Trouble with Comics

Reproductive Rights and Wrongs

No, this is not about sex, as much as you might wish it was. Over at Comics Comics, Tim Hodler considers two methods of reproducing old comics for today’s readers. This is an issue I have been thinking a lot about recently, actually because of one of the books Hodler mentions.

I think up until a few years ago, I would have preferred the “Theakstonized” approach of upping the contrast in Photoshop and trying to make the old, scanned pages look shiny, white and new again (and yes, I realize this is not how Theakston’s process is accomplished, or at least was when he invented it, but the end result is much the same, hence the quote marks). But somewhere along the line, I began to really appreciate the value of a high-quality but mostly-unretouched scan of the original comics pages. Let’s face it, the original art and/or films for 95 percent of all comics ever printed are probably long gone, and I can tell you from my experience as a radio station production director, you can make a digital file different but you absolutely can never make it better than the original sound file, art scan, whatever digital file format you happen to be dealing with.

Knowing that, I think publishers ought to take a real interest in making sure, if they are reproducing old comics, that they have people on their staff who are experts at all aspects of scanning in old pages, and making sure they resemble as closely as possible the (hopefully decent-condition) ancient artifacts they are preserving and resurrecting for a new generation of readers.

Alan David Doane