Friday, November 19, 2010

Wartime Pulp – Adventure! New Love! Complete War!

A nation at war was a nation hungry for stories of war, and tonight I’ll share a few examples of wartime pulp fiction. I’m not very aware of the particular pressures paper rationing had on the specific titles I’m sharing tonight, but publishers juked, jived, altered page counts, and ultimately delivered readers the action they craved. And many of those readers were in fact our fighting men “over there.” I’ll lead with a truly fantastic cover, from Our Navy, April 1945.


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Adam Parfrey leads with this cover in the excellent book on the sweat mags from Feral House, It’s a Man’s World: Men’s Adventure Magazines, the Postwar Pulps, and I’m happy to have found an image of it on the web. Thanks to RNRobert for putting it up, and you can see more cover images from his collection of these magazines here. I love newsstand pics (as you can tell from the fact I’ve had the same image at the top of my blog for quite some time now), and the look on the sailor’s face is truly priceless. I find it comforting that although these soldiers were surrounded by horror and the most “grown-up” of situations they might still find solace or escape in the comics and pulps of the day. I’m on the hunt for this issue now, as I’m most curious about what the article might have to say on the four color menace.

Tonight I’ll share a few pulps from my collection that sat on racks just like the one above, so that you, too, might enjoy some of these yarns of battle and life in a time of war.

First up! Adventure, October 1941.


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Adventure v105n06 (1941-10.Popular)(D&M-DPP).cbr
Get the full scan here!

I bought this issue because of the strong cover from artist Albin Henning (not to mention the fact that Adventure is probably my favorite of all the pulps). I’m drawn to the gaze of the soldier in the forefront and the way he is looking right at the reader with a steel resolve. Salvation shines from the skies, but this isn’t some sort of heavenly intervention – rather it is a very human undertaking. But what exactly is going on here? Is this the Big Red One? The patch on the shoulder points toward that direction, but it's not the patch actually worn by the 1st Infantry (besides the fact that that unit wouldn't have been parachuting?). Adding to the puzzle, McCoy (who is responsible for the excellent edit on the issue) astutely observed that this issue came out two months before we even entered the war. Hmm...

Contents

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The pulp kicks off with a George Surdez story of a legionnaire leading a motley assortment of soldiers in Norway and under constant air assault by the Nazis. Surdez was a longtime contributor to Adventure (which I promise to do a more in-depth post on at some point in the future) and other pulps like Argosy and Bluebook. They’ve got a partial bibliography over at the Pulprack on Surdez here. I’m adding a link on my sidebar to that site which has some excellent articles on the writers of Adventure and other worthy topics. I’m not sure how I hadn’t linked them up to now or if the site is currently active, but it is a great web page.

I finished this story earlier tonight and really, but really, enjoyed it. I’ve never looked into the German advance on Norway or heard of the battle described within, but it’s quite an interesting setting. Early in the war, Narvik held strategic importance because it was a Winter departure point for Swedish ore that the Germans needed for the war effort as Swedish ports would freeze during the Winter. At the same time, German control of the ports meant a location from which naval operations might better sever the shipping routes between England and the Soviet Union. As Britain decided they would mine the waters off of Norway, Germany launched a land assault and met with little resistance in the initial push. The allied push to retake Narvik involved the French foreign legion and various other troops. There was much miscommunication between the British and these forces, but against the odds they were able to turn the tide and offer the Germans their first defeat on land of the war along with a moral victory in that, yes, those Nazis can be licked after all. A wiki on the battle is here, though I’d suggest reading it AFTER you read the story.

Still, in some respects, the details of the battle are unimportant and are a minor part of Surdez’ story. The real trick is the way he gets at the character of his protagonist, Lieutenant Debourg. Like many Legionnaire stories, Debourg has a checkered past. He’s an Austrian from a wealthy family that has fallen from grace (just as Germany has become corrupted) and is now pitted against his onetime countrymen. The decisions he makes during his fall and the decisions he faces when forced to grapple with his past are remarkable, and the way Surdez allows you to understand these weak and simultaneously strong actions is a little marvel in storytelling. But don’t take my word for it, check it out.

