Monday, December 28, 2009

"Bloom County: The Complete Library Volume One: 1980-1982" Review

This review originally appeared on If you want to buy this product (and you should!!) Please click on this link right here.

The reason I'm including this review here, is that the images I uploaded onto Amazon were reduced dramatically in size.

And as usual, CLICK ON THE IMAGES FOR A LARGER VERSION. You'll be able to see the paper's grain on these shots!!

2/3 of book is unpublished material from the early years!
6 strips never before in print anywhere
13 samples of Academia Waltz (Berke Breathed’s first strip, whilst in college)
Factoids on sidebar to keep book relevant for future generations
High Quality Construction & Paper
Only one Problem: Image quality not as good as “Loose Tails”

I just finished reading Vol 1 today and it’s incredible. It is much, much more than I expected. Because I started reading Bloom Country in about 1985, there are entire story lines that I’ve missed that were never published before. Binkley’s mother is in this book. There are a lot more Limekiller strips, and a lot more strips of the royal family. You finally meet the landlord. Probably 2/3 of this book was not in “Loose Tails”. And this book doesn't even get all the way through "Loose Tails"!

Additionally, I noticed that some of the lines changed. I think some have been restored to their original lines before an editor got to them. Case in point: when Opus calls in to Donahue, the punch line in “Loose Tails” was that the show was on Nun beating. In Vol.1 , the punch line is Husband Beating. Looking at booth, it would appear that “Loose Tails” was doctored.

It’s nearly perfect. It’s in chronological order, and the Sunday strips’ color are very good.
It’s not too heavy, like the Far Side, Calvin & Hobbes and Dilbert 2.0 collections. The pages are very thick and sturdy. Are they archival? I’d have to test their ph, but I think it’ll last a long time. There’s even a built in bookmark.

The ONLY thing keeping me from giving this book 5 stars, is the fact that the image quality is not as good as the original compilation, “Loose Tails” by Little, Brown (out of print). Even though they mention the quality being lower for some of the older strips, I can’t give them a pass on this, because I have better copies of many of the strips myself! (again, Loose Tails)

I will attempt to upload close-up comparisons of a portion of one panel of Vol.1 & Loose Tails. Please note that these images are part of this review, and therefore are allowed according to the copyrights listed on both “Loose Tails” and this publication.

Most strips in this collection are decent, but feel a little fuzzy. This is something you’ll probably only notice if you have this collection side by side with “Loose Tails”. However, some strips are truly bad.

Cases in point of two of the poorer scans:
Vol 1 pg: 172 punch line “Leaving a trail of slime wherev-“. Compare to “Loose Tails” on page 24.
Vol 1 pg: 198 punch line “Boo”. Compare to “Loose Tails” pg 47

Other printing notes:
Straight lines above the page numbers are halftone, and therefore are also fuzzy.
Blacks are not 100% black, but a little lighter. Could be because of matte paper.

Calvin & Hobbes Complete Collection, The Far Side Complete Collection & Dilbert 2.0 do not suffer from any of these problems.

Berke; please insist that they fix this problem in the second printing (yes, I'll buy it, too) and all further volumes!

I hate to sound like a know-it-all, but when I published an independent comic book with a friend, we were able to test different scanning techniques for comic art. So, these notes below are for the publisher. They really, really need to fix this for their second printing of the book, and certainly, ALL future editions of the complete library need to have this fixed!!

Publisher: Whatever resolution you scanned the images, triple it! For the daily strips, it looks like you scanned the original artwork with the grayscale setting, then converted it to black & white, and printed it halftone. You need to scan them in Black & White (each pixel is either black or white, and no gray scale). To make this work, the scanning resolution needs to be really, really high! For a color or gray scale image, you can usually get away with 300 dpi. This will NOT work for Black and white scans!! You should scan the original artwork (the stuff Berke drew, NOT from another compilation or newspaper) at least at 800 dpi before you reduce them! The final resolution needs to be anywhere from 800 - 1600 dpi. If you need better copies, I'll lend you my copy of "Loose Tails"! Your collection is going to be the definitive collection of Bloom County! Do it for posterity! Do it for the children!

Yes, I'm a fanboy, but I assure you, I wasn't one of the people who camped in front of Berke's house waiting for this to come out (really!)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wonders in Ice

Last week when we were in Colton, it got really cold out one night. The next morning, my daughter and I took a ride on Grandpa's four wheeler to check out the property. In the plowed field, there were literally acres of ice crystals like this. They were each about 1 1/2" tall. These photos were actually taken near my parent's house. I wonder why the crystals form like this. It looks like there was a little rock or piece of dirt on top of nearly each crystal. When they grow, they grow straight up. It's only after they are stepped on do they fall over like this. (Ravenna's feet in photo)


Straight Crystals:


Today, my daughter and I took down our new dome tent.

We had some black plastic on the ground, where ice had formed. This particular piece was very interesting, because it looked like it trapped a little rainbow inside of it. I have no idea how if could reflect like that. Maybe there was some oil on the plastic & it is acting like a mud puddle. Maybe there was a pocket of air or water inside, and that pocket acted like a large rain drop. Maybe that particular part of the ice was shaped like a lens. I don't know.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Roadside optical illusion #1

This really is the second roadside optical illusion, but as I didn't have a camera for the first one*, I'll call this one the first.

I was sitting at a Vancouver, Washington Burgerville (click link *after* looking at photos below)when I took this photo, just off of 1-205's exit 30A. By the way, I totally recommend this fast food restaurant. The servers were very friendly, and their communication skills were great. Also, this chain buys from local suppliers whenever possible. It's a bit pricier than other fast food joints, but you do pay for quality.

Take a quick look at this picture. At first glance it looks like there is a retro store outside, perhaps catering to the tourist crowd.

I first noticed that something looked wrong with the mountain. It wasn't supposed to be there, and if it represented Mt. St. Helens, it should be missing it's top. Then the store looked a bit flat. But, the sky's color matched up exactly with the side window. Something was clearly wrong, although with a nasty head cold & road weary eyes, I wasn't sure what. I took a step forward, and saw what was up. It was a mural on the side of a building. The perspective was somewhat close, but the sky color was perfect! And, the clouds were really, really well done!

I had to go grab my camera and take these shots. Thanks to the patrons & staff for being understanding :)

*A Taco Time, I think north of Seattle. While I sat, I looked out the window, and saw two people eating in their PR Cruiser. When I looked behind me, I saw the same people. Turned out that their reflection in the window, and the bench seating in this Taco Time lined up perfectly with the car parked there.