The making of Return of the Condor Heroes manga encompasses several detailed and complex stages in its production process. A key component of this manga’s making process is the print-proof. The print-proof is a printed hard copy of all the pages of the entire manga series, created from the digital files that the team had previously worked on. It is akin to a product mock-up – a close physical representation of what the pages of the actual manga would look like.
In the early stages of proofreading and colour checks, these print-proofs are extremely useful to have in the making of Return of the Condor Heroes manga. Although much editorial and design work in the making of Return of the Condor Heroes manga is carried out in digital software, physical print-proofs allow the artist, editors, and designers to check for and immediately rectify any discrepancies between what they see on screen in digital format with the print version. These discrepancies could appear in the panel alignments, font, and colours in the manga’s individual pages.
Due to differences in the technical calibrations on digital editing software, as opposed to printing presses and other print equipment, digitally-applied colours may not be replicated entirely in print format. Furthermore, this Collector’s Edition of Return of the Condor Heroes manga comes with newly-created coloured pages which were not published in the older 1996 Edition, some of which are created by the artist by hand in traditional medium. Their tones, saturations, and gradients may undergo slight changes and variations when translated into print.
Colour inconsistencies may be present even for monochromatic artwork. Terence, a designer in this project, explains that black, grey, and white tones would at times appear washed-out on paper despite looking perfectly fine on screen. The colour palette used in a comic or graphic novel play a part in setting the overall mood and aesthetic of its story and characters. As such, it is important for the production team to view these coloured pages in print, in order to ensure as much accuracy between digital and print formats as possible, making necessary revisions accordingly.
Meanwhile, the printing company continues to makes slight tweaks to their printing equipment, recalibrating their print and colour settings based on the changes made during the proofreading of print-proofs and colour checks. They do so in preparation for the print production of the Return of the Condor Heroes manga, something which we would soon be exploring in the upcoming blog articles.