Friday, April 28, 2017

Back to Business As Usual

I've been discussing my restoration of the color pages of the Sgt. Kirk series with pro restorer Manuel Caldas. It's an old discussion in which he defends thick black repro for drawings and I don't because I think the lines should be affected by the colors. If yellow ink falls over a black surface it will turn olive green, methinks, so, it's no longer just black. Also, in some instances, the thick blacks may detract from a shadow or other effect (as we can see below and was shown also here). As Manuel put it, black was printed first so the yellow fell over it. On top of that there may be some lack of black ink in this particular newspaper page. Anyway, it looks more convincing to me as it is than if the black was really a thick black.

Frank King and anonymous colorists, Gasoline Alley, August 29, 1926.

The real problem, if there is one, is that until now no one thought about comics restoration theory. As many things in comics, this is a field almost untouched by scholars. The first point that should worry us, as it worries any restorers in other visual art fields, is authenticity. I thought about it, with Nelson Goodman's huge help, here. Contrarily to what you may read in the aforementioned post it's precisely the color (when it is not what the French call "couleur directe" [direct color]) that I don't think is autographic. Kim Thompson made me see my mistake. The colorist's work is autographic, but the color guides are not. Colorists and separators are not the same people, that's why there are notations for colors in color guides and that's why coloring in comics is not an autographic process, but a allographic one. This doesn't mean that the latter isn't obliged to follow the former's indications of course, but since the process is two stage with notations linking them it is, by definition, definitely allographic.

This answers one of my questions: does the printing technique matter? Being the coloring process allographic, after all, the answer is no, of course not.

That said, who's right?, yours truly or Manuel Caldas? We both are because, being an allographic process, it all bogs down to personal taste. The truth is that I'm a Ben Day dots fetishist and I love old newspaper comics coloring (but so does Manuel), out of register colors and all... In the case that the restorer is also a colorist s/he must follow the original color guides. If the restorer is just that, a restorer, s/he must leave the colors alone cleaning ink blots and erasing the effects caused by the passing of time (mainly by the tanning and foxing of the pulp paper). Scanners may help in recovering the vividness of the original coloring.

A few days ago I decided to make an experiment. I decided to randomly choose a Sgt. Kirk page and do what Manuel wanted me to do. I also increased the color saturation as Diego told me to. You can see the result below. I hope that you like it. I have to confess that, contrarily to my beliefs I like it a lot, but the process is so laborious that I doubt I'll do another one.

Héctor Germán Oesterheld (w), Hugo Pratt (a), Stefan Strocen (c), "Cerco de muerte," Misterix # 316, October 10, 1954.

PS Look at the rich textures of those surfaces and the smooth transitions and tell me if I'm not right in being a dots fetishist! Imagine it all flat and dull. It would definitely ruin everything.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

And Now For Something Completely Different... Yet Another Ridiculous Comics Canon

Most people couldn't care less about comics. Some people say that comics are crap. And, then, there are the fanboys.

Unfortunately the last ones are those who build the canon and that's, dear readers, why all comics canons are ridiculous.

To the penultimate I say: I hear you and I even think that, from your point of view and being in your shoes, I would say exactly the same. However, you're committing a mistake: it's the comics canon that is crap, not the art form of comics.

Below is the awful cover of a book by the Brazilian comics scholar Moacy Cirne: Quadrinhos, Sedução e Paixão [comics, seduction and passion - can you detect the fanboy in the title?...] (Vozes, 2001).

At some point the author includes his list of the best films ever created, as you can also see below.

#2 Persona
#14 Eclipse 
#18 My Darling Clementine 
#19 Brief Encounter 
#20 2001: A Space Odyssey 
#21 The Passion of Joan of Arc 
#22 Ugetsu 

The above isn't the film canon, mind you, it's just someone's list of favorite films. I could argue that some directors are sorely missing (Rossellini, Ozu), others are scarcely represented (John Ford) or are scarcely represented and not by their best film (Mizoguchi), or are overrated (Antonioni, Resnais), but anyway, if all lists are debatable what's not debatable, methinks, is that this is a great list of undeniably great films.

And now, brace yourselves please, here's Cirne's best comics list:

Do I need to say anything? Isn't the contrast between the two lists violently blatant? This is a mix of mediocre comics (The Spirit, Valentina, Sin City, Tarzan, Flash Gordon), so so entertainment (Little Nemo, Sandman, Fritz the Cat, Freak Brothers) and a couple of - sometimes - great comics (Krazy Kat, Ken Parker). Fred is one of the greats in my book, but not because of Philémon (ditto Oesterheld / Breccia with Mort Cinder even if there are a couple of great stories in the series). Others (the Brazilian ones) I have never read, I must confess, so I'll say nothing about those...

I can't be the only person on earth's surface who thinks that these "great comics" lists are ridiculous, or am I? Maybe in the comics milieu I am, but not among the others, those who rightfully scorn comics because, picture this: you are invited to dinner at someone's house and they feed you junk. What would you say afterwards? Maybe something like: "Don't go even near that place! There's nothing in there but crap!"

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Definitive Sgt. Kirk Reprint Edition Vol. 1 - Coda # 2

Today it crossed my mind that a page margin is important, so, this is how my Sgt. Kirk pages would look like.

Héctor Germán Oesterheld (w), Hugo Pratt (a), "Cerco de muerte", Misterix # 304 (July 16, 1954).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Definitive Sgt. Kirk Reprint Edition Vol. 1 - Coda

This is lots of fun. It's a shame that none of this will ever exist.
By the way, this cover is more in proportion with Misterix's dimentions than the previous one which was (before I changed a couple of details) the cover of Hora Cero Suplemento Semanal # 49 (August 6, 1958). The above image was taken from Misterix # 349 (June 3, 1955).

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Definitive Sgt. Kirk Reprint Edition Vol. 1

Today I imagined the design of my Sgt. Kirk reprint edition. It will be hardcover, it will have a cloth spine, and the reprint paper will be slightly beige. It will have the approximate Misterix dimensions: 9 x 6 inches.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Calling Diego Cordoba

Hi Diego!

After your comment I downloaded Photoshop so, my total amount of Photoshop working hours is approximately 5 minutes. Even so, what do you think? I just added saturation. I'm not a big fan of saturated colors if saturation hides the drawings, but it doesn't seem to me that it happens here.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The 100th

Below is the 100th "Sgt. Kirk" page that I restored. I'm almost finishing the "Cerco de muerte" [the siege of death] story arc.

As you can easily understand, it's not easy to go from this:

 Héctor Germán Oesterheld (w), Hugo Pratt (a), Stefan Strocen (c), "Sgt. Kirk: Cerco de muerte", Misterix # 316, October 8, 1954. this: