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Author Topic: Repro question  (Read 799 times)

Max Headroom

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Repro question
« on: 29 April, 2018, 08:08:58 pm »
In the light of the recent discussions over on the 2000ad Ultimate Collection thread about the improvement of the reproduction comparing Rebellion's edition of Slaine: Warriors Dawn with the new Ultimate hardcover. I wanted to ask if certain stories that have suffered from bad repro, such as Dredd's Father Earth and some sections of early ABC Warriors to name but two, can ever be improved to the standard we would like to see? Admittedly, I don't know a lot about the processes and difficulties involved and how it works; but wondered if, as technology improves in these matters, one day repro for older stories will also improve? (Could we one day, perhaps, go to the original progs and get a good result from them?) I think this is an issue that matters to most loyal readers.

Would anyone who is more qualified and who knows a bit about such issues care to comment?

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Repro question
« Reply #1 on: 29 April, 2018, 09:46:56 pm »
Short answer: repro is only ever going to be as good as the source material available. Pre-digital, pages were camera-ed onto actual film and film deteriorates over time. If the film is unusable, then new scans are required. If the original art is unavailable, then that means scanning from the progs.

Whilst there is a lot you can do digitally to clean up scans, there’s a time/effort/cost calculation in play here — unless you’re going to pay someone to manually re-draw areas of low detail (which additionally opens up the question of how true the pages are to the original) there’s always going to be an element of compromise.
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AlexF

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Re: Repro question
« Reply #2 on: 01 May, 2018, 09:20:39 am »
A recent episode of the ever-excellent Mega-City Book Club (feat. Julius Howe) tells me that ABC Warriors specifically IS getting new scans and new repro for the Ultimate collection of the Black Hole story. Apparently including new scans from original art, where it exists at least.

I guess to add to Jim's answer, if there's enough will, people seem prepared to go to great lengths to try to improve print quality of beloved stories - but there's only so much people can do. I guess it's partly a matter of age and luck if your own fave stories end up getting this treatment.

Good tip on the Warrior's Dawn edition - I've little use for the Ultimate Collection in terms of getting stuff I don't already have, but upgrading old, poor quality repro is often worthwhile so I should pay more attention.

IndigoPrime

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Re: Repro question
« Reply #3 on: 01 May, 2018, 10:15:35 am »
scanning from the progs
Which is nightmarish, due to bleed through (and moire for colour/patterned art) – hence why we see quite a lot of b+w scans from Titan books, due to their thicker paper.

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Repro question
« Reply #4 on: 01 May, 2018, 10:24:44 am »
I guess to add to Jim's answer, if there's enough will, people seem prepared to go to great lengths to try to improve print quality of beloved stories - but there's only so much people can do. I guess it's partly a matter of age and luck if your own fave stories end up getting this treatment.

I'll mention at this point that the re-touching/re-drawing described on the Charley's War Bookplate thread was basically done for free—I only charged my basic lettering rate. I'm not sure there are many other strips where I would have been prepared to do that much free work, but it was Charley's War.
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The Amstor Computer

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Re: Repro question
« Reply #5 on: 01 May, 2018, 11:08:36 am »
Short answer: repro is only ever going to be as good as the source material available. Pre-digital, pages were camera-ed onto actual film and film deteriorates over time. If the film is unusable, then new scans are required. If the original art is unavailable, then that means scanning from the progs.

Whilst there is a lot you can do digitally to clean up scans, there’s a time/effort/cost calculation in play here — unless you’re going to pay someone to manually re-draw areas of low detail (which additionally opens up the question of how true the pages are to the original) there’s always going to be an element of compromise.

Yup, there's a huge amount you can do to clean up a scanned page, but if you're looking at the sharp end of 100 pages or more of reprint and you have a publishing schedule to adhere to and a budget to keep within then there's only so much you can realistically do.

