Time to celebrate: I've finished the H. Rider Haggard book!!! Or I'll have it finished before the day's out. Completed the artwork yesterday, although there's a tweak or two that might be required which shouldn't take me long to do. I've also got to take a look at the introduction but hopefully that will only need some minor tweaks, too.
Some folks have been wondering what I mean when I talk about cleaning-up artwork. It's basically bringing the quality of the artwork up to scratch. Some of the books I've worked on for Book Palace Books were reprinted from printed comics, some from original artwork. Every strip offers its own problems mostly associated with age; comics suffer from yellowing and rusting around the staples, ink showing through from the reverse of the page and poor printing on old recycled newsprint. Even original artwork is never clean, especially if it's thirty or forty years old.
The Haggard strips required an awful lot of work: two of the strips had no lettering at all and the third, Montezuma's Daughter, had an awful lot of damage caused by the cow gum used to attach the balloons to the board. In the lettering, you can also see the pencil guidelines drawn in by the letterer, so I usually have to paint out this kind of damage on every single balloon. Then there's damaged lettering as in the example below, all of which needs to be replaced.
The artwork itself can show a lot of damage and, on a strip like Montezuma's, the big problem is to try and repair the page without losing or causing more damage to the delicate ink wash
I'm not claiming that every square inch of every page has been completely restored. My rule of thumb is to repair where the damage is distracting, which can take anything between an hour and two hours per page. Is it worth it? Absolutely! I think the quality of the reproduction on the books we've done at Book Palace is some of the best around. We've had some very nice compliments about the artwork—I was especially pleased with the comments I've had about the Frank Bellamy's The Story of World War 1 because it took forever (well, that's what it seemed like) to bring up to standard. Hopefully you'll forgive this bit of self-aggrandising. I'm still high on having almost finished the book after so many weeks work.
Hopefully I'll have the artwork in the post to the designer on Saturday, leaving me free next week to write an article for Dodgem Logic and after that possibly Commander Grek, which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Beyond that I've no idea.
Below you'll find a late contribution to the 60th birthday celebrations of The Eagle from Steve Winders, who is a regular contributor to Eagle Times and has written reviews for Bear Alley in the past. My thanks to Steve for letting me publish the verse here and you'll find a link below which will also let you see Steve in action.
Talking of Eagle... the Eagle Awards are back, with nominations closing on 9 May, so it's time to get voting. The awards website has been redesigned and updated and you can post your nominations online via the nominations form. I'm a bit disappointed that Bear Alley doesn't make it into the little drop-down suggestions box for Favourite Comics Related Website. Mind you, they are only suggestions... Don't let me influence you when you're casting your vote but with election fever gripping the whole country it's difficult not to get caught up in the excitement. I shall have to see if I can come up with a manifesto over the weekend.