Samples. Story art on “They Can Be Licked” by pulp journeyman Hamilton Greene

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Here's the splash page for the story by W.C. Tuttle, also illustrated by Greene. Tuttle was incredibly prolific and wrote hundreds of stories in the pulps as well as writing for the screen during the silent era. It seems like I see him mostly in Western pulps, so I’ll be interested to read this baseball story, as Tuttle was a semi-pro player in his youth and later was President of a left coast baseball league.


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And lest we leave out the ladies, here’s my edit of the issue I scanned the other night, New Love from March of 1943. Adorning the cover is a charming aviatrix:


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Get the full scan here!

While I’ve scanned these magazines as a way of remembering the war and our veterans’ service, I want to also mention the sacrifice made by the spouses and families of our fighting men. I can’t imagine the stress of having my loved ones in harm’s way, and many husbands or fathers never came home. So I thank the families of our veterans in the same breath.

As for my family, My grandmother met my granddad after the war when the GI Bill allowed him to go to college, but she confided in me once that she wrote a couple guys during the war. She says she wasn't crazy about either of them but that it was the least she could do. How sweet is that. This pulp contains a few stories of romance during wartime along with many great ads of the era including promotions where you could send GIs their favorite pulps on the front. I'll give my grandma this issue at X-mas. I wonder if she remembers these magazines. They are most definitely not the same as the "naughty" harlequin romances I've caught her reading over the years, heh heh.

I’ve scanned a number of these love pulps now and hardly get any reaction at all from scan fans, but I will keep at it. I’m comfortable enough in my manliness to admit that I enjoy the stories, and I certainly feel there’s a lot to be learned from their study about the feelings and pressures on women through the decades of first half of the twentieth century. It’d be a real shame if this once thriving mode of fiction for women were to fall into obscurity. Big thanks to fellow scanner Twobyfour for sending me a few of these in a care package, spread the pulp!

Contents and Samples:

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Support the troops on the front line, send pulp! Careful, though. If you mark the "Love" box, the other soldiers are likely to tease…


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Yawn, I’m up way, way past my bedtime but will get this last one up, dammit! Here’s Complete War Novels Magazine from March of 1943. This issue is sporting a bloodthirsty cover like many of the war pulps of the day. You’ll even see some of the covers labeled as "jingoistic" in Bookery’s pulp guide which is probably not the word I would choose. You fuck with the bull, you get the horns, eh? :


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Complete War Novels Magazine v01n03 (1943-01.Western Fiction) (DPP).cbr
Get the full scan here!

This issue is a pulp from publisher Martin Goodman who really does not get enough attention for his central role in pulps and comics history. Discussions of Marvel Comics usually begin with Stan Lee in the 60s and ignore the role that Goodman played in establishing the company. Timely then Atlas comics were ventures that Goodman entered after he’d already been at pulp publishing, and he was selling a dozen different men’s adventure magazine titles after the comic scare and distribution problems had relegated his comics division to employing only Stan Lee and a secretary. Another topic for another future post, perhaps. Maybe I can track down some of the Red Circle weird menace pulps from a genre which just might be the forbear of the modern horror film. Thanks to McCoy for another excellent edit on this issue.

Contents/samples. Some, err, rough art in this issue…

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And a couple of ads to round it out. A martial arts ad to reinforce what I mentioned last time re: the CO-EDS article and also a wartime admonition…




One more entry in this series on wartime pubs to follow next time, a comic!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

CO-EDS August 1942 / WWII Pin-up Girls

After the heavy post last time, let's lighten it up a bit with some cheesecake and a peek at the war era pin-up. The death of the girlie pulp in the late 30s meant the loss of painted covers, sepia nudes, and frolicking line-drawn lassies, but I must admit that the replacement is growing on me. The pin-up girl of the 40s has an everywoman appeal and real personality on display in addition to her more tangible assets. These are women you'd be proud to bring home to mama and who will behave themselves chastely while you cower in some miserable foxhole with c-rations for dinner. In the ever-changing undulations in trends in appreciation of the female form, this was a good time to be a leg man, as tall girls with legs for days hung on barracks' walls from the boot camps in the states to the bunkers of Europe to the battleships of the Pacific. The lass on tonight's cover most certainly caught my eye, and, in my own lascivious fashion, I just had to scan her. The curve of the bow set against the curves of the female form makes for a nice composition.


