Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Cerebus Restoration Milestones- Second Birthdays

Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings, Friends of Cerebus!

It's been a while since I've updated AMOC, or indeed, anyone but Dave and Sandeep, on the state of the Cerebus restoration. It's now been a little over two years since I started on this project, which has so far restored 2,300 or so pages and has taken literally thousands of wo/man hours.

As the time between updates increases, I have more and more to write about, which makes the actual writing more and more difficult. So forgive me the brief summary I'm about to indulge in.

What's Been Happening/What's the Status of My Favorite Cerebus Book?

READS- status: Complete

The work on Reads, including my long and involved end notes/essay, is done! The book is in production as I type this, mid-job at Marquis, our new printer. They've been fantastic to work with so far, very thorough and detail-oriented. As a for instance—it's not every prepress department that will kick back a cover because the writer's names aren't centered on the spine to the millimeter. Reads will be completed on the 5th, and will be shipping to Diamond shortly after. This will in all likelihood be the best-looking Cerebus trade yet.

Church & State II- status: Restoration Complete, awaiting essay and back matter

Of all of the books I've worked on so far, this one and Volume One (see below) will have benefited the most from the work we've done. Part of it is the sheer range of techniques that Dave and Gerhard tried in the book, and how much better those techniques can translate now to the printed page. The snowstorm. The moon. The stars and other celestial events. The Scuwws. All textures dependent on tiny flecks of texture or dense dark areas that easily fill in on photography and when printed on porous paper. When this book sees print (i.e. when there's demand for another printing!) it's going to blow some minds.

I haven't finished the back matter for this book yet as what shows up there is somewhat dependent on paper roll size, i.e. the size of the signatures we can get for the book. We're printing Reads with Marquis, an Ontario printer, on a paper that's not typical for them, that they have to special order for our jobs. Because of this, it's expensive for them to have a variety of paper roll sizes. Reads was printed with large 32-page signatures only. Since the current size of C & S II is 640 pages (20 x 32 pg signatures), this means that any pages we add will have to be a new complete signature. 16 pages of back matter, on another size paper roll they have to special order? 8 pages, and have them hack off half the signature and pay for it as waste? I'm not sure of the right decision for this, and it'll likely change over time as the paper availability and use does or doesn't change. Hence, not yet finishing the back matter yet, since it might need to get cut for publication. I do, however, have a draft of the essay.

Going Home- status: restoration begun, halfway through cleanup

Surprise! Going Home ended up being the next book we'll be printing. I'll have several posts dedicated to this starting next week, so let's skip forward for a moment to-

Cerebus Volume One- status: Restoration Complete, awaiting revisions, layout and essay

Those of you who have been following along for the two years of this restoration project will remember that it began when Dave was having problems with the sixteenth printing of Cerebus Volume One, and the eleventh printing of High Society. Unbound copies of the book had been printed but had mysterious moire across the images, and the line art seemed soft and indistinct. This dispute—what had happened and whether the printer was responsible—went on for almost a year before I ungraciously butted in, getting into a protracted online discussion of prepress and print techniques that finally turned into a general agreement for me and my colleague Mara to produce four replacement signatures for the Cerebus volume, restoring the pages to the best of our abilities at the time and replacing the pages most effected by the moire.

Ever since then, each book we've worked on, the plan was to one day return to the first volume, and complete the work we started.

And now it's done! It has been without a doubt one of the most labor-intensive projects I've ever completed. I say this as someone who's co-written and illustrated a book, written engineered and produced a half-dozen albums from the ground up, and is currently raising a small child.

Why so intensive? And why did this work have to be done in the first place?

Well, it turns out, there has never been an edition of Cerebus Volume One printed from the original negative.

In fact, the majority of the Swords editions were also printed from negative "dupes" of the original photography, most likely made from printed copies of the original issues. 

How do I know? From studying the original monthly issues.

