Just updating you all about this project and let you know that it has not been forgotten, and in fact work is ongoing on it on a regular basis.
I’ve taken on an assistant, Zara Macandili, to help me restore the pages, who is working on El Indio at least 2 days a week, wherein she can finish up to 4 to 5 pages. Zara is a talented artist who I met while she was working as an OJT at our UAP (United Architects of the Philippines) office in 2004. Me and Ilyn were impressed by her quickness to adapt and learn, as well as her talent. I’ve since invited her to join the Komikero Artists Group, and me and Ilyn have since hired her to act as our all around assistant. She would sometimes spend time helping Ilyn with her paper crafts business, and then sometimes she would spend some time helping me organize my things. I took the risk of trying her out with a page of El Indio since I wanted the project to move faster. The restoration process is a bit tricky, and you really need to be an artist to do it because you will be making many artistic decisions in bringing Coching’s work out as faithfully as you can.
Zara has impressed me with how quickly she adapted the process, and has in fact done a far better job on the pages than I would have. The above page is an example of Zara’s restoration work.
Since no original artwork of EL INDIO is known to exist anymore (which is damned shame), all the artwork comes from the original print comics. Expectedly, the paper from the early 50′s has become very delicate and yellowed. In fact, it is no longer yellow but a sort of orangey-brown.
I’ve devised a system through weeks of trial and error just to be able to strip the color off the page and give me a clear and strong image of the black and white illustration. It can get very tricky because very thin lines tend to disappear in the process and care needs to be taken that they remain.
After extracting the black lines, it is understood that they have suffered considerable damage and do not give 100% accurate depiction of the original art. The damage comes from the printing, the aging and the texture of the paper. Some lines need to be restored by reconstructing sections of brush strokes that have faded, “opening up” details due to thickening of the lines from printing, and in some cases, complete replacement of lettering when excess ink obliterated large sections of the lettering. This is done by copying and pasting existing font.
It is quite a bit of work and although the pace is slow, it’s getting there slowly but surely. I think I can say with an amount of certainty that if there’s a KOMIKON in October, EL INDIO will be there.