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CO-EDS v02n02 (1942-08.Collegian)(D&M).cbr
Get the cover to cover scan here!

The contents page names the angler as Kay Paige of the University of California (the sort of detail I like to include so that a googling senior or family member might one day get an unexpected shock). This bow fishing sure looks fun. I'm a catch and release sort of guy, but I'd be willing to give it a try for pan-fish like bluegill (aka brim to you southerners or sunfish to you northerners) or mangrove snapper and the like. I seem to recall seeing gents fishing (hunting?) this way from atop towers over the outboard from the position where a guide might pole from in flat fishing. Maybe I even remember seeing some sort of bow with a reel attached, though it's hard to imagine much of a fight after one of these large, specialized arrowheads strikes. I'll include the pages from the article. Damn, girls who fish are sexy ;)


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The contents page for the rest of the issue:

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I'll snip out and highlight the column at left:



My 5 year old girl asked me this week in conversations about WWII whether any girls fought. I said no but quickly followed with the story of Rosie the Riveter and all her sisters of which she heartily approved. I also told her that now there are indeed women in our armed forces which she also approved of. This is one of those areas where me and my granddad disagreed, but you better believe if my girl wants to fight I think she should have the right (though the thought of either of my kids in the military scares the hell out of me) along with any other American ready to lay their life on the line for my freedoms. I get a kick (hi-yah!) out of this article, because you know the boys over there liked the idea that their girls could fend for themselves while they were away (and no doubt ward off unwanted advances). On a side note, and perhaps I'm blowing smoke here, but I've got the notion that the explosion of interest in the martial arts in the U.S. dates to exactly this time period. Granddad always liked to show off a lethal trick or two he'd learned from his Marine instructors, and I think Americans did not like the idea that our enemies might have a leg up in hand-to-hand combat. I'll go ahead and post the whole article which includes pictures of Florence Fitzgerald and Paul Zippel.


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A very fun issue, certainly a ray of sunshine for all those soldiers reading it in not-so-friendly climes. Once again, big thanks to scanmeister McCoy for his edit work on this issue, it's appreciated every single time I get help on an issue, bud. Back next time with wartime pulp! But before I go, here's one more page for all you leg men out there.


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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You Veterans / WWII Era Scans

My grandfather passed away in early 2008, and I find myself thinking about him often around Veterans Day. I feel a bit strange that it's not Christmas or Thanksgiving or the other family holidays that makes me constantly reminisce about him but so it goes. When he died, I certainly wasn't able to eulogize him at his funeral, as there is no way I could have kept it together. A couple of years have passed, and maybe I'm just now able to deal, but then again how does one ever really grieve properly. I called up my grandmother today to be of comfort in case she was feeling sad, and she wasn't home. Instead, I heard my grandfather's doddering voice on the answering machine. My grandmother still has not changed the message since he died, and I found myself sobbing like a baby, maybe because I've been thinking about all this for the past couple weeks. I used to always wonder why she left it on there, but now I guess I find it strangely comforting.

He was 82 when he died and was pretty much a shell of his former self by the time he gave up the ghost. I'm very thankful that he hung on long enough to be around for the birth of my two children, but by the end he was pretty vacant. He'd witnessed all his friends die before him, the prize of the long-aged, and years of smoking cigarettes had taken their toll. Still he had my grandmother, and it is hard to let a loved one go. He led a full life, and I hate to view his existence only through the lens of his military service, but in many ways I think it made him the man he was. And even though there are many strong men in my family, there will never be another one remotely like him. If the shrapnel that damaged his hearing during the war had been a little more effective, no one in that side of the family including yours truly would be around to tell the tale.

He was a proud Marine and served in the Pacific Theater during most of WWII. Trained in some sort of secret radar which he never used, he would go on to serve as a gunner of various small aircraft and later in the war was on the ground at Iwo Jima and Okinawa and many other islands in the Pacific. He did like to talk about the war, but he almost never talked about specific battles. He'd talk about taking all those pigeons for all their pay in some enormous poker game, or his time on shore leave, or getting terribly sunburnt playing tennis all day on some slab the military had poured on some little island, or of the strange and beauteous cultures of the islanders he encountered. My grandmother's mentioned a few times that she's awoken with his hands around her neck with him screaming in some flashback to terrible events clearing those islands of Japanese soldiers, but like most of that generation, he kept those horrors to himself.

