I was up at 2 AM going over and over the newly restored trade paperback of A DISTANT SOIL, which just arrived. The difference is astonishing. The clean, sharp tones, the line work, the bright white paper: huge difference in quality all around. I’m really amazed.
Also, pages were shot at a slightly smaller size, because there was a problem in earlier editions with art being lost in the gutter. And I had no idea until last night just HOW much art was getting lost. Since the new paper is finer quality, and since the book can lie flatter then before, you can see everything.
As most of you know, my project was put on hiatus and an extensive restoration process had to be done because our printer lost our archives. They told us they could not find our negatives. We’re relatively certain that the reason the printer lost our negatives is because they did not shoot the book from negatives in the first place. I’ve written before how low res scans can destroy original art with hand applied tone sheets, and knowing what I know now, and having gone over it with some folks, it looks like my printer ignored my instructions to scan and shoot the art from negatives, and instead shot it from low res scans.
Here’s a look.
The original self published editions of A DISTANT SOIL were shot from negatives. While comparing my TPB printing of 1997, to the comic book edition of 1991, the comic book edition shows very clean and almost perfectly reproduced tone sheets. This is scanned from the comic book, and though the page has yellowed, you see even tones.
Six years later, we published a trade paperback edition through Image Comics. Since many changes and corrections were made between the comic edition and the trade, we decided to redo the entire book from fresh negatives. The printer originally tried to send us digital scans for reproduction of the new edition. The quality was so poor, we asked them to toss them and shoot from new negatives as we’d asked. I recall the scans were at 300 dpi. However, the original art on A DISTANT SOIL must be shot at 1200 dpi.
They assured me they would reshoot and this was the best they could do. This is scanned from the 1997 trade.
As you can see, the art is crammed into the gutter, and the tones look very blotchy. The only change I made between the trade and the comic edition on this panel, was the addition of stars onto the background. However, there are telling splotches there in the sky which indicate this page was not shot from negatives. This is not the fault of Image Comics, by the way. They were nothing but supportive on the project. I’m afraid we just had some printer issues. We have a different printer now.
There are visible flaws where I used pro-white to correct drawing errors under the tones. They show up as pale splotches under what should be a clean, solid grey area. If this page had actually been shot from negatives, you would not be able to see those splotches. I didn’t know this at the time, and took the printer’s word for this being the highest quality reproduction we could get. Not only did I not get art shot from negatives, which I paid for, but I actually got art shot from very low res scans. It appears to be about 400 dpi, the highest the printer could do at the time.
Whether they ever had negatives in the first place, or shot from digital scans is academic at this point: they lost all our archives, which meant we had to start over.
Here is the same scene in the new trade paperback.
Naturally, the shot looks much crisper and cleaner in the book, but Allan Harvey did a remarkable job of removing every single bit of hand applied tone around all those niggling little bits of art, and applying clean new tones.
After having looked at the old trade for so many years, I did not realize how much bleed and dot gain played a part in changing the quality of my linework, which is, for the most part, very delicate. Well, you can really see how delicate it is, now.
The restoration is going to run a whopping $30,000 for the entire series. Bringing all editions back with full restoration and restocking, covering all printing, editorial, shipping, and other costs, before I get paid, will add up to about $120,000. Finishing the series will add another $20,000 to that tally, give or take a few grand. For me to get paid and pay for my other out of pocket, a bill which has been climbing for some years now, that could run the tally up to around $180,000 – $200,000. Whew. And people wonder why books go out of print.
Print is essential for my work, since almost all of my profit is made there. It is also essential for my future digital success, since without the restoration, we wouldn’t have a good digital edition for you, either.
I’m just finishing off issue 41 to send to Image and our printer. Quite late, actually. Remind me to post about what happens when you pencil, and letter your book only to find out the paper wasn’t properly sized and your ink starts bleeding all over the place. There was a great deal of weeping over here. Whine, whine.
Anyway…nine issues of A DISTANT SOIL left. Holy cow.
I’ll have minty fresh copies at BOSTON COMIC CON this weekend. If you can’t make it, please support your local comic shop, or try an online retailer. And you can also order direct from me, here.
Also, I’ll have minty fresh copies of the trade paperback collection of THE BOOK OF LOST SOULS prequel, the series I’ll be doing with J Michael Straczynski in 2014 with Image Comics/Joe’s Comics. Brand spanking perfect new.
THE BOOK OF LOST SOULS Written by J Michael Straczynski with art by Colleen! 120 pages FULL COLOR!
Jonathan, in despair over lost love and thwarted ambitions, commits suicide. He awakens in the 21st century, where he is transformed into a psychopomp, a spirit who escorts lost souls. Does he save them or send them to their doom?
He acts on the orders of the Dark Man, and his guide is a talking cat named Mystery.
And KOMACON! A beautiful full color hardcover, 90 pages, top quality paper and absolutely gorgeous! We just got our copies!
Stories by me, Anina Bennet, Joe Keating and more, with art by 6 incredible Korean artists! Great deal! Our prices include shipping anywhere in the US. Use drop down menu for foreign.