Sean Michael Robinson:
The Cerebus Original Art Dragnet suffered a pretty serious blow this week when we heard definitively from a prominent art collector who owns several hundred (!) originals. No, he would not be contributing scans of any of his originals to the art hunt, nor will he be selling any of these pages in the foreseeable future.
This was particularly hard news as this person's collection represents a significant chunk of "in the wild" Cerebus art pages, pages that will now never be scanned for this project, will now forever be represented in print by second, third, or fourth-generation images rather than the pristine reproduction possible when sourcing from the original art.
I'm trying to be sanguine about this, but it's hard to be so while still finishing up work on High Society, a book that would benefit tremendously from any original art Cerebus fans supply us with. As most of you know, for both Cerebus and High Society, none of the negatives exist. In the case of High Society, a good 3/5ths of them were scanned by Sandeep Atwal before his tragic apartment fire, but the remainder of those pages can only be sourced by newsprint scans. And even the negatives are less than ideal, in many cases having been underexposed during initial photography. I've learned several tricks to correct for this, but, as I've said many times before, in many different ways, you can beat your head against the wall trying to make something look better through clever manipulation, but it will ALWAYS be better to fix it at the source. In other words, you could conceivably spend three hours on every page of High Society sourced from newsprint, and it still wouldn't look as good as if someone who currently owns the page drove to their local copy center and sent us a scan.
It's a depressing thought. Every page of High Society that we have original art, or even negatives, will soon look better in print than it ever has before. Every page sourced from newsprint, at best, will look almost as good as it did before, and only after tremendous amounts of work to make it so.
But I'm still hopeful. Mostly, because of people like Greg Kessler and Dean Reeves, who not only have contributed their own collections of scans, but continue to send us leads of auctions as they see them. People like Alan Kleinberger, who just this weekend sent us a scan of a great page you see above, that he just sold on ebay. People like Larry Wooten, who emailed Alan to let him know about the art hunt, and who has in fact continued to email people for the past few months hoping to net us pages. People like Dagon James, who sent us almost a dozen scans of pages he doesn't even own anymore, who scanned them for his own pleasure, but was willing to share with us what he had saved. Jason Crosby at ComicLink, who has twice now taken time out of his incredibly busy schedule to scan pages they have up for auction, for no reason other than it being the right thing to do.
And really, what better way to bring utility to a collection than the actual preservation of art that you care about? Not just in some abstract, locked-in-a-vault way of preservation, but active in the world, duplicated, helping to represent in print one of the singular achievements in comics?
The full list -- so far! -- of Cerebus Art Dragnet contributors-
And our other heroes, the Cerebus Scan Brigade, flying in the face of spine-bends since July of 2014-
Lots of news coming up the pipeline, so keep the eyes peeled and the ears large and mobile!
Cerebus Restoration Update: Non-participation by 'Prominent Art Collector' -- hundreds of 'Pages In The Wild' lost! http://t.co/4Gme02rPkQ
— A Moment Of Cerebus (@MomentOfCerebus) November 22, 2014