Monday, 24 March 2014

Weekly Update #23: Supplement

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 to work with Lebonfon to ensure the print-quality of the new Cerebus and High Society editions (as detailed in Collections Stalled). Now read  on...

A bit of a light week in terms of comments, so I'm going to "shoot from the hip" and address the issues raised:

Stephen Benson:
Actually, I'm going in the other direction.  A few weeks back I got up in the morning and checked the phone for messages and the phone was as dead as a doornail.  And I thought, "Well, okay -- that means that I'm just down to regular mail to communicate."  I mean, I ran that around my brain a few times to make sure that was what I was thinking but, yes, that was what I was thinking.

Then I left the house and a Bell Canada guy was repairing the -- pedestal, he called it.  Yes, he said, if you're on this side of the street, your phone will be dead until I get this repaired.  Snowplow had winged it.

I might get fax capability again at some point, but I'm really having trouble making a case for it. "WHY do I want people to be able to communicate with me INSTANTLY?"  We originally got a fax machine (three fax machines ago) back in 1990 but that was more because Mirage Studios had one (our first test fax -- still in the chronological Archive -- was a picture of Kevin) and Karen McKiel was angling to be one of Kevin's many "girlfriends".

The only real need for receiving faxes is orders from Diamond and that can be handled by mail at the pace that the books are selling these days.

As I say, I suspect I'll get a new fax/photocopier/scanner combo but it's going to require a trip out to Radio Shack way, way, way, way out past the Conestoga Mall even to make sure I'm getting the one I want.  And a trip to Radio Shack just isn't on my radar right now.  Getting STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND pages done is.

Damian T. Lloyd:
Thanks for your comments.  Much appreciated.

Jeff Seiler:
Yes, that's going to be the problem most of the time.  The guy or lady who answers the phone is very seldom the guy or lady who does the ordering.

But I think if you talked to the guy who does the ordering, he probably wouldn't have an answer either because the business isn't really set up for feedback.

A store would know if they ordered a book that people weren't buying because the printing sucked, but the odds are unless Diamond told them it was returnable (and Diamond would only tell them it was returnable if Diamond could return it, is my guess) then they would just be eating the loss and hoping that some people wouldn't be as concerned about the printing "sucking" and buy the remaining copies or the returned copy.

So we're pretty much on our own here.  Speaking of which:

Sean Michael Robinson:
Well, personally, I've pretty much decided that "proofs" are a waste of time since Lebonfon has already nailed it:  proofs don't look like finished printing anymore and that's the new normal in comics and printing generally.  So, what I'm attempting to do is to find a compromise between doing proofs and printing 3,000 500 page books "just to see what they look like" (which is basically what we did with the "unbound" copies).

I'm not expecting Lebonfon to print the sample "mixed" signature as if it was a proof.  I'm going to pay the printing bill on it and assume that Lebonfon will give it their best shot since whether or not they continue as the CEREBUS printer is going to be riding on the outcome.  You're going to look at it, George is going to look at it, I'm going to look at it and x number of CEREBUS fans are going to look at it -- and possibly one or more other printers are going to look at it (Gemstone relayed word through Matt, my Diamond rep, that they're not in a position to print the books but they are willing to help us out by giving me contact info for THEIR printer and help facilitate that).

And, yes, you're right -- there's a certain amount of trouble involved in getting the press fired up and printing enough copies to be sure that the printing is of the best quality.  That's why I'm asking them to set a print run:  here's how many copies we need to print of a signature to guarantee that we're giving you the best quality possible.  500? 1,000? 2,000?  That's their call.  Obviously, I'd like to get a "lower than usual" price quote because the only reason I'm doing this is because it is now a "given" that proofs don't look like finished printing, so I need to see finished printing of bit-mapped and non-bit-mapped problem pages to see if you're right or George is right.  i.e. either the problem is that the pages need to be tweaked and bit-mapped (your position) or the problem is that Lebonfon is just not doing good enough printing (George's position).

I hope George will send you the raw scans and what he considers finished scans for one of the signatures in HIGH SOCIETY.  But... I get into all that in this week's Update.

I'm not trying to upset anyone although pretty clearly a number of people are upset. I'm just trying to find a reasonable, sensible way to more forward with this.

Help finance Dave Sim to complete 'The Strange Death Of Alex Raymond' 
by making a monthly donation at Patreon or a one-off Paypal donation.

Originally serialised within the pages of the self-published Glamourpuss #1-26 (April 2008 to July 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.


Anonymous said...

Since Dave was kind enough to thank me by name for my comments: Dave, if anything I say helps you in your self-proclaimed goal of perceiving reality as accurately as you can, then I accept your thanks with humility.

Dave asks, "Why do I want people to be able to communicate with me instantly?" Good question! He doesn't do the kind of day-to-day business that requires that, and (by his own choice) has no friends who'd phone to arrange dinner or something. He said in the past that his creative work requires isolation and contemplation, and for that any instant communication can only be an impediment. We often speak of our "media-saturated age", but it never occurs to us to ask if that serves our needs, or if we personally might be better off with voluntary non-participation.

And if it's a choice between Dave communicating via fax, and Dave completing Strange Death pages -- well, the value of the latter far outstrips the former.

Dave said that "pretty clearly a number of people are upset." Are they posting here, or is Dave referring to the Patreon-only stuff, or perhaps to personal correspondence? The closest I can think of here is criticism of Lebonfon providing proofs that they couldn't guarantee were representative of the actual printing job.

At this point, is it a case of throwing good money after bad? Does Dave have enough orders for the collections to cover all these expenses? Or is it better to let the books fall out of print, and make available digital .CBR copies for cheap and high-quality full-sized photocopies for a premium? I see that a number of people want the books in print (and Dave himself seems to want the books in print), but the rational thing to do is to let the numbers decide.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, fra

Lee Thacker said...

Personally, I think a series of TSDOAR TPBs (trade paperbacks), or a signed HC [hardcover]) would be better, IMHO [in my humble opinion - hey! I'm down with da kids!)than a series of comics in this day and age. I'm showing my age, but I, a man in my late forties, don't buy regular 'comic books' any more - I wait for the 'collected trade paperback' (or LTD HC) version of the very few sequential art narratives that appeal to me. I'm still waiting for the 'greedy capitalist scum' version of Jaka's Story! However, an Aardvar Vanaheim version of the original art would be top of my 'TB' (to buy) list.