There are three major types of source material used for the Cerebus Volume One restoration. The first, and most frequent in appearance, are the original monthly books, specifically, the Dave Sim File Copies sent to me by Peter Dixon of Paradise Comics. 

Below is an image from my recent restoration work, scanned from the DSFC of the original monthly issue #4. Next to it is a scan of my 6th printing copy of the book. As near as I can tell, this issue was only printed once from the original negative—when it was originally published. Every other time has been from a replacement negative made from a print copy of the book. Of the 25 issues in the first volume, only 8 retained their negatives through the Swords of Cerebus and Cerebus Volume One printings. 








Even if you have an original printing of issue #4, you'll find that the page in question appears much more filled-in and dense than the artwork above. That's because, during the course of the work on this volume, I figured out a technique of reversing dot gain, that is, shrinking every area of a finished page uniformly in order to reverse the amount that the ink had spread during the printing process originally. 

This might sound a bit crazy. It certainly would take a crazy amount of time to explain it and explain how I tested it to make sure it really works the way I thought it works. The very short version—dot gain is the amount of spread that, inevitably, occurs when you print. Depending on the surface (substrate) you're printing on, the print process, the ink formula, etc, you get more or less of this spread. On a web press it's not even uniform—different parts of the form, and even sometimes across each impression, have varying amounts of dot gain. But mostly, per page, it's fairly uniform, and when it's not uniform, it's usually visible. 

The visual effect of this spread isn't linear—i.e., areas that appear dark/dense fill in quicker, because the ink is welling in from all sides. But the actual process, i.e. if you measure the amount of spread of the ink, is linear. So, if you had some way of shrinking all areas of black on your page uniformly, and you had a definitive metric that you could use to calibrate your correction, like, let's say, a thirty percent dot tone on every page, then you could conceivably reverse dot gain and still preserve all of your detail.

And so that's what I did. The trick only works because I'm working in an outrageously high resolution space—2400 ppi. I finished each page, restored and made the most pristine copy/capture of every detail in the original printing, cleaned up all noise in the newsprint, and then flattened it to bitmap. And then applied a very low radius gaussian blur to the entire image. Brought up the levels command, lowered the mids/exposure until the tone I was using to calibrate reached the desired density, then after the levels adjustment, sharpened the entire thing at the same radius that the blur was at initially. The result? All areas of black uniformly shrunk, all detail preserved. In a case where there was variation in visible gain across the page, and that gain happened to line up with the tiers/panels of the page, I adjusted the tiers separately to the same end.

The end result is the reversal of any dot gain in the original printing that didn't completely fill in an area of darkness. The result is, frankly, better than the original printings, despite now being one more generation removed. And the resulting book is going to blow the earlier printings of the collected volume out of the water.

(There are other ways to open up line work, but I've been reluctant to use any of these "spot-applied" methods, as it changes the overall tonal balance of the page. As a pen and ink illustrator, I'm sensitized to tone in black and white work, how those tones and textures interact with each other. If you "open up" one area of dense crosshatching from, say, 70 percent to 40 percent but leaving surrounding tones alone, what have you done to the balance of that area of the page? If you "open up" the clogged tone of a figure but leave the remainder of the page filled-in, how have you affected the balance? Therefore, I've restricted myself in this work to linear processes that act evenly across an entire selection. It's not enough that every line drawn remains, but that they remain the same size in relation to the surrounding lines and tones as well).

The second major source of artwork was a combination of these file copies with the only digital scans ever made from the original negative, made way back in 2004 (?) or so by Lebonfon. This neg scan was a copydot scan, and had a host of problems of its own, and it's rather deserving of its own post how I was able to wrangle it to work with print copies. What follows is the short version.

