Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Century 21 Volume 4: Above and Beyond

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Century 21 Volume 4: Above and Beyond (Reynolds & Hearn, 2010)

Not the final cover.

This is the fourth and, for me, the last of Reynolds & Hearn's collections of old Gerry Anderson strips. Like its predecessors, it's a "greatest hits" compilation of assorted tie-ins to Anderson's fun old TV series of the sixties, with artwork by some of the best in the business. Seriously, you've got the likes of Frank Bellamy, Mike Noble and the great Ron Embleton tackling such fun concepts as Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Stingray, so what's not to love?

The problem is a simple, but overwhelming one. Many of the strips were originally presented as double-page spreads. In a book, with a spine, printed traditionally, this means that artwork and lettering will disappear into what's called the gutter. That, sadly, is the case with many of the pages here.

I'd accept this as an insurmountable problem except the publishers have been ignoring the obvious solution since their series began. On each of these double-page spreads, there is an outer margin on each page of greater than an inch. All it would have taken to make all of the artwork and text legible is adjust the margins and print area, moving material out of the book's gutter. Because this would result in an interior margin where there was originally none, this is considered an inelegant solution.

But the question for readers is, which is preferable? To hold the spine closed a little and eliminate a white gutter bar separating the two pages, or force the spine open to read the text and damage the book? Despite multiple complaints about their production in the wake of the first two volumes, Reynolds & Hearn have chosen to continue forcing customers to have to damage their books in order to read them properly. If you think I'm going to recommend you pay $27 for a book like that, you're nuts. Avoid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good points you've made there. And as the company looks to be dying anyway, maybe they should have listened
But a braver publisher would publish fold-outs for these UK comics that span two pages. Imagine Bellamy's work!!