Making a Book

Yeah, so I made a book!

HB cover - Dust Cover

A bit of context first before I get in to the actual book itself.

Being from the UK, the US TF cartoon that most of the rest of the world grew up with wasn’t readily available outside of VHS collections like “Arrival from Cybertron” or some episodes on early morning TV. The Marvel UK comic was Transformers to me. Every Saturday morning was Transformers comic time with issue 34 being my first one.

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That got me hooked and over the subsequent weeks I convinced my parents to put it on standing order with the newsagents. 30 years later and well, I’ve made a book homaging those covers!

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Over the last couple of years, I’ve combined two of my favourite things, Transformers and photography, and created Cover Recreations homaging the classic Marvel UK Transformers comic covers. Making these cover recreations originally started out as a way for me to practice my photography and Photoshop (or GIMP) skills, but rapidly turned into something a lot more involved. I’d only ever intended to do a few of my favourite ones (first one was issue 117, a nice easy one with little editing needed), but very quickly I started to really enjoy the process of creating these and so over a hundred images later here we are!

It’s made me revisit figures that have sat on a shelf unloved for years and look at covers in way more detail than I ever did before. Take issue 200, I’d read it countless times and I’d never realised that Galvatrons shadow was Megatron. Or that issue 2 has a “slightly” phallic looking rock (actually my wife pointed that one out…..)

I’d created a photobook a year ago with the images I’d done up until that point as I’d always wanted a hard copy of these to put on my shelf alongside the original comics. Other people had mentioned about being interested in getting a copy of the book but I’d always resisted (a mix of cost, the time involved and bafflement at other people wanting something I’d made)

But with TFNation (a UK Transformers Convention: https://tfnation.com) coming up in August I decided that I’d give it a go and see about putting together a proper book for sale to attendees there.

I’d created my initial book using LIDL Photos but it was quite expensive to print bulk copies that way. So, I decided to get it printed with a proper book printers. Little did I realise that choosing this option would require learning about the intricacies of book formatting (BLEED! CROP MARKS! ALIGNMENT! GSM! PROOFS!) and learning how to use Adobe InDesign. Yeah…. just can’t convert a load of jpgs into a pdf and expect good results!

During this process I ended up revisiting a lot of the images and tidying them up. MANY hours later and I had a book with 132 full colour pages including:

108 pages of the Main Series (107 UK Covers + 1 US Cover)

3 Annuals

3 Collected Comics

2 The Complete Works

And a selection of specials, splash pages and other images.

Because I love making more work for myself I decided to make two versions, a Hardback and a Paperback. I figured that if I was going to put all this time into it, that I’d really do it properly. I’m really happy with both versions but the Hardback version I’m in love with, it’s got a DUST COVER and a RIBBON!!! 😀

During the process of putting the book together I decided to make it a bit more special and put together a bit of a package with other images that I’d been working on over the past year or so, along with some new stuff.

Along with the TFUK covers, I’d been making the occasional IDW recreation mainly based on Last Stand Of The Wreckers and More Than Meets The Eye issues. So I’ve put together an A5 IDW cover supplement to the main book called “ESCAPED!” It came out really nicely as it’s very close in size to the published issue size.

Something I’d always had in the back of my mind to try and have a go at recreating was the Transformers Ladybird book covers. These were a massive part of my childhood and I still have my originals in great condition.

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With the news that Mike Collins, the artist from the first few books, was going to be a guest at TFNation this gave me the perfect reason to start work on them. I took a different approach to doing these covers. As I’d decided to only do three of them it wouldn’t be enough to print as a booklet and as I wanted to keep each series separate so they had no place in the main book. So decided to tackle the back covers as well and make an A5 double sided image with both front and back covers.

The final thing I put together was based on the recreations that I did of the Marvel Issue 1 Autobot and Decepticon introdumps. Not entirely sure what to call these, but they’re mini cards with the first US & UK Covers that open up to the introdump Recreations.

So that’s the complete Trapped In Polyhex Book package, and I’m amazingly happy with how it all turned out. Lots of work went into making it and it was well worth it. I really hope that when folks finally get it in hand that they enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together.

I can’t see myself in the future doing the Cover Recreations anywhere close to as regularly as I was doing them. Life has got pretty busy with a kid and the time to do stuff like this isn’t there anymore. That’ll change in the future so I may finish the 332 some day!

Last thing to be said is that the book is a love letter to the Transformers UK comic and I must thank Simon Furman and the amazing line-up of artists that made it the fantastic comic it was (and still is)

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