Thursday, January 2, 2014

Silver Surfer, same panel different versions

The Silver Surfer I showed last time talking about scanning resolution was drawn by Jack Kirby for FF #55 (Fantastic Four v1 #55 page 3 panel 2 (1966)).

Below you see the original panel from FF #55 along with the Italian reprint, printed in Fantastici Quattro #51 (1973)

FF55 original
FF55-FQ51 Italian

The printing of the U.S. version is of very low quality. As was common those days, the Italian version was recolored, and the quality of the printing and the paper is much better.

The practice of recoloring comics is still used at Marvel Comics when reprinting old stories. Look at the same panel taken from the Masterworks reprint series (to the left) and the more recent digital version (to the right)

FF #55 reprinted in Marvel Masterworks
FF #55 digital version

Most of the original art of the early stories has been lost forever so when Marvel Comics decided to reprint all the classic stories in the Marvel Masterworks series they scanned a printed copy and extracted the black ink in a process called "digital bleaching" (we will come to that in a future post). The same process was used by DC comics for the Archive series.

To be honest most of the times I don't like the new remastered versions: they look too shiny, too "new". They lack that old vintage feel, and sometimes the black ink has not been restored completely, with the loss of small details.

Dario Bressanini

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