Our poor copy of High Society, which was unbound with an exacto for ease of scanning.

Besides being able to explain the restoration work to my grandma, this also meant that I was able to compulsively highlight and make notes on the newly restored pages, catching a handful of details we missed the first time around (even though my intention was only a leisurely read). 

II also noticed a dramatic change in my reading experience when I switched to the older edition - I was a lot more distracted by degraded text, noise, etc. It was generally less "crisp", with a feeling of being slightly muddled or out-of-focus compared to reading the restored pages. My attention kept getting pulled into the low-level "structural processing" mode I mentioned in my last post, at the expense of experiencing the flow of the story. It'll be great to see the restored version in its entirety in the next day or so when Sean prints a full-size copy, which we'll check systematically for any inconsistencies or remaining cleanup.

I'll share some more thoughts about the plot itself in a future post, but as a preview I'll just mention that my favorite issue was "Mind Game II" (probably not a surprise, given my background). I really enjoy creative visual depictions of mental processes, and the "strange, grey scenery" as "a manifestation of ... mental clutter" (pg. 51) was brilliant.

1 comment:

Sean R said...

In case anyone's curious, the "full size" copy Mara is referring to here will be the at-original size laser printouts I'll put together, as soon as our new 11 x 17 laser printer arrives. Proofing at that size is our way of compensating for the fact that you can't really "proof" at the detail level of a web offset press, so having really large copies helps you catch noise/any other inconsistencies that otherwise would only show up at the final print stage. That's the theory, anyway!