Examining What Went Wrong With ‘All-Star Batman’ #10
All-Star Batman & Robin #10 has caused some controversy since DC Comics announced it was recalling issues scheduled to be on sale today. They described the problem through the Diamond Comics announcement that it was a printing error.
Apparently, Frank Miller’s expletive-filled dialogue was intended to be blacked out but the process employed failed to effectively do this.
The actual dialogue and scans of the offending pages can be found over at Comic Book Resources. According to Heidi MacDonald at The Beat, Miller insisted his dialogue be lettered in and blacked out. The production approach clearly failed to achieve the desired effect but editorial judgment has also to be questioned.
According to former DCer Brian Pearce over at the DC Archives board, “What puzzles me is the suggestion that the dialog in the word balloons might have printed in a four-color black (essentially, solid black backed up with a small percentage of the other process colors), while the bar that was supposed to obscure it was just a flat black, and not adequately opaque. ‘Backing up the black’ as it’s called, is often used to give large flat black areas a more ‘rich’ (and less washed out) appearance, or to ward off problems with trapping (when registration is slightly off) — but what strikes me as odd is that there’s really no need to do that with a fine detail like lettering. It’s not really necessary, and against a white background, that would betray even the slightest misregistration. (And even as comics printing and coloring have become more elaborate through the years, lettering inside baloons and caption boxes was genenerally left as only black because it was easiest to strip out that detail from just that one plate for foreign licensees and reprints.)
“And before the usual suspects start speculating on who might lose a job over this, this is an error that would be difficult, if not impossible to spot without a very specific type of proof, or a press proof. (It was probably caught on one of the unbound ‘last chance copies,’ when the books have been printed and bound, but there’s still time to do something.)”
Copies are already being hawked at eBay and its likely that similar to similar recalled comics, such as the Elseworlds 80-Page Giant, it will remain a rare collectible.
Unnoticed in all this was that Action Comics #869 and DC: Decisions #1 were also recalled for other printing problems. The reasons behind these two remain unclear.