There is nothing quite like it. Big machinery. The heavy smell of washes and thinners. The din of the big presses, clicking and humming and counting off the sheets. The magic of the color moves when the subtle shift of CMYK can take you from your starting point on the chromalin to the fulsome, buxom color that blooms while it’s wet and tacky from the press Running up the color, more, more, more with the color deepening and sharpening as you go…and then its too far. A little less, a little less…Done! And the roseate fleshtones balancing with the red in a tiger or a border collie. Which wins, which takes the fall for the bigger horizon. Cah-Click, hmmmmmmm, cah- click,cah-click. Hmmmm. The press is the heartbeat of the plant with men on both ends, feeding wasteand good paper into one end, and the master on the other, tuning and sharpening, checking for fit, spots, scratches and the panoply of evil that can overtake you. The evil is far less, but it still lurks in the guise of humidity, flawed paper, mechanical failure or error in type, content, image. Hold your breath, get ready to go.

R. always is impressed when a finished piece looks as good as the comp, but what with where computers have taken us from the man in the dark room, massaging the dots, burning and dodging and “stoning them” off the plate—it truly is a miracle what extrodinary quality we get without knowing the hair-raising opportunities that were posed in the past with every pressrun, every form and sheet running through the press. In the past, the magical man in the color room has the status of a rockstar to those of us who cared—often our taking business wherever “Manfred” or the Manfred of the day went. He just knew how to tweak the colors from the transparencies and reflective art to ink on paper that we now supplement with scans etc. and the magic man is no longer. Manfred would cut the silhouettes, match backgrounds and all that we do without thinking much today.

Today at Cohber, we were working with a new8 color Heidelberg that runs 18,000 impressions an hour and has mechanized plate changing—so the time between sheets has been running about an hour and a half from the signoff of the first to the approval of the next form. We have (its around 8:30 p.m.) since 9 a.m. seen 7 forms and will finish up the printing of this whole job (7,000 books @ 64 pp (cover included)). Then off to the bindery and first samples early next week. No paper problems, no scratches, no pulling of plates…none of the usual histrionics that often accompany this sort of fun.

On the topic of printing, but more "insider"--Eric Weber, President of Cohber and I were talking about digital printing (I saw samples first hand) and he pointed me to this site, Kodak Creative Network,a place for the SOHO (Small Office, Home Office)--sounds like me. They have cool thin, square or regular sized business cards (100 pieces for $2. as a come on), postcards (as few as 25 cards for $8) etc. Might give them a try. They have calendars (you can make as few as one..or five).

Wow. Smaller world. How is anyone making any money?