April 28, 2012 . . .
- Mark Maddox is just finishing up the final artwork portrait of Ray for the final cover. And it's looking great!
- Mike Hankin, author of the Ray Harryhausen — Master of the Majicks hardcover book series, lives in London, not far from Ray. So I asked Mike to call up Ray with a question pertaining to FXRH. In his reply (along with the answer to my question), Mike added: "Ray is very excited about the FXRH book!"
- Continuing to write up the story behind the making of FXRH, adding all new stories and anecdotes.
- One Harryhausen fan tells the story of his effort back in the 90s to obtain an original —and expensive— copy of FXRH #1 (only 300 were printed in 1971, so originals are quite rare)— an amazing story of nail-biting mixups by the post office.
- Layouts are underway...
- Next Week— The final cover will be revealed, and The FXRH Collection will go on sale for pre-orders! All of you who pledged on the Kickstarter project have your copy (or copies) accounted for. You can order additional copies, of course, but all others will now be able to place their advance orders.
April 21, 2012 . . .
- Not a lot of specific news this week— mostly concentrating on the ongoing writing, research, assembly of images, etc.
- Mark Maddox has begun his preliminary sketch of the cover portrait of Ray.
- I attended the Monsterpalooza convention in Burbank last weekend— great convention, and Taylor White's Creature Features booth displayed a large poster of the FXRH book cover, as well as providing giveaway postcards. Lots of interest in the FXRH book expressed by many friends and fans.
- Monsterpalooza convention photo at left by our pal Sam Park. Be sure to check out Sam's Monsterverse website and the great horror comics that he and Kerry Gammill have published— Bela Lugosi's Tales From the Grave, Flesh and Blood, and more. Click on: Monsterverse
April 14, 2012 . . .
- Finalized the deal with Mark Maddox, who plans to commence sketching the cover portrait of Ray this week.
- Sam Calvin wrote up his first batch of text passages, recalling many of his experiences producing the magazine, meeting Ray, producing our multi-media program The Illustrated History of the Horror Film (which helped finance FXRH back in those days), and much more.
- Scanned the text (OCR) of the 5-page type-written letter from Jim Danforth that we received following FXRH #4.
- Likewise, since the text of the main articles in FXRH #1 was reduced by 50% (and is thus fairly microscopic), it was decided to scan this text anew in order to present these articles in a more "readable" fashion. This supplemental text will not replace the original pages, but will be added following the complete FXRH #1 issue.
- FXRH #3 and #4 were printed on newsprint paper stock, and like vintage newspapers, the pages of the existing issues had "yellowed" somewhat. Also, "bleed" —a ghost image— of the verso pages tended to show through in many cases. So, although it turned out to be very tedious and labor-intensive, I elected to "clean up" these pages by selecting the background tone and filling in with a light tan "newsprint" color behind the text and photos. The idea was to preserve the look of the vintage magazine, but make it more presentable in this new format.
- More scanning was completed— additional photos, letters, layouts. I think we pretty much have everything scanned now, although I expect more material will come to light as the work continues.
- All the visual material will now be re-organized into chapter folders, re-named/re-numbered, and otherwise assembled for easiest access during the layout process.
- I have some writing to do myself, and then it'll be time to plunge into the actual layouts.
April 7, 2012 . . .
- Completed arrangements with artist Mark Maddox to create the portrait of Ray for the front cover. Mark was just named Artist of the Year in the “Rondo Awards.” A sample of his work from the cover of an issue of the Hammer magazine Little Shoppe of Horrors is at left. You can see additional samples of Mark terrific work by clicking: MaddoxPlanet Like most of us, Mark is a big Harryhausen fan and is looking forward to the project. I’ve provided him with reference photos of Ray, and he’s set to begin.
- Speaking of artists, Mike Presley, who created the art for the covers of FXRH #3 and #4, has provided a terrific account of doing those covers back in the early 70s, as well as photos from that period. A photo of his original art for #3, now in the collection of his brother, is at left.
- Sam Calvin and I have continued working on the text, and all new stories and details are coming together. I’ve also transcribed a lengthy letter we received from now-professional author Paul Mandell in 1972 after FXRH #2 came out, which provides a great fan perspective on our collective interest in the work of Ray Harryhausen.
- I came across an account I wrote while in Rome in 1972 when I was able to tour Cinécittà studios. A fan of the Sergio Leone Italian westerns, I was able to visit the western street set on the backlot, and attend a preview screening of Leone’s then-new film Duck You Sucker. A little off-topic to FXRH, but included as a bit of a sidebar to the whole experience (it was during this college semester in Rome that I was able to travel to London and meet Ray in his home, as well as Charles Schneer).
- More photos and art have come to light, all added to the mix.
March 31, 2012 . . .
