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...
|Glamourpuss #14 (July 2010)|
Art by Dave Sim
Okay, it looks as if George and Sean have their work cut out for them. Still no word from Lebonfon on a) the price for a single signature and b) what they can do to keep me and Diamond from having to pay 95% of the cost of getting the printing to look like the proofs.
Thanks to Barry D. again. Patreon.com is definitely the kind of thing that I'm looking for since it took me two and a half months to do STRANGE DEATH No.4 and that issue had a good ten pages from glamourpuss that I only had to add comic panels and transition backgrounds to. No.5 is going to have to be all new so that should tell me how fast or slow I actually am.
Let me try and give you a bit more of an overview of where everything stands now, thanks to a phone message from Brendan (no last name). He wanted to know where everything stands on:
THE GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING
That was an example of a book that everyone told me was a sure seller because copies of the original were going for $50 on eBay and it turned out not to be the case (a sure seller I mean). Sold a few hundred copies and then zip. I think that's the category that I'm in: stores have limited display space so they special order anything that isn't CEREBUS or HIGH SOCIETY. That requires Large Printing Bills for books that then trickle out over the course of years. I really should have stuck with my original plan: telling people that the GSP was designed to help young cartoonists, not as a cash cow, so if they can find the text online, download the text. No problem by me.
THE IDW CEREBUS COVERS BOOKS
The COVERS books are under Special Projects at IDW which is Scott Dunbier's beat. That covers a lot of territory, primarily (I'm guessing) the Artists Editions which are one of those "success attracts success" deals. The more of them come out, the more Prime Comic Art becomes available and then Scott has to prioritize. I'm not egomaniac enough to think the CEREBUS COVERS are going to be very high up on the immediate list even two years ago when we agreed to do them, let alone now. They've also reprinted the Walt Simonson THOR edition which means there's a new category: perpetual sellers. Again, I don't think CEREBUS COVERS are on that list. If you can sell another batch of Simonson THORs just by relisting them, you really need to do that. Also, I think Scott is determined to get ALL the covers and that's one of those things that only patience is going to lead to. And -- from MY standpoint -- and for all I know from IDW's standpoint -- I'm better off working on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND which is already going to take years to do. Three or four years to produce a year and a half's worth of monthly comic books. Stopping STRANGE DEATH to write commentaries on 300 covers -- how much time is that going to add to the wait time? Rhetorical question. None of us knows.
CEREBUS ARCHIVE COLLECTION
Well, that's one of those: is this another GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING where people SAY it will sell and it DOES sell but not in sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile? The other problem is that it pretty much...you know...drops off a cliff. Here's my history as a freelancer leading up to the creation of Cerebus. Almost got to the creation of Cerebus. All I'm going to hear is "Are you ever going to finish CEREBUS ARCHIVE?" Well, probably not. I'm glad I got as far as I did but even as a print-on-demand title it sold really badly. There just isn't a large enough audience interested in How CEREBUS Came To Be. For my own purposes, I think it helped in an area I was concerned about: putting my version of the history on record. For people concerned about that. To the best of my recollection, this is how it happened, these are the important elements and how they interacted. There are a number of different versions out there, obviously. Steve Peters suggested putting the issues up on KA-BLAM, the "other" print-on-demand outfit. It sounds good, but almost ALL of these things are in the "if you can just wave a magic wand and it happens", well, fine, but even the simplest thing takes time. I'd be more inclined to look into Barry's suggestion of Patreon because it's a "bottom line" thing. Here: you've got patrons who have committed for $80 a month. That's $80 you can bank on.
Same as the above but with the added problem of getting it confused with THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND before STRANGE DEATH even comes out. "Oh, yeah. I bought that collection. I thought it was supposed to be a comic book. What a drag". The story is ALWAYS going to garbled. ALWAYS. That having been said, when Lebonfon decided that would no longer store books for publishers, I had to figure out what to do with 6,000 copies of glamourpuss (and NO No.5's. D'OH!!). What I decided to do was to have them shipped to Waterloo and then sign them all so IDW could use them to promote THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND. They're all signed and they're sitting there while I look into packaging them here in town. Which isn't working, I've come to the conclusion in the last few days. So, soon the whole skid full of books is off to IDW to be... packaged... in some way. THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND: ORIGINS or something like that. But that's not a top priority right now with me just having finished issue No.4. That's something -- HOW to package them and HOW best to use them to promote THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND maybe a year or six months before No.1 ships -- we will be brainstorming about when I have, like issue 11 or 12 (God willing) done, two years from now? Three years from now?
THE CEREBUS MISCELLANY BOOK
Same deal as above. You're talking about a five-figure amount to print it. You're talking about how do I compensate the people I did jam stories with? Or do I? My view is that they can reprint their own work if they want, but Creator's Rights is usually interpreted as: cut me a cheque if you use my work. With JUDENHASS and THE GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING it was a one-time sale. If someone wants to offer to pay me back for the five-figure printing bill if it turns out to only sell once, but, hey the world doesn't work that way. "Gee, Dave, I thought the CEREBUS MISCELLANY BOOK was a guaranteed goldmine. Oh, well." I can't really afford even any potential "Oh, well's" at this point, I'm afraid.
Frankly, my biggest concern right now is the amount of money Diamond has tied up in CEREBUS inventory that isn't moving because the whole process of getting CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY back into print has dragged on for two years with no end NECESSARILY in sight. I mean, how long is it going to take for George and Sean to have a finished signature or finished book between them? As long as it takes to do it properly. Then we still have to work out how Imprimerie Lebonfon fits into this. Are they going to insist on an additional 50% on the printing bill? What happens if we look at the printed signature and don't like it?
With that in mind, I've floated a trial balloon with Diamond: suggesting that if we get to the finished signature stage and we don't like the quality that Diamond consider doing a run of CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY through Gemstone Publishing, Steve Geppi's publishing arm that does mostly the OVERSTREET PRICE GUIDE. Basically, doing a version of CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY that they can live with that matches the trade paperbacks as they are now. A one-time deal -- the Gemstone versions -- just to get copies of the books back in circulation while we keep negotiating with Imprimerie Lebonfon through 2014, 2015, 2016, however long it takes.
I'm not prioritizing the suggestion. I just made it to my Diamond rep instead of to his boss... or his boss's boss. It takes weeks for any suggestion to make its way to the person it needs to get to in an operation the size of Diamond. But, I have to look at "Do I see this logjam coming to an end in the foreseeable future?" Well, I'm trying to stay optimistic but I thought this would all be worked out before Bill Schanes retired as Diamond's VP of Purchasing -- and that was last April.
It's really none of my business as to how "antsy" Diamond might be getting about this. That's an internal Diamond question. But I see it as my job to offer a potential shortcut later this year if we get to later this year and nothing is happening. Diamond can compensate me whatever they want for the Gemstone editions of CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY. The idea isn't to line my own pockets, the idea is to treat Diamond as the major stakeholder they are.
Matt Demory, my Diamond rep said his Aardvark-Vanaheim file is... bulging. I have no doubt. All of my faxes and proof copies on CEREBUS and HIGH SOCIETY are stacked in the corner of the office and the stack is a good foot and a half high.
I wish there was an easy way out of this and, as always, anyone who sees anything I don't see or has a sudden VISION or an answer in a dream :) Please, post it here.
Okay, see you all next Friday.
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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.