Wednesday 12 January 2011

Wulf The Briton - An Update!

Hopefully this will be the last update on the status of Wulf before the book is published, although it's always fun to talk about projects in the pipeline the fact that this particular book has been delayed longer than any of us would happily have countenanced has got all of us just longing to get  the book in our hands.

To briefly reprise the reason for the delays, we had later than expected arrival of the proofs, which  had been held back by the publisher until he could ship across the leather bound slipcased edition in the same consignment. The box we received weighed a ton with several hundred proofs in addition to the leather clad maquette. The proofs were by and large great but there were two considerations we had to wrestle with.

Firstly - and very importantly, the paper Book Palace Books had specified was not the paper that the proofs were supplied on. The proofs which superficially looked great were in fact on a gloss surface paper, the result was that the pages were if anything richer and brighter than the original comics and a lot brighter than Ron Embleton's original artwork would have been. Having seen a lot of Embleton artwork over the years, including pages which have been carefully stored well away from light, we knew what we were looking for in terms of repro and the paper was a very important part of that equation.

We needed to get back to our very helpful Chinese printer and get them to run us off proofs on the correct paper before pressing the go straight to print button. Meanwhile yours truly was fretting about areas of drop out and other minor imperfections that necessitated more unobtrusive restoration work. This ended up taking a heck of a lot longer than I originally anticipated but working with the proofs as well as the original comics was the key to ironing out those minor defects.

We eventually received the proofs on the correct paper and putting the pages next to the original comics was just astonishing.

... there was no perceptible difference on the pages. The paper in conjunction with the scans and the careful restoration of all those colors and tones that normally get the crap knocked out of them with this sort of procedure were both singing from the same hymn sheet.

We were ready to send back the humungus box, but by this stage the snows of late November had descended and we were unable to send anything anywhere. By the time we did get the stuff sent off to China our printer who is every bit as much a perfectionist as the rest of the Book Place Team insisted on doing another run of proofs just to ensure that all the re-tweaked files met our expectations.

So another box etc, etc.

However not all bad news, first the book is even better than it would have been and second we were able to add some new pages to the original artwork section of the leather edition and even after all the files had gone to China another fabulous piece depicting Wulf and his companions in the thrall of Viking invaders, surfaced courtesy of Paul Stephenson publisher of the brilliant Frank Hampson biography "Tomorrow Revisited".

So as a special thank you we are going to enclose a limited edition print of this fabulous Ron Embleton Wulf artwork  (same dimensions as the original Express Weekly comic) with each copy of the book to everyone that has or will have pre-ordered this book. There are in all 200 copies of this print and we will send them out as long as supplies last.

In the meantime many thanks from all of us to you for your patience and forbearance.

For ordering details please go to Book Palace Books, ordering from the publisher direct is the best way to avoid the whopping mark up that you will encounter once a distributor becomes involved in the equation.

All images © Express Newspapers 2011


  1. I'll just say upfront that I'm going to hate myself for asking this question. I know what this book means to you and the hard work and effort that everyone has put into bringing this out so it bothers me that I'll even ask you this. I've never read Wulf but have seen many examples and of course know Ron Embleton's delightful work, I think this book would be exactly my kind of thing but… I can't afford it. Here's the awkward question. Will there be plans to issue a cheaper edition? You mentioned 'Tomorrow Revisited' for instance, I've ordered their £30 hardback version which is within my budget. I'm sorry to ask when I know the level of attention and detail you've put into bringing this book together.

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  3. The pricing of this book is something that really was a source of much debate Graeme, and I know that if I was in the position of viewing this item as a potential purchase it certainly wouldn't be an impulse buy.

    There is no doubt that had we gone with the original plan to produce the book at the same size as the Titan editions we could have shaved the price down a bit more but to get anywhere near the unit price of the Titan books would have necessitated a big print run and much as we all think Wulf the Briton is every bit as important as Dan Dare, the truth is that Wulf doesn't enjoy nearly the same amount of public awareness as Frank Hampson's character.

    So the likelihood would have been that opting for a mass market Wulf the publisher would not have cleared their costs and would have been left with piles and piles of unsold books.