- Scanning of photos and other material completed, though we keep coming across "new" (i.e., forgotten) material. Adding in as much as possible.
- Transcribed Sam's lengthy letter from Rome describing his first meeting Ray Harryhausen in London in 1971, and my subsequent letter to Sam the next year telling him of my own adventures meeting Ray and Charles Schneer. Both letters are full of the excitement of meeting Ray and learning all new details about his films.
- Established contact with a cover artist for the front cover portrait of Ray; should have the deal in place this week to announce in the next update.
- Created a poster and postcard for display at the Monsterpalooza convention in Burbank in mid-April.
- This coming week to be devoted to the writing of the "new" text about the origins and making of the magazine. After that, plunging into the actual page layouts.
March 24, 2012 . . .
- Finishing up "pre-production" — scanning many additional photos, page layout sketches, promo ads, and the magazines themselves.
- The original "paste-up" art of the magazine layouts are long gone or significantly deteriorated, so I've been scanning the actual magazines. This has required a fair amount of retouching and restoring in order to eliminate flaws from the individual copy being scanned in an effort to represent the pages as closely as possible to how the magazines first appeared. The temptation is to digitally "fix" the images to today's standards, but I'm leaving the basic text and layouts as they were in the original magazines.
- I discovered the orginal color separations (cyan/magenta/ yellow/black, or "CMYK") in the form of registered overlays that made up the full color pages on the inside covers of FXRH #4. I thought these were long lost, but now will be able to show these layers to illustrate how full color was prepared back in the "pre-digital" age.
- Hopefully, the portrait of Ray on the cover mockup will be replaced by brand new art, and I've been in touch with a couple of artists to explore this task.
- I scanned a dozen or so examples of the "fan art" that we received from readers back in the 1970s. Since FXRH relied primarily on photos from Ray's films, we weren't able to use most of this art, so this will provide a fun gallery of never-before-published art spanning many styles and techniques.
- I'm gearing up to layout a promo poster/flyer for display at the upcoming Monsterpalooza convention in mid-April in Burbank.
March 16, 2012 . . .
- Organized all material, prepped outline, created layout files and folders for chapter photos.
- Considerable progress scanning the original magazines, photos, and other documents, letters and graphic material.
- Mocked up new cover design (left).
February 14, 2012 . . .
- Successful completion of financing through a Kickstarter proposal. Many thanks to all those who pledged towards the funding of this project!
May 5, 2012 . . .
- Cover portrait of Ray Harryhausen by Mark Maddox has been completed and placed into the cover layout. At the left, the new cover, with more details about Mark and his process.
- Writing and layout work is proceding as planned. New stories and information are being added as we go.
- The FXRH Collection is now available for Pre-Order. Those who contributed to the Kickstarter program likely have a copy (or copies) reserved as part of their Rewards. However, anyone is welcome to order additional copies, as desired. And just as a reminder, those copies committed to the Kickstarter backers, plus pre-orders by Bookstores and Dealers, have already taken quite a bite out of our print run. If the demand for both Sold Out volumes of the Master of the Majicks books is any indication at all, this book is likely to sell out fairly quick. So spread the word— anyone you think who might be interested should get their order in soon. (Estimated shipping end of June/early July.)
May 12, 2012 . . .
- Not a lot of specific things to report this week— just that work continues on the writing, layouts, photos, etc. Newest photo at left (beneath the cover) is the Table of Contents page, designed to separate the contents of all four issues of FXRH while clearly identifying new sections.
- I spent a good day-and-a-half wearing my propeller beanie as I got my inner geek on— namely, re-configuring my FileMaker Pro database to accommodate all of the new pre-orders, as well as importing data, formatting spreadsheets, and otherwise organizing all the details of the Rewards for those who pledged in the Kickstarter program (inscriptions on signed copies, the specific 8x10 custom prints per level of pledge, etc.). This aspect of the operation is enjoyable in its own way, but obviously less creative than working on the layouts. Thus I had put it off until now, but felt I needed to stop and catch up with all this before I got too deep into orders piling up.
- And the orders are coming in— many thanks to all those who have pre-ordered. If you know of anyone who might interested, be sure and pass the word, as sales have been brisk.
May 19, 2012 . . .
- Again, not a lot of specific things to report this week— just that work continues on the writing, editing, layouts, photos, etc.
- Mike Hankin, author of the Ray Harryhausen — Master of the Majicks books, kindly took a print of our new cover to Ray Harryhausen's house about a week ago. Ray was very pleased, and said, "Oh my, they have made me look so young." When Mike said that the painting had been done especially for the cover, he said, "Ernie certainly knows how to make the best of an image. This is a beautiful cover." (Of course, that's no slight on artist Mark Maddox, just that Ray knows me.) Ray has already asked for extra copies of the finished book.