The copydot scans are 1-bit direct-to-bitmap scans of the original negative (or, when the negative had been replaced, the dupe negative). The exposure had been dramatically spiked when they were scanned, which caused much of the fine-line information, fine tone, and gray brush strokes to blow out, and made each page much lighter than it was originally drawn. These are the scans that were the basis of most of the sixteenth printing work. But, being direct scans of the original negative, the dot tone was pristine, with none of the junkiness of tone you see from dot tone printed on pulpy newsprint. It also had information in the dark areas that had filled in in the initial printings. So if only there was some way to combine these scans with print copy restorations to get the best of each type, without having a mismatch in exposure...

Well, with the "de-dot-gaining" technique I discussed above, I could do just that. Converting the bitmap to grayscale and bringing it to the right resolution, a very very narrow radius gaussian blur, and then I could re-expose the page using the tone as reference, bringing it to where it had been previously. Then completely restoring the Dave Sim File Copy version of the page, "de-dot-gaining" it to the same exposure, and placing the two together via Auto-Align Layers function in Photoshop. And finally, figuring out which one had the most information I want to keep, and erasing or otherwise eliminating the rest.

Here's a peep at one of the pages restored using this technique. Above is the blown-out scan from the negative, and below is the combined page, restored from a combination of the negative and newsprint. 



Labor-intensive? Check. A little crazy? Check. Pretty? Check.

The last source of artwork?

Of the 538 (?) pages of art in the book, a full 94 pages of those are now sourced from direct scans of original artwork—almost double that over the previous printing. It's been very slow lately, but the Art Dragnet is still pulling in pages. 

As always, the original artwork is in a class by itself. Even though the tone is a wreck on virtually every page I've seen, the amount of detail that can be found is really a revelation, almost to a page, as detail that would have previously been too fine to be captured by stat camera or would have gained up and filled in after being printed is able to be revealed for the first time. (Including, sometimes, unintentional "detail" that needs to be drawn out—most frequently, razor blade white lines from the edge of where the tone was cut.)





If the image above doesn't say it loudly enough, let me be more explicit—We need your original art scans! We need your friend's original art scans! We need your local comic shop's original art scans! We need your wacky neighbor who has hoarded two hundred pages in his closet and forgotten about them's original art scans! Seriously, where are these pages? I know they're out there somewhere... Any leads? Email me at cerebusarthunt at gmail.

So, that's the state of Volume One. With a book this long and a process this, uh, complex, there are bound to be revisions once I've had a bit of time away from it, and had a chance to make oversized prints of the work so far. (In fact, I'm seeing a bit of additional cleanup just putting together this demonstration here...) But for the most part, the labor is done.

Now it's time for your part.

What, exactly, would constitute for you, Cerebus Reader, as the Best Possible Version of Cerebus Volume One? We're already enlarging the image area (104 percent of previous volumes), and presenting better paper/printing and Smythsewn binding so that the book opens flat. But is there anything else that should be done to this volume when it finally goes to print? 

Dave and I had discussed the possibility of adding the Swords of Cerebus intros back into the book, but at the rear this time, as annotations, so that they don't interfere with the readability of the book a a whole. Does this seem like a good idea? Bad idea? Keep the banners? Keep the layout? Any other changes you can recommend?

If you've made it this far, I commend you for your endurance. I look forward to your comment.


34 comments:

Travis Pelkie said...

I skimmed. Going Home next? WHA?

As to volume 1 being made more gooder, Swords intros at the back sound good. Were the Silverspoon strips essential enough to need to be included?

Otherwise, I dunno yet. I gotta look through volume 1!

Sean R said...

Hey Travis,

The Silverspoon strips are in the most recent printings, and will be in this one as well.

Tony Dunlop said...

What about "what happened between issues 20 and 21?" That's a tricky one, as it didn't appear until we'd already met Astoria in the monthly book, and if it were included in the Vol. I phone book (nyah nyah) would, I imagine, make her sudden ex-nihilo appearance in High Society quite a different experience for a first-time reader. Has there been any discussion along those lines?

Sean R said...

Hey Tony!

