Hi everyone, I'm going to chime in here since I really enjoy these boards (I used to post frequently a long time ago) and I see that one of my projects has become a subject of conversation. Let me give you a little history on how the whole thing came to be.
After buying a restoration book from Chris Fama (Famac) almost ten years ago, I got the bug to do my own restoration project. I wanted public domain material of something that had not been reprinted and something I consider of great importance to the field. I've always been intrigued by the Simon and Kirby romance comics and found that there was very little that had been reprinted, and virtually none of it in color. Also, no book had truly analyzed the evolution of the S&K romance books from 1947 to 1959, so I set this up as my project. In 2003, I created a folder in my computer called, "The Simon and Kirby Romance Project".
For months, I hunted the original comics so that I could scan the material at high resolution. Finding the key issues was quite a difficult task. In 2005, my search led me to comics collector, Bud Plant, who graciously gave me a loan of his beautiful S&K romance collection. I scanned a total of 600 pages of material before beginning the editing and restoration process.
After experimenting with various techniques for several months, I finally developed my own methods. The goal was to preserve 100% of the line art from the comics, and clean everything up so that it looked like each page was scanned from a mint, right off the press comic. If I did my work well, the restoration would be nearly invisible. This was done over several years, on late nights and weekends. Sometime, I wouldn't work on the book for months, but steadily, year by year, it progressed.
In 2007, I completed the first version of the book and made 20 copies through "Print on Demand" which I gave free of charge to friends and peers in the animation and comics industry. Terry Moore (Stranger in Paradise), to whom I gave a copy has told me that it is one of his most cherished book in his collection.
That year, I also gave a copy to Michael Richardson (Publisher at Dark Horse), who told me he might be interested in publishing the book. He also mentioned that he knew Joe Simon and asked me for an additional copy of the book so that he could give him one. I told him I would be delighted as I had planned on sending Mr Simon a copy myself. A few weeks later, I was told that Joe Simon loved the book and was very excited about it. I had always thought of this as a small project that I would share with a few friends, so the thought of having it published for real was quite exciting.
A few months passed by and I didn't hear anything from Dark Horse. When I contacted them, they told me they had decided to pass on the project. That was a big blow.
For the next two years, the book sat on my shelf and on my hard drive. I gave a few more copies to friends but did not pursue publishing. In May 2009, I received an email from Bud Plant telling me how I absolutely needed to get this book published. I replied to Bud that I just didn't have anytime to spent on this anymore and I had pretty much given up on having it published. He mentioned that I should show the book to Gary Groth at Fantagraphics.
In summer of 2009, I was going down to the San Diego Comic Con for a signing, so I thought I'd bring a copy of the book with me in case I ran into Gary at the Fantagraphics booth. I didn't meet Gary at the con, but I left a book with one of his associate.
A week later, I received an email from Gary telling me how much he loved the book and how interested he was in publishing it. I drove down to Seattle to meet with him, and we really hit it off. We shared very similar views on how to present reprints of old comics. I provided Gary with all the legal paperwork from the copyright lawyer (public domain records) and left it to him to sort out all the legalities.
I look at this as a charitable project to the medium I love. At best, my royalties won't even pay back the print on demand copies I gave away, never mind the hundred of hours I spent on the project. This was a labor of love, pure and simple, and a tribute to two industry giants.
The book is now in its 7th incarnation and it truly is a 208-page thing of beauty. I know I'd go nuts if I saw this on the shelf. I hope you'll give it a chance. By the way, there is enough S&K Romance comics to fill in several volumes. I for one, can't wait to get the Titan Book version as well to add to my shelf (and I'm eagerly awaiting the crime book).
Here are some side by side panels that show the restoration process.