The two things I loved most about my granddad, I think he picked up in the war, the first being an amazing level of comfort in talking with other people. Whether he was shooting the shit with doctors and lawyers at the golf course or joking around with a rural farmer at Wal-Mart (two groups I might admittedly feel out of place around), he was always at ease, and I think this might be something he picked up during the war. All those boys from all over America came together for a common purpose, and after meeting all these guys he was cowed by or surprised by no one. Born a master bullshitter, he could make anyone smile. When he'd take me on a fishing trip or wherever we might be headed, he eschewed the highways in favor of the backroads and relished getting out there in the nooks and crannies of America. This would suit him well in his long and successful career as an advertising consultant for mom and pops furniture stores in small towns all over the country.

The second thing I think he took away from the war was an indomitable spirit, a can-do attitude that was infectious. That generation pulled together and stepped up in the face of enormous odds, protecting the liberty of the American people and as far as I'm concerned the liberty of the globe. After that, what can't you do? I recently watched the excellent HBO miniseries The Pacific and it really made me realize how tough those guys had it in the Pacific. He told me once that after surviving the war, it's all gravy, and the positive and joyful way he lived his life was convincing of the fact.

We didn't always see eye to eye on politics and other matters, but we always had a great time talking about just about anything. He had some bass ackwards views on certain things, but I think in the past decade I've come to realize what an asset that generation was to our political discourse. When I was a teen, I'll admit to having the thought that, well, once all these old-timers are gone with their conservative views, America will be a better place. I was wrong. Sure that generation might have in some ways operated against what I'd call social progress, but they were civil, reasonable, and possessed common sense. When I talk to elder seniors about politics or current events, I'm almost always impressed with how informed they are and with their wisdom. After 30+ years of the culture wars and what I view as a breakdown in the traditional media, America is heavily lacking in many of the qualities that that greatest generation brought to the table. Whether we are fighting the combined war machines of Tojo and Hitler or massive debt and a plundered economic system and heartless plutocracy, we're still all in this together, and I wish we'd act like it. Ah well, enough of that.

My granddad rests at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery in KS, and, though we never really thought of him as a military man (except he did shave every day of his life and ran a tight ship),our family is happy to have him rest with his brothers in arms and appreciated the military ceremony when he was laid to rest. He loved meeting other Marines and dishing out friendly insults to the oldtimers he'd meet from the other services. I know he went through hell out on those islands, and I thank him and all who have served in our military.

Anyways, I've been thinking about the guy and reading a little WWII History, so I thought I'd put together some scans from the era, my way of reaching out and touching the past. Beyond working with books and magazines of the era, there are all sorts of rewarding digitization projects in WWII History. The time is now while there's still some of these guys around because there's not many left. I've seen some amazing photo albums from WWII veterans, and if you've got one in your family, you might consider putting it on the glass. Instead of just having one person in your fam as the holder of the photos, scan them, and every single person in your family or who will come into your family in the future will have the chance to have that unique tie to the past. I know I'm going to ask my grandma about scanning my granddad's flight book with the record of all the places he went during WWII and while I'm at it I hope to scan the whole damn family album. Our ties to History should be nourished, and we've got more tools to do that in the digital age with the ability to easily capture and share images, audio, and video. Hop to it!

It's late, and though I did manage to finish all but one of the scans I had planned for today, I'm just gonna post one and keep the others coming over the next few days.

American Library 02 Guadalcanal Diary (1943.McKay)


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Get the cover to cover scan here of this interesting illustrated adaptation of Richard Tregaskis' Guadalcanal Diary. This publication is listed in the Overstreet comic guide, but besides it being in the pamphlet format, I certainly wouldn't think of it as a comic. It follows along and takes excerpts from the book and is adorned by a nice cover and illustrations throughout by Edgar Franklin Wittmack who had a long career working in both the slicks and the pulps.