I've read and reviewed all of the possible extras, and it's my opinion, anyway, that the only short stories/extras that could conceivably be added and would positively affect the flow of the book and reading experience would be Magicking and possibly Passage. Some have a different tone or don't take place in a clearly defined place ("Demonhorn," for instance) You've hit the nail on the head as to why "What Happened Between?" doesn't really work that way. It doesn't actually answer anything, and it's written with a post-event, looking back to reveal info kind of tone.

Certainly open to your suggestions tho! And, you know, I'm just another opinion here. I think the author and the patrons are really the ones whose feedback has weight.

Sean R said...

That is, added into the actual flow of the book as the Silverspoon stories were.

Kit said...

Amazing work, Sean.

Swords intros (in the back) would be good in theory, but at some point future printings might start to feel like they're missing Dave's commentaries from other sources like Patreon and the Kickstarter portfolios...

My old copy of the first trade has some of the Swords stories slotted in at the appropriate places as loose photocopies. As well as including Silverspoon, I think Magiking ought to fit between 12 and 13, and The Morning After*, Between 20 And 21 and A Night On The Town* could appear as additional material in the back. Name Of The Game could appear either before issue 12, or in the back.

(I'd also vote for #51 and #112/113 making it into future editions of the collections, especially in digital if that becomes an environment in which Cerebus' availability is well-curated. In print, #51 could be separated from the bulk of High Society by Sean's essay or other backmatter, and #112/113 could, if binding necessitated, be a prelude in Melmoth.)

*These two would also be just as well housed in a miscellany with the two Cerebus Dreams stories, The Applicant, and the Cerebus Jam material. If such a book was definitely going to exist, Magiking and Silverspoon are the only two I'd tag as essential for Volume One, and let binding shape further selection.

Kit said...

Whoops - the three posts before mine appeared while I was typing, and made mine slightly redundant.

Sean R said...

"and made mine slightly redundant." No, not at all! Thanks so much for the feedback. Keep it coming!

iestyn said...

On a slightly different note - which pages do you already have?

It would be useful to know what to look out for if we see it

Tony again said...

I agree that the "Silverspoon" strips are essential to the continuity of the storyline in a way that none of the other "apocrypha" are - but "What Happened…" and, to a lesser extent, "Magicking," are definitely part of the continuity in a way that none of the other pieces from outside the monthly book are, as far as I can recall.

trail of bread said...

I really came into Cerebus with the Swords collections and left them in a relationship I left 30 years ago. So I would love to have them back in print.
I have #51 and #112/3 but would love them AND "what happened..." to be in the new improved phone books (what do we call them now that only people of a certain age understand what is phone book was?).

Sean R said...

How about the Aardvarkian Age map?

Jeff Seiler said...

Trail: "Doorstops".

Sean: Yes, but use the one Jeff Tundis made. Six feet X three feet, I believe. ;)

Margaret said...

Wowza! Those touched-up pages look amazing.

I like having any and all commentaries in the back. The map would be a nice addition.

I'd prefer the Cerebus apocrypha in its own book. I think having them added in interrupts the original pacing Dave had set up with the phonebooks. I'd take out the Silverspoon strips too, but that is just me.

Bill Ritter said...

Those things I wish for in the realm of Cerebus...

Sorry, Sean, for the hijacking as I do not think this quite falls into what you'd asked for.

* A "final" volume containing all the other Cerebus stories not printed in the collections. The EPIC Magazine pages, the in-between issues, the one-shots (3D book, Swords story).
* A collection of the 19 issues of Cerebus Archives
* Aardvark Comment and Letter from the President collection
* Special edition hardcover of all volumes (maybe a S/N printing, of only the remastered editions, 500 copies) - this might be a way to get into printing C&S II, Cerebus Vol1, while the softcovers remain in stock

As aside...I recently bought the Rachel Rising HDCVR limited for, $100 or so. And the Red Range for $210. Suggesting I'd buy a Cerebus S/N for somewhere around $100-$250. If there are 100 other fans similar to me (lord have mercy), that's $10,000 for 100 copies @ $100 per. $50,000 for 500. Figure the true reality somewhere in the middle...? Sean, you'd know the printing cost for a HDCVR and whether 100 is decent enough margin. But, golly, I'd love something like this on the shelf...

