Tag Archives: titan

Another Milestone, Simon and Kirby Library: Science Fiction

I have recently completed another milestone, all the restorations for Titan’s upcoming Science Fiction volume for the Simon and Kirby Library. This will be another book about the same size as the Crime volume. I do not have the book layout in front of me but you can get an idea of the size by the fact that I did 344 pages of art restorations. Of course the page count describes the thickness but the other dimensions will match those used in the Superheroes and Crime volumes. Those dimensions are important because they allow the art to be reproduced slightly larger than it was originally. I understand why some publishers go the cost saving route of smaller books but frankly some of the effect of the art is lost with the size reduction. I am so pleased that Titan has managed to publish the larger sized books at an affordable price.

The Science Fiction volume covers a long period of Simon and Kirby collaboration as did the Superheroes book. It actually includes some work that Simon and Kirby did on their own; Joe’s early “Solar Patrol” and Jack’s three “Solar Legion” stories. Also there are all the Blue Bolt stories, including the origin story that Simon did by himself which had been absent in a earlier tradeback. The book also has all the science fiction stories actually done by Simon and Kirby for comic book titles Alarming Tales, Black Cat Mystic, Race for the Moon and Blast-Off. As a bonus the volume also includes some stores drawn by Reed Crandall, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson and Wally Wood.

As for the restoration think of what I did for the Crime book only better. Better because this time I had 72 pages of original art and another 11 pages of flats* to work from. All the work reprinted in the Titan book from Race For The Moon and Blast-Off was based on original art or flats except for a single introduction page. This is important because at that time the printing of the Harvey comics was rather poor. Race For The Moon and Blast-Off included some very detailed inking whose effect was greatly lost in the printing of the original comics. The Simon and Kirby’s Library version will be the first chance to see these stories as the inkers intended.

Does anyone really care about the process for comic book restorations? Once you get past the part of whether the art was recreated or not, all that is truly important is how nice** the printed results look. And as far as I know Marvel is the only publisher still recreating art for their reprint books. Yet there is one guy who works for Marvel that is constantly attacking me on one of the Marvel lists for, among other things, chemically bleaching my pages. I have never criticized using chemically bleaching in restoration. I just find that the price of old comic books today generally makes it too expensive a process. That is why I developed my own methods a part of which includes digitally bleaching scans. There is no way I could afford to chemically bleach comics like Blue Bolt. But the Science Fiction book includes work published in the late 50’s and mid 60’s some of which I had inexpensive low grade copies that I submitted to chemical bleaching. I wonder if anyone will be able to tell which have been worked on with chemicals and which digitally? I cannot see how they could. In any case my commitment is to provide the best restorations possible by whatever means; original art, flats, chemical bleaching or just digitally.

Amazon still lists the release date for this book as in October. Unfortunately because of some help I provided Joe Simon’s family after his untimely passing as well as extra work I had to do for my “day job” caused me to fall behind in my restoration work. I am not positive but I believe the book is now scheduled to be released in early January. It saddens me that Joe only got to see my restorations for Blue Bolt. This was probably the volume that Joe had the most interest in primarily because of all the incredible inking done in Race For The Moon and Blast-Off.

footnotes:

* Flats are proofs of the line art arranged as they would be printed. They are not quite as good as original art but far superior to work from than the original published comics.

** Of course different people have their own idea of what nicely restored art means. for me that means cleaned up colors and printing on flat paper.

Some Comments About Restoration for Comic Book Reprints

The Comic Journal has recently reviewed Titan’s new trade-back “Fighting American” (Preview: Fighting American). I understand some have already obtained copies of the book but I have yet to see any in the comic book store I use. I do not have a copy but I have had a chance to briefly look at one belonging to Joe Simon. The material included in this trade-back is the same found in the previously released “The Simon and Kirby Superheroes”. So if you already have the Superheroes book you may not feel the need to pick up the “Fighting American” trade-back.

But TCJ’s article is not just a review, it is a preview as well. With Titan’s permission they provide the complete story “Home-Coming Year 3000”). So if you do not have either the Superheroes or the new “Fighting American” books you can see what you are missing.

There is an interesting comment that someone has made to The Comic Journal article. The commenter claims that the art has been touched up and in particular the some of the line art in the book was thicker than in the original comics. I will discuss his claim later in this post but I thought I would use this as an opportunity to discuss a little bit about the restoration of line art that I do for Titan’s Simon and Kirby books.

Readers of my previous posts on the subject of restoration should know that I do not recreate line art (a process that Marvel still continues to use for their reprints of golden age material). However the end result of my restorations is by no means just a scan. I have no problems with describing what I do as “touch ups” only not in the manner that the TCJ commenter uses the term. Frankly the original printing used in these comics was pretty poor. Now as far as I am concerned reprints of just scans is far superior to art recreation however I prefer to try to correct some of the printing flaws.