The American invasion at Guadalcanal was our first big push back at the Japanese after Pearl Harbor and other Japanese aggression in the Pacific and was meant to prevent Australia from becoming isolated by Japanese forces. We landed our troops safely and caught the Japanese off guard, but they would try mightily to retake the island. Tregaskis was a volunteer correspondent and his book became an immediate success and was made into a film the following year:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035957/

Because of Tregaskis' description of the camaraderie amongst Marines, the USMC still makes Guadalcanal Diary required reading for all officer candidates. I wasn't terribly thrilled by Tregaskis' style, but I plan to add the full book to my WWII reading list. You can most certainly find a copy in your local library or Google Books has it available digitally online here:

Guadalcanal Diary at Google Books

A Map of the area and the title page:


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I really like how Tregaskis makes a point to give the hometown of every soldier he writes about. This page immediately jumped out as me because this soldier is from my hometown of Lawrence, KS, and is a fellow Jayhawk. Amerine's account seems too incredible to be true, but he was indeed awarded the Silver Star for his travails and would go on to lead fighter squadrons and a career in the military after the war. I don't recall going to school with any Amerines, but it sounds like they'd have been some tough sonsabitches:


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and a couple more art samples from Wittmack:





Thanks to my man McCoy for his edit of tonight's scan, and we'll be back next time with more magazines from wartime. Again, thank you veterans, your sacrifices are not forgotten.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Scan! Pt. 2 Put That Sucker on the Glass

Today I’m going to type a little about the actual process of scanning a book or what we scanners refer to as “rawing” a book (however the hell you are supposed to spell it). By this I mean the part of the process in which I prepare the book for scanning and produce the raw images I will later be editing and processing into the files I share here.

First things first, get comfortable! Set up your scanner so that it is easy for you to operate and so that you have plenty of room to move about. I like to put my scanner on a piano bench adjacent to my desk, so that I never have to lean too far to operate it. I’ll be putting up pictures of my setup as I go here to make this all a bit more clear and because a post is much more fun with pictures.



The scanning stage of the process is really my favorite step. I sit down to scan, put on an album or maybe click on a ballgame or a documentary (nothing that requires my full visual attention) and just zone out for a bit. The mundane task of flipping pages kind of allows me to zone out in a half-assed variety of meditation that I find very relaxing. This step goes most quickly if I avoid distractions. Surfing the web, reading scans, e-mailing, etc. can turn a 15 minute scan into an hours long scan, so I try, not always successfully, to keep a steady pace going.

First, you will want to set up your scanning software to send your images to a certain folder you set up on your computer, I’ve got mine named “scanner incoming” and all of my various scanners send their images to this single folder. When I scan a magazine or a comic, I do not want to fuss with the images as they come in because this is very distracting and inefficient. I might check my results in the first few pages just to make sure I like what I’m getting, but beyond that I only check from time to time that I haven’t skipped any pages.

What I want in my raw scans is an unadulterated image that looks exactly like the page it is coming from. Sure, you can set up your scanner software to alter the images as they come in, but this is often like using a hacksaw instead of a scalpel. Photoshop (or whatever image processing program you are using, more on this topic later) is a far superior tool for adjusting images than your scanner’s software, so I try to minimize alterations or automatic adjustments. For some scanners' software this will mean adjusting the pre-scan settings or auto-leveling. Most often this means tweaking down the brightness, contrast, and even saturation until the raw scan looks uniformly like what you see on the page itself. Sometimes it will even be necessary to adjust the white, black, or neutral in levels.
At this stage, you will want to pick a file format and dpi setting for your scans that you are comfortable with. The raw scans that you get directly from your scanner should be of the utmost quality, and the raw images we work with are much, much larger than compressed images that go out in the final scan. Personally, I like to go with a lossless format and scan to .tif. Other scanners I know scan to .bmp or .png, but at the very least I suggest going with an uncompressed .jpeg. While the size for a single image you get here might seem very large, I feel that it’s worth it, and an average computer will still slice and dice these images in the processing stage fairly quickly. I like to keep all of my raw scans for perpetuity in case I want to revisit a scan for a new or different edit and just to have an unadulterated archive around. Sure, this can take up a lot of room, but even a large scan might take up .25 or .50 worth of hard drive space, and, if I care enough to put a scarce or valuable book on my scanner that no other soul might ever care to scan again, this seems like a very small cost indeed. Other guys I know, though, will just toss their raws when they’ve gotten a final product and there’s nothing wrong with that especially for common publications. If you have the desire to revisit an old scan, often a fresh scan with a newer machine and up-to-the-minute techniques gets the best result.

