Saturday, February 25, 2006

La ragazza che ha lavorato troppo sul libro di Bava

... which means, in English, "The girl who worked on the Bava book too much."

And that would be Donna. She is doing such amazing work on this book, you have no idea. Aside from things you will notice, like the grandeur of the layout and the sheer beauty of the presentation, she has spent entire weeks, if not months, absorbed in work you'll never see -- like reconstructing damaged files, or checking that all the Italian film titles and terms and names are spelled consistently throughout the book, for which task she's had to run searches through more than twenty different documents on her computer screen -- "five screens at a time," she reminds me, "which is even more tedious" -- in a language that's not familiar to her. The book has bombed out more times than we'd like to remember over the years, which causes her to skip a meal or postpone one till after 4:00 a.m. sometimes. She just stays at her computer until everything has been recovered and put back together again. She's putting in longer days on this book than I did, for the most part, and this topic was never her obsession, which makes her stamina all the more remarkable and her efforts all the more heroic.

I'm very, very proud of her.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Pretty Paper

You see here a rather fuzzy jpg of the Spanish poster for Riccardo Freda's THE WHITE WARRIOR [Agi Murad il diavolo bianco, 1958], a film photographed by Mario Bava. I spent many a pretty peso to acquire this poster when it appeared on eBay some years ago, and it's one of my favorite pieces of Bava-related poster art. This jpg is fuzzy, but the poster will be sharp and stunning to the eye when it opens the chapter pertaining to that film in MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK.

Poster art is on my mind today. Let me explain why.

To backtrack... As I mentioned yesterday, we're presently working on standarizing what we call the "credits blocks" of the Bava book's main chapters -- you can see what I mean by this by visiting the Bava book site and checking out the second spread of the DANGER: DIABOLIK spread we have posted there as a sample. I originally compiled all the credits off the screen, and added other credits when and if I could find them, so we have decided to standardize the order of the credits to make them easier to read for reference. In doing this, I noticed that I had the distributors listed for some foreign release titles, but not all.

So it fell to me late yesterday afternoon to pull out all of my Bava poster/pressbooks/lobby cards, items hailing from around the world, and open them, one by one, making a record of the full name of each distributor (when possible -- would you believe that some Italian posters list NO distributor?); the correct foreign release title (thus ensuring the title was, say, 5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON rather than FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON in, say, the UK or Australia); cast anomalies (did you know that the star of HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON is credited as "Steve Forsyth" on the Italian posters, but as "Stephen Forsyth" on the posters from every other country?); the brand of color and scope ratio specified (these actually differ on the same titles from country to country, a tip-off to some countries that cheaped out on the color processing); and, when possible, the name of the poster artist for specifying in the captions.

And people ask, "Why is the book taking so long?"

To Donna's surprise, and my own, I finished this task around 4:00 a.m. She expected it would take me at least a couple of days, but I threw my back into it and was determined to put the task behind me, stopping only briefly to have some soup. It was equal parts pleasure and pain to open each of the posters (some of them quite large) on the dining room table; pleasure because it was nice to see them again, and because there is a definite tactile satisfaction that comes from handling and smelling old posters, especially old French stone lithographs; and pain because I was reminded or made aware of little tears in some of them -- a wonderful Italian poster for Gli invasori [US: ERIK THE CONQUEROR, or THE INVADERS] actually separated and fell into pieces as it was being photographed for the book, and I handled its tattered pieces especially lovingly. There is also the pain of regret where these posters are concerned; I'd need a whole second houseful of wall space to show off even a portion of them properly. But all I can offer most of them is a protective sleeve and repose in a Tupperware coffin. Donna asked if I'll be selling the posters once the book is published, and I really don't know; I'd like to use the collection, which encompasses all of popular Italian horror and fantasy cinema, to create or illustrate more books... but this one has been such a killer, neither of us is feeling too eager to rush into another project like this.

My job today is to organize the seven pages of legal pad scribblings that resulted from yesterday's labors on my computer, and then drop the information into the layout for Donna to insert. So I'd better get to it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Fridays Roll Around So Fast!

Yesterday, or early this morning if you want to look at it that way, I finally succeeded in writing the final, final page of the the final chapter, a little after 2:00 a.m. Today, we're standardizing some of the minutiae in the captions and the order in which crew jobs will be presented in the credits blocks -- all tedious but necessary work. Also, it appears that Donna accidentally spell-checked all references to Schock and changed them to Shock, which needs to be undone throughout the book, case-by-case. Once all this is behind us, we move on to the layout of the book's front (forewords, introduction, legends) and back matter (filmographies, bibliography, references, videography, discography, indeces, acknowledgements) -- mostly Donna's work, but I'll be involved too in the selection of the graphics that will accompany the text. It's an exciting time.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Where We Are Now

Since the last update posting, I've written 70-odd pages of updated material and additions to the book text -- a number of cool new discoveries! -- and I am currently checking and editing photo captions and attributions. I'm about four chapters away from being finished with this work, which should take me no more than a couple of days. Donna is busy incorporating my changes and expects to be moving on to finalizing the layout and photo editing in about a week. We're definitely feeling the pressure and the momentum. Things are cooking.

How Can I Be Sure?

Q: You must keep a database of orders for the Bava book – but how can I be assured I haven’t slipped through the cracks? I placed an order for the book a couple years ago. -- Chris Barry

A: Donna is in charge of the database, Chris. She tells me that your order is on file. As long as everyone who pre-ordered has received their complimentary bookmark, they can be sure that their name and information is logged into her computer. If anyone has further questions about this, Donna can be reached by clicking on the "Order Questions" link at the right.