Friday, September 20, 2013

Heros The Spartan—A Peek Inside

A week ago I posted that advance copies of the eagerly awaited 'Frank Bellamy's Heros the Spartan' had arrived at Book Palace Books HQ. Having shared the photos of the book's covers that we received from our printer, we have been looking forward to sharing with you some of the contents of this publication and that moment has now arrived.

Both editions of this book are a delight to hold, the smell and feel of the matte archival paper makes leafing through the book a real pleasure. The sewn binding again just exudes quality and means that the book will open and reveal all of the pages right into the gutter. This is something which other books attempting to reprint spreads from UK comics have often made problematic, with crucial dialogue and artwork often becoming irretrievably lost in the process. In the case of 'Heros', our printers Prolong Press, went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the signatures of pages butted up cleanly and precisely with each other so that all of this extraordinary strip was visible to the reader.

As regards the print quality, I am pleased to say that the weeks of painstaking restoration work has been really well realized by virtue of superb repro from our restorations and the matte archival paper ensures that not one line of Bellamy's pen work has been obscured in the process as these close-up photos reveal.

The penultimate photo shows one of the 11 original boards that appears in the sumptuously bound red leather edition with gold blocking, of which there are only 120 copies.

I won't witter on any more about these books, other than to say, that we feel that this book is the best book we have produced so far and response to it has been tremendously positive with over half the entire print run sold before publication day. On the subject of which, we had another notification from our printer to say that we could expect to take receipt of these books on 15th October, they are still at sea but getting ever closer to these shores.

Here again are the links if you would like to order copies of the book:

More pictures can be seen on the Marvel Masterworks Fan Site:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

First Photos of Heros!

I am delighted  to say that we have just received  these mouth watering photos of the long awaited Heros, direct from our printer in far away China:

They are sending out two copies of each book via FedEx tomorrow so that by next week when we have received them, we should be able to post more photos, including the insides.

The main consignment is scheduled to arrive at Book Palace HQ on October 10th.

The waiting is nearly over and many thanks for you support and forbearance, whilst we fine tuned this epic production.

Here's the link if you feel the urge to place an order, we have already pre-sold a sizeable chunk of the print run.

The regular edition is limited to a print run of 600 whilst the leather edition is 120:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Heros The Spartan—Due Next Month!

We have sensibly sat on our hands over the last few weeks before making any further announcements about the eagerly awaited Book Palace Books edition of 'Frank Bellamy's Heros the Spartan'. But I am pleased to be able to say that the problems our printer was experiencing with certain aspects of the production of the leather edition of this monster  book have now been resolved to everybody's satisfaction and barring typhoons, tsunamis, krakens or Somali pirates the container vessel with several palettes of 'Heros' will be arriving on  these shores early next month and is slated to arrive at Book Palace HQ on October 10th.

But while we are on the subject of 'Heros', I thought I would share with you some of the restorative work that went into preparing the scans we made of the original comics ready for publication.

Although the firm of Eric Bemrose who printed the Eagle and all of Bellamy's work on 'Heros' were rightly regarded as being the best in the business when it came to printing photo gravure comics and periodicals, they did slip up from time to time and aside from the ever present problem of out of register colour pages, some of their work towards the latter part of 'Heros' run did suffer a bit as can be seen in these examples, where in the spread that occurs near the start of 'The Axe of Arguth', you can see that the colours have over saturated (particularly the yellow) to the point where a lot of Bellamy's line work is getting obscured by the resultant murk. If you look at the close up head you can see this occurring.

What we had to do was to haul back a bit on the colour and where detail had been lost, carefully select the black line and create a separate layer for the line so that the art could be successfully restored and Bellamy's work seen as he intended it.

Similarly later in the same story there is a sequence where over printing of black has created a rich and dense black as the artist would have intended, but where there is no over printing the black appears greyed out. Again we had to carefully select the affected areas and reintroduce the missing elements to make the black as rich as intended, thereby removing the distracting patchiness which is particularly evident on the detail of Heros in extremis.

I won't bore you by showing you all the stages of the restoration involved in each of the spreads but this epic comic strip is, we believe, worthy of this attention to detail.

Sometimes the best endeavors are worth the extra wait.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Illustrators Issue 4 Now On Sale

Just a timely reminder that the fourth issue of our august organ is currently available and contains the following variety of features.

Our cover feature is an overview of the career of Michael Johnson by Bryn Havord.

Next up our Editor Peter Richardson looks at the strange robot infested worlds of Chris McEwan in an enlightening interview.

Johnny Mains brings us a change of pace with his look at the art for the famous series the Pan Book of Horror Stories; that's the work of Alan Lee you can see above.

Next up we celebrate the work of the famous "cut-away" artist Leslie Ashwell-Wood who's work entertained the more scientificly incline youthful readers of Modern Wonder and Eagle.

We round out the issue with a teaser article by Bryn Havord remembering Walter Wyles who will be featured in a full article in our sixth issue next year; plus a letters page and book reviews.

Illustrators issue 4 is available here

Until next time.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Heros—Proof Positive!!!

We have now reached that very exciting moment with Book Palace Book's epic 'Heros The Spartan' project, when we finally have a first glimpse at the printed proofs of what the team have been working on for the last eighteen months.

There is a lot of careful checking to be done, but the printed pages are looking nothing short of stunning, with razor sharp repro of the scanned 'Heros' pages looking every bit as vibrant as the day the were first published in the Eagle some fifty years ago.

Next week we should be receiving the mock-ups of the leather slip-cased edition, which crams in an extra 24 pages scanned from the original art in a sumptuous leather binding, but for now our energies are focused on any last minute tweaks that need to be made to ensure that this gi-normous book (each spread of 'Heros' is reproduced at the same size as the comic was printed) is as perfect as it deserves to be.

This had been a tremendous undertaking and we have had a lot of help from dedicated Bellamy collectors from around the globe. The introductory chapters, which feature Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons interview with the great man (many thanks to both Dez and Dave), also include mouthwatering reproductions of key examples of Bellamy artwork, which are largely sourced from high resolution scans and add an extra zing to the whole production.

The location of Bellamy Heros originals was as problematic as can be anticipated with artwork of this vintage. The search was ongoing throughout the eighteen months that this project occupied us and we did manage to unearth a lot of Heros artwork that had remained unseen for decades. One of the spreads high on our list was, of course, the famous massacre of the fifth legion, which was one of the strip's many high spots in terms of artistry. We did locate the spread in question, but the collector had the artwork framed and was extremely reluctant to let us near it, let alone prize it out of it's frame. After a lot of pleading, he did provide us with a photo which captures the main action of the scene and which was good enough to run in the book, we would have loved a razor sharp scan of the entire spread, but we were really pleased to be able to reproduce at least a sizeable chunk of the artwork and at the same time we managed to locate another three spreads which again have added a lot of extra lustre to what is already a very desirable book.

This is without doubt, the most ambitious project that Book Palace Books has invested in, and the production costs reflect this. It is, therefore doubly, heartening to see such a healthy demand from people who are determined to ensure that they don't miss out on what is a very limited print run (600 copies of the regular edition and 120 copies of the numbered leather edition), to the extent that the sheer volume of pre-publication orders we have received have just about cleared our production costs.

So to all of you who have pre-ordered and all of you who have helped in our quest to make this the ultimate tribute to the incredible artistry of Frank Bellamy—a very big thank you.

The  waiting is nearly over!