As for dpi setting, there’s considerable debate on the optimum setting. Many professional or archival scanning guidelines I’ve seen suggest a 600 dpi setting, while there are many good scanners that get great results with settings as low as 200 dpi. 600 dpi most definitely is greater than the original printing setup of vintage (or even modern) material, but it also insures that line work is captured accurately and that small fonts are perfectly legible. Of course, scanning at 600 dpi yields an image of a much greater pixel width than the screens that scans will be viewed upon. Some scanners feel that scanning in higher dpi leads to a “grittier” look than is achieved with a smaller setting or that such a high setting is overkill. They might be right. On the other hand, if you scan at too low of a resolution, you are increasing the risk of moirĂ© in the scan and can end up making small fonts illegible or making fine line work blocky. These days, I scan at 400 dpi (in the past I’ve scanned at 300dpi which is probably sufficient) which I find to be a nice compromise between speed and image quality. One other factor to consider here is that most OCR programs are going to work best with at least 300 dpi.

Moving on (geez I ramble), let’s continue to the scan itself. The number on enemy of a good scan is failing to get the page flat on the glass. Spine shadow is awfully annoying, and even the slightest curvature and waviness in the raw scan can make text illegible or distort artwork. When I told McCoy that I was doing a how-to, his first response was “tell em to pull the staples!!!” And while this no doubt makes most collectors cringe, it is indeed the best recipe for a good scan. But please do not let this stop you. If you have a rare book and are willing to scan it but do not want to destroy it, please do scan it even if you are not willing to take it apart, it’s much appreciated no matter what. Just make sure that you are using a heavy book or weights on the scanner lid to get your book as flat as possible. I’ve personally come to the conclusion that for most material, pulling the staples is the best way to go. In fact, for cheap pulps or squarebound magazines, sacrificing the book is really the logical choice. Even for valuable golden age comics, I find pulling the staples is the best choice. Besides yielding a flatter image and more page space to work with, the stress on a spine of folding it back and forth 36 times or pressing down on it with the scanner lid is greater than the risk of snapping a staple in the process or enlarging the staple holes. When I first started deconstructing books and magazines, I would sweat bullets in this stage, but really I do enjoy it. And because I’m something of an anti-collector (paper is only a vessel – unless we are talking about my girlie pulp collection :D) this comes naturally to me.

I scanned a pulp last night (which will be showing up here on Thursday, hopefully!, in a series of scans McCoy and I are doing for Veterans Day) and took some pictures of the process to show that you can do this with minimal damage to your pulp if you are careful. Let me make a disclaimer here that this works better with pages that aren’t so brittle. A pulp can look great, but if the pages are brittle, it’s not going to fare well in this process. This is one reason I’m skeptical of much of the grading that goes on with comics and pulps. I’ve gotten mid or high grade pulps that look really nice, but if the paper is brittle, I’d rather just have a well-read, browning-but-supple beater copy.

So this particular pulp is probably an issue that I’d normally be far rougher with, but I plan on giving it to my granny when I go home for Xmas (as it was given to me by a fellow scanner to have my way with) and I was thinking of this post, so I went through the process of pulling staples and reassembling. But before you start to take anything apart, get some scans of the covers and spine, just in case they suffer damage in the debind process.

The victim:

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A nice, solid reading grade pulp and pretty much the condition I like for a scanning copy. The cover is complete with a little creasing and tattering about the edges. The spine is near complete. The pages are browning but supple. Of course, we often have to go with the most affordable copies we can find, but a copy like this is going to come out of the other side of the process about like you see it here. High grade pulps usually don’t fare as well. But don’t let me talk you out of it! By any means necessary, I say, paper degrades, glory is forever! :p
Cough, but on with the program. Pulling staples can be a bit delicate, but just go slow and take your time and the patient will be O.K. First I open up the back cover so that I can get to the backside of the staples, taking care not to bend the back cover over too much.


