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Friday, April 01, 2016

Comic Cuts - 1 April 2016

Another frustrating week as far as Iron Mask is concerned. The people who do my print-on-demand printing have changed the printing firm who actually supplies the books, hence the problem I'm now trying to resolve.

Previously, as long as you had a book with a pagination divisible by four, there was no problem. The old printer would print the book. However—and this I only discovered when I had a second proof printed—the new printer can't cope with anything that simple.

I'll let my print-supplier explain: "We are currently working with a new print provider in the UK who has a slightly different printing process. This new process includes a very small barcode on the bottom of the last page of the book. Adding this barcode puts another page at the end, which will throw off the page count by 1. They would then add 3 more pages to make it divisible by 4."

I've looked at the books and the barcode is on the inside of the back cover, which is printed separately to the guts of the book, but this didn't stop them printing my 44 page book as a 48 page book by adding four blank pages and making the centrespread an off-centre spread.

Back to our print-supplier: "We are currently working through different options to make this less of an issue. For now, the best way to ensure no extra pages added is to make your interior PDF divisible by 4, minus 1. For instance, if you have a 40 page interior file, try reducing it to 39 pages. Our printer will add the barcode page making it 40, and would not add any further blank pages."

That was the news I received on Bank Holiday Friday. However, a couple of days later...

"Unfortunately we've encountered another issue that is complicating our solution for blank pages, in that the publishing wizard will add a blank page to your file to make the page count even if you upload a PDF with an odd number of pages, which is what we previously recommended."

In other words, a 39 page document will automatically become a 40 page document, at which point, the printer will add another blank page in order to print a barcode and then add three further blank pages to make the book divisible by four.

So now we have five pages at the back of a 44-page book with nothing printed on them, not even the barcode because the sodding barcode is printed on the inside back cover which is produced separately! 

Try selling a 44-page book that's over 10% blank pages and I will show you a book that doesn't sell. The saga will continue.

That wasn't the only frustration I had on "Good" Friday. We were looking forward to going out to see Jenny Eclair at the Colchester Arts Centre. This involved a bus journey into town, so we set out in plenty of time. And waited. And waited.

Apparently, there was no bus service on Good Friday. Not that you would know from checking the website, which I had done earlier in the day, nor from any notice at the bus stop, which I had also checked earlier in the day. We managed to leg it back home and get hold of a taxi which raced us to the venue with a few minutes to spare.

We were seated down the side of the hall, a former church, so Jenny kept disappearing behind a pillar that obscured the left side of the stage and the speakers that obscured the right side of the stage. A pity as some of the show involved visual props that I couldn't see. Despite that minor problem, the show itself was hilarious and if you get a chance, it's worth taking your girlfriend/partner/wife as they will be laughing even harder.

Thanks to the laughs, we didn't mind coughing up for the taxi there and back, which doubled the price of the tickets. And we actually had an enjoyable Easter break, even managing to get rid of some of the junk that has accumulated in the garden, with a promise that more of it will be disappearing this coming weekend thanks to Mel's dad. Storm Katie didn't cause any damage beyond dropping a dustbin lid into the pond in which the frogs are currently spawning and we've caught up a bit on the tv programmes we've had recorded, sometimes for months.

It was certainly a better weekend than the last one, when I managed to bugger up the hedge trimmer by trying to cut through some rusty wire. Not deliberately, you understand. The wire was the remnants of what used to the fence, but which has been bent and broken over the years by... well, you can't really call it a hedge, because that implies some planning was involved. This is just wild plant life that has been left to grow.

There's a gap with nothing in it, so I assumed the fence had finished. I've cut back this mess before as it grows alongside the public footpath, but decided this time I was going to really chop it back. Which is how I discovered that parts of the fence still lurked amongst the tangle. Unfortunately, I discovered it by getting wire trapped in the blades and, even when it was removed, the motor was unable to get the blades moving again. I'm sure it's repairable, but I can probably buy a newer, more powerful and safer hedge trimmer for the same price.

Awwww, cute ... not any more!
We're also buying some cat repellent devices for the front garden as next door's kittens have decided to turn our lawn into a toilet. They used to be so cute, but we've had to rename them... so they're now known as the shittens. Shitting kittens. 

I've just pre-ordered my copy of the soon-to-be-released Falling Satellites album by Frost*, their first new studio album in eight years. The fact that I even mention this shows you how excited I am by the news that they have a new album due. I don't remember being this excited about a new album since Rush announced news of Vapor Trails back in 2002, their first album in six years. The Enid's 2010 album Journey's End was another one I was desperate to hear the moment they previewed one of the tracks, 'Malacandra'.

There have been quite a few false starts with this one. Frost* were going to do a double album, then they were disbanded by founder Jem Godfrey before being... er... rebanded (I hope you enjoy this second newly minted word!). John Mitchell (guitarist) released Lonely Robot, which is a nice little album; Jem Godfrey didn't release his solo album (Clouda), but it seems to have evolved into a new full-on Frost* album. I recognise 'Lights Out' as a proposed Clouda track. And I'm sure I remember Godfrey saying that there were enough leftover tracks for an EP.

Roll on May 27th.

Today's random cover scans are a handful of wraparound SF/fantasy covers for books that I've picked up in recent weeks. The artists are: Geoff Taylor, ditto, Lee Gibbons and Steve Stone; we then have a cover by Joe Danisi which is not really a wraparound. It's an extracts from the dustjacket of the hardcover edition published by HarperPrism in the US in 1997, which I've also included.

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