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Color-adjusted, scanned comic pages...
GOOD ENOUGH TO REPRINT?
 
THE ORIGINAL SCAN
THE RETOUCHED SCAN

(click image to see larger version)

(click image to see larger version)
Above is a 72 dpi scan of the splash page of an actual Golden Age comic, Captain America #45. The same page (from Captain America #45) after some basic color adjustment.

This was done using the regular filters in CorelPHOTO-PAINT, and has effectively removed the yellowing/browning of the old newsprint page from THROUGHOUT the image (not just in the panel borders and word balloons), while maintaining the integrity of the original colors.  What you see above took less than an hour to accomplish. And, you could spend a bit more time and fix things like coloring errors, typos, and little dings, or remove the staple, touch-up the linework, etc.
For more on how I removed the yellowing/browning from the image, see:

http://members.tripod.com/~mluebker/how2.html

Compare these relatively simple-to-achieve results to the reproduction in the Human Torch story (from YOUNG MEN #24) seen in the THE GOLDEN AGE OF MARVEL COMICS book, or the subsequent scanned-from-the-printed-comics reprints of HUMAN TORCH #5 and ALL WINNERS #19:  I think the adjusted version of the page HERE (and it's from a book that's coverless and a little beat up) is a LOT clearer, and in general, more readable than the pages from the (presumably) scanned Human Torch story, or the other two books where they tried to incorporate the heavy yellowing/browning of the original, aged pages onto the reproduced pages.

I'm convinced that this approach could be used to provide inexpensive new separations and/or film for reprinting any older comic, as long as a printed copy of the comic exists. And it conserves the comic itself because it only need be scanned, not taken apart, bleached and destroyed.

Corel (and other) software has the facility to print out PostScript color separations (on paper, at whatever screen frequency is deemed desirable) or the file can be sent to a service bureau where the separations can be output directly to film. I'm guessing that this could be done a lot cheaper than "Theakstonizing" (or some other form of color drop-out) and recoloring, which can look great, but presumably are more costly and involved.

Of course, the principal drawback is that you're stuck with the original coloring (although errors in coloring CAN be corrected fairly easily), which means that without additional steps, you end up with the original, coarser dot size for the coloring in the reprint.

A cheap line of reprints on newsprint (or slightly off-white, but better quality paper) would probably look just fine like that--certainly no worse than the originals, and probably a little better, owing to technological advancements in printing--as would a reduced, digest-sized reprint (allowing the reduction in size to close up the dot screen to a "finer" resolution).

And there ARE effective methods to remove (or at least minimize) the coarse screen of the original coloring (and/or moiré patterns that result from the scanning process) so that a finer screen COULD be used for a higher quality reprint, while still retaining the original coloring from the printed comic.

So, what do you think?

Mark Luebker
mluebker@comcast.net