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Next, I use a set of needle-nose micro pliers to carefully bend the staples straight.

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Then I turn the magazine up so that the front and back cover are lying flat. Now I can pull those puppies.

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This step can be tricky. Sometimes, the staples come right out. Other times, they take some coaxing. You can use the micro pliers to push carefully from the back side or to grab them from the front if you aren’t able to manipulate them out by hand. Go slow and be patient, you can do it!

Set aside the staples in a manner so that you remember exactly how they came out of the book. For comics in particular this is important so that the staples go back in easily. If the staples are rusty, this is a great chance to spray them with a little WD40 and prevent further damage to the book. A caveat here on rusty staples, they sometimes snap! If a set of staples is really rusty on a pricey comic, you could skip the debind. If a staple snaps, I’ll usually replace with an extra staple of a similar vintage…



Now, you can pull out all of the loose pages, leaving only the pages that are actually glued in at the spine.


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Now the book is ready to scan. The pages still attached to the magazine are a little trickier and may not end up perfectly flat, but there will be no spine shadow encroaching on any text in the scan. I use a book placed atop a thicker backer board to assist in getting the page flat.


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Scanning the loose pages will go very fast and the images will be perfectly flat. In the second pic, you can see how I have one set of pages on the left of the scanner and that as I scan them I have another pile on the right. When I get to the middle leaf of each section, I move the pile from the right over to where the pile from the left was and continue as before. BTW that white strip you see on my scanner bed can help on some models make a scanner’s auto-leveling more even. Some scanner software levels every page by picking the lightest and darkest points, so having some true white on the bed can aid in getting truer colors.


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When you are done, it’s time to reassemble, though you’ll want to double check that you have all of pages for your scan in hand. It is truly frustrating to put a book back together and realize that you’ve missed a couple of pages. When you put the sections back in the appropriate place in the book, you can use a backer board placed in the center of the section to help get the pages all the way to the spine. Re-inserting the staples can be a little tricky in a pulp, but with a little patience it’s easily done.

Here’s the old girl post-scan. Minus some pulp flakes here and there, she’s in exactly the same shape as when I started. I could almost say, in mock indignation, one of my granddad’s oft-used lines - “I never laid a hand on the broad!”:

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The mention of pulp flakes reminds me, you will need to clean your scanner bed often when working with pulp, especially a brittle issue. I use a lens cloth from a camera store, but there are a variety of microfiber products out there that won’t scratch your glass. Keeping the glass clean is very important, one prominent but unnoticed smudge or hair can ruin a whole scan. Periodically, you will want to give your glass a more thorough cleaning with isopropyl alcohol. Be wary of using conventional glass cleaner because the ammonia can react with coating on some scanner beds. More occasionally than that, you might need to clean the underside of your glass as well as that damn pulp gets everywhere.

And I might as well post what one of these raw pages looks like. The raw 400 dpi .tif I get weighs in at 35.1 MB (the end result I will end up sharing will be probably about 800kb so you see the enormous size difference). I’ve got to shrink the thing way down just to get it hosted, but this pic will give you some idea of the color I’m after:


Scrollable Image

Once you have all of your raws for the issue you are working on, put them in a folder unto themselves. I use a renamer program to then tag each image with the page number and the issue it came out of. Some scanner software lets you do this pre-scan, but if you miss pages, have to rescan pages, etc., this is more trouble than it’s worth. Most renamer programs will let you name all of the files in a folder numerically, even when there are gaps in the sequence. Having each page named well is good archival policy and it prevents the possible loss of pages should many files with “image 0001” get thrown in together by accident.

And while I’m thinking about it, here are some links that are of using in the debinding process for newer glue-bound publications, thanks to these scanners for sharing their helpful tips:

http://hem.bredband.net/pnyxtr/scanning/iron_debind.html

http://193.170.75.13/~e0225705/rebinding.html

I hope this has been a fairly coherent post. After a four hours of typing away, I’m not so sure I’ve kept my focus - a common occurrence after my time at the keyboard, nyuk, nyuk.

I will continue with this series on how to scan very soon with an installment on image processing and some different editing options a scanner has to choose from, but tomorrow I'll interrupt this series with some WWII material that I’m scrambling to get done in honor of Veterans Day.