Close Up of Flaws in the Original Printing

The above image gives an example of the types of printing flaws typically found in gold and silver age comics. Note that the area of solid black is not actually solid or black. Instead there are spots that the ink did not cover at all and even where the black ink is applied it is so thin that the underlying magenta ink can be seen*. Also note how the in the upper right there appears to be two closely spaced horizontal lines. Actually there really was only supposed to be one horizontal line but the printing left ink only on the edges of the original line and failed to reach the center of the line.

When selecting an image for this post I debated with myself whether to use the original scan or after it had been processed with Photoshop to enhance the colors. There appears to be no yellow in the area shown but actually almost all of it had yellow. If the reader looks at the very top of the image and compares it to the left edge you should be able to see the very faint yellow remains. With Photoshop I can bring out the colors better which allows for more accurate color restoration.


Close Up of the Restored Art

Above shows an image of the same area after restoration. The solid black is now truly solid, the center of the horizontal line are filled and similar flaws throughout are corrected. But I am not recreating the line art just doing touch ups.

Some may find the restored version rather glaring. The blacks may now seem a bit too much black. However I am not doing restorations for viewing on a computer monitor. The final product is a printed book and things will look different. The image presented is blown up and in the printed version occupies only a very small area of the page. Further the black will not look quite so black when printed.


Close up from the Original Comic Version of “Home-Coming Year 3000”

As mentioned earlier, a TCJ commenter claimed that the art lines had been thickened in the restoration. Unfortunately he did not give an specific examples nor have I been able to find any in the story previewed by the Comics Journal. so I can have provided a close-up from the original scan only this time showing it in black and white. Simon and Kirby did not use very fine lines but I selected an area where the lines are as fine as they get in the story.


Close up of the Restored Version¬† of “Home-Coming Year 3000”

Above is the same area after restoration. Note that small flakes of black can be seen attached or nearby the line art. These are printing flaws in the original printing. They maybe a little hard to see in the scan of the original comic because they are obscured by the colored inks that come out as black dots in the unprocessed original scan but look at the area without such dots on the right and you can see the flaws there as well. I do not try to remove every printing flaw only the ones the more serious ones.


Close up of the Restoration Overlaid of the Original Version¬† of “Home-Coming Year 3000”

In the above image I have changed the restored version from black to magenta and overlaid it over the original scan. The restoration was so precise that all that magenta of the restored version could not be seen. Had the lines really been thickened in the restoration the blacks would have been ringed with magenta. To bring out how perfectly it is aligned I purposely erased a strip from the original scan so that the magenta version of the restoration could be seen.

So why did the TCJ commenter claim the lines were thicker in the restored versions? I suspect it is all a matter of perception. The blacks are blacker in the restoration than in the original comic book printing. Blacker lines could give the impression of thicker lines. But I believe the most important reason for the TCJ commenter’s error was due to his comparison of Internet images with the original printing. My restorations are based on scans done at 600 dots per inch. Generally everything from 400 dpi and above have fine enough resolution that the human eye can not detect that the image is actually composed of small dots. Actually most people have trouble seeing it at 300 dpi but at lower resolutions the deterioration of the image quality is easily detected. Computer monitors have very low resolution. Monitors differ in size and resolution but for example my monitor has approximately 85 dots per inch. The resolution is so low that the color in “Home-Coming Year 3000” looks solid when in the original comic the dots used for the coloring are clearly visible. You simply cannot make a good judgment on the thickness of lines based on an Internet image of a full page. Which is why I used close-ups to make the comparison.

To see how inaccurate the restorations was in the previous Fighting American reprint see my post “Simon and Kirby Superheroes”, A Must Buy. For further observations about my restoratios see my Newsarama interview.

footnote:

* Although the magenta plate has shifted toward the left that is not why there is colored ink under the black. This was done on purpose to help mask such registration problems. Had the magenta plate shifted to the right the nearby area would still be color correctly but without the overlap a white band would have appeared bordering black. The extending of colored inks under areas meant for black is called trapping. Today trapping is usually created by computer software but before that photographic processes were often used. However when trapping was done for comic books it was done by hand.

Simon and Kirby Collector Items


Comic Heroes #4

Comic Heroes #4 includes three pieces of promotion for the Titan’s “Simon and Kirby Superheroes”. In the package are three postcards using Simon and Kirby covers (the restorations of which were done by yours truly). It is a really clever use of comic book covers and they are sure to be come a collector’s item. Below I show the images used (I am too lazy to scan the actual cards but take my word they look just as good).


