Friday, September 20, 2013

Heros The Spartan—A Peek Inside

A week ago I posted that advance copies of the eagerly awaited 'Frank Bellamy's Heros the Spartan' had arrived at Book Palace Books HQ. Having shared the photos of the book's covers that we received from our printer, we have been looking forward to sharing with you some of the contents of this publication and that moment has now arrived.

Both editions of this book are a delight to hold, the smell and feel of the matte archival paper makes leafing through the book a real pleasure. The sewn binding again just exudes quality and means that the book will open and reveal all of the pages right into the gutter. This is something which other books attempting to reprint spreads from UK comics have often made problematic, with crucial dialogue and artwork often becoming irretrievably lost in the process. In the case of 'Heros', our printers Prolong Press, went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the signatures of pages butted up cleanly and precisely with each other so that all of this extraordinary strip was visible to the reader.

As regards the print quality, I am pleased to say that the weeks of painstaking restoration work has been really well realized by virtue of superb repro from our restorations and the matte archival paper ensures that not one line of Bellamy's pen work has been obscured in the process as these close-up photos reveal.

The penultimate photo shows one of the 11 original boards that appears in the sumptuously bound red leather edition with gold blocking, of which there are only 120 copies.

I won't witter on any more about these books, other than to say, that we feel that this book is the best book we have produced so far and response to it has been tremendously positive with over half the entire print run sold before publication day. On the subject of which, we had another notification from our printer to say that we could expect to take receipt of these books on 15th October, they are still at sea but getting ever closer to these shores.

Here again are the links if you would like to order copies of the book:

More pictures can be seen on the Marvel Masterworks Fan Site:


  1. I just discovered "Heros" ... cannot believe no one has done a deluxe reprint of this masterwork before now. This is some of the greatest art I've ever seen in comics. Saving up for a copy of this gorgeous looking book.

  2. Hi AB,great to hear from you and yes, it has been a LOOOOOONNNGGGG wait for any reprint of Heros. Titan held an option on reprinting Heros but pulled out a couple of years ago, which then enabled Book Palace Books to enter discussions with the copyright holders and commence work on this project.

    When we first embarked on this project we thought it would be relatively straightforward and not as time consuming as some of our previous ventures.

    Boy were we mistaken!

    But the months and months of work have been well worth it and it is without doubt the best book that Book Palace Books has done to date—not that we are in anyway ashamed of our previous publications—it's just that we knew this book had to be special and we are thrilled with the results as I think you will be when you see it.

  3. Peter, if you could please address the issue of the book's cost to customers.

    I have followed the book's progress for some time now and am aware of the meticulous restoration work that went into it.

    It is a VERY expensive volume, for either edition but especially the slipcased version. What issues went into determining the price? Thank you for your response.

  4. Hi Glenn,

    Many thanks for your question, especially as it addresses an issue which I know is inevitable when a book with this kind of price tag is published.

    Publishing is an inherently risky business and Book Palace Books have been in the business for over a decade and have a lot of experience to draw upon when considering projects of this nature.

    The whole rationale of producing books such as Heros, is to go the extra mile to create the sort of book that we as collectors would want to own. So, that means printing the pages of Bellamy's artwork the same size as they originally appeared in the Eagle comic. It means binding the book in a way that avoids the frustration of having the middle section of every Bellamy spread disappearing into a tight gutter.

    It also means months of pre-production work by yours truly
    to ensure that not one nuance of Bellamy's Gillot 1950 penmanship is lost through murky repro, which as I demonstrated a couple of posts ago, is something which requires a lot of restoration know how.

    Add on to that designing and laying out each and every spread, all of which requires a lot of considered thought, not to mention creating all the captions, re-formatting and checking our contributor's texts, plus sourcing the stunning artworks that grace the introductory section—many of which are high resolution scans of Bellamy originals.

    Add on to those tasks, the days of work that went into creating the cover designs and breaking those down into templates for the printer—the list is endless.

  5. Suffice it to say that the production work that went into this book before it went to our printer was not for the faint-hearted. We really went the extra mile to ensure that this book is as good as we could get it bar having a complete run of original artwork Heros pages with the colours as crisp as the day they left Bellamy's studio.

    However, we have kept those costs to a minimum, and by minimal, I really mean insanely minimal. Heart ruling head—minimal!

    The point is that we are producing books like Heros not to get rich, but to make a difference to put product out that we are proud of and that people will enjoy and treasure for years to come.

    So, as regards the pricing of these books, the pre-production costs for generating the pdf that we send to our printer were kept to a minimum.

    What does create a large bill (and believe me the bill for Heros was eye watering) is the print costs. Worth every penny as far as we are concerned and our printer has done a truly incredible job not just with the repro but also, as already mentioned, the binding which allows the reader to enjoy all of Bellamy's artwork without the gutters obscuring vital areas of information.

    But, it doesn't just end with the print costs, there are also the shipping costs, which are considerable and then on top of that there is the amount that Book Palace Books had to pay the copyright holders for permission to reprint this work. They love what we are doing and, in fact wanted us to publish this book on the strength of seeing the Wulf the Briton volume we produced a couple of years ago. But that aside, they still wanted paying and that was another very significant upfront cost.

    So factoring in that the book when produced to a high spec (even with very low pre-production costs) will incur a high print bill, plus the additional costs outlined determines that the book itself will end up being expensive.

    That then reduces the number of people who will feel emboldened to splash out on a copy of it at their local bookshop.

    So, we are now talking small print run for a niche market.

    Getting the number of books you create in line with the number of sales you can realistically expect to generate is where the skill of publishing comes in and getting it wrong can bring even the mightiest of publishers crashing down—Dorling Kindersley and 'Star Wars—The Phantom Menace' being a classic example.

    With regard to the red and gold blocked leather edition—this book is just gorgeous. Okay it is £265.00 but it is still cheaper than the only previous available way of accessing 'Heros' which would be to try and buy the entire run of Eagle comics in all their discoloured glory. With the leather edition aside from the beautiful cover and slipcase and the binding that has even s slight edge on it's regular edition cousin, there is also an additional folio of Heros scans from Bellamy's original artwork and the knowledge that collectors who are prepared to go the extra mile are joining an exclusive club of 120 similarly committed enthusiasts.

    So, I hope that this has answered some of your concerns Glenn. I still recall the days when I blanched at the 'insane' price of Another Rainbow's 'The Fine Art of Donald Duck' or Celestial Arts 'The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck'. I still bought them though (even though I could barely afford the things.

    But check out the prices on Ebay for these books and you will see that they have more than kept apace of inflation and that is IF you can find them.

  6. Peter, thank you so much for responding in such a thoughtful and open manner. I appreciate what you've shared and have a good understanding of the reasons for the book's price tag. Having worked in publishing I know about the hours spent in preparing artwork for print in order to achieve not just good, adequate or decent results...but exceptional results. From what I've seen, you guys at the Book Palace have gone above and beyond what another publisher might have done in creating this book and I'm sure the effort will be appreciate once I see the actual book.

    I decided to make the investment in the slipcased edition because I didn't want to look back in a few years and kick myself for missing out. It IS an investment! But I'm sure that it will be an investment worth making.

    Thanks again to you and all at the Book Palace for making this happen.

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