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Jul 23 2014

Frankie flick book image restoration

It’s been a bit quiet on here of late because I’ve been very busy tying up the last pieces of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood box set with Philip Marshall and the deadline is this weekend with the book still to finish. We’ve had some 11th hour changes due to the USM legal dept. getting cold feet over the cassette front cover (there’ll be a lengthy blog post about the cassette one day) but also some higher res images arrived today of one of the Lo Cole gatefold prelims for the interior of the book. These were courtesy of a German fan who went out of his way to get a decent copy of the image from someone who had bought the rough draft painting when it was sold years ago. Now we can have a much larger version of the image rather than the low grade jpegs we’ve had for years.

But the subject of this post is about the Flick book* – maybe considered a throw away item to some, certainly the runt of the litter but getting as much love as the rest in its construction. The book features scenes from the TV advert that briefly aired around the time of the album launch in November ’84 with imagery based on Lo Cole’s paintings – a brief 40 second rampage into the Pleasuredome by the band accompanied by assorted mythical beasts. As pages are limited in the book the original film was broken down into an image sequence – 25 frames per second x 40 to nearly 1000 frames – which were then stripped down to essential frames and made into .gif files to see which few seconds of animation would work best.

*( this is a provisional cover design – it’s changed a bit since this version)

Luckily we can print on both sides of the page with this book so you can view two separate animations depending on which way round you hold the book. In an effort to get the best possible image quality for the book we went back to the sole surviving master copy, a U-Matic tape, and pulled the frames we needed. These were still fairly grubby looking with a dark caste over most, dull colours and lots of ‘noise’ across the image. In Photoshop I set up a series of image filters to find out how best to lighten the images and bring out the vibrancy of the colours with it looking too forced. It turned out that different scenes needed different amounts of filtering as the saturation kept changing so there was no chance to automate the process.

When I was satisfied I’d got the best colour and light balance there was still the subject of the noise and how to remove it, this is when you can see a texture like a grain across an image, usually caused by light or introduced by generations of copies. I use a great Photoshop plug in caused Neat Image (yes, terrible name but amazing results) to remove this. It takes a digital fingerprint of the image and then smooths out all the bumps without blurring the image, something some similar plug ins tend to do. See the process below, at the top is the original as it came to be, then the filtered version with enhanced colours and any dark cast taken away. Finally there’s the denoised version that will end up in the book.

Jul 20 2014

Inky Fingers blog and podcast

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I post original comic art alongside copious amounts of comics news and such. This is because I’ve collected it since the late 90′s, mainly from artists who have drawn for the British comic 2000ad. The original art collecting community is a growing one but the 2000ad-centric one is still small enough that most people know or know of each other.

A couple of collector friends of mine – Simon Beigh and Julius Howe – have started a regular podcast and Facebook page called Inky Fingers that talks about all things related. This can mean interviews with the artists themselves and collectors or musings on pieces currently on eBay and collecting tips. I was recently asked to chat about my collection on their latest podcast and I share time with the great Carlos Ezquerra in another interview. Check it out here...

Jul 16 2014

Peter Elson

Anyone of a certain age who was into sci-fi in the 70′s and 80′s will be familiar with Peter Elsons work if not his name. His highly detailed spaceships and futuristic tech were as recognisable as Chris Foss‘s and I used to seek out the tiny ‘PE’ logo that he hid in most of his work time and again as confirmation that an image was by him.

My friend David Rees recently bought this original painting from Peter’s sister (Elson passed away many years ago) and was kind enough to share these images with me. It’s fascinating for me to see the close up details of this piece - ‘Mission To Universe’ – that I first saw in one of the Steven Caldwell Terran Trade Authority books way back when. As far as I know there is only one book of Elson’s work collected, ‘Parallel Lines’, long out of print and shared with another artist of the genre, Chris Moore. That’s a real shame and he deserves wider recognition.

Jul 16 2014

Weird Al does ‘Blurred Lines’ as ‘Word Crimes’


So perfectly put and brilliantly animated.

Jul 15 2014

Dondi whole car

Found this online, no idea who took it, possibly Henry Chalfont or Martha Cooper. Always nice to see one of the classic whole cars from a new angle and in situ to see the scale and surroundings. It must have been incredible to see these running in the early 80′s. R.I.P. Dondo White, a true style master who made his mark and still impresses today.

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