Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In Review of: Saga of the Swamp Thing Hardcover

So it looks like DC comics has finally started to put their money where their mouth is and remaster the same CD for the fourth time... er... reprint the same material that they have reprinted for us faithful fans yet again.

This time its Moore's Swamp Thing.

So here is the my beef: if I already have these issues in the original form, and i then bought them in the softcover collection since it sat better on the shelf, why do i need this CD.. er... hardcover? Where, to put it bluntly, are the bonus tracks? You are going to have to give me something to justify getting me to shell out even more money. With Sandman and Watchmen, they have smartly given us new coloring to replace the original limited palette, which has, in some places worked wonders.

Small digression here: Watchmen has been slightly improved by the new coloring, while Sandman has improved by leaps and bounds with regards to color choices. As anyone who has see the original Dringenberg/Jones art, there was a wealth of detail lost to the original colors, as well as too much misdirection in the art from the original colors. They were, in many places, a small disaster in the original Doll's House.

But the absolute size has started to point out, sadly, the limitations of the scanning technology and the host files that DC has. With the art no longer being reduced by the typical 64%, we're now seeing what we know were smooth ink lines being jagged and pixelated, without the repro to tighten up the file. Sad but true, the first volume of Starman is horrible for this in the first 5 or so issues, and even later Sandmans, like the Inn at the World's End sequence lack the fidelity of line that they should have. This is, for a $100 hardcover, a serious fucking issue for those of us who love the books so much that we're willing to shell out that much money.

So we now have a Swamp Thing Hardcover with the same light paper stock as the Kirby 4th World books, which is not a great recommendation right there, although it might derail the physical need for recoloring. Those not in the printing are likely not to want to wander into a discussion of ink absorbtion on paper, but it is highly relevant. With different paper comes great responsibility.

We know that Totleben's inks would certainly hold up to the reproduction at even full size, for while I don't own any of the art from those books myself, I certainly have seen originals over the years, and know that Swamp Thing #21-34 would certainly hold up to the absolute treatment, and yes, that include the landmark second annual.

But you're going to have to give me something DC, before I slap down for this. And while I've yet to compare the original printing to the new one, I'll be interested to see if there is any notable difference qualitywise between the two.

And yet again, I say, why doesn't DC or Marvel announce that they are doing these books in time for those of us with originals to send in new stats or 600dpi originals? I would happily have upgraded the printing on at least 5 different pages of the Absolute Sandman Volume 1 for them, free of charge.

And, of course, to tie in with this an hour after I wrote my post is an interview with Jeet Heer over at Robot 6 where he talks about Chip Kidd and Chris Oliveros on this exact subject:
I’m less involved in the production decision, but I often eavesdrop as an interested observer and it’s fascinating to listen to the two Chrises talk about paper stock, the size of books, the color scheme of the covers and other details. For both Ware and Oliveros, book making is truly an art. This is important to bear in mind because until recently, book production wasn’t a big part of comics: most comic strip collection and comic books were shoddily put together.

Yet thanks to the internet, I was able to hook up to ProQuest, a service that let me quickly find thousands of Briggs comics from the early 20th century along with many articles about Briggs. Also, belong to list serves allowed me to hear from many scholars and collectors who had various Briggs tidbits, including a contract he signed in the 1920s and much original art.


Aaaarrrg.

6 comments:

Danny said...

Alan Moore has become to DC what Jeff Buckley, The Doors and Creedence Clearwater Revival are to their respective record companies and Jack Kirby to Marvel - cash cows. After all Sony release new 'Best Ofs' for Buckley every couple of years and repackage the same, solitary CD time and time again. Same with CCR and The Doors - they now have more compilation and 'remastered' releases than what they released during their careers.

Moore will always be re-released in any format that DC can leap onto because he makes them money. it's not public demand, it's the demand of those who share in the profits. I wonder if Moore would have done any of this work if he'd know how violated it'd all become 20 years down the track (although we could ask the same of any such creator, such as Kirby).

And they wonder why Moore turned his back in disgust from such a machine.

Steven said...

"With different paper comes great responsibility."Spectacular!

I would prefer high end pulp paper for most comics that were printed that way to begin with for that reason.

Very high and very low end paper have some qualities in common (ask anyone who did their best drawings on newsprint in art school!).

Eric said...

To be fair it does have one "bonus track" (two if your trade paperbacks were missing the covers as I believe early printings--or maybe all--were). It has the first time Moore's true first issue, number 20, has been collected...

I'm with you on issues of paper, etc. I actually woulda loved a thick , multi vol Absolute edition even for their problems, but... Swamp Thing has never been a Watchmen or even Sandmen size seller so I assume this is all we'll get for now

Eric said...

To be fair it does have one "bonus track" (two if your trade paperbacks were missing the covers as I believe early printings--or maybe all--were). It has the first time Moore's true first issue, number 20, has been collected...

I'm with you on issues of paper, etc. I actually woulda loved a thick , multi vol Absolute edition even for their problems, but... Swamp Thing has never been a Watchmen or even Sandmen size seller so I assume this is all we'll get for now

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

Oddly enough, I don't mind the thinner paper sometimes as it IS closer to the originals... and thus prints the way that it should.

And, yes, issue #20 should ALWAYS have been included. That was a stupid decision on the original collections.

and, yeah, newsprint did have some great qualities, not that i'm giving up 400 series bristol either...

Danny said...

Charles, hate to ask this here - can you send me a contact email address? I have something you might be interested in. Mine is: snoopy967@gmail.com Cheers!