Ideally, you source your scans from a fantastic source - the '80s Titan reprints were generally pretty solid, from memory, with decent stock, good printing and solid repro, and I'd imagine that the bound editions Rebellion got with their purchase of the Fleetway archives were better than your average second-hand IPC comic from the '70s - and then you can scan, process and move on relatively quickly with B&W art. Unfortunately, most of the time there aren't lovely, pristine editions to lift from and you have to deal with all kinds of printing issues, damage and aging. Then a bad page can cause huge issues (and if you're very lucky, it's only a few of them) and you have to decide whether to process it quick & dirty - hammer the levels, run an aggressive threshold pass and just accept the loss of detail - or take hours on it doing manual repainting of patchy blacks and cleaning the page to avoid losing the fine detail.

My attitude with something like the Eagle Adventure Special that I worked on was that this was likely to be the only time the strips in it were ever going to be reprinted and I was volunteering my time anyway, so just go the extra mile and make sure everything looked as good as it could. That was possible on that specific release, but the amount of time involved couldn't have been justified if - like Rebellion - there had been another dozen books lined up, all needing similar work, and I'd been charging for all of the time I spent on it.

TL;DR - Enthusiasts with (relatively) unlimited time on their hands will almost certainly be able to do better with some of the dodgiest pages in the Dredd/2000AD partworks, but Rebellion are a publishing business who have to do the very best they can with what they have in the window they have to prep a title. IMO, they do this pretty much without fail, to a standard that is generally top-of-the-field.

Steve Green

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Re: Repro question
« Reply #6 on: 01 May, 2018, 06:27:11 pm »
I think some of it is down to expectations and what you're paying for.

Take the IDW artist collections for example.

The repro on some of the Bolland pages is, frankly, shite - compare the Titan HB dark judges story.

One of the Ezquerra editions misses the end of one story.

Even if it's not a wholescale rescan, remastering the worst culprits would be something.

And *again* I'd suggest offering that for digital version upgrades when you've already re-scanned the material for Hachette, hardbacks etc.

IndigoPrime

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Re: Repro question
« Reply #7 on: 01 May, 2018, 07:10:26 pm »
IDW is an excellent example of how bad things could be. Again, I'd advise anyone angry at their 2000 AD material to look at the Transformers collections and partworks for anything in the classic Marvel run. The UK material is dreadful, blurry scans (presumably from the dreadful scans used for those UK Classics books). The old US material has been recoloured in a manner akin to flats, using line art where the detail has been obliterated. It's truly awful. I'd have been quite interested in the TF Hachette collection had they somehow got access to the Titan films. But the IDW stuff is so awful that, well, no bloody way.

glassstanley

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Re: Repro question
« Reply #8 on: 01 May, 2018, 07:27:26 pm »
Short answer is yes. Rebellion’s recent work on Charley’s War has demonstrated just how good reprints can be based on decades old material. The examples you cite come from the early days of Rebellion’s GN output.

While original art and film may not be available, good quality reprints were carried out by Titan. There’s no problem with the Treasury of British comics output from original comics either (and the Cursed Earth uncensored).

Volumes crying out for a new scan -

Slaine - Warrior’s Dawn (the first GN)
ABC Warriors - The Black Hole
Flesh Book 1 (the existing GN features the heavily amended pages from the annual reprint)
A selection of the b&w Dredds, including Bolland’s work, the Gibson episodes of Robot Wars, the Smith & Wilson Mega Rackets & the odd McMahon (Return of Rico).

Rebellion have silently replaced most of the Bolland Block Mania episode between first and subsequent printings. It can be done!

The frustrating thing is that so many of the classic b&w episodes were affected. The hopeful thought is that, because they are the ‘classics’, there’s a slightly greater chance they will be revisited.

Imagine a Mek-Files style edition of Slaine... I’d even buy another copy of Horned God!

sheridan

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Re: Repro question
« Reply #9 on: 05 May, 2018, 12:51:35 pm »
Should be pointed out that Rebellion are actually developing new technology to cope with the (hundreds of) thousands of pages that they bought a year or two back.  Genuine repro-droids, as mentioned at the 40th.

Steve Green

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Re: Repro question
« Reply #10 on: 05 May, 2018, 09:15:52 pm »
I don't know what happened with the digest Batman/Dredd but the Bisley stuff is moire city...

Good job I only bought it to donate to someone else.