Sorry for the hijack.

Bill Ritter said...

Also, Sean...always enjoy your posts and descriptions, and obviously tremendous and wondrous work you've done. Thanks!

Jimmy Gownley said...

I agree with Bill R in regards to hardcovers. As someone who published hardcovers, I can't understand Dave's resistance to them. You're already printing the guts. The cost is not problematic when you consider the mark-up, It would be a newsworthy event in the comics industry, a significant revenue generator for AV, and fans would LOVE them.

The restoration work is absolutely stunning (and having seen some C&S 2 pages, you ain't seen nothin' yet!). I think it should be shown off in the best possible format, as should CEREBUS itself... considering it's, y'know, a MASTERPIECE and all.

It's never gonna happen, but that's my two cents.

Thanks for these posts Sean!

Sean R said...

Hey Bill and Jimmy!

Thanks for the thought-provoking comments. Sounds like a fine idea for a 40th anniversary celebration, eh? Jimmy, do I understand that some printers will allow a print run to be cased different ways, so you could conceivably make a short run offset hardcover from a portion of a run, in order to meet minimums? What book of yours did you do this for? I'd be curious any details you'd care to share.

Jimmy Gownley said...

Yes, Sean You absolutely CAN do that!

The printer we used was called Samwha and was located in Seoul. I believe this was in July of 2006. They provided excellent service, gorgeous full color printing, and were able to do both a hardcover and softcover edition from the same run of interiors. They had smyth sewn bindings and beautiful paper. We did not choose to do dust-jackets, because the market we were going to be selling them to was primarily libraries. I didn't even bother to price dust jackets since we weren't going to need them, so I'm not sure how much that adds to your cost, but for black and white dust jackets like Cerebus would (mostly) need, I'm guessing, not much.

I self-published four Amelia Rules! collections before licensing the series to Simon and Schuster. Dave has copies of them, so he can check out the quality.

Our initial run of each Amelia Rules! trade was 6,000 copies. 5,000 were paperbacks. 900 were regular hardcovers, and 100 were signed and numbered editions (We did this by adding a bookplate, so there was no on-press changes.) I can't remember the specifics of the Mark-up for each, but as I remember it was the hardcovers that made the books instantly viable, and allowed us to have some cash-on-hand when we had to reprint the paperback editions. We did several more editions of each, but made it clear that the hardcover was a one time only thing. I thought that that way, people would want to get them while they could.

I have a copy of Vol. 2 "What Makes You Happy" right here. It retailed for 24.95, is 176 pages in full-color, and even has beautiful full-color endpapers. Between you and me and the internet, I like them better than the ones eventually put out by S and S.

I could think of no series more deserving of the deluxe treatment than CEREBUS, and I'm convinced it could be profitable too.

You can email me if you have any other questions, or you can get my # from Dave. I'd love to see this happen!

Michael said...

Add me in as another voice for a hardcover version. If there is doubt about the required number of individuals to make such a version viable, I would suggest kickstarter as the perfect mechanism to get peoples money where their mouth is. Keep it simple without a multitude of variants and bonuses. Make it a straight up I want a hardcover version of whichever trade is up next in the remastered form, at the price needed to produce a quality product. Lets see if the market actually exists. If it doesn't and you don't meet the goal then its no loss, but if there are enough people willing to money up the cash then why not?

Travis Pelkie said...

While I'd like to see HCs at some point, I think you want to wait until you can get to a point where you can release those books in order. So far with the remastered books, we've gotten them in order, but if Going Home (volume...14, right? No, 13, yeah?) is next, we're skipping around. A lot! I think it's smart to at least see how the sales shake out with this volume before going for a run of HCs. (If Dave even says ok.)

