Monday, 26 December 2011

Justified and Ancient

Another forgotten file and inside, loads of items relating to Fleetway's The New Statesmen series, written by John Smith. I also found pages and pages of typewritten text that I'd marked up, ready to fax or send by courier to the typesetters.

Type mark-ups are destined to become yet another ancient art, now that computers are forever in our midst. It's easy to forget how long the design of a page used to take before desktop publishing.

The writer would either mail or fax their script to the editor, who in this case was Steve MacManus. He would check everything through, making any editorial changes or suggestions if they were needed. This was then given to me to figure out what type style, size and leading would be needed for the page layout. Whether it would be ranged left, right, justified, indented, etc, etc. I would mark it up like this (above) and then it would be faxed over to the typesetters. Before I could properly start on the page paste-up itself, I would be waiting for the text proofs to arrive by motorbike courier. Heaven forbid if I'd marked something up wrongly or the typesetters had mis-typed something! If this was the case, the whole process would start over and I'd have to wait for the next bike delivery, which depending on the typehouse and courier's workload could easily be the following day. It's incredible how quickly this all became superseded by the digital process.

I particularly remember the page mark-up to the left, because this was for the first of the American format editions of the series. Steve MacManus had asked me to design the title pages and had given me free rein to illustrate them myself, which was an exciting prospect.

For inspiration I had this sheet of text alongside John Smith and artist Jim Baikie's prologue to the story, which began in a refugee camp site in a forest. With this in mind and knowing that Alan McKenzie had celebrated November the 5th with a bonfire in his back garden the night before. I dropped by his house and asked if I could scoop up some of the charred remains to take back with me. Having done this, I rearranged it in my studio, and photographed it using the light from my tungsten photo lamps. I had the typesetting for the Golden Bough quote, so I set fire to this and managed to put it out before it all went up in flames. The finished page proof is below.

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