    I know in the case of PS Publishing that they have opted for a much larger print run on their regular edition of Tomorrow Revisited as they know that Dan Dare and Frank Hampson are sufficiently well known to garner a readership beyond the small core of dedicated enthusiasts who would be interested in books on British comic art. With the consequential smaller unit price they can put out their regular edition at £30.00.

    In the case of Wulf, we just didn't have that option and all the costings that were coming back from the printers were pushing the price in the direction that it eventually settled on.

    Which I know from experience does create a real degree of angst amongst people who love this work but simply cannot afford to invest that much of their hard earned cash into a book no matter how beautiful that book may be. I remember the 1980's in particular as being an era of small publishers bringing out books that were beyond the means of all but either the most insane or wealthy comic collectors. Celestial Art's leather bound edition of Uncle Scrooge which clocked in at £125.00 as did Another Rainbow's slipcased edition of The Fine Art of Donald Duck when they appeared in 1981. Not to mention all the Russ Cochran EC Libraries many of which were clocking in around the £100.00 mark and that was thirty years ago.

    In the case of Celestial Arts Scrooge McDuck book that did indeed see print in a much more affordable format as did the albeit horribly recolored and now discontinued, EC Library and while there are no plans as such to publish a cheaper edition of Wulf (for all the reasons cited above) there are discussions about the possibility of releasing a downloadable edition of the book which I think would be a really great way of putting material like this into the hands of enthusiasts at a much more affordable level without leaving the publisher in the position of having a warehouse full of unsold books in addition to a print bill he will never clear.

  4. Personally, I don't have that problem. The last thing I look at in a book I like is the price tag. However, acute symptoms of buyer's remorse tend to show up when I have to finally pony up the cash. Thankfully, they rapidly dissapear as I get acquainted with my acquisition. Besides, it's much worse when I buy cheaper but shoddier books. I end up cursing every cent I've spent on inferior product (bad reproduction, toilet paper, shrunken sizes...)

    BTW, I assume it's still too early in the game for any hint on those "several other tasty projects waiting in the wings on the back of this behemoth"?

    When can you give as a clue?

  5. I know just where you're coming from XIII in regard to wasted money on inferior products, although with some projects - notably DC's Archive Editions, they are often the only game in town.

    In fact The Archive Editions seem to be very much of a lost opportunity. It turns out that with regard to the posting I made on Jerry Robinson's run of fabulous Batman covers, not only could the publisher have accessed decent copies of these comics, but they could have actually accessed the original artworks for Pete's sake!

    Which means that the Archives concerned would have added to rather than diluted the import of these amazing comics. The fact that these books are failing to do anything more than break even means that the project is pretty nearly stalled and yet a small specialist publisher could have put real sparkle into a project like this.

    Anyway I am slightly drifting off the point of your final paragraph. I'd love to be able to answer your last question more fully but I can't, as I am sworn to secrecy on future projects under discussion. I can say however that if some of these go live I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

    One project that is under immediate discussion is "The Art Of Denis McLoughlin" which unlike a lot of earlier projects on this great artist will focus in particular on the wonderful and lurid artworks he created for TV Boardman's "noir" style detective fiction. The book was scheduled to go to print last year but was put on the back burner when we got the green light for "Wulf".

  6. Thanks for the answer Peter, you pretty much summed up what I thought would be the situation. I was going to suggest that you might think of a digital release so that is good to hear. Have you also considered a print on demand version? Perhaps through someone like Lulu? I've bought and had printed comics and books by lulu and the quality is always pretty good. Maybe something to consider?

  7. We'll definitely keep you posted about developments with any digital edition of Wulf Graeme.

    Regarding Lulu, I can see that that might not really be a practicable goer. It really comes down to the costs. A 64 page soft cover A4 book in color involves production costs to Lulu of about £12.00. And that's not allowing for any creator's costs - that's just to clear your debt to Lulu.

    Now envisage taking those costs and multiplying by 6 to produce a book the page count of Wulf and adding some extra because you'll need it square bound and turtle back just to hold the thing together.

    It's going to come in somewhere between seventy to eighty pounds sterling and that will be keeping it to a reduced format as opposed to the much larger dimensions of the Book Palace Edition.

    Hopefully in a few years time the prices and quality for print to demand books will have improved but at the moment it doesn't seem that practicable.

  8. Glad to see it. Not cheap, but worth it, I think. I read only a few Wulf stories in the Annuals in the 70s, from my father's collection.