Also, do we go bigger with HCs? All of C&S in one book, M&D in one book? Going Home and Form and Void in one book?

While I'm not confident in seeing HCs any time soon, who knows, because I sure didn't see Cerebus in Hell? !

Ibis said...

This stuff really needs to be in HC one day. I've heard of the logistical and financial difficulties involved, so I'm not holding my breath. Still, it needs to be in HC. The world yearns for HC. Can't you hear it groaning? I can.

Ibis said...

Also, and for the record, I'd be willing to pony up the cash on a per volume basis on Kickstarter.

Tony one more time said...

I'd also be willing to pony up $100 or so for high-quality hardcover volumes on Kickstarter, but by all accounts we're going to have to wait until Dave is dead and Cerebus goes into the public domain...

al roney said...

It sounds like the logistical and financial obstacles for Hardcover volumes really don't exist, especially if you have the cash in-hand up front via Kickstarter.

To be honest and FWIW, I have all the remastered versions to date and, at least, doubles of all the other Cerebus volumes; so the only thing that's gonna have me reaching back into my wallet for the original story content again are Hardcover editions.

Sean R said...

Hey Al,

There are loads and loads of obstacles, though, mostly involving distribution method and currently existing inventory. I'm not saying they're insurmountable, but it's not as simple as "sell this thing to us!"

Please keep the suggestions coming. And thanks for the great info, Jimmy!

Steve said...


As concerns hardcover volumes, please meander over to Gerhard's blog for April 2016 and take a look at the stack of custom bound hardcovers.

This is a set I had bound locally for Corey. Issues #1-25 are the bi-weekly reprints, everything else was original issues. Interwoven with the reprints I placed these extras:

Book 1 is 1-25 plus:
Passage: between 3/4
Demonhorn: between 5/6
Cerebus Dreams and A Night on the Town: between 6/7
Diamondback: between 10/11
The Morning After: between 11/12
Magiking: between 12/13
Silverspoons: between 13/14
What Happened..: between 20/21

Book 2 is issues 26-50
Book 3 is issues 51-80, plus the Exodus intro from Cerebus Zero, Dreams II from Following Cerebus 10, and Untold Tale from AARGH
Books 4 is issue 81-112/113, plus the 112/113 intro from Cerebus Zero
Book 5 is 114-150 plus the 137/138 intro from Cerebus Zero
Book 6 is 151-174
Book 7 is 175-200
Book 8 is 201-231
Book 9 is 232-265
Book 10 is 266-300

The bindery I use has these pre-made edge sheets that comprise the paste-down page to the inside covers plus two free pages. If some HC set is done I think sets of sheets like these being signed/numbered by Dave/Gerhard and then sewn in as part of the finished book would present much more professionally than a simple bookplate.

Sergio Aragones was here a few years ago and he signed/sketched several of these loose sets for me to use as I complete custom book sets of his work.

And several years ago I broached the subject of doing several custom HC sets with Dave's cooperation, sounding him out on the idea via the only phone conversation I've had with him. His view was the shipping would be prohibitive to ship there and back for signatures - but with the pre-made end sheet sets, that cost is minimized. (I have 2 or 3 full runs of the series, I was thinking of some sort of Ultimate Cerebus set Dave could auction. That ship has sailed, and that's OK.)

But there's absolutely nothing preventing fans from making their own hardcovers, including or excluding whatever material they see fit, using issues or phonebooks.

Steve

Steve said...

Oh, I forgot:

The Cerebus warehouse issues - there's full runs or near full runs of many of the phonebooks right there.

You want your hardcovers? Get up there for your free issues!

Or ship them to me, I'll get them bound, and we'll work out some method of adding value for the fans and making eBay auctions a viable option.

Steve

Tony again said...

But then I no longer have stand-alone issues; plus, now that Sean's amazing restoration work is available, why would I want a hardcover edition of anything else?