- Ray also kindly posed for a couple of photos of himself with the leather-bound volume of his copies of all four issues of FXRH that he had put together many years ago. I was going to post those photos here, but I think I'll keep those for the book. (That's my "tease" of the week...)
- Next week I hope to have one or two double-page spreads ready to post here. So, stay tuned...
May 26, 2012 . . .
- Working away on layouts, making good progress. New photos and info being added on an ongoing basis, as the main text suggests additional details or illustrations.
- Four sample double-page layout spreads added to the column at the left (just below the large cover image). Click on the layout thumbnail to preview a larger image.
- Sales are brisk, including bookstore and dealer sales. Be sure and get your order in soon, if you haven't done so already.
Onward and upward...!
June 2, 2012 . . .
- No photo updates this week— I want to save some surprises for the book, but this weekend I'm in the thick of finishing the final layouts. So I want to keep focused on that work.
- As stated, the layouts are in "the home stretch" and by the end of this weekend, the book should be virtually finished. I say "virtually" finished because once the layouts are in place, there's followup checking of correct page numbers, footers, and other content details. Those adjustments are followed by the technical prep: tying the chapters together, converting color photos from RGB to CMYK, double-checking the resolution of the photos and completing any final retouching, and the final output to press-quality PDF files.
- At the beginning of the week I'll get a final updated quote and schedule projection from the printer and by next week should be able to publish a final printing/delivery schedule. My original projection was to be able to ship the book by the end of June; at this point, we're a little behind that projection, but I think we're only looking at an additional couple of weeks.
- The good news is that this extra time has been put to good use— Sam and I have been burning the midnite oil to add additional material, new photos, update content, and revise layouts. I think the final result will be well worth the wait.
June 11, 2012 . . .
- This page was getting a little cluttered so I decided to streamline things a bit. Scroll down for a slide show and sample layouts. This will be the extent of the image updates from this point forward. Interested parties can review an archive of the previously posted progress reports by clicking the link at the bottom of this text box.
- The book is essentially done, save for some final technical wrap up and outputting. Our original expectation was to ship the book at the end of this month (June), but that's now looking like the end of July. Not a drastic delay, and only caused by our adding new material (images and text) all along(*). Stay tuned to this Update page for the latest steps during the printing and production process.
- (*) Not including the covers, the final book has come to 336 pages— considerably more than we expected. Hopefully well worth it.
June 17, 2012 . . .
- Today, June 17th, is both my and Sam Calvin's birthday. So, it's time to take a day off and put on the party hats.
- The book is done (336 pages) and will be starting the printing process in a day or two (as per the old saying, "There's always one more thing...").
- Several people have previewed the book in person on my big computer monitor and seem quite delighted with what they're seeing. It's always encouraging to get positive feedback at this juncture.
- Pre-sales have continued to come in and we're getting down to the tail end of the print run. So again, if you're interested but have been putting it off, I'd encourage getting in your order so as to not be disappointed.
July 15, 2012 . . .
- Since the last update, all of the "technical" work was completed without a hitch: checking the resolution of all photos and graphics, converting color images and swatches from RGB to CMYK colorspace, outputting the final files to press-quality PDF files, and burning everything to DVDs. Some files were over two gigabytes (all the outputs required three DVDs!).
- I delivered the discs to the printer, and everything checked out. They generated "soft proofs" in PDF format so I could check and verify positioning of all elements and format. These low-rez proofs raised a few questions, but a comparison to the actual files confirmed that everything was OK.
- The project is now at the factory and the printing is underway. We anticipate having the finished books in hand by the end of August or early September. There are still some variables during the printing process, but hopefully everything will go OK. Check this page from time to time. I will also send occasional e-mails to update everyone on the progress.
July 29, 2012 . . .
- I received the first "digital proofs" (actual pages on paper sent direct from the factory). This is first opportunity to check image quality, positioning, color, and other factors. The pages are sent as individual sheets (left).
- I'm pleased to say that the proofs look great-- very faithful to what I'd been looking at on my calibrated computer monitor. It's always a bit nerve-wracking waiting for the first printed proofs, so this was quite a relief.
- They rushed the first 30 pages so I could approve the reprint pages of FXRH #1. Our first issue featured very tiny type (the whole story behind this is told in the book). So these reprint pages of FXRH #1, being a "dupe," are going to be hard to read, despite my scanning the entire magazine a second time to make improvements.
- Fortunately, we took the precaution of text-scanning these articles and including them as modern, crisp, clean and larger text entries following the actual reprint. So everyone will be able to read the articles with no problem.
- This coming week I will receive the remainder of the proofs and a "dummy" mockup of the book using the actual paper stock, covers, and binding.