Sunday 3 June 2007

covers- FOX COMICS no.22

When you start out, you fashion little photocopied books in black and white. Maybe you hand colour the covers to make the whole enterprise look a bit more like 'proper' comic magazines (like I did for three or four years in the early eighties.) Somewhere along the line you dare to reach higher, and a bigger print run makes offset litho printing a viable option. Then you try adding one colour to the cover. It probably doesn't work that way now. Computers have altered the equation. It's probably like getting your photos developed in black and white; you need to go somewhere special to do it. But back in the old days, photographically separated colour was beyond dreams to a small potatoes guy like me, and adding the cost of a single printed colour to the cover was a big decision. When I put out the original three Alec books with Escape in '84, '85, and '86, we added an extra colour on the cover of each, but instead of the process primaries, magenta, cyan and yellow, we used one of the secondary colours on each to avoid an obvious cheap look. Thus we used green, orange and purple on the Alec books. It worked; at first sight a secondary colour is read as a mix of two primaries, so it's not obvious there's only one ink (two counting the black of course). I can still look at them now without getting that thought of obvious cheapness. Each has a black and white image set against a flat colour field. A couple of years later I got a chance to do a wraparound cover for Fox comics. They had gone the conventional route of adding a colour, and then two colours, with a complement of
the full four arriving I think in the issue after mine. The one before mine was, if memory serves, by Dylan Horrocks, with three colours, black, yellow and magenta. With three colour printing, the mind's eye immediately realises that something is missing even if it takes a minute or two to work it out, but of course Dylan's design was big and bold enough to make a feature of the limitation. With my outing, I suggested they inquire as to what options we had with regard to colour selection, and I composed a picture in Black, green and brown, the colours of trees, for a bar with the rainforest beginning immediately outside (and I've been in a few like that). Somebody at Fox hand-made the two overlays, and they're all in half-tone too, just to make it trickier, but since my design called for a mad sloppiness, there was no problem about lining things up with an excess of accuracy. I still like my drawing on this, and I usually use it as an endpaper whenever I bring Little Italy out for a new printing ('92 fantagraphics, 2001 my own imprint)

footnote . I reccollect a British comic in the sixties that attempted, in only one issue as far as I know, to save the expense of a fourth colour on the cover (insides were always black only in those days) by cutting out the black. That is, it ventured to put the cover image across with just magenta, cyan and yellow and achieve darkness in places by overlaying all three together, with the logo in red and a headine in blue or purple. Even as an eight year old I knew something extremely unusual was happening and pored over that thing for hours.
ya gotta larf:
I'm up to the page in The Amazing Remarkable Mr Leotard where the Titanic goes down, and I googled for picture reference 'Titanic Sinks'. the first thing up is the brand name of a manufacturer: 'Titanic sinks, taps, appliances and showers'.



Blogger Christopher Moonlight said...

I remember staying up till 2 and 3 in the morn, at the copy shop, just trying to figure out how to get the page order right on me first comic. Frank Kane begged me to let him go home, but being a teenager at the time, I wouldn't let him until we got it right. It turned out that I had screwed up and our full color pop up (at a $1 each) ended up on the right hand side of our spread, instead of the left. It threw off the whole "tern the page and get a surprise" thing, which I know you don't subscribe to, but I still do. Now, I'm about to send off my comic to an on line printer, who will do a full color cover, and full bleed gray scale on the inside, folded and stapled for a $1.62 each. You can't beat that.

3 June 2007 at 02:14:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the words of Bernard Matthews:

Bootiful, really bootiful.

3 June 2007 at 02:46:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Jack Ruttan said...

Ziners hated me (I thought) because I never "gave it away." Instead I was doing little gigs for ad agencies, even a tabloid magazine. Kind of a little drawing capitalist.

There was a community, but I felt like too much of an outsider to appreciate it, and mostly I saw the negative aspects of it (self-indulgence, lack of quality). It's a complex story, which I'm still working out.

5 June 2007 at 10:59:00 GMT-5  

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