Steve said...


Tony -

There are fans like myself who want the covers, the editorials, the letters; the whole enchilada!

So, there is a trade-off in that the remastered art is splendid, but it's (for us whole enchilada fans) half the story, and binding the issues gives us all of it - plus whatever we wish to add.

But partly too what I'm expressing is this: if no HC volumes come from A-V via Kickstarter or whatever, that doesn't mean you can't have a HC volume.

It just means you've got to find a decent bindery and have the project done for yourself.

The vast majority of comics suffer absolutely no loss when all that's presented in 'graphic novel' reprints is the art pages.

But I would argue that several titles (Usagi Yojimbo, Bone, Strangers In Paradise - just to name a handy few) have such a personal, creator touch in the 'back matter' that is completely lost to the reprint-only reader.

Steve

Anonymous said...

What Happened..: between 20/21 really should NOT be included in Book One. It doesn't make any sense until you've already read Book Two, and if shown before then it becomes a spoiler. I think it ought to be saved for the Miscellany volume.

Likewise 'Ef Guest,' which deserves to be reprinted, but is stylistically out of place when it was published.

My fantasy would be to see Dave finish the cleanup of the dragon story and ink the wrestler story, but that's clearly not going to happen now. :( Unless Gerhard could be talked into doing it.

Dave Sim said...

What you guys aren't taking into account is that these are 500 page books and 600 page books. If they were 170 page books, then you would be talking -- MAYBE -- about $100 editions. Proportionately, all of the costs are huge. If it doesn't equate to $300 per book, it's much closer to that than "Oh heck -- 100 page book 500 page book. What's the difference?" That doesn't even begin to address the size of the books now that Sean is getting the paper that he wanted which has effectively doubled the size of CHURCH & STATE I. Or what it costs to ship or get specially made boxes for them. At $100 for a 500-page book I can pretty much guarantee we would be losing money.

I try not to make anyone feel bad about doing 150-page graphic novels -- it's quite an achievement -- but the idea that there isn't a significant difference between 150 pages and 500 pages is just delusional.

Especially when you start talking about adding 100 pages to the CEREBUS volume. You're ADDING the same number of pages that the average graphic novel CONSISTS of. That doesn't cause the expenses to EXPAND, it causes them to MUSHROOM.

al roney said...

@Dave

(From my response to your response to Sean's post)

Obviously, this isn't an exact comparison, but Marvel and DC frequently publish HC's well in excess of 500 or 1000 pages for under a hundred bucks retail. They're not alone though.

I'm sure large print runs lower the cost, however...

...I'm holding in my hands a HC book you wrote the intro for (The Puma Blues) that weighs in at 560 pages (with a dustjacket) that will set you back just 20-bucks on Amazon.

In no way am I knowledgeable (nor would I claim to be) in publishing costs, but if a lesser-known title (no offense to Murphy and Zulli intended) with a low print run can put out a nice-looking HC for well under a 100 greenbacks, maybe there are some options out there that haven't been fully explored yet?

Maybe?

No one expects to pay 20 for C & S, but 3, 4, 5 or more times the cost of The Puma Blues HC? Not...a...problem.

Jimmy Gownley said...

Oy Vey. If you can publish a full color hardcover 176 page book ( i try not to make people feel bad about publishing in black and white ;) ) for 24.95. You can publish a 500 page black and white hardcover for 5 times that amount. I have a 350 page King Aroo book with a full color hardcover with foil embossed logo that retailed for 40 bucks.

I mean, I get it. It's big! I just love Cerebus and want to see it succeed in as many venues as possible. I can only imagine the amount of library systems (not library BRANCHES but library SYSTEMS that won't touch Cerebus because of the old bindings. The new ones are a vast improvement.

If you don't want to do it or don't want to explore it, that's totally fine. I have purchased the whole series about three times over. Why? Because it's the best.