It's here! The proof copy has finally arrived! One day I'll post my memoirs of dealing with small publishers, but for now, I'm just going to breathe a huge sigh of relief!
OK, I'm really happy with the look and feel and quality but there are a few printing flaws, mostly pages stuck together. I know little of the printing process but it looks like it was put together while it was still wet. There are also problems with the glue; one copy has several pages glued together while another has had the glue come away from the spine entirely. So, I will be straightening that out before committing payment.
Printing issues aside, my first impression is that the covers and photos are too dark, which is easily fixed. But I've found two other things I dislike, the first being the flick-through section guide in the top corners doesn't work as intended, as the German sub-team sections break everything up; Red Shadows figures > Terror Gang figures > Red Shadows vehicles > Terror Gang vehicles.
Due to the double-page spreads for each vehicle, the only work-around is to do this; Red Shadows vehicles > Red Shadows figures > Terror Gang figures > Terror Gang vehicles. But it actually makes the book a far more enjoyable read!
In a way it's made it a bit more Joe-centric as well, moving the Red Shadows vehicles closer to the front means that front and centre are the variant SNAKE Armour (Escape Armour), HISS Tank (Hyena) and HAL (Laser Exterminator). In fact all of the sections work like that now, as the ratio of Hasbro to Palitoy vehicles is far greater than with the figures.
It also gave me a chance to put the 1985 AF vehicles before the figures which, seeing as nearly all of them were 1984 re-releases, made for an anti-climactic ending!
And the other bugbear is that 9 of the 13 teams had the figure codenames on the packaging, while the SAS, Z Force, Q Force and Space Force were all job descriptions; Captain, Medic, Radio Operator, Sapper etc.
As I have the character codenames on each file card, it wasn't until I had the book in hand that I realised my eye was instantly drawn to the lettering - and for the book to switch from alphabetical sections; Ace, Blowtorch, Cutter, Duke etc. to non; Skip, Doc, Breaker, Tracker etc. felt horribly disjointed.
So, I've the made the executive decision to revise the contents of the 4 1983 teams by codename. Squad Leader is now listed under Eagle, and so on. I did toy with the idea in production but chose to go with the packaging names, but it really doesn't work. Fans of the comic book will know the toys by name anyway.
So I've just done a hefty reshuffle of the pages, which meant redoing all of the page numbers and the reference links. I need to quadruple-check my work and get the printers' reply, then we'll go to print. I don't know how long production will take, the shipping estimate from the printer is 8-10 days.
All we need to do then is package everything up and get them shipped out, so I'm guesstimating 3-4 weeks tops for delivery. I'll be including a ton of goodies for Kickstarter pledges as well, so make some space on your wall as, aside from a repro codebook bookmark and promo comic, there will be 3 large posters coming your way as well!
I know I've posted a list of criticisms here, I'm just being pragmatic (I'm also rubbish at bigging myself up). Aside from the production issues, the book looks fantastic. It weighs a freaking ton. I'm extremely happy with how everything is presented, it's a really fun way to list the information. It's come out far better than I had first hoped.
I hope that, eventually, one day, maybe 15-16 months from now..., you'll be able to say it was worth the wait :P Thank you ever so much for backing this project.
More news soon,