Adventures of the Fly #2


Fighting American #5


Stuntman #1

The Simon and Kirby Superheroes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

San Diego Comic-Con International

July 22, 2009

THE SIMON & KIRBY SUPERHEROES

Massive Collection Scheduled for 2010

Titan Books to release comprehensive 480-page edition

of fully-restored – and – previously unpublished superhero stories

by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Following the success of The Best of Simon and Kirby, the first volume in The Official Simon and Kirby Library, Titan Books has announced that The Simon and Kirby Superheroes will be collected in an ambitious 480-page omnibus featuring all of the costumed hero adventures produced by the legendary team that created Captain America. “Aside from their work for Marvel and DC, this will be all of the superhero stories Joe and Jack wrote and illustrated together from 1940 through 1960,” noted Titan owner and publisher Nick Landau. “It’s a massive undertaking, but our team is ready to take it on.”

The Simon and Kirby Superheroes will be released in summer 2010 in the special 11″ x 7-1/2″ oversized format, making it possible to reproduce the comic book pages in their original printed size. “Comics were larger in the Golden Age of the medium,” explained series editor Steve Saffel, “and we wanted to be able to give readers the full experience of these brilliant stories.” As with The Best of Simon and Kirby, the stories will be fully restored by Kirby historian Harry Mendryk, presented on quality matte stock paper in vivid color.

The edition will begin with the mysterious costumed hero The Black Owl from Prize Comics in 1940–the year Simon and Kirby first joined forces. It will include the big-top swashbuckler known as Stuntman, the Runyonesque adventurer The Vagabond Prince, the entire run of the cold-war patriot The Fighting American, and The Fly and Private Strong the final Simon and Kirby collaborations before Jack Kirby moved over to help launch the Marvel Universe.

“What’s more, we’ve got some amazing surprises in store,” Saffel added. Restoration wizard Harry Mendryk will take the groundbreaking 1953 adventures of Captain 3-D and convert them to their original line art. These classic stories also feature artwork by Mort Meskin and a young Steve Ditko–who went on to co-create The Amazing Spider-Man at Marvel–and will be published in full color for the first time.

“Plus, with a little help from our friends, we’ve located a bunch of never-before-published pages starring Stuntman,” Saffel revealed. “Many of the pages are in the hands of private collectors, with others coming directly from the Joe Simon archives. As a result, we’ll be able to pull together nearly the entire story, ‘Stuntman Crowns a Jungle Lord,” and offer up other exciting features for the readers.”

Details concerning The Simon and Kirby Superheroes are still being finalized and will be announced shortly. In addition, to support this volume and the entire Official Simon and Kirby Library, Titan will be launching a dedicated Simon and Kirby web site (http://www.titanbooks.com/simonandkirby) offering exclusive behind-the-scenes content, complete stories, and soon to feature video conversations with Joe Simon.

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby first joined forces on the science fiction character Blue Bolt in 1940, and later that year created the seminal hero Captain America (scheduled to be featured in a 2011 major motion picture by Marvel Studios). Simon became the first editor at Timely Comics, the company that later became Marvel, then he and Kirby moved over to DC Comics, the home of Superman and Batman. There they created the military title The Boy Commandos, which at its peak outsold Superman himself.

The Official Simon and Kirby Library features the only editions overseen by Joe Simon and fully authorized by Simon and the Estate of Jack Kirby. The next release will be Joe Simon’s definitive autobiography, followed by editions collecting the team’s extraordinary adventures of detective fiction, horror, and romance. “Every one of these books is a labor of love here at Titan Books,” Nick Landau noted. “Our partnership with Joe Simon is one of our most treasured relationships, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to bring these exciting adventures back into print, looking better than ever before.”

Titan Books is a leading publisher of licensed entertainment, the UK’s top publisher of graphic novels and world-renowned for television and film companions, including Watching the Watchmen by Dave Gibbons, and the official Watchmen and Terminator: Salvation movie tie-ins. Titan Books also publishes a series of high-end art books, and biographies such as the New York Times bestselling My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith.

# # #

Press Contacts US: Katharine Carroll: 914-788-1005 / ktc2000@aol.com

UK: Ellie Graham: 020 7803 1839 / ellie.graham@titanemail.com

The Official Simon and Kirby Library  Joseph H. Simon

and Joseph H. Simon and The Estate of Jack Kirby.

TITAN BOOKS

www.titanbooks.com

A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd

Titan Publishing Group Ltd is a company registered in England & Wales with company number 1599367. VAT number 607 9631 24.?Registered office: 144 Southwark St, London, SE1 0UP

_____________________

ATTACHMENTS:

Captain 3D
(1) A splash page from the 1953 release Captain 3-D, taken from the 3-D page and restored to line art by Harry Mendryk. These stories will be presented in full color for the first time. (A color version of this page is available upon request.) Copyright 2009 Simon and Kirby. All rights reserved.

Simon & Kirby Superheroes
(2) A page from the never-before-published story “Stuntman Crowns a Jungle Lord.” The story was partly inked and fully lettered, and with the exception of one missing page, will be published in its entirely in The Simon and Kirby Superheroes. Copyright 2009 Simon and Kirby. All rights reserved.

Titan Announces Expanded Simon and Kirby Library

The following is a press release from Titan:

THE OFFICIAL SIMON AND KIRBY

Titan to Collect the Works of Two Comic Book Legends


Titan Books Signs Exclusive Agreement to Publish Works by Comics’ Greatest Creative Team, with Full Involvement of Living Legend Joe Simon and the Jack Kirby Estate

Titan Books has expanded its publishing agreement with comic book pioneer Joe Simon, co-creator of Captain America, to launch The Official Simon and Kirby Library beginning in 2009. In addition to the previously announced volumes The Best of Simon and Kirby and The Simon and Kirby Superheroes, the library will include volumes collecting the greatest horror, detective, and romance stories ever produced by the legendary Dream Team of comics.

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby first joined forces on the superhero character Blue Bolt in 1940, and later that year created the seminal hero Captain America (soon to be featured in a major motion picture by Marvel Studios). “When Jack and I created Captain America, it sent a shock across the nation even before America had entered World War II,” Simon noted. “But that was only the beginning, and we followed it up with titles like Boy Commandos and Young Romance. They weren’t superhero books, but each one sold millions of copies.”

Beginning in summer 2009 with The Best of Simon and Kirby, Titan Books will release full-color hardcover editions featuring some of the greatest stories ever told in the graphic medium, painstakingly restored by Simon and Kirby historian Harry Mendryk. Simon himself will oversee the process, and will offer original insights and secrets from behind the scenes.

The volume will feature the team’s most famous characters, including Fighting American, Stuntman, and The Fly, as well as genre adventures from such legendary titles as Black Magic, Justice Traps the Guilty, and the industry’s first romance title, Young Romance. Through the generous support of Marvel Comics and DC Comics, The Best of Simon and Kirby will include stories featuring Captain America, The Vision, Sandman, and The Boy Commandos.

“It’s simply astonishing, the materials Joe has kept over the years,” Titan owner and publisher Nick Landau said. “It shows uncanny foresight that he retained so many rights, and preserved those wonderful stories so that today’s readers will be able to enjoy some of the finest comics ever produced.” Details on the contents and format of the books are still being determined, as Landau added, “We want to come up with editions that are as perfect as they can be.”

Simon will attend the February 2009 New York ComicCon to celebrate the launch of The Official Simon and Kirby Library, and will sign exclusive limited edition lithographs. Titan plans to release two books a year, and these will be the only editions authorized by both Joe Simon and the estate of Jack Kirby. In addition to The Official Simon and Kirby Library, Titan will publish the autobiography of Joe Simon in 2010.

Titan Books is a leading publisher of licensed entertainment. The UK’s top publisher of graphic novels and World renowned for television and film companions, including Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, Frank Miller and Will Eisner’s The Spirit, Watching the Watchmen by Dave Gibbons, plus the official Watchmen and Terminator: Salvation movie tie-ins. Titan Books also publishes a series of high-end art books, and biographies such as the New York Times bestselling My Boring-Ass Life: The Uncomfortably Candid Diary of Kevin Smith.

I would like to emphasize of few points found in the release. The first is that I did not write this release and was surprised to find that I was mentioned in it. I am sure I will comment further on my contribution; most likely when the first book, “The Best of Simon and Kirby”, gets released this summer.

When Titan told me they wanted to include some stories from Marvel and DC in “The Best of Simon and Kirby” I must admit I was a bit skeptical. I have never been so pleased to have been proven wrong. The release describes DC Comics and Marvel Comics support as “generous” with which I heartedly agree.

I said this before, but it is worth repeating. Both Joe Simon and the Jack Kirby estate will financially benefit from these books.

Most immediately important is that the release mentions Joe Simon will be appearing at upcoming New York ComicCon. Joe does not make many appearances so this will be a special chance for fans to meet him. I will have further announcements in the near future when his schedule becomes firmed up.

Cover for The Best of Simon and Kirby

Posted in Odds & Ends, Topic and tagged

Titan is now showing the book cover for the up-coming The Best of Simon and Kirby.

Coming Soon from Titan: Simon and Kirby

It is not much, but Titan has a little announcement about their Simon and Kirby books on their web site.