How Comics Were Made

By | Tuesday, March 26, 2024 Leave a Comment
There are plenty of books out there about comics. I've got an entire wall of space just behind where I'm sitting devoted to books about comics. Overviews, analyses, biographies, histories, how-to guides, art studies... Some are better than others, some are more in-depth than others. Some are for casual readers, some are for devoted academics. I know I only have a small fraction of the books that have been published on the subject, but I'm sure even that is hundreds more than I think most people would guess exist. I have five more titles in my Amazon shopping cart that I'd kind of like to get at some point, but I'm so far behind on my reading already that I've let them sit in my cart for, in at least one case, years now.

So when I heard that Glenn Fleishman was working on a book about comics, I initially didn't think much of it. However good it might be, why would I expect it to cover anything I don't already have a couple books on? But then I thought about his topic for a moment: how comics were/are made. Not how comics are generated -- the craft of writing and drawing -- but how comics are made, the physical production of them. Color separations and printing plates and all that. Some of the how-to books I have touch on this, but usually only in passing. I don't think I have any that spend even as much a single chapter on it.

See, I've actually got a formal background in graphic design. And when I went through school for that in the 1990s, it was right at the start of that 5-10 year transition from all traditional production techniques to all digital ones. So my education still included learning how to make photostats and cut rubylith and work in a darkroom. I've been able to apply that knowledge to my interest in comics so when I hear about something like Fantastic Four #110 originally being shipped out with the characters having green skin and pink costumes, it was obvious to me what had happend even though most comics fans wound up scratching their heads trying to understand how a colorist could screw up so badly. (Hint: it wasn't the colorist that screwed up!) My understanding of comics production comes NOT from anything I know about comics, but from what I learned about printing processes in general totally separate from comics.

And that's what Fleishman intends to correct with the book he's Kickstartering: How Comics Were Made. He's done a ton of research, talked to a lot of industry folks, and has some fascinating artifacts from the world of comics production and he's putting that all into a single book. He's really digging deep into an aspect of comics that I've never really seen dug into before. At least in any capacity that would reach beyond the people actually doing the production themselves. As of this writing, the project has a little over two days left in the campaign and is close to -- but not quite yet at -- its goal. If you'd like to see a book like this get made, I highly suggest you pledge what you can. To my knowledge, there's nothing like this out there and I think there's a great deal that